Machine Embroidery Blog Hop Day 1 – Zoo Animals

Today is my day for the blog hop – and I’m excited to show you the Zoo Animals machine embroidery set, give you some tips about machine embroidery applique, and to offer a giveaway of the embroidery set of your choice from the machine embroidery shop to one lucky follower (comment on this blog and become a follower to enter).

Zoo animals is one of my favorite dies, but I also use the GO!™ Elephant die embroidery set with the Zoo Animals set as I think that makes it just perfect. I have created a couple of quilts with these animals and love both of them. The first quilt is one I made for my grandson, and the second quilt is one I made for myself.

Following this slide show you’ll find tips for machine embroidery applique. I will offer more tips throughout the week.

.The focus is on machine embroidery though, so the most important message today is to tell you some things I’ve learned using die cut fabric shapes for machine embroidery applique. Check the ‘how-to” section of this blog to get more information about machine embroidery applique.

1) Stabilizers – I have used almost every kind of stabilizer and don’t see a lot of difference when they’re cut or torn away and the applique blocks are put into a quilt. Theoretically, the tear away is better because it softens with washing. But I haven’t had any problem with stiffness with any of the stabilizers. When I use cutaway, it is a soft, but medium weight cutaway and the tear away stabilizers I have used are also a medium to lighter weight. The only caution is that when one is using the traditional applique stitch, a lighter weight tear-away is better so as not to distort the stitches when it is torn away. Of course a cutaway works just fine with the traditional applique stitch too.

2. Fusible – Again, I think there are a lot of fusibles that will work. The key is to use a fusible that is lighter weight–with the goal of keeping the applique soft. The applique stitches hold the applique in place well enough that one can use washable glue (instead of fusible) applied to the background fabric to hold the applique in place until the stitching is complete.

3. Cutting with the die cutter – This is one of the most critical steps because it is important for the applique not to shrink or stretch during the cutting process. This is the main reason that I use a paper-backed fusible – because the paper assures that the cut does not shrink or stretch. However, using old catalog pages when cutting with the layers from bottom to top as follows: die, paper, fabric, mat, will work quite well.

4. Fitting the applique shape to the placement lines – This is also a critical step in the process. I use a mini iron and am careful to fit the edge of the shape just inside or on the placement stitches. Sometimes the die cut shape is slightly small or slightly large for the placement lines. When this happens, I “ease” the shape to fit the placement stitches by using the iron to fuse around the outer edges and then fuse the center. And the shapes never look “eased” after the stitching is complete. It almost seems like magic, but it works. Here’s a tutorial.

5. Fabric choices for applique – I think this is important and really depends a lot on the applique stitch that you are using. With the designs that I digitize, there are traditional applique stitches, a free-form applique stitch that I created, a candlewick stitch, and a satin stitch. For the traditional applique stitches and the free-form applique stitch, I like to use a fabric that has a higher thread count and is a firmer weave, like a batik. The batiks are dyed all the way through the fabric and have a harder finish, so there is less fraying. For the candlewick stitch and the satin stitch, any good quality cotton or even silk, works quite well. However, any fabric with a lower thread count is more likely to stretch or shrink during cutting.

6. Thread choices – I love thread and use both polyester and cotton. When I use cotton thread, it is always Aurifil. With polyester thread I use primarily Isacord and Madeira polyneon. However, if the color is right, I would certainly use others. Sometimes, the tension on my machine acts up and I can see the bobbin thread on top. When that happens, I simply wind a bobbin with the same thread I am using on top and continue to stitch away. And speaking of bobbin thread, my machine prefers cotton. I use the YLI 60 weight cotton thread pre-wound bobbin.

It is so much fun to use die cut shapes for machine embroidery – and I can’t wait to see the projects that everyone has created each day this week. Here’s a list of stops on this blog tour:

Monday, November 5th
Tuesday, November 6th
Wednesday, November 7th
Thursday, November 8th
Friday, November 9th


36 Replies to “Machine Embroidery Blog Hop Day 1 – Zoo Animals”

  1. Great tips. I don’t have a die to cut shapes but I can still use your tips for machine embroidery. I like the idea to use a small iron to fuse the shape.

  2. What an enjoyable article. I have a number of dies and embroidery designs. Itching to get to my machine and try them all out. Thank you for all the helpful hints, particulary relating to threads.

  3. Marjorie, I just love your zoo animals, they are so adorable. I love the way your quilts look as well. I also love your zoo elephants, I am still wanting to get those dies as well. Thanks for the tips on embroidery tips.

  4. Great, helpful information for all ME applique quilters, Marjorie. Your quilts are so cute with those little zoo animals.
    Thanks sew much!

  5. I learn so much from your tutorials. And I love all your applique designs. Now I have another reason to buy the zoo animals die.

  6. I have just bought an embroidery machine and so appreciate all of the information you are sharing. Stabilizers and threads are still confusing to me at times. I have just stuck with the Isacord, as my machine seems pretty happy with it, but am never quite sure what stabilizer to use with what project.

  7. Very good information! I have an embroidery machine but am stuck on how to use it. This is so helpful!

  8. Thanks for the tips on cutting the fabrics. Never thought about the cutter distorting the shapes. I am a follower.

  9. Thanks for all the great tips. I’ve been looking for some blogs that do lots of things with machine embroidery and I’m looking forward to reading your blog. These zoo animals are adorable.

  10. I’m a happy email follower now. Thanks for the tips and the parade of cute pictures.

  11. Thanks for your tips on appliqué and embroidery. I am pleased to learn of a new source for designs.

  12. I haven’t used my embroidery machine in a while, but this sweet quilt is a great inspiration to pull it out of the closet and try to make one like it. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Great post full of very good information Marjorie. Thank you.

    I think the Zoo animals are super cute and one of my favorites of those you’ve digitized.

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