Quilt Class: Basic Machine Applique’

Cake block detail
Cake block detail

This is part of the quilt class, but I will use some different patterns and fabrics to demonstrate.

When I started working on the Tarts Come to Tea after a long break I really could not remember how to machine applique’. It was the strangest feeling. I knew the general principles (trace pattern, iron it on fabric, satin stitch around the shapes), but all the details were hiding in some dark corner of my mind. I felt like I had to start over.

Being a good librarian I looked at some books, but could only find references to needle-turn and raw-edged applique’. I developed the following process. This is an overview. A future tutorial will provide more detail.


  • pencil
  • large sketch pad
  • favorite fusible (I like Soft Fuse)
  • black marker
  • paper scissors
  • fabric
  • thread
  • sewing machine
  • applique’ foot
Cake block pattern
Cake block pattern

First, I draw the pattern out life size on a white sheet of sketch paper. (I know this doesn’t look like white paper, but see the Weekend Work post for an explanation). I usually draw in pencil to start. When I draw the shapes in pencil I can make small changes until I am satisfied with the shapes.

Machine Applique' Pattern
Machine Applique’ Pattern

Next I trace the patterns on individual smaller sheets of paper. If there are parts that need to be in different colors or need to be separated for some reason, then I make separate patterns for them. For example, I made a separate pattern each for the main part of the cup, the coffee, the handle and the inside-back of the cup, above.

Tracing Machine Applique' Pattern
Tracing Machine Applique’ Pattern

I put the Soft Fuse, or other fusible of your choice, over the pattern and trace the pattern onto Soft Fuse.

Traced Pattern on Fabric
Traced Pattern on Fabric

After that is done, I trim the fabric to the approximate size, then press the Soft Fuse (or other appropriate fusible) on to the wrong side of that piece of fabric.

Repeat for all of the parts of your pattern.

Cake block detail
Cake block detail

Finally, remove the paper and stick the pieces to the background.

Press the fusible on to the background, according to the directions and satin stitch around the edges.

See the Fusible Applique’ tutorial for more detailed information. See the Machine Applique’ using Directional Motifs for more information on making sure your designs go the right way.

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

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