Christmas Pillow

Holiday Applique Inspiration: Tips and Hints

This pillow features appliques in the shape of ornaments, and the appliques feature various sewing techniques. The “ornament fabrics” are first embellished, then the appliques are stitched to the main project fabric using a satin stitch. These appliques can be used not only on a pillow but on a table runner, tree skirt, placemats and more.

Read on for tips and hints on creating these fun embellishments for your holiday project ideas.

Shopping list

  • Cording Foot
  • Rolled Hem Foot
  • Darning/Embroidery Foot
  • Satin Stitch Foot
  • Tear-away stabilizer
  • Rayon thread ot all purpose thread for decorative stitching
  • Bobbin thread (if sewing decorative stitches with rayon thread
  • Lightweight cord (such as pearl cotton)
  • fusible web or fabric spray adhesive
  • Removeable fabric marker
  • Assorted cotton fabrics for creating the appliques (amount depends on the number of appliques you want to make.)
  • Ornament templates

Tip #1: Sewing Decorative Stitched & Lettering

Tip 1 Satin Stitch Satin stitch foot tutorial video
  • Use s Satin Stitch Foot, which has a groove on the underside that allows dense stitching to pass freely underneath it.
  • Always test your selected stitch on test fabric first before sewing on your main project fabric. You may wish to adjust the stitch length or stitch width depending on the threads you are using as well as the look as you want for your project.
  • Place tear-away stabilizer underneath the fabric when sewing dense stitches or lettering to prevent the fabric from puckering
  • You may find it helpful to first draw stitching guidelines on the fabric with a removable fabric marker to help you know how to guide the fabric as you sew. This can be especially helpful for sewing along curved lines.

Tip #2: Decorative Stitching with the Cording Foot

Tip 2 Decorative Stitching with the cording foot Cording foot tutorial video
  • Use a Cording Foot to help guide narrow cords or yarns as you stitch over them. The foot has 3 grooves on the top side, and you can use 1,2 or all3 of them depending on the look you want for the project. Just slip the cords from the right, under the groove on top of the foot. Pull each cord to ensure that it moves freely under the foot or it won’t move when you sew.
    Place cord tails underneath the foot before sewing
  • Select a stitch to sew the cords to the fabric. A multi-stitch zigzag is a good basic stitch for this, but other decorative stitches can be used – just experiment! Test on a scrap fabric first, with stabilizer underneath. Adjust stitch length and/or stitch width – depending on the look you want. Stitches should cover cords without piercing into the cords.
  • Always use stabilizer to prevent dense stitching from puckering fabric.

Tip #3: Free-Motion Sewing

Free motion sewing - darning foot Darning/embroidery tutorial video
  • Disenage the machine’s feed teeth. For machines with Drop Feed, move the Drop Feed Lever to lower the feed teeth. For machines without the Drop Feed feature, use a Darning Plate cover the feed teeth.
  • Attach a Darning/Emboridery Foot. Set the machine for a straight stitch with center needle position.
  • Place the fabric and stabilizer underneath the foot. Holding the upper thread tail lightly with your left hand, turn the hand wheel toward you with your right hand to draw up the bobbin thread. Both threads will now be on the top side of the fabric.
  • While stepping on the foot control with a medium speed, hold the fabric with 2 hands and manually move the fabric in a meandering fashion. Note: When finished sewing, remove the Darning/Embroidery Foot and replace the All-Purpose Foot. For machines with Drop Feed, move the Drop Feed machines without Drop Feed, remove the Darning Plate. For machines with Drop Feed, move the Drop Feed Lever back to its original position and turn the hand wheel toward you one full turn to re-engage the feed teeth.

Tip #4: Couching over Yarns or Cords

Couching over yarns or cords Rolled hem foot video tutorial
  • Attach the Rolled Hem Foot – it’s not only for rolled hems but for attaching some types of yarns and cords. This foot has a scroll-shaped opening in front that can be used to guide lightweight yarns or cords as you stitch over them.
  • Place the yarn into the foot’s opening, then bring it back and under the foot. The yarn must move freely under the foot or it won’t move when you start sewing.
  • Set the machine for a zigzag stitch. Testing on a scrap fabric with stabilizer, check the stitch length and stitch width settings. Adjust width so the zigzag just covers the cord from side to side.

Tip #5: Satin Stitch Applique

Satin stitch tutorial video
  • Use a Satin Stitch Foot, as this foot has a groove on the underside that allows dense stitching to pass freely underneath it.
Satin Stitch Applique
  • Experimenting first in scrap fabric. With tear-away stabilizer under the fabric, set the machine for a zigzag stitch. Stitch around a test applique to check the stitch length and width setting. The left side of the zigzag should be on the applique, and the right side of the zigzag should be on the applique, and the right side of the zigzag should sew just off the right edge of the applique. Continue adjusting stitch length until there is very little or no fabric showing in between the stitches, The width can be adjusted based on your personal preference for your project.
  • Use fusible web to set your applique in place on the main project fabric. The fusible web will prevent the applique from shifting when you start sewing around it with the dense satin stitch. Before you start stitching around the applique, though place tear-away stabilizer underneath the main project fabric to help prevent the fabric from puckering.
  • Sew around the applique. Remove the tear-away stabilizer after the applique stitching is finished.