Back when I first started applique, the buttonhole/blanket stitch was a scary word (don't stab me with a needle or peer over your spectacles for using them synonymously! They look pretty similar). "Buttonhole stitch" is on the same blacklist for some quilters, among which sit "handstitch," and "paper piecing." After LOTS of trial, error, and some expert tips from my mother-in-law, Rena, I learned how easy it is with the right tools and a little patience! So here we go.
1. Choose the stitch on your machine. I have several blanket/buttonhole stitches on my machine, so use a scrap piece of fabric to ensure that the one you choose has the look that you like! If this is your first time using a blanket stitch, play with it and get used to the rhythm of it. This rhythm will ensure you create a beautiful applique finish. If you’re noticing lots of fraying on your applique piece, use a sharper needle.
2. Keep your presser foot at a 90 degree angle (or perfectly perpendicular) with your applique piece.
3. Don’t start on a corner or tip…it makes it harder to get it lined up when tying it off.
4. You can skip a stitch or two by twisting your balance wheel back and forth to help your stitches look even as you approach a corner/point. I use this technique all the time because I’m OCD and don’t want my stitches overlapping!
5. Lift your presser foot with your needle still down to turn your project back and forth (some machines, like my Pfaff, come with an automatic feature…do some research, as it’s much faster not to have to battle with your presser foot and needle)!
6. DO NOT rotate your project when the needle is in the “bite” position…
It will create a “v” in the inner stitch. Turn it when the needle is in “home” position instead.
7. Adjust (shorten) the length of your stitch as you approach a sharp point (and lengthen as you leave the sharp point)…it will prevent the stitches from running into each other and looking messy. Not everyone does this, but again, OCD. You’ll be happier with the overall aesthetic.
8. I like to tie my tails off by pulling on the bobbin stitch from the back side of the fabric. If you don’t like to tie your tails off, stitch in place a couple times or backstitch once the needle is in the “home” position.
9. Honestly, I'm not tooting my own horn, but laser-cut applique really revolutionized the applique process for me. Back before I had my pieces laser-cut, they frayed so easily and just the length of the process turned me off to doing as many applique projects as I do now. Consider trying one, and analyze the cost-time value...what used to take me weeks takes only a few hours now!
We've received lots of requests as to where to find kits, and our "Shop Locator" is still in beta, so I've listed a few links below. If your shop isn't featured below, but you'd like a social media feature, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how!
Fat Quarter Shop: https://www.fatquartershop.com/sew-she-did-laser-cut-quilt-kit
Connecting Threads: https://www.connectingthreads.com/search?q=laser+cut
Missouri Star Quilt Co: https://www.missouriquiltco.com/shop/browse/10775
Check out our YouTube tutorials for more information on our process and tips for your quilting to-dos!