One of the options for raw edge applique is to use a tight zigzag stitch to cover the raw edges. I must confess. It's not my favourite stitch. On my machine, I have a regular zigzag stitch and it looks like this:
The look of your zigzag stitch can be adjusted to suit your liking. If your machine allows you to modify the stitch width and stitch length, you will be able to do the following:
- Stitch width changes the bite it takes
- Stitch length changes the space between each bite
On my Janome, I like to use these settings: width 3, length 0.5/0.4/1
I can't go any lower than a length of 0.4 as the stitches just get balled up. As a result my zigzags are not as close as satin stitch.
Speaking of satin stitch, if your machine has satin stitch, you'll need to check your manual to select the stitch and the recommended presser foot to use. Satin stitch should look much better than my zigzag stitch.
Next, lets talk about which foot to use. I should use the zigzag foot which is the default foot the machine comes in. But I don't. I have a satin foot which is used for decorative stitches. But I don't use it or the zigzag foot to sew zigzag stitches because the feet cover my stitches. That's why I use the open toe foot.
Okay, I'm just going to talk about something that might be perculiar to me only. When my machine is set to zigzag stitch, the needle goes to the left position. This means my first stitch will be left. Logically, I would place my applique such that the LEFT needle goes into the background fabric right snug against the applique. (see image below) Right? If this is how you sew, I shall refer to you as a LEFTY.
Instead,I take a few test stitches and manually rotate the needle to be on the right when I sew on my applique. That way my RIGHT NEEDLE is the needle in the background fabric, snug against the applique. (I'm going to call myself a RIGHTY)
Beginnings and ends of threads
I don't back stitch and I bring the ends of thread to the back and knot off manually. I also like to begin stitching an applique at the least challenging position - something straight and definitely not at a point.
Things to consider
Thread: I use rayon embroidery thread and average weight thread for bobbin. Sometimes I just use regular sewing thread which I use for bags and clothes for top thread and bobbin.
Needle: I use embroidery needle size 75/11 or 90/14 for rayon and sharp needle size 80/12 for regular sewing thread.
Whatever thread you use, you need to match it to your needle.
If you need to adjust your tension, do refer to your machine manual.
Stabilizer : I always use stabilizer. If you don't have stabilizer, try with batting and interfacing. Never sew on one layer of fabric- puckering is bound to happen.
Needle down: Enable this feature. If not available, always rotate the needle to have the needle in the fabric when you stop sewing.
Inside and outside curves
You need to be able to tell the difference between an inside curve and an outside curve. See the shape below? What looks like a circle - that's the outside curve. The part that curves down (the curve in the middle) - that's the inside curve. To sew around curves, you will need to pivot from time to time and the position where you pivot for each kind of curve is different.
Needle position when pivoting for an outside curve
Needle should be in the background fabric only.
Needle position when pivoting for an inside curve
Needle should be in the applique
Outside and inside corners
Time out: All these information might be overwhelming, LEFTY, RIGHTY, position of needle - for those of you who are new to zigzag stitching. But once you start trying it out, your brain will figure it out. The idea is to understand the techniques so that when things go wrong, you will have the ability to figure out why it went wrong.
From here on, I will only illustrate the stitches from a RIGHTY point of view.
What happens when you use a tight zigzag and you don't want your stitches to overlap?
Here's how for outside corners:
Here's how if you don't want your stitches to overlap for inside corners:
Points are the hardest to sew. Use the following method for narrow points. If your points are fat enough, you can use the method used in corners.
Before you start sewing on your applique, take a look at the shape - is it a curve, outside curve, inside curve, inside corner, etc. This helps you figure out how to sew. Lets take a heart for instance. It's mostly outside curve and the tip of the heart - you can take care of it like how you take care of a outside curve. But if the tip of the heart is really, really pointy, then use the method for the triangle. The other "tricky" part of the heart is the valley but it's really an inside corner.
Hope this long tute is helpful to beginners new to zigzag stitch.
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Applique patterns at my Etsy shop
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