Machine Applique

I finished the scallop border on Rabbits Prefer Redwork using invisible machine applique. That’s right, invisible machine applique, but with DMC Machine Embroidery thread or Aurifil 50wt. thread.

I love to stitch by hand, but there’s a time and a place for everything. Machine applique can be the perfect solution when you need to get it done fast. The four border scallops took me one evening to applique and you can hardly see any difference. I’ll let you in on some of my secrets!

You’ll need a few things to get started:

1. Thread to match the color of your applique. Use a 50 wt.  thread on the top, and regular thread in the bobbin. (If you have a problem with your tension, try using the 50wt. in BOTH the bobbin and the top).

2. 70/10 Microtex machine needle

3. Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It

4. Sewing machine with a variable overlock stitch (stitch #3 on the Bernina), blind hem stitch OR (if all else fails) a blanket stitch.

5. A knowledge of the Spray Starch Method of Applique: We’ve got a tutorial to get you started right here on this blog.  Read it through and prepare your applique using the spray starch method.

Glue-baste your prepared applique to the background fabric. (Use a tiny line of glue next to the applique edge. You don’t want the applique to move while you are stitching.)

Now we’re ready to sew!

  1. Set your machine in the Needle down position.
  2. If you have a Bernina, choose the variable overlock stitch & mirror image the stitch. For other machines try the hem stitch or the blanket stitch.
  3. Stitch width at .5 to .7 (very tiny)
  4. Stitch length at .5 to .7
  5. Open toe foot & open stitch plate
  6. A good light and a great pair of glasses ( :



In the picture below I’m stitching right next to the edge of my scallop. The foot is my guide and I make sure it is always RIGHT next to my fabric.  (If you have a machine where the needle doesn’t line up with the foot use your needle as the guide.)

I’m stitching into the background fabric, and barely catching the applique fabric. The machine takes a tiny “bite” of my fabric every few stitches . It’s just like hand applique, you want a tiny, tiny stitch.

If you stay right next to the edge of the fabric, and I mean RIGHT NEXT to the edge, your background stitches will hardly show. Just look at the photo below! Remember I’m stitching in red thread and you can’t see it.

And a view from the front of the scallop…

And here’s how it looks on the back of the fabric…you don’t ever want to rip out these tiny stitches so be careful!

I don’t use invisible nylon thread because I don’t like the feel or how it sews.  Some instructors like it, but my preference is the 50 wt. cotton. The cotton is soft, and blends right into the fabric. It’s wonderful to sew with and just feels good!

And many years from now when someone picks up my redwork quilt, I know the cotton thread will still be feeling good!

The settings for each machine will vary so you have to practice to see what works on your machine. Questions? Email me and I’ll try to answer as they come up.

Hope this helps!


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  • Mandi - I adore redwork! Can’t wait to see a photo of it after quilting is done!ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - oh,I knew this would be great and it is! The work is flawless and beautiful! I can hardly wait for this to be revealed,I love Redwork,you have captured the very look I just love. Good job! Great tutorial!Where can I purchase this DMC thread? Have not seen it available in my area. Will it be on your site?ReplyCancel

  • Yvette - I can’t wait to see the whole quilt! I have to have the pattern!

    I have Pearl’s DVD and do all my applique using her method. Now I can try it using my sewing machine too. THANK YOU!!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - I am loving watching this quilt come together. I have used this very technique (using Monopoly thread on the top) for applique, but I love it even more on the border. I cannot wait to see the whole thing!ReplyCancel

  • Jeanie - Awesome:)ReplyCancel

  • Hogan's Adventure - Hi Anne-Thank you for your tips on applique, I have yet to try it but its very inspiring. You and Anne B. have been so helpful to us beginners and its so appreciated and inspiring1!!!

    Love the redwork!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Barb - That is totally awesome…I was so thrilled to learn how to do that and you explained it so well…thanks so much.ReplyCancel

  • Julie Isa - Wonderful post!!! I will send my quilting friends to visit and learn!

    Thank you I can’t wait to try it. I need to find the thread now. any suggestions?ReplyCancel

  • Simply This and That - That fabric looks so adorable! That quilt looks so adorable! Oh my. What a great tutorial! And awesome pictures! You’ve gotten quite good with that camera. I had better get to hoppin on Block #1 or I’m gonna be behind! LOL. ooxx`jodReplyCancel

  • Connie - That is beautiful. I think Redwork could easily become a favorite! I don’t like invisible thread either – too stiff.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - This is beautiful! And such a super tutorial! Finding DMC thread is difficult — any links to vendors of that?
    Your iron is intriguing. What is it?ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - thanks for the tutorial!! that quilt is beautiful anne and your fabrics are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Bloom - Thank you so much for sharing this technique. I have only ever used blanket stitch for machine applique, but I think I will be trying this next time!ReplyCancel

  • Jen in NY - Gosh that redwork quilt is beautiful!! Thank you for the machine applique tutorial…it really looks great! –JenReplyCancel

  • Jackie - Your work is beautiful! I can’t believe the precision on the machine applique. GorgeousReplyCancel

  • Peggy - Your quilt is beautiful! I’m in love the scallop edge! Thank you for the tutorial too!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy - I’m fairly new to your blog and would like to say how much I enjoyed your directions and especially your photos for this machine applique. I do use a blanket stitch quite often and I do have Berninas so I will definitely give this technique a try for my next applique. Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Béa - wonderful quilt and great tutorial, bravo and thanks
    Béatrice, FranceReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Terrific and very thorough instructions. LOVE the sneaky peeks of the project. Hmmm…what type of iron are you using?ReplyCancel

  • Amy - Anne,
    I guess I can wait one more day for the basket,lol! Thank you so much fro giving something to look forward to each month……
    Looking forward to seeing more of your new project.ReplyCancel

  • EJ180 - Anne, it’s so gorgeous, I can’t wait to see it all finished.

    Thanks for the review of Pearl’s DVD. I may purchase this to help improve my applique skills. I subscribe to Pearl’s message board where she does share some of her tips.


  • Kristin - Oh thank you for the tutorial! That looks incredible. I can’t wait to see the whole quilt, I just love red and white. Looking forward to that and BOM #2.ReplyCancel

  • Pamela - This is beautiful. Red and creme are becoming a favorite of mine!ReplyCancel

  • bobbee.duran - Just beautiful work. I will need to try that on my next quilt. Thanks for the info.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - What a wonderful tutorial. I am going to try this soon!!

    The redwork quilt looks fabulous…ReplyCancel

  • Dawn - Thanks for the great tutorial! I too adore redwork!ReplyCancel

  • madrekarin - I am drooling over this quilt. :) Thank you for the wonderful tip! It opens up so many possibilities.ReplyCancel

  • Sinta - I have been wanting to try the machine applilque. thanks for the tutorial on it! I can see that I might need to get that DVD… I heard someone else mention and how they watch it over and over again! The redwork bunny is looking adorable!ReplyCancel

  • happy zombie - You must know that I’m stalking your blog waiting for the next ATAT#2! Now I wait, one more loooooong day. To make matters worse, you taunt me with glimpses of your beautiful redwork quilt.

    Even though you have a beautiful tutorial…. coming to your blog is like watching an episode of Lost – I learn the secrets of one clue… but you throw 47 new ones at me!

    C’mon 5th, hurry up and get here!ReplyCancel

  • Cyndi Walker - Thank you SO much for the tutorial! I have totally been using the wrong stitch – no wonder I haven’t been happy with this process. Maybe I’ll give it another try? :)ReplyCancel

  • Candace - Thank you so much, Anne, for the wonderful tutorial! I had seen this done before but I just couldn’t build up the nerve to try it – you make it look SO simple! Can’t wait to see the finished quilt!

  • Amy Elizabeth - Thank you for the tips! They make perfect sense. I am definately going to try this. I can’t wait to see more of this quilt!ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - I am very excited about this quilt. I have never tried my Bernina for buttonhole stitch but think I might on this project when I finally get to it. Thank you for your very precise directions on it. 35+ years of quilting and still a lot to learn~
    Thanks again, LouiseReplyCancel

  • eamylove - Gorgeous! Where does a person find the DMC machine embroidery thread?ReplyCancel

  • PamKittyMorning - Nice tutorial Anne. Love the scallops and the sneaky peeks!ReplyCancel

  • Carrie P. - Thanks for the info on doing the scalloped border. From the sneak peek it is going to be a very cute quilt. Can’t wait until tomorrow!ReplyCancel

  • Judy S. - Love the scalloped border on your redwork quilt. I’ve one waiting for me to finish so will be interested to see your quilting.
    BTW, love your basket designs. Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • Miss Jean - Thank you so much for the tutorial. Something to keep book-marked for future use. I can’t wait to see the finished quilt – and the next block!ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Wow!! It will be a beautiful quilt, I am sure. Your tutorial is very nice to have. I print them and save them in a binder. Thank you for that thoughtfulness.ReplyCancel

  • ~D Spack~ - Your redwork quilt is looking so lovely! I was introduced to DMC thread several months ago…I absolutely love it! My 35 year old Singer does a great hem stitch, I am so excited to try this. Thanks for the encouragement, as I’ve been contempleting trying it for a long time, thinking I would just pretend that it’s a blanket stitch, but now you’ve outed the idea and confirmed it!!!:)I can be proud of that old hem stitch!ReplyCancel

  • Red Geranium Cottage - Love your redwork project. So pretty. Cant wait for block #2.ReplyCancel

  • My Little Family: - Soeone has been VERY busy. I can hardly wait to see!ReplyCancel

  • Wyldhare - I had no idea you could do this on a sewing machine or that DMC came in a thread version! Wow! And you are right, it looks amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Purpleflowerpatch - Anne, thanks so much for showing how to do this! I think I’m game to give it a try – I have sporadic arthritis in my fingers when I do too much hand applique, but I LOVE to applique.

    Btw, I think this quilt is so beautiful…can’t wait to see the whole top.ReplyCancel

  • Kari - Anne,
    What a fabulous tutorial you did! I am always thrilled to learn a new trick or technique that can help me save time. Your designs for spring look great so far, can’t wait to see the rest. I will have to try the machine method with the DMC thread. I love applique by hand, but sometimes I like the machiine method as well. You’re a doll.
    Kari- Fresh Cut QuiltsReplyCancel

  • Mirabilys - Ohlala… It just looks gorgeous!
    I can’t wait t see the whole quilt!ReplyCancel

  • julia - Hi Anne,
    hmmm…perhaps I should give machine applique a new try…;o)
    Your Redwork quilt is going to be gorgeous! And so is the new block of the BOM…simply LOVE it!
    Thanks again for sharing,
    *your* JuliaReplyCancel

  • Little Green Doll - Oh, wonderful quilt! I love it! Thanks a lot for the tutorial!ReplyCancel

  • Laurie in Maine - Just found (applique) BOM #2 – I adore it!! Headed to the printer now :)ReplyCancel

  • Gigi - Thanks for the demo on applique-! Needed That!!
    I Love your new BOM’s, it’s my very favorite-Thank you!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Stjoemom2011 - Anne,
    I love the new fabric!! Can’t wait! The A Tisket A Tasket couldn’t possibly be any cuter!!! I think each month is going to be better than the last! Can you tell I’m excited?? KathyReplyCancel

  • Ann - OMG…you have given my quilting friends and I something to talk about. We have turned this into a challenge and having so much fun to see who can finish the block first! LOVED the scalloped border…can’t imagine how wonderful the top is. Thanks for your creativity.ReplyCancel

  • Nanette Merrill and daughters - You taught me something. I had to read it 3 times and think hard but I think I can do this. What great technique. I don’t have an open foot but this is as good a reason as any to get one. Thanks Anne. This is really helpful. I love learning new ways of doing things.ReplyCancel

  • Dandelion Quilts - This is a great tutorial. Thanks for the tips.ReplyCancel

  • chicca - thanks, you have given a great aid to me chiccaReplyCancel

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  • Dresden Progress - […] here or scroll to the top of the page, click on the Tutorial link and the applique picture.  You just […]ReplyCancel

  • Charo - Wonderful thanks you very muchReplyCancel

  • Rachael Rabbit - Fabulous. I’m going to change the way I do machine applique … but you might not get me away from the invisible thread …..ReplyCancel

  • Mimi - This is an amazing technique… awesome!! Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Kathie - Hi Anne – thanks for the wonderful tutorial. I have just one question and that is what is your preference for beginning and ending when appliqueing with this method? Love all your work.ReplyCancel

    • Kathie - Thanks Anne – I have been working on a block to perfect my machine applique and its working out great. I love needle turn by hand , but like everyone I am running out of time to do all the hand work I want to do so machine it is!!ReplyCancel

  • Cristiana - Adorei seus trabalhos. Ainda vou fazer uma colcha em redwork, acho lindo! Obrigada pelo tutorial applique. Um abraço.ReplyCancel