Sampler Class: Fusible Machine Applique’ Tutorial Part 3

We are making the Flower Wreath block. To find out how to make templates, including the ring, see Part 1 for making templates and Part 2 for making the ring and positioning the ring on the background.

Flower Wreath
Flower Wreath

Now we are going to stitch the ring. If you haven’t started, check the Supply List in part 1 and grab your 3″x5″ tearaway backed fabric. Your ring should be applied to the background and ready to stitch. If your ring is not fused and ready to stitch, go back to part 2.

I stitch in layers, so that the stitching is easier, there are fewer starts and stops and the piece looks more finished. Now that you are ready to stitch, it is time to choose your thread.

Choose thread
Choose thread

Whenever you choose thread, you must consider the stitch. If the stitch will be dense like a satin stitch, you should choose the color by looking at the thread wrapped around the whole spool. That will give you a better sense of the color the satin stitch will end up.

It you will be using a straight stitch, you should unreel a bit of the thread and look at one strand on your fabric. You may need to pool a little of the thread together – less dense than the whole spool and more dense than one strand.

Now set up your machine for zig zag stitching. You will need to choose a stitch density. I like a semi-open zig zag that is not too wide, because it uses less thread and looks more interesting. Dense satin stitching, however, can really highlight and outline each piece. I use the following settings on my machine:

  • Ring: width: 3.0, density: 0.45
  • Flowers: width: 3.0, density: 0.45
  • Leaves: width: 2.0, density: 0.5
  • Flower centers: width: 2.0, density: 0.5

Even if you haven’t chosen all the fabric, I like to get the ring stitched down first, so I can audition the other fabric without worrying about the ring. Yes, it is fused and shouldn’t go anywhere, but I still like it to be stitched down.

In order to choose the stitch density, you will need to test. Get the tearaway backed sample piece you have prepared and start testing with the width and densities I have provided above. Stitch lines of zig zag stitching 2-3″ long using a contrasting thread similar to the thread you will be using to stitch the ring. Adjust the width and density on your machine until you are pleased with the look.

Stitch ring
Stitch ring

Put the ring on the machine and start stitching. I always leave a long tail that I can pull to the back and tie shut later. My zig zag does not automatically tie the ends. If your machine is more advanced you may not have to tie a knot on the back. I don’t want my zig zag to come out if it gets snagged while being used, which is why I tie the ends.

I use my applique’ foot, which has a red arrow in the center to stitch out the zig zag. I place the tip of the red arrow on the raw edge of the ring and follow it around. You should stitch with needle down or use the hand wheel to put the needle down when you stop. If the center point on your foot gets off the raw edge of your ring, stop and readjust. Stop with the needle down on the outside of the ring’s curve whenever you need to readjust the needle to accommodate the curve. Turn the fabric to the left to get the center point of the foot back on the raw edge of your ring. The stitching will be slightly closer together on the inside of the shape, when the needle punches the fabric to the left,  and more open on the outside of the shape or when the needle hits the background.

Tail of thread
Tail of thread

When you have done about half – 3/4s of the stitching on the ring, stop and pull the beginning thread to the back and tie it off, if you need to.

I tie the beginning off before I get to the end, because the beginning and ending threads can get tangled up and make it impossible to make small, neat knots. I have tied all four ends together in a pinch, but prefer to make the knots as small as possible.

Fold work back to tie
Fold work back to tie

I also use this technique also if I have to stop and pull the work out of the machine because of thread breakage or necessary bobbin refill.

I fold the work back (I only used my pincushion so I could photograph what I was doing. Normally, I just hold it with my wrist as pull the front through to the back and tie the ends together. I don’t take the work out of the machine unless there is a good reason – like a big knot, or thread breakage, etc.

Completely stitched ring
Completely stitched ring

Once your knot is tied, continue stitching to where you started. I don’t overlap much once I get to the beginning, perhaps only a stitch or two, because I don’t want the look to be too different.

I pull the work out of the machine and tie off the ending threads. You may not need to do this if your machine does it for you.

Now do the same thing, but on the inside to finish stitching down the ring. Once you have stitched both the inside and outside of the rings, your ring will be complete and you will be ready to place the leaves and flowers on the ring.


Choose fabrics by putting scraps on background

If you have not already done so, choose the rest of your fabrics. You will need fabric for the flowers (1-4 fabrics) and leaves (1-20 fabrics). If you have not cut out and fused the wreath to the background, please go back to part 2. The leaves can be the traditional green or you can use something else. If you use one color, you might want to mix up the prints to increase interest. You can also use different colors. Make the block your own.

Make visual decisions visually
Make visual decisions visually

I thought about making the leaves green to make them more realistic, but decided I was still of a mind to use a variety of turquoises and aquas and keep my quilt’s color scheme of aqua/turquoise with red consistent. I found more leaf fabrics in my scrap basket. It is important, with my limited color scheme, to make sure the viewer can see the individual leaves. For that, I will need to have enough contrast between the various aquas and turquoises. Remember, when choosing your fabrics, to make visual decisions visually. Put your potential fabrics on the background and step back to look at them. From my test piece (right) you can see that there are a variety of tones of aqua and turquoise. Some of them blend a bit into the background. I want movement and interest.

Cover fusible with fabric
Cover fusible with fabric

Once you have chosen all of your fabrics press the wrong sides, cheek to jowl, to one side of the fusible.

You are not going to be able to cover every inch of the fusible, which is why you have a pressing cloth or applique’ pressing sheet. If you press directly, the fusible that is not covered by fabric will end up on the bottom of your iron.

Cover this piece with a press cloth and press the fusible to the fabric following the directions on your fusible’s packaging.


Trace leaves & Flowers
Trace leaves & Flowers

Make all of your leaves and flowers. Flip the fusible so that paper side is up. You will be able to see your different fabrics through the paper. Place a template face DOWN on the appropriate fabric and trace with a writing implement. I use a Sewline pencil, but you can also use a pen, regular pencil or anything. I wouldn’t use a Sharpie even though I don’t think the paper will allow the marking to bleed through to the fabric.

Once you have traced all pieces**, cut them out right inside the drawn line. You should have 20 leaves, 4 flowers and 4 center flowers.

  1. Take all of your pieces and arrange them the pleasing way. Arrange them into the position you want them to end up once they are fused. You are doing this to look at the effect. Once you are pleased with the arrangement, take a photo or sketch out placement.
  2. Fuse & Stitch Flowers
    Fuse & Stitch Flowers

    You will need to stitch the flowers first, then the leaves and finally the flower centers. The flowers and leaves are on the same layer, so you can stitch them in any order. Anything that will be covered by another piece will need to be stitched before you fuse the covering piece.

  3. Place the flowers on the ring using the press marks you used to place the ring on the background (or fold the background in quarters and finger press again). Place them symmetrically along the ring, or in a pleasing way to your eye.
  4. Fuse them into place and get ready to stitch. You can also reference the machine applique’ tutorial for more information. Again, pay attention to where the layers of the design are placed. If there are leaves that you want to place under the wreath, you will need to satin stitch them before you fuse the wreath down entirely.  For the flowers, you will need to satin stitch down any parts of the design that will be covered by another piece of fused fabric, such as the centers. The design will look better if you satin stitch a layer and then fuse the next piece down.
  5. Flower Wreath Layers

    Place the interfacing under the background. You could use a machine basting stitch to stitch the interfacing temporarily to the background, but pinning works fine, too. You will need to zig zag with the interfacing under the background.

  6. Stitching flowers
    Stitching flowers

    Satin stitch all the other pieces down using the thread you chose. When you stitch, the middle of the stitch will cover the outside raw edge of each piece. I line up the red arrow on my foot (see photo) with the sharp edge of that raw edge. The pieces you will satin stitch have curves, thus you will need to manipulate the stitch so it is smooth. This means that you will need to stitch with needle down.

    Stop stitching to create smooth curves
    Stop stitching to create smooth curves

    Stop with the needle down on the outside of the curve for the leaves and flower petals. For the inside point between the flower petals stop above that point on the inside. If you do not have a machine that automatically stops with the needle down, then you can use the hand wheel to move the needle into the downward position when you stop. Do this carefully without moving the fabric. Once the needle is down you will need to assess the way to turn the fabric. Always turn the fabric very slightly to ensure a smooth curve. You may only need to take one stitch before adjusting the fabric again in order to get around the curve smoothly. For the outside curves, generally, you need to turn the fabric to the left to make a smooth curve. (Updated 10/30/2012: My engineer SIL says: You turn it clockwise for outside curves and counter clockwise for inside curves.) The stitching will be closer together on the inside of the shape and more open on the outside of the shape when you move in this direction. For the inside point of the flower, between the petals, you will need to take a slight adjustment of the background to the right. For the pointy ends of the leaves, stop the needle on the outside of the leaf near the point and adjust the fabric to the right very, very slightly. Take one stitch, stop on the outside of the point again. Adjust very slightly to the right. Your goal should be to get the needle into the same hole on the inside of the leaf until the arrow or line on your machine’s foot is in line with the raw edge of the other side of the leaf. When you move the fabric always keep the needle down. Before starting, take a few of the shapes, e.g. a leaf and a flower, make some test pieces and do a test on junk fabric so you get the feel of the procedure. This is not something you should work on when you are pressed for time.

  7. Arrange leaves
    Arrange leaves
  8. Once you are finished with the flowers, change your thread and adjust the width and density of your stitch, if desired.
  9. Arrange the leaves in a pleasing manner. I placed 5 at a time on the background and stitched them down.
  10. Stitch leaves
    Stitch leaves

    Arrange and stitch all of the leaves. My photo shows only 10 sewn leaves.

  11. Place the centers on the flowers and stitch them down. Follow all the directions above for tying off and moving the needle to create a smooth curve.
  12. Back of block
    Back of block

    Once you have stitched all the pieces, rip off the tearaway. I use a seam ripper to get the ripping started on pieces that are surrounded by stitching.

  13. Once you are finished with the entire stitching and tearaway ripping, trim the background down to 12.5″




**Nota bene: These pieces have no right direction. You can trace them any way and apply them anyway and they will look fine. Pay attention if you are cutting out letters or another motif that has a special direction. Put the right side down on the paper backed fusible and trace the motif backwards.