3.10.2011

Machine Applique Tutorial...

Ok - I know this won't be relevant to most of y'all, but I get a lot of questions on embroidery/applique and I enjoy passing on what I've learned, so as promised - here's a little tutorial on the way I like to embroider. There are a lot of different methods out there, but this is the one that works best for me. It includes a few "extra" steps - but only to ensure a clean finish for the most OCD of us ;) I may try to put a link up on my sidebar to this post for anyone who has future questions...

Just for demonstration purposes, I'm going to be showing y'all how to do an applique with a monogram. I've tried to include as many pictures as possible, but I'm no photographer so bear with me...

First - create your files...

If you don't have Sew What Pro - get it! It allows you to merge and position individual files together to sew as one. I think it's around $65, but you can get a 1 month trial for free...

Start by creating the name file first in SWP...
 
[Side-note : I know a lot of people use Monogram Wizard (search for it) for lettering purposes. I don't have it but I'm sure it's good too.]



Merge all the letters together, position on a grid line, then 'Save' as a seperate file. (Notice I typically like to utilize my entire hoop space, especially when I use my 4x4 hoop. You can play with your size dimensions to do this, I just wouldn't resize past 20% either way, and adjust your stitch density to compensate.)

Then open your applique design. Merge the name file with the applique...



Position the name as desired and 'Save'... Your file is ready to sew! (Transfer it to your machine however you normally would. I load whichever saved files I want to sew on to a thumb drive and stick it in my machine...)

Prepare your fabrics! I prewash everything - onesies, shirts, applique fabrics, etc. Sometimes they will need to be pressed too.

Mark your onesie. Use a ruler to measure from the base of each armpit...



Using a fabric pen - mark center with a dot and trace 2 small lines on each side of the dot. These will be used for leveling purposes.



Cut out a piece of stabalizer just larger than your hoop...



I use medium-weight stabalizer. (Tear-away is not sturdy enough for me, so I stick to the regular on most projects!)



Spray one side of your stabalizer with a fabric spray adhesive/basting spray (I get this brand from the quilting section). Spray in a box to avoid a mess!

ALSO - turn your onesie inside-out...



Smooth the stabalizer onto the onesie where your stitching will fall. Make sure there are no ripples.

Turn onesie right-side-out and hoop...


(I use my 4x4" hoop for onesies under 18mos.)

Place the base of the hoop inside the onsie with the connecting bracket through the neck. Position the top piece of the hoop where you think center is. Use the armpieces and neckline to help you geusstimate, connect the hoop together (the onesie and stabalizer should both be in the hoop), then use your grid to check yourself. Notice how my center dot is right on the center gridline, and the 2 lines I marked are parallell with the gridlines... This tells me I'm center and even! If you're off, try again. The more you do this the better you'll get at guessing ;)

I also like to make sure the top of my design falls about an inch from the neckline. (Maybe 2 inches for a bigger kid's shirt.)

Tighten your hoop - gently tugging at the sides to keep the fabric taught - just until the hoop is snug. Don't over tighten or you'll get ripples. Then turn onesie inside out...



Now prepare the applique fabric...

[Note - Small-print ginghams, checks, dots, and stripes all make for great appliques! Stock up on them when you can...]

Cut out a piece of fabric that will cover the area you are appliqueing...



Cut out a piece of Heat-N-Bond LITE (buy on bolt or in package at fabric store) that is just a tad smaller than your applique fabric...



Using a medium-hot iron - press the HBL to your fabric. As a general rule - I press all parts for about 8 seconds...



The ADHESIVE side of the HBL should be face down on the WRONG side of the fabric. Like this...



Now that your onesie is hooped and your fabric is prepped - you're ready to SEW!

[This tutorial assumes you know the basics of your machine - how to thread, attach the hoop, and work the embroidery settings... If you dont - watch the instructional CD that came with your manual!]

So - attach your hoop to your machine, and position the onesie to where you will be sewing through the bottom opening of it, like this...



The trickiest part to embroidering a onesie is trying to make sure all the fabric is out of the way at all times. Be sure not to tug on your embroidery unit... And to keep your fingers away from the needle!

Check the layout of your design on the machine to make sure it's rotated in the right direction, falls on your center dot, etc. Most applique designs begin with an outline stitch...



(Mine is white - sorry.) This just tells you where your applique will fall, giving you a guide of where to place your fabric.

Now peel the paper HBL backing off of your applique fabric.



I spray the back of my fabric with a light mist of adhesive just to make sure it stays nice and flat. Some people don't do this.

Lay the app fabric over the outlining stitch - make sure it covers the entire outline!



Smooth out any ripples. Now your machine is ready to sew the tack-down stitch.

After the tack-down, remove your hoop from the unit, turn the onesie right-side-out, and trim around the tack-down...



Stay close, but careful not to snip your onesie. The fact that the onesie is glued to the stabalizer makes it a little bit easier.

My applique here is an "R" - so to cut out the loop of the "R" I insert my seam-ripper at an angle in to the fabric to start a hole...



Then use my scissors to cut around.

Now it's time to activate the HBL! This will fuse the fabric to the onesie and prevent any bubbling up as the machine continues to stitch. Along with hooping - it's the secret to a great applique!



Press your applique using a hot iron - again for at least 8 seconds on all parts.(I got this small iron in the luggage and travel accessories section at Target.)

Turn your onesie inside-out and mount the hoop back on to the embroidery unit. It is now ready for the final applique stitches...



Couldn't get a great picture - but this particular design has a zig-zag stitch as oppossed to a satin stitch...

Now - I'm ready to finish it off by letting the machine sew the monogram...



Unhoop the onesie, trim any threads, and trim your stabalizer...



Turn right-side out and remove and fabric pen marks by blotting with a damp rag.

Sometimes if I'm making something for a baby, I'll finish off my things by adding a cover-stitch (a mesh lining) to cover the back of my monogram. You can buy this on the bolt at the fabric store.



Lay cover-stitch adhesive-side down on to the back of the onesie. Cut out a piece large enough to cover the exposed stabalizer.



Lay a damp rag over that and steam press with a hot-iron. (Again - 8 seconds on all parts.)



Voila!

So lots of steps - I know - but the more you do it the more natural they will come. And it's so worth it for a clean finish!
 
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MY MACHINE:
I started out with a Brother se350 (se400 is the newer version) sewing/embroidery machine. This machine maxes out at a 4"x4" hoop size, so I upgraded to the Brother pe770 embroidery-only machine, which takes up to a 5"x7" hoop. (I still use the se350 for sewing.) I have been so pleased with Brother as a brand! I got the best deals on my machines by getting the first one from Wal-Mart online, and the second one from Amazon.com
 
TO CARE FOR YOUR APPLIQUES:
I always wash anything monogrammed in-side out, in cold water, on the gentlest cycle. I hang-them up to dry, and either throw them in the dryer for a few minutes afterwards to knock out the wrinkles, or press them.
 
STABALIZER TIPS:
- To monogram towels or something where you don't want left-over stabalizer to be seen, use tear-away stabalizer.
- For towels, minky fabrics, or anything that has longer fibers I usually use a piece of water-soluable stabalizer (ie. Solvy) on top of my fabric. (Use your basting spray to attach it and smooth it over.) Let your machine stitch over the Solvy. Then wash on the gentle cycle to remove. It will just dissolve away.
- I also use the same technique with Solvy to monogram bathing suits. (2 layers of stretchy nylon...) Except I cut my Solvy and attach it BEFORE I hoop so it is included in the hoop with the med-weight stabalizer on the back, and the bathing suit.
 
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I've picked up these tips and more from several friends and a few of my favorite sites...

Applique Cafe Blog - Rosemary is ALWAYS posting great tips!
Applique Momma - She has a great PDF tutorial on her site that is similar to this one.
Sassy Little Stitches - My friend Jenny's sewing blog. She's awesome and I'm always pestering her with questions ;)

Some of my favorite design sites...

Applique Cafe
Applique Frenzy
Applique Momma
Swak Embroidery
Planet Applique
Jolson's Designs (fonts)
8 Claws and a Paw (fonts)
Lynnie Pinnie
Embroidery Boutique
Applique Market
Applique Alley
Applique Corner
Kabo Designs
DB Embroidery Designs
Etsy

And there are so many more if you just search...

As far as brands...

BLANKS : I prefer Carter's brand for onesies. (Child of Mine at Wal-Mart, Just One Year/Precious Firsts at Target) They are a little thicker than Gerber and don't seem to shrink up as bad... For bigger kid things - keep an eye out at Wal-Mart, Target, Old Navy, Belk, etc. There are some blanks sites out there, but unless you can buy wholesale, they can get kind of pricey.

THREAD : I prefer the Coats & Clark embroidery thread (Joann's). It seems to be a little thicker than others and comes on a larger spool. I just like how it stitches... However I have friends that swear by Sulky.

STABALIZER : I buy it on a roll at the Husqvarna/Viking booth at our Joann's here. But any medium-weight will do. I use Heat-N-Bond LITE, and Pellon brand for cover-stitch and water-soluable stabalizer. (Again - I know a lot of people who love Sulky!)

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Phew! Well there you have it... All my embroidery secrets in one place! Hope this helps some of y'all!

PS - Let me know if you have any more tips to add... I'm always open to new suggestions :)


20 comments:

Brittany Lynn said...

Super cute!! Wish I had thought of that earlier when I posted my lame-o freezer paper stencils tutorial on my blog...I'll be trying this out really soon!!

Brittany

houseofsorensens.blogspot.com

Jenny said...

Wow! You go girl! What a great post! And thanks for being so sweet! You do not pester me with questions! I love being able to help any fellow embroider out!!

Misty said...

great tutorial!!! I have a question though- why do u put the bracket through the neck? It never even occured to me to turn it this way, I always just put the bracket to the left side, so it sews straight up and down. Thanks Misty :)

Love from Texas said...

Misty - My 4x4 hoop is wider on the side with the bracket so I like to keep that side horizontal to my onesie so it gives me a little more "breathing room" when I'm having to stretch to stitch through the bottom of the onesie... So the short sides of my hoop runs along the sides of the onesie - does that make since? I'm guessing all hoops are different, so if yours was the same length on all 4 sides it wouldn't matter how you did it!

Of course I do have to rotate my design using the machine layout function when doing it this way.

Brandy said...

Just found this tutorial when I did a search for "machine applique tutorial". I've been doing applique with my regular sewing machine, and hubby is getting me an embroidery machine for my bday (the Brother se400 coincidentally). This is a well done, easy to understand tute. Thanks so much for the links as well. I've added many of them (including yours) to my favorites.

Amy said...

this was awesome! and so much more "user-friendly" than any of the manuals that came with my machine!
thank you for sharing!! :)

Perfect Pair!! said...

LOVE this tutorial!!!! I am learning to use my embroidery/sewing machine and this will be a HUGE help. I am due to be a GiGi the end of May, so needless to say I am trying to prepare for Michael's arrival :-)
One question....I can NOT figure out how to add to my stitch pattern so that there are no blank or thin spots when I enlarge. Can you help me with that? geubank@gmail.com
Love from Austin, Texas!!!

Twins Squared said...

I just go a Brother SE400 and have been dying to Machine Applique but didn't have a clue how to do it. I have been looking up tutorials today and yours is by far the BEST! Thank you so much. I really appreciate all of the photos as well as the links to sites that you like. Thank You! Thank You! I can't wait to give this a try.

Rissa said...

Thank you so much for your tutorial. I too upgraded my Brother Disney 340D to a Brother Innovis 1500D and I love it!!! I had not done any downloaded software appliques, but just did my own the old fashion way.. I am about to do a praying mantis for my grandson to wear for his bug birthday party, and needed a bit of instruction. Of course his bday is tomorrow and Nonni always waits until the last minute!!! Thanks again!!!!

Hayley said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial! I just received a Brother SE400 and didn't have a clue how to use it. I was even considering taking it back until I came across your tutorial. It's very helpful, and I appreciate all those links you've included, I've learned so much... Thank you!

Fabric Mom said...

Awesome Tutorial! I am venturing into applique with my Janome 350e. Very helpful. I will be sharing it on my blog for others to find you and read it.

Cherise said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial! I just got my Brother PE 770 machine 2 days ago and I'm so excited to make some cute appliques for my girls. I noticed you have the same machine as me so wanted to ask you a question- has your machine ever skipped over an area of fabric while doing an applique? The needle is hitting the fabric, but the thread isn't coming through. So on a circle applique, about 1/4 of it isn't being sewn! I hope this makes sense. Trying to figure out the problem :/

Cheerful Homemaker said...

Thanks for this great tutorial! I got a Brother SE400 for Christmas and used this tutorial for my first project. Except for the part where I forgot to change the bobbin from white to navy, it turned out great! Thanks for the clear instructions. :)

The Kallemyns said...

Thank you for this post! This might be a long shot. I know you don't work for SWP or antyhing but...I downloaded the SWP program (I'm using the demo now) and, I saved my file in PES (I have a brother se400) and I have hooked up my computer to the machine and normally when I drag a file into the external drive file it automatically syncs with the machine and the design is there. It is not working correctly and after it syncs, there's nothing on the machine. I am saving it correctly I believe; using a PES file format. I know you don't work for SWP or anything and it might be a long shot but I thought I'd ask to see if you had this problem before and what you did/what I can do to get it to work. The file is showing in the external folder where I drag my designs and it sends it to the machine but it just isn't on the machine. Any advice? Thanks for anything! :)

Amy Netherland said...

Thank you for this post! I have just started embroidering/appliqueing and you have no idea how helpful this post was. My first projects were baby burp clothes and I kept wondering how to do a onsie or a t-shirt. I have your same machine, the SE400 and for an early birthday present my husband purchased me the PE780D. I don't have any children yet, but after playing around and making things for all of my friends, I think the clock is ticking so I can dress my own child :)

Thanks again!

The Newlyweds said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this informative post! I love it! :-)

One of my questions is: where do you set your thread tension for appliques on onesies? I've done several towels and bibs that have turned out perfectly - but all of my onesies look like the thread is pulling the onesie fabric! (It almost looks like holes in the fabric.)

Thanks so much!

The Newlyweds said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this tutorial! It was so helpful and I loved it!

One question: where do you set your thread tension on a onesie? All of mine look like there are holes in the fabric (as if it's pulled too tight), but when I set the tension looser, it doesn't appear to help.

Thanks so much!

Lisa Tidwell said...

Thank you for your tips! They are so helpful. Wanted to see if you know how to skip ahead a step when doing an appliqué on this machine? I was doing an appliqué and was on step 8 of 12 and my thread was not catching but the machine continued to sew, I pressed the stop button, went to get my manual and my 5 year old turned off my machine.. Ugh.. When I turned it back on my progress was lost. Any help would be appreciated!
Thanks.. Lisa.. Also from Texas!

Kelly said...

I am sorry but I am still so confused. I thought the Brother SE400 was supposed to automatically do all the applique steps?? I must be downloading my designs the wrong way or something. In my manual it tells step by step how to do applique but when I go to my machine to do it it just doesn't have anything there that is says it should.....ANy advicve, Sincerely, ALmost in tears.

Laurie Meyer said...

What is the comparison of Embird to Sew-what-pro. I purchased Embird last year but recent customer service has me looking for another program. I hate the loss of investment but shocked at the owner response to a technical question.
Would appreciate any feedback!!