Applique in the Hoop

9 04 2008

It feels like it has been three weeks rather than three days since I’ve posted.  I did get some time in Monday and early this morning preparing for today’s embroidery club.  We digitized Applique in Software club last month and we chose to stitch some applique out for this month’s club.

I’ve prepared a brief photo tutorial on the process.

The first stitch out is a design from the Cuddlesome Critters collection available from Hatched in Africa.  I used it as an example of a typical commercial design.  There are variances between designs, but this provides a general idea. 

1.  Hoop the fabric with a suitable stabilizer.  For this design I used two layers of light weight tear away stabilizer, there are many other good options — a cut away, wash away, etc.  Place the hooped fabric in your machine and usually the first color change will be the placement line for the applique fabric.  If there are design elements that are behind the applique those would stitch out first.

2.  At this point I remove the hoop from the machine and place it on a flat pressing surface.  I find that my applique looks better if I use a small amount of glue on the base fabric to hold the applique fabric in place.  Elmer’s Washable School Glue is inexpensive and works well.

3.  Next I select a piece of applique fabric large enough for the design and place it over the placement lines.

4. I then use an iron to press the fabric over the glue.  This dries the glue immediately so there is no need to deal with wet glue on the needle.  I was in a hurry this morning and just used the regular iron, however, I usually use some type of craft iron.


5.  Return the hooped fabric to the machine and the next color change should be some sort of tack down.  This color change can take different forms depending upon the designer.  In this design the tack down was a simple straight stitch, others might include a triple straight stitch or a zigzag.  After the tack down color change finishes, I remove the hoop from the machine again and place it on a flat surface.   Then I trim very close to the tack down trying to avoid clipping through it.  Keep the hoop on the flat surface while trimming to avoid shifting the fabric in the hoop. The Havel scissors shown in the picture are my favorite for this task.  I also sort of lift the applique fabric away from the base fabric as I am trimming.  This helps me to get fairly close to the tack down stitching.

6.  Here is a picture after all the excess fabric has been trimmed away.  In this case there was only one applique object.  However, if there were more there would be more placement lines and more tack downs in the color changes.  Depending upon the digitizer all the applique pieces may be placed prior to the cover stitch or each applique piece may be finished with a cover stitch before moving on to the next piece.

7.  Once the applique pieces are in place the rest of the design is stitched in the same manner as any other embroidery design.  Here is the finished giraffe.


The next stitch out shows how I choose to do the applique I digitize in the Bernina software.  It may be slightly more time consuming, but I get more satisfactory results this way especially if I’m using the blanket stitch as my cover stitch.    This design is one I digitized from a pattern in “Snow Buddies Throughout the Year” by Possibilities.  Unfortunately, this book is out of print.  Also this snowman is large enough that it took four hoopings, so I am going discuss a little about stitching out the designs after using the Multi-hooping feature in the software.

1.  For me, one of the nice features in the Bernina software is the ability to print out perfectly sized pattern pieces for each applique piece.  This picture shows the numbered pieces, the software also prints out a diagram of the whole applique design showing where each piece will be placed.

2.  I trace each piece onto paper backed fusible web.  You will either need to make mirror image copies of your patterns or trace from the back of the pattern using a light table.  Another option that I stumble upon while preparing for software club last month is to mirror image your design in the software, print your pattern and then undo the mirror image.  After tracing the designs onto the fusible web, press the rough cut fusible web to the back of your selected fabric.  Then carefully cut out each piece.  I forgot to take pictures of some of these steps, so here is a picture of the pieces after they have been cut out.

3.  Because this design is going to be a specific sized quilt block, I wanted to control the placement of the design on that block.  You may notice that I didn’t actually cut out the block before embroidering the design.  Instead I marked the size of the block on the fabric and cut the block out after embroidery.  This just happens to be my preference for these snowmen.  It means I don’t have to cut oversized blocks just to  enable hooping.  You could print an embroidery template, but I was lazy and used the placement print out for the applique.  I centered that on my block and then lined up a template of my first hooping over it.  The template of the first hooping was printed to include the X and Y coordinates.  Using a ruler I made small marks at the end of each of those lines.  The red arrows indicate where I made those marks.

4.  Next I remove the template and connect the marks to create a cross.  I’ve enhanced the marks because they didn’t show well in the picture.

5.  Next I lined these marks up with the markings on my hoop.  Ideally I would have used the plastic template that fits in my hoop, but my basement is such a disaster I couldn’t find it.  I did find it once this design was stitched out.  Since I didn’t have the template handy I lined the line up with the marks on both sides of the hoop and the arrow at the bottom of the hoop.  Don’t try to line it up with the mark at the top of the oval Bernina hoop as it is not centered.

6.  Next I placed the hoop in the machine and stitched out the first placement line.

7.  I removed the hoop from the machine and placed it on a flat ironing surface.  Remove the paper backing from the applique piece and carefully line it up with the placement line.  I then use a small clover iron to fuse the piece in place.

8.  Return the hoop to the machine and stitch out the cover stitch  and the next placement line.  Notice the gaps in the cover stitch.  Those are the result of using the “Partial Applique” tool in the software which removes the cover stitch under other objects.

9.  Continue repeating these steps until all the applique pieces and embroidery details are completed for the hooping.  The final color change is small x’s which are used to line up future hoopings.  If your design takes more than two hoopings there may be more reference marks than you will use in the very next hooping.  After stitching the final color change remove the fabric from the hoop.

10.  The simplest way to hoop the remaining hoopings is to use an adhesive backed stabilizer.  Hoop the stabilizer sticky side up.  Put the hoop in the machine and stitch out the first color change of the second hooping.  This will be more x’s. 

11.  Remove the hoop from the machine and insert flat headed pins (I happen to use T pins) through the center of the x’s. 

12.  Now because I had more than two hoopings I have extra reference points from the first hooping.  So I had to figure out which reference marks line up with the ones stitched on the stabilizer.  It may be necessary to print templates of each hooping to lay over each other and identify the reference points for each hooping.  This is especially the case the more hoopings that are needed.  Once the correct reference points have been identified, insert the pins that are in the stabilizer through the corresponding marks in the fabric.  Then smooth the fabric over the sticky stabilizer.  Remove the pins.  Place the hoop in the machine and continue stitching out the design. 

13.  Continue with as many hoopings as needed using the steps described above for the applique.

The nice thing about preparing for club this month was I completed another block for two different UFOs.



5 responses

10 04 2008

Sonya – thank you so much for the tutorial! I am new to machine embroidery and have yet to do a multi-hooping. I couldn’t even visualize how it could be done. I don’t have access to a dealership or any clubs without a long drive, so I depend on sites such as yours and the QSS group for my education. Thank you again.

20 04 2008

Dear Sonya,

Loved your giraffe. They are my favorite animal. It was so cute! You are really talented. Enjoyed your Snippets.



13 05 2008

Cute, cute designs!!! Excellent tutorial with easy-to-understand instructions! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

24 04 2015
cloris davis

good description of in the hoop applique.

5 09 2015

Thank you Cloris

%d bloggers like this: