Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Machine Appliqueing the Dresdens

Hi Everyone,

This is the last of my tutorials showing you how I've been constructing the Dresden Doilies Quilt.

Once the "plates" and the centers are ready to go, I appliequed them on by machine using a blind hem stitch.  Many people use this technique and I'm sure that there are whole books out there on the subject, but this should help you at least visualize things a bit.
The first thing to do is to change feet from a 1/4" foot to a wider, zig zag foot.  I like one with an open toe, so you can see.  I didn't have an open toe foot, but my husband fixed that with his dremel--he removed the bar that ran across it, and I haven't regretted it for a minute!
Next select your blind hem stitch.  It looks like this one on the right:

What the stitch will do is take around 4 straight stitches, and then jump to the left and take a "bite" by making one zig zag stitch, and the repeat with the straight stitches.

This photo is supposed to be vertical.  I adjust the controls from the "default" or suggested settings for the stitch.  I shorten the stitch considerable, to make the "bites" closer together.  I also narrow the stitch width so the "bite" isn't too wide.  You can continue to adjust as you work.

The next consideration is thread selection.  I use as fine of thread as possible, so it is less noticeable.  I assumed that since I was appliqueing light shapes (in the case of the Dresden plates) onto a red background, that I should use light thread on top.  However, I noticed that the light straight stitches showed along the edge, so I used red instead.  It is so fine, that the one little "bite" stitch really didn't show too much on the light applique.  I used Invisafil thread on the top in red and a light Superior So Fine thread in the bobbin.

Here is a sample: 

The star fabric represents the applique piece and the lighter fabric is the background.  Set things up so that the straight part of the stitch is running right next to the applique piece, and not on.  Slowly start the machine and watch until it takes the few straight stitches and then jumps to the left to take the "bite" stitch.
Can you see that the needle has jumped over to the applique and is taking the "bite" stitch?  In the photo, I can see that it is probably jumping too far to the left--I can adjust the stitch width narrower, so the bite won't be as big.

Here you can see that the needle isn't as far over as it was above.  Just continue on--you don't have to go real fast, keep it nice and slow, watching so that each jump takes its bite of the applique and that the straight stitches are staying right next to the applique.

This is the result.  You can really see it because of the red thread.  Once you practice a bit, it is time to work on the real thing.

Going around a curve or circle is a little different, but I go slow to keep the needle right on the edge of the applique.

When done, you can barely see the stitches.  And it is so much faster than doing it by hand!

I am packed up and ready to head out to my retreat.  There is actually a few things left in my quilt room, but not much, ha ha!

Have a great day!


  1. Have fun! Wish I was coming along with you...nothing like inviting myself along eh?

  2. What a great tutorial ! Have a great time !

  3. I've always thought I couldn't do machine applique because I don't have a blanket stitch on my machine. I am not out looking for applique projects, but it is nice to know there are options if there is ever something that I just "have to" do. : ) Thanks.

  4. Thanks for sharing your technique, I would normally wimp out at using the machine for that job, but your tutorial has made me think again.

  5. Excellent instructions! I hand appliqued my Dresden plate quilt but think I will try this machine method the next time.

  6. It was good to see a visual of this. I've always done it with a blanket stitch, but I liked seeing an alternative method.