Saturday, September 1, 2012

More Blanket Stitch Applique Tips

I am working on one of the borders of Ladies of the Sea (pattern by Sue Garman). I am using a machine blanket stitch to appliqué this quilt. The blocks were fairly easy to manipulate under the machine, but this large border (10 X 59 inches) has been a challenge. One of my most read posts has been “pitfalls and pearls of blanket stitch appliqué” (June 10, 2010) and working on this border has brought to mind a few more tips for me to share from my trials and errors.

 *I am trying to keep the border pinned and folded to a smaller size to just have a small portion showing to work on. I would like to do all of the red flowers, then blue, purple, etc but all the manipulation has made the appliqué pieces fall off, so to protect them and make the border more manageable I keep most of the border folded and pinned.

*I bring my thread to the back and thread them in a needle to stitch the loose beginning and ending threads under a few stitches. When working on small circles and appliqué pieces where I start and end at the same spot I need to pull the start thread to the back before I stitch over it when I come back around. With the extra bulk of the folded borders this has been really hard.

After a few very difficult berries I realized I needed to always start stitching an appliqué near an edge of the border (the spot I am pointing at with the seam ripper) so I did not have to reach under as much folded fabric to pull that start thread to the back.

It has also helped because I always know where I started stitching, especially on the small circles.

*Check your stitch recipe to your sample through out making the quilt. I have a certain blanket stitch setting that I choose and keep a sample of (minus 3 stitch length and minus 4 stitch width) for each quilt I machine appliqué. I always set my blanket stitch to this setting when I start working on the quilt. The first thing I had appliquéd on this quilt many months ago was the red half square triangles on the borders, then I worked on the center 16 blocks, now that I am back in the border I realized that my machine has drifted over the months and this stitch recipe has gotten a little smaller blanket stitch, enough so that it is noticeable when I started stitching the flowers in the border and now that I compare some of my first completed blocks to the last couple completed blocks.

*Pointy Points - there is a sharp pointed star every 5 inches in this border and these points are hard to hit.

Just to review as you are coming up to the point I skip the last blanket stitch

and switch my machine to 1 straight stitch, then I switch back to blanket stitch for the stich right on the point but I increase 2 to 3 on the stitch width to take a larger bite into the point

 and then pivot down the opposite side of the star point (or leaf point) and again skip that first blanket stitch and stitch 1 straight stitch and then continue the blanket stitching - remember to decrease the stitch width by the 2 to 3 again.

 So slowly but surely I am getting this first border finished, there are LOTS of berries and grapes and star points for me to practice on.  Although there is a lot of starts and stops and thread changes, the rhythmic blanket stitching is soothing and relaxing to me.
Happy Stitching All,


  1. This is going to be a fabulous border!! What a finish it will be with all your amazing blocks. I read down to the last part where you described the stitching as relaxing and soothing and smiled - I'd be tearing my hair out with all those berries and pointy stars :0) You are definitly more bonded with your machine than I am with mine!

  2. What gorgeous blocks. I have tried machine applique' before without any luck. I am going to go back and read your first post and then I may decide to give it a try again. I know lots of people are doing it, and it looks great.

  3. The quilt is going to be amazing, your work looks so gorgeous.