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How to Make a Machine Embroidery Applique

How to Make a Machine Embroidery Applique main article image
Posted on June 30, 2022 by Naomi Garcia

Are you interested in adding something new to your crafting game?  Do you have an embroidery machine?  If you said “YES,” I’ve got something for you.  Let’s take a look at machine embroidery applique. 

What is Applique?

The actual definition of “applique” is ‘ornamental needlework in which pieces of fabric are sewn or stuck onto a large piece of fabric to form pictures or patterns.’  WHAT?!!!  Here’s my definition: stitching around a piece of fabric on top of another piece of fabric to make a fun picture.  It’s probably easier to just show you.

I recently made a mini baby blanket for my great grand niece.  You may have seen the article here on The Artistry.  I used a cute embroidery design set from Creative Fabrica for her blanket.  The designs were created as applique pieces.  To keep things simple, though, I made most of the quilt blocks using just machine embroidery.  However, adding the fabric to your designs to make them true appliques can add extra dimension and interest to your projects.

Baby Bug Blanket by (Naomi D. Garcia)

Modern Machine Embroidery Applique

If you have an embroidery machine, you’re already well on your way to creating beautiful applique pieces.  But guess what else?  If you have a Cricut or a Silhouette machine, you’re even more in the zone!  

Many designs that you can download come with SVG files of the fabric pieces.  Traditionally, you would have to cut out the pattern pieces and then pin them to fabric and cut them out.  Now, though, many of the embroidery applique designs that you can purchase online come with SVG files that you simply upload into your cutting machine software.  From there, you can use your cutting machine to cut out the pieces.

cutting on Cricut Maker 3

If the design does not include SVG files, you can successfully create them using software such as Embrilliance.  I’ll include step by step directions on how to cut the applique fabric pieces using a cutting machine at the end of this article.  

For now, let’s get started with creating an applique.  I’ll be using this Baby Bug Snail design from Creative Fabrica.

Preparing to Make an Applique

Materials and Supplies

  • ¼ yard of muslin fabric (base fabric)
  • Scrap pieces of fabric for your applique 
  • Fusible, tear away stabilizer
  • Snips
  • Rotary cutter
  • Acrylic ruler
  • Self-healing mat
  • Embroider sewing machine
  • Your choice of colored thread
  • Bobbin thread
  • Baby Bug Snail embroidery design

embroidery applique materials

The Process

Preparing the Fabric

  1. Prewash and dry your fabric
  2. Iron the fabric to take out wrinkles
  3. Use the mat, rotary cutter, and ruler to cut an 8” x 8” square from the muslin

Sewing the Designs

  1. Download the Baby Baby Bug Snail design from Creative Fabrica
  2. Follow the manufacturer instructions for your embroidery machine to transfer the designs to your machine.
  3. Add stabilizer to the back of the muslin square
  4. Hoop the square.
  5. Stitch out the placement stitch (1st stitch)
  6. Add spray adhesive to the back of your applique (patterned) fabric
  7. Place the fabric on top of your placement stitch
  8. Continue with the embroidery stitches.
    1. You can change your thread if you’d like
    2. I did not change my thread for my baby snail
  9. Trim the threads and remove the excess stabilizer from the back
  10. Use your snips to trim around the fabric close to the stitches

When you’re done, you’ll have a true applique piece.  You can easily add your new design to a bag, a blanket, a shirt, or just about anything else.

sewing snail applique 1

sewing snail applique 2

Cutting the Applique Design Using Your Cricut Machine

I promised that I’d walk you through cutting the fabric applique pieces on your cutting machine.  So let’s do that now.  I’ll be demonstrating using my Cricut Maker 3.

Materials and Supplies

  • Fabric for applique
  • Cricut cutting machine (or other cutting machine)
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing
  • Temporary spray adhesive
  • Pink Fabric Grip cutting mat
  • Rotary Blade (if using Cricut Maker or Maker 3)
  • Bonded Fabric blade (if using Cricut Explore)

The Process

  1. Upload the SVG file into your cutting software.  
  2. Insert the image onto your canvas.  
  3. Be sure the image is sized correctly
  4. Send the image to cut
  5. Apply interfacing to the back of your fabric piece
  6. Lay the fabric, interfacing side down, on the cutting mat
  7. Place the rotary blade into the cartridge on the Cricut machine
  8. Follow the on-screen prompts to select “cotton fabric” and to cut the fabric

add interfacing to fabric

cutting with bonded fabric blade on Cricut Explore

It’s a pretty simple process.  But It really helps a lot, especially when you’re cutting more than just one or two pieces.  

Creating an SVG File in Embrilliance Software

This section is a little more advanced.  I want to show you how to create SVG for the applique designs.  You’ll need digitizing software.  I’ll be using Embrilliance.  Ready?  Let’s go.

  1. Download the embroidery file and open it in Embrilliance
  2. Click on the “Stitch Simulator” button (it looks like a sewing machine needle)
  3. Once you determine which color represents the position stitch, click on that thread color in the panel on the right
  4. Now click on the “Applique” tap on the new window
  5. Select “position” from the drop down menu
  6. Next, you can select “fabric preview” to see what will be cutting on your Cricut 
  7. On the right side (in the same window), use the arrows to “inflate”.  This will make your file slightly larger.  This is important because you want the stitches to cover the fabric all the way around
  8. Select “save”
  9. Name your file
  10. Choose the correct file format.  I chose “SVG”

Now you can upload the design to your design software and you’re ready to go.

Final Thoughts

I never imagined that I’d be able to create special pieces and designs like this.  Applique always looked pretty, but complicated.  I’m so happy that I’ve learned so much about using the supplies and equipment I already have.  

completed snail applique

If you’re looking to push out of your crafting comfort zone, you won’t regret trying machine applique.  Give it a try.  I bet you already have everything you need right at home.  If you do, we’d love to see what you make.  Be sure to tag Creative Fabrica and me!  I am EJsFunCrafting across all channels.


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