Appliqué 101

Appliqué is sewing technique where small pieces of fabric are used instead of stitches to fill areas in a design. It is a firm favourite for kids clothing as this ensures that the embroidered are is not “stiff” with stitches.

All appliqué designs follow, in principle, a few basic steps with variations here and there, depending on the digitizer. Here are my steps.


Appliqué designs has 3 basic steps for every colored element. They are:

  1. a dye line stitch (first outline stitches for placement of appliqué fabric),
  2. a cut line stitch (second outline stitches slightly smaller than dye line), and
  3. a zig zag stitch (to secure and ensure unnecessary fraying).

Once you understand how these lines are used, you are well on your way to master any appliqué design.

1. Mark position of where your design will fit and put into your frame.

2. Now stitch your first dye line. You will notice that these dye line stitches are another color than the design satin stitch color. It is no mistake. It is simply to make sure your machine stop after finishing the stitching of the first dye line.  (single needle embroidery machines stop for every change in color in the embroidery design). Try to stitch the dye line and cut line the same color as the color you picked for the edge stitching. This will ensure that darker or lighter colour stitches does not show through the edge of satin stitches.

3. Cut the piece of fabric to be use for the inset of the appliqué, making sure it is bigger than the dye line. Lightly spray this piece of fabric with fabric glue and place in the frame and flatten. Ensure you have cover the dye line stitch as the next stitching will be a tack down stitch and outline for you to cut around.

4. Stitch second outline stitches. First a straight stitch  which will be followed by a zig zag stitch (figure 3). These should also be in the same colour as the final satin stitch. This stitch is to ensure that the appliqué fabric is securely stitched on the background and does not fray.

5. Remove frame gently from machine and place on a flat sturdy surface. Gently cut with a very sharp scissors (ensuring not to cut stitching) along second outline and zigzag stitches.

6. Place frame gently back into machine. Now stitch the edge (satin stitch) of the design.

7. Now continue with the second design element (in this design the icing of the cupcake).

8. Following the same principles as in steps no.2 – no.5.

cupcake cookie iced icing red cherry decorated applique embroidery design

9. The finished appliqué design.



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