Applique on a Long Arm Quilt Machine

What is Applique

Applique is the term used to identify the process of affixing or adding pieces of fabric to the surface of a quilt, wall hanging, pillow, etc. The fabric pieces can be stitched by hand or with a sewing machine. I prefer to use my machine.

The process of appliqueing or attaching fabric designs is a laborious task no matter which method you choose. Machine applique yields a more uniform appearance. Typically a blanket or zig-zag stitch is used when stitching around the outside edges of the applique fabric.

IMG_1619Blanket Stitch

Long Arm Applique

While recently browsing the website for the dealer of my long arm quilt machine I noticed they were offering a class in long arm applique. It never dawned on me that I could use my long arm quilt machine to applique. My machine doesn’t have the programmed stitches used to produce a uniformly stitched edge. Being very curious about the possibility of using my long arm machine I registered for the class.

Begin Here

The instructor presented a brief discussion with samples of the items she had made. Through her illustrations I learned that she utilizes a variety of thread types to free-motion stitch around the raw edges of her fabric. The possible combinations for thread and stitches were limited only by your imagination. After finishing her brief introduction we were set loose to begin our exploration.

The Supplies

Provided for our creative adventure were fabric scraps, iron-on adhesive, a die-cutting machine to cut out uniformly shaped pattern pieces and oodles and oodles of thread cones. Here’s a photo of the die-cutting machine.

IMG_1622How Large Should I Make It?

I decided to limit the size of my project. I figured I would much rather practice on something small and have the opportunity to try out the fancy threads and stitching techniques than spend my time designing and adhering an elaborate design. This is the template I chose.


My decision paid-off quickly. In no time I was progressing through the preparation steps and moving on to sewing. Reaching this point as quickly as I did proved to be a blessing. Many of my class participants barely had time to pin their projects to the machine, let alone practice the stitches.

What Thread Should I Use?

For thread I chose a few variegated colors along with a gold metallic. All of the colors were selected to coordinate with my fabrics. I wanted to work with this thread first because it was the one I had the least amount of experience with.

Let’s Adjust the Tension

Before adding even one stitch to my actual project the instructor helped me adjust the machine’s thread tension. Metallic thread behaves differently than a typical cotton thread. We did several test runs before we were satisfied with the stitch appearance. Once we were pleased with the test stitches I, without hesitation, set my machine in motion.

Ready, Set, Go!

I directed the machine’s needle around the outer edges of my pattern in a squiggly circular pattern. Also used were an eyelash stitch, a bubble pattern and, for the very first time, a filler stitch. I had the most fun experimenting with the filler stitch.

IMG_1620Filler or Satin Stitch

Time To Quit

I reached a stopping point thirty minutes before the end of class. Satisfied that I would be able to finish the project at home, on my own, I removed my fabric from the quilt machine and packed up my belongings. I used some of the leftover time to purchase a few decorative threads.

Take A Look

This is how my item looked at the end of class.

Long Arm Applique

Once I am finished I will share an update on my blog.

Thanks for visiting.

Cindy Anderson