Keep Calm and Sew On - Machine Applique from Start to Finish

Here is a lengthy post about how I did my mini quilt, Keep Calm and Sew On. 

Prepare a final quilt layout, and trace it to the background fabric. I typically draw the final layout on tracing paper or freezer paper, because for fusible applique, your need the mirror image to prepare the fusible pieces. The mirror image can be traced quickly over semi-transparent tracing paper or freezer paper by flipping the final quilt layout to the wrong side, and putting the fusible web on top of it. 

Mirror-imaged letters can be printed directly from Word.

Trace applique elements onto the paper side of fusible webs with a pencil.

For the letters, a quicker way is to print the letters, mirror imaged, directly from Microsoft Word. It has mirror image function under “Word Art” – Format Shape – Shape Options - 3-D Rotation. By simply rotating the x-axis by 180 degrees, you wold get the letter mirrored. Print the letters out, and trace them to the paper side of the fusible web with a pencil. 

Cut and iron fuse the fusible webs onto the wrong side of the applique fabrics. For applique pieces abutting each other, leave about 1/8” of overlapping allowance on one of the pieces, so there won’t be a gap between the pieces. 

Note the 1/8" overlapping allowance I put on the  pin cushion top and side-face fusible pieces. The cushion bottom piece does not require any overlapping allowance because in my plan it would be the last piece to be ironed onto the background fabric and nothing else would be put on top of it. 

Always cut with a pair of sharp scissors!

Trace the flower outline onto the cushion top piece, so the flower can be placed accurately.

For appliques involve more than one layers, don’t forget to trace the upper layer patterns onto the background layer. 

The background applique piece always gets fused first.

Embellish... I used a triple straight stitch for a more defined look. Note I place a piece of paper behind the background fabric to avoid puckering. 

Fuse the foreground pieces.

The finished look before machine applique. 

For machine applique, personally I like to use the blanket stitch and fine zig ziag/satin stitches. There is no set rules about setting of the stitches, just experiment and choose a setting that looks good. For this particular project, my blanket stitch is 1.5mm wide x 1.5mm long, and my zig zag stitch is 1.5mm wide x 0.3mm long. I always applique with Bernina Open Toe Foot #20.

The quilting part can be tricky. To make the applique pieces more prominent, I have to make the background as flat as possible. I also wanted to practice my machine quilting, so I opted for a densely quilted background, filling the negative space with circles, swirls and feathers. 

Tiny stitches...

Playful feathers...

Trim the raw edges for binding...


My magic weapon to stick the mini quilt onto the wall...

It's a perfect piece for my sewing room!