Appliqué is a fun way to explore your creativity. It’s also a great way to personalize items that you use every day. But before you begin your first project, it’s important to make sure that you have everything that you are going to need to complete an appliqué that will both look great and last for a long time. For those just getting started, the applique aisle in your local craft store or hobby shop can be a bit overwhelming. Never fear―we have put together a list of basic supplies that you will need to get started. These are the items that you will use again and again for every project and the things you will want to make sure you have on hand before you load your first pattern into your machine.
Embroidery thread is different from the thread you use for everyday sewing. Embroidery thread comes in 40-weight rayon or polyester, which is thicker than regular thread. Choose a thread color that matches the fabric you are embroidering or the item you are embroidering on. Keep in mind that the quality of the thread that you choose will be reflected in the quality of your finished product. A good-quality embroidery thread means less thread breaks, less kinking up, and few hoops.
You will also need thread for your bobbin. Embroidery bobbin thread comes in 60 weight and is most commonly black or white. If you prefer not to wind your own bobbins, you can also get pre-wound bobbins. Check your sewing machine manual to make sure you are purchasing the correct size.
Machine Embroidery Needles
The most common size of machine embroidery needle is 75/11. Most embroidery needles have a sharp point. Sharp point needles work well for home decor projects. Some are specialized for working with denim, leather, or metallic threads. Another kind of embroidery needle is called a ballpoint. This kind of needle has a rounded tip that goes between the threads of a fabric instead of piercing through them like the sharp needle does. Choose ballpoint needles for embroidering on t-shirts and similar fabrics.
A stabilizer makes your machine embroidery last longer. Using a stabilizer during embroidery also makes your machine run better. Stabilizers are used on top of what is being embroidered to support the fabric while it is being stitched so that it does not stretch or pucker. It also keeps stitches from sinking into the fabric you are embroidering on. There are several different types of stabilizers:
- Cutaway stabilizer is intended to be cut away at the end of the project, but it is permanent. This stabilizer works best with stretchy fabrics like knits, fleece, sweaters, or sweatshirts. Cutaway stabilizer comes in many different weights and textures.
- Tearaway stabilizer is also intended to be removed when you are finished embroidering. It comes in different weights and textures as well.
- Water soluble stabilizer is temporary and is easily washed away. Like the others, it comes in different weights. It is also used on thick-pile fabrics like fleece and terrycloth.
The more you learn about embroidery, the easier it will become for you to choose the correct stabilizer for your project. When just getting started, a good rule of thumb is to match the weight of your stabilizer to the weight of your fabric. Use lightweight stabilizers for lightweight fabrics and embroidery designs with fewer stitches. Use heavyweight stabilizers on medium to heavyweight fabrics and when you have an embroidery pattern with a high stitch-count. If you plan to do embroidery regularly, it’s good to have both weights of stabilizer on hand. Follow the manufacturers directions for matching stabilizers to fabrics. You can also try a test swatch before committing to a weight to make sure the weight of the stabilizer isn’t adversely affecting the drape or integrity of your fabric. As with embroidery thread, the quality of your stabilizer will affect the quality of your finished product.
Temporary Spray Adhesive
Temporary spray adhesive is sprayed on the wrong side of the fabric to be appliqued so that it sticks to the item you are embroidering. Be careful in selecting a temporary spray adhesive, as some are not intended for use with fabrics. Read the manufacturer’s instructions before purchasing an adhesive.
You will need appliqué scissors. There are many kinds of appliqué scissors, most of which are designed for a very specific purpose. Eventually, as you do more appliqué, you will probably want to invest in several different types. A good-quality pair of double-curve appliqué scissors will get you started. Duckbill appliqué scissors are also very handy for cutting fabric very close to the stitching without cutting the stitching itself.
Heat n Bond Lite
Heat n Bond Lite is an iron-on adhesive that is used under the applique fabric to prevent fraying and to extend the life of the appliqué.
Fabric Marking Pen
Fabric marking pens are used to mark the center of the items that you are hooping. Fabric marking pens can be either chalk, water erase, or air erase. The marks they leave are temporary, but be careful not to iron over them, as doing so can permanently heat-set marks into your fabric.
If your machine has a USB port, using a USB drive will make it much easier for you to transfer downloaded files from your computer to your machine without having to fuss with connecting cables.
Use pins to attach the fabric you are appliquéing to the item being embroidered.
Items to Embroider On
You will need items to embroider on; for example, shirts, bibs, burp cloths, towels, or home decor items. Choose high-quality items to ensure that your completed projects last for a long time.
Fabric for Applique
Finally, you will need fabrics for appliqué. The fabric that you select for appliqué can make a design uniquely yours. Have fun with this!
Now that you have the supplies you need, it’s time to get started on a project! Click on one of links below to download a free appliqué pattern.