Tips & Hints: Decorative Stitching and Applique for Quilt Embellishment



Have you ever wondered how to use those “fancy” stitches on your sewing machine for quilts?  You know what to do with basic stitches like straight stitch or zigzag, but what about all those decorative stitches?  After taking a closer look at this quilt, you just might be inspired with some fresh new ways of looking at your machine’s decorative stitches and giving them a try for yourself!

This quilt features an appliqued tree design with lots of multi-colored leaves and a few birds.  These elements were stitched to the base fabric with various methods of machine applique.  But, before these elements were appliqued to the base fabric, most were first transformed by being embellished with decorative machine stitching!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Assorted decorative threads: Rayon, 30 weight cotton, all-purpose, variegated, etc.
  • Tear-away stabilizer to help stabilize fabric for decorative machine stitching
  • Satin Stitch Foot or Open Toe Foot* for sewing dense decorative stitches
  • Darning/Embroidery Foot** for free-motion sewing
  • Assorted cotton fabrics for creating the appliques
  • Fusible web and fabric spray adhesive for affixing appliques to base fabric

*The Satin Stitch Foot or Open Toe Foot may be and optional purchase for some machine models.

**The Darning/Embroidery Foot may be an optional purchase for some machine models. Check your manual for information.




Tip #1:  Notice that some of the leaves were made using a print fabric, without any added embellishment.  Other leaves have a striped pattern, enhanced with contrast stitching.  Still other leaves were simply basic, solid colored fabric, but changed with the addition of multiple rows of decorative stitching.  Use various stitches and thread colors, combined in countless ways, to create all sorts of different looks depending on the effect you want.


Pic2 Satin FootPic3 OpenToeFoot

Tip #2:  Use a light, tear-away stabilizer under the fabric to help prevent dense stitching from puckering.  It’s best to use either a Satin Foot or an Open Toe Foot for decorative stitching.  Both of these feet have a “groove” on the underside, allowing the dense stitching to pass freely underneath without getting stuck.  Find out more about using these presser feet at www.singerstore.com.



Tip #3:  The “tree” and the bird’s “wing” are appliqued to the main fabric with the satin stitch applique method.  Set the machine for the zigzag stitch.  Reduce the stitch length so that no fabric shows between the stitches, but make sure the stitches aren’t too close together so that they don’t feed.  It’s a good idea to test your stitch on a scrap first, to fine tune the stitch for the specific thread you are using. Secure appliques in place with fusible web or temporary fabric spray adhesive so they don’t shift while stitching.



Tip #4:  The leaves are sewn to the main fabric with the blind stitch applique method, which is done by first turning and pressing the raw edges under, then using the machine’s blind stitch to sew the appliques in place.  Set the machine for the blind hem stitch.  Thread the bobbin with all-purpose thread.  Use monofilament nylon thread in the top of the machine so the blind hem stitches will be invisible.



DarningEmbroidery Foot

Tip #5:  To quilt the layers together, convert the machine to free-motion sewing mode.  If your machine has Drop Feed, lower the feed teeth.  If your machine does not have Drop Feed, place a Darning Plate over the feed teeth.  Remove the All-Purpose Foot and presser foot holder.  Attach a Darning/Embroidery Foot.  Learn more about this presser foot at www.singerstore.com.