Tips & Tricks

Applique Tips

Applique is fun for all – you can stitch by hand or machine, zigzag, blanket or free motion.   With so much excitement over our new Land of Whimzie flannel Applique Blankets, we thought it would be a great time to share some useful tips.


Fuse shapes

Place all the shapes and arrange as you’d like. Protect your iron and the fabrics with a pressing sheet, which is a non-textured cloth, plain muslin, or sheeting. Old pillowcases also work well. Our instructions call for a damp pressing cloth and 10-15 seconds. Don’t overheat – more time doesn’t always mean a better result.


Machine set up

Clean your machine and use a new needle. Choose a foot with an open or clear area. Set the ‘needle down’ position and slow the speed.


Matching your thread color to the fusible shape will hide any errors. Fill the bobbin with the same thread. As you gain confidence, try some interesting threads  – dark for a folk art look, metallic, variegated or a bold accent color. A machine quilting thread of 40 weight will make a nice blanket stitch. For the “Owl Love” designs, a neutral grey would be a good choice.



Satin stitches, zigzags and blanket stitches should just cover the edge of the applique and have a big enough ‘bite’ to hold the applique securely. For the flannel appliques, a wider zigzag worked best.

Take the Time to Test …

Test your needle, thread, stabilizer and stitches before you start on your blanket or quilt. Use scrap fabric and sew for a few minutes to be sure the width and length of your stitches are ideal. Write on the fabric for a record of the ‘perfect’ stitch and thread.


Do you see the little pucker under the zigzag stitches?  This is why you need a stabilizer under the fabric.  Since the flannel is soft, I decided to use the widest zigzag. Now, back to stabilizers ….


If you use a  zigzag or satin stitch, use a stabilizer under the background.  There are so many to choose from, these are just a few that we use:


For the sample, I tested two. First, the Pellon Fuse N Tear 371R fusible tear away – this one was a little tricky to figure out what side has the glue, so protect your iron. Next up, the Pellon 841 Stick N Tear pressure sensitive – it was easy to use, just peal and stick. This will be great when you don’t have an iron set up.  However, it comes with a warning to not leave it on longer than an hour, hmmm….so I figured I should get this project finished before some bad happened.

Layer the stabilizer underneath the background, follow the package instructions to secure, and your applique is ready to sew!


Both released and tore out easily. The pressure sensitive was soft, so I left it in the legs and small areas.  You may not have supplies like our studio does, but honestly, I never met a stabilizer that didn’t do what it was supposed to do.  Look for a tear away or wash away embroidery/applique product and try it.

Machine Applique

Pivot at corners, curves and points. Stop with the needle down, lift the presser foot, move the fabric, then lower the presser foot and continue sewing. Pivot often on curves. At corners, know where the next stitch will be and stop on a ‘zig’ not a ‘zag’. Change to a narrow width when your stitches go around small details, like the ears and nose on the Woodland fox.

Appliqué Closeup

Finish the stitches with a back stitch, a short line of hidden straight stitches, or cut the thread with long tails so you can pull to the wrong side and tie off.

So don’t fear the “A” word.  Applique is Absolutely Achieveable!

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