Invisible machine applique

Yarn Block

Love the look of appliqué quilt projects but don’t have the time, patience or hand strength to stitch all of the individual appliqué pieces down by hand?

Invisible machine appliqué to the rescue! This technique uses a tiny zigzag or appliqué stitch of your choice to stitch down the appliqué pieces using a monofilament polyester thread. There are any number of ways to prepare your appliqué shapes for this method; however, the actual sewing process is the same. Sharon Schamber is probably the best known quilter associated with this method of appliqu

1) Mono-poly thread from Superior Threads (or clear thread of your choice)
2) 50-60 wt thread in the bobbin to match/blend with background fabric
3) Topstitch/microtex needle size 70/10 or 80/12
4) Gift tissue paper or tear away stabilizer to support more delicate appliqué pieces (optional)
5) Purple thang, wooden chopstick or sewing awl to help hold appliqué pieces in position as you sew (optional)

I prepare my appliqué shapes using turned edge and/or the Lori Holt interfacing method. Small circles are my nemesis. I discovered Applipops at the Kansas City Quilt Show. Any circles 2″ or smaller can be made using the metal Applipop rings. They work well! Karen K. Buckley also offers Perfect Circle templates that are a similar concept, but have a different construction method. See if either method might make small circles easier for you!

I glue baste my appliqué shapes using Elmer’s school glue with a tiny applicator tip I purchased at a local quilt shop. I allow everything to dry overnight. Multilayer designs are often placed under a stack of books while drying.

Machine settings:
1) My preferred stitch is a zigzag stitch with the length and width settings somewhere between 1.0 and 1.5. With my Baby Lock Jubilant, I use L= 1.2 and W = 1.0. On my Elna Star, it’s L = 1.5 and W = 1.5.
2) I use an open toe foot.
3) I reduce the top tension to 2.5.
4) Mono-Poly is a stacked spool, so it needs to be in a vertical position for best results. I use the auxiliary spool pin that came with my machine.

Thread considerations:
I use Mono-Poly thread in clear from Superior Threads. I have used this thread to sew patches on scout uniforms and to attach trims to projects. It is a very fine polyester thread with more of a matte finish than most other clear polyester threads. It is also the thread recommended by Sharon Schamber.

A friend of mine likes the Aurifil invisible thread and others like Invisafil from Wonderfil Threads. YLI Wonder Thread is another option, but it is nylon, so you have to be a little more careful when using an iron on projects made with this thread. Here’s an article I found helpful when choosing invisible thread. Buy a spool of each and experiment to see which product gives the look you prefer.

Many folks, including myself, find handwork relaxing. However, invisible machine appliqué is another tool in your quilty tool box that can help you make projects you may not have otherwise considered due to time and amount of handwork involved.