How to use your embroidery machine to trace appliqué shapes

It used to be that you would trace appliqué shapes for a project, starting out with a printed template. Either a pen or pencil would suffice, and then you would cut out each shape. Then along came fabric cutting dies – so if you had the right die for your project, there was no need to trace appliqué shapes. Then came the electronic cutting machines (Silhouette Cameo, Brother ScanNCut etc) and even less need to trace appliqué shapes.

But what if you don’t have one of these handy cutting devices?

Did you know that you can trace appliqué shapes using your embroidery machine?

Here’s how to do it. This procedure works for all Sarah Vedeler Designs and Meaning of Life Designs designs.

  1. Load the embroidered appliqué design into your embroidery machine.
  2. Load a piece of stabilizer into your hoop and place the hoop on your embroidery machine.
  3. Stitch color #1 directly onto the stabilizer in the hoop. This is usually a placement line to show you where to position your background fabric.
  4. Remove the hoop from the machine and take it to your ironing board. My favorite place to do this next step is on my June Taylor Quilter’s Square and Blocker.
  5. Place your background fabric on the stabilizer in the hoop (for specific directions refer to the design collection).
  6. Return the hoop to your embroidery machine.
  7. Stitch color #2. This is usually a basting line (to hold the background fabric securely in place) followed by a placement line showing you exactly where to position your applique shape.

There are a couple of options for how to proceed once you get to this part.

Option 1: You have a single appliqué shape to cut or all appliqué shapes in this hooping use the same fabric

  1. Apply fusible webbing to the back of your appliqué fabric.
  2. Place the appliqué fabric – with fusible webbing backing paper still on – right side up on the background fabric in the hoop, so that it completely covers the appliqué placement line. Hold the appliqué fabric in place with some Scotch® Magic™ Tape.
  3. Unthread the machine – and if necessary, turn of the top thread sensor.
  4. Restitch color #2, the appliqué placement line. The needle is “tracing” the appliqué shape onto the fusible webbing backing paper.
  5. Remove the hoop from the machine.
  6. Remove the appliqué fabric from the hoop.
  7. Cut around the needle holes in the fusible webbing backing paper using a sharp pair of scissors.
  8. Remove the backing paper from your appliqué shape and fuse the shape in place.
  9. Rethread your machine, return the hoop to the machine, and continue stitching.

Option 2: You have more than one appliqué shape to cut and want to use different fabrics for each shape

  1. DON’T apply the fusing webbing ot the back of your appliqué shape yet!
  2. Place the fusible webbing fusible side up, backing paper down, on the backguornd fabric in the hoop, so that it completely covers the appliqué placement line. Hold the fusible webbing in place with some Scotch® Magic™ Tape.
  3. Unthread the machine – and if necessary, turn of the top thread sensor.
  4. Restitch color #2, the appliqué placement line. The needle is “tracing” the appliqué shape onto the fusible webbing backing paper.
  5. Remove the hoop from the machine.
  6. Remove the fusible webbing from the hoop.
  7. Separate the appliqué shapes by cutting loosely around the needle holes. You want just a little bit of fusible webbing around each appliqué shape.
  8. Now apply the fusible webbing shapes to the back of your appliqué fabric, fusing in place securely.
  9. Cut around the needle holes in the fusible webbing backing paper using a sharp pair of scissors.
  10. Remove the backing paper from your appliqué shapes and fuse them in place.
  11. Rethread your machine, return the hoop to the machine, and continue stitching.

The “old fashioned” method of preparing your appliqué shapes will never go away – but using your embroidery machine to trace appliqué shapes makes it a little bit easier – and quite a lot more accurate!

Option 2 is what Brigitte used when she made her gorgeous Feathered Christmas quilt. The original pattern uses only one color of fabric for the appliqué shapes. Brigitte used 2 colors.

Feathered Christmas with traced applique shapesIf you do have an AccuQuilt GO! cutter with the Heather Feather dies or an electronic cutting machine (Brother ScanNCut, Silhouette Cameo) so you can use the SVG files provided with this design collection, another way to use 2 colors for your appliqué shapes is to cut 2 sets of appliqué shapes. Make one quilt for yourself with one mixture of colors and make another quilt to give as a gift with the other mixture of colors!

8 Comments

  1. Was wondering about the quilting of the Christmas tree it’s beautiful. Was it a embroidery pattern or was it freejand

  2. I understood Option 1, but you lost me on option 2, steps 7- 10. Steps 9 & 10 seem to be a repeat of 6 & 7. If they’re not a repeat I don’t understand what you’re trying to do. What am I missing?

    • What I take from this is that step 7 in option 2 is the rough cut of the shape before applying the fusible to the applique fabric. Then step 9 is the final cut of the applique shape. When the applique fabric is already prepared with the fusible, as in option 1, you only trim once (to the final size).

      • Donna has it! For option 1, the fusible is already stuck to the applique fabric, so you only need to cut once. For option 2, you only have the fusible in the hoop so that you have the option to separate the applique shapes and put them onto different fabrics.

  3. I love this idea!

  4. I even used 5 different fabrics in the tree – 1 gold for the star on top and 4 different blue fabrics for the different appliqué “leaves”. These blues are the same as in the different pieces of the 2 borders.
    This is why I love option 2: it takes a little more time but it’s worth the effort!

  5. Great idea about unthreading machine and “stitching” the applique outline. I have often thought of trying something like that and now I know it can be done.

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