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I despise cutting fabric by hand into intricate shapes, especially repetitive, intricate shapes, and I’m not the biggest fan of appliqueing with my sewing machine.
However, I LOVE my embroidery machine, and I LOVE my AccuQuilt Go! Thus, when I saw most of AccuQuilt’s applique dies had FREE machine embroidery applique designs with them, I was so excited to try.
So far, I’ve purchased and used five of the AccuQuilt applique dies, and I’ve enjoyed the experience a decent bit.
The dies cut perfect, and I mean perfect, applique shapes so I don’t have to trim fabric by hand in the embroidery hoop.
However, some of AccuQuilt’s embroidery designs require extra time to edit before stitching.
Want to learn how to use your AccuQuilt and embroidery machine together? Here are tips for using AccuQuilt applique dies and AccuQuilt embroidery designs with an embroidery machine!
Super New to Machine Embroidery? Here Are The Basics First.
If you’re a quilter but not yet a machine embroiderer, here are some things to consider.
1. You must have a computerized embroidery machine to read AccuQuilt embroidery designs. A regular sewing machine cannot be used with embroidery files.
The file you download from AccuQuilt also needs to be in a file format your machine can recognize and read. For instance, I use .pes files for my Brother embroidery machine.
2. You must transfer the embroidery design to your machine after downloading it to your computer or a jump drive.
Any design you want to stitch has to be transferred to your embroidery machine. Depending on your machine, this can be done via a USB drive, direct connection to a computer, or WiFi.
Most machines will require the file to be unzipped before transfer.
Lastly, some very old embroidery machines may not have the capabilities to use these designs if there is no way to transfer them.
3. You cannot machine applique a design that is larger than the hoop size of your machine. (Well, without some very fancy design splitting beyond the scope of this tutorial.)
Since I have a 5″x7″ hoop machine, I thus cannot stitch any applique pieces or designs larger than 5″x7″. If you have a 4″x4″ machine, any appliques you stitch must be 4″x4″ or smaller.
4. If you want to purchase an embroidery machine, here are my recommendations for embroidery machines for quilting and sewing.
AccuQuilt Embroidery Designs and Applique Dies
Most newer AccuQuilt applique dies include a free machine embroidery design. For many dies, there are also other design variations available for purchase.
Here are the free AccuQuilt embroidery designs available so you can search for the designs to match your dies.
And, one cool thing is if you see a design you like but don’t own the die, you can still download the design for free. (AccuQuilt is one of my favorite sites with free applique embroidery designs.)
You can stitch these designs with your embroidery machine, but instead of placing precisely cut applique fabric over placement lines, place an uncut piece of fabric. Then, add in a tacking line using your software, and trim excess fabric by hand before the border stitch.
How to Use AccuQuilt Embroidery Designs
Some AccuQuilt Go! embroidery designs do not come with files of the finished products. Instead, they come in pieces.
Take, for instance, the free file that comes with my AccuQuilt owl applique die. It has all the pieces for each applique part (shown below), which is excellent if you want to customize each piece to create a unique applique.
However, you have to arrange the pieces together in software or find a design that someone else has already pieced together if you want to get embroidering immediately.
Arranging pieces in the best way means editing and deleting stitches for overlapping sections. Plus, you need to set the stitching order of the pieces.
I did this below using my embroidery software to create one variation I liked of the owl. It took about 5 minutes and wasn’t difficult but was an extra step in the embroidery process.
And, to note, some of the applique designs have a satin border that is super dense for thin quilting cotton, which can cause puckering and pulling around sharp design corners.
In the case of this owl, I had to adjust the design further to accommodate my fabric better.
Not all AccuQuilt embroidery designs are challenging to use, though! Some designs like my simple awareness ribbon above are only one piece and don’t need editing.
AccuQuilt Embroidery Software: Does This Even Exist?
AccuQuilt does not have its own embroidery software.
However, you do NOT have to have Embrilliance to work with AccuQuilt’s designs. Most current embroidery software programs can open, edit, and customize designs.
I use Hatch Digitizer, which I prefer, as it’s more intuitive for me.
It’s not cheap, though, so if you’re on a budget and looking only for basic editing software, I recommend SewWhat-Pro. (You can also check out my list of free embroidery software, but I find premium software much easier to use and more robust.)
How to Cut AccuQuilt Applique Fabric
Now, you’ve figured out how the embroidery designs work. What next? Cutting the applique fabric, of course!
There are many ways to accomplish this goal, and if you already have a preference, just skip this section. If not, here’s how I cut applique fabric with my AccuQuilt.
1. First, most cotton applique fabrics for machine embroidery need backing, especially if the appliqued item will ever be washed. My favorite products are Heatnbond Lite and Wonder Under, although countless options exist.
Using an iron, follow the backing’s instructions to adhere the fusible web to the back of your fabric piece before cutting the applique.
I prefer to leave the paper on and die cut with it still there. This allows me to cut multiple appliques at a time. When I remove the paper between layers beforehand, sometimes the pieces stick together as they get cut.
Just remember the papered backing counts toward the number of fabric pieces your machine can cut at one time, so don’t overload your AccuQuilt.
If you dislike cutting applique with the paper backing still on, just make sure you use your applique pieces immediately rather than storing them without the paper.
2. Next, place your backed fabric over your applique die, and line everything up. Then, place the appropriately-sized cutting mat on top of the die, and run it through your machine.
The result is a gorgeous piece of perfect applique!
Repeat as many times as needed for all the different applique pieces on the die.
AccuQuilt Applique Embroidery Tutorial
After the applique pieces are cut, it’s time to set up to embroider the AccuQuilt Go! embroidery designs.
If you are using your AccuQuilt die to cut fabric to stitch onto a stretchy fabric, always use a no-show mesh or a cut-away stabilizer and follow tips in my embroidering on stretchy fabrics article.
However, for embroidering an applique on quilting cotton, broadcloth, or your favorite woven, stable fabric for your quilt block, here’s what to do!
1. Stiffen or Add Interfacing to Base Fabric, If Needed
First, consider if you need backing on your base fabric or need to stiffen it.
A simple pressing with starch or Best Press can give a little more crispness to good-quality cotton, which my embroidery machine appreciates.
For thin, poor-quality fabric in my stash, I sometimes use Terial Magic to make the fabric much stiffer. (This discolors fabric, so you need to wash it out after embroidery.)
Also, for thin fabrics or fabrics that don’t take to embroidery well, interfacing on the back of the fabric can improve the stitch out. (It can affect the fabric feel, so test first.) Pellon SF101 interfacing is my favorite!
2. Choose An Appropriate Stabilizer
For a simple, single-color applique using a blanket or light decorative border stitch, my go-to stabilizer is Tear ‘N Wash stabilizer, which both tears and washes away.
Or, you can choose a good-quality, medium-weight tear-away stabilizer.
I like to spray with very light Odif 505 to keep the layers from shifting. Sticky stabilizer and fusible stabilizer are other options for decreasing fabric movement, but be sure they don’t distort stitches or the weave of poor-quality cotton when removed.
Now, if I’m using a wide or dense satin stitch or appliqueing on thinner, low-quality cotton, cut-away stabilizer produces a much better result. Using a no-show mesh cut-away decreases show-through for light-colored fabrics after the stabilizer is trimmed as well.
3. To Hoop or Not to Hoop
Things go south for me when I don’t hoop embroidery projects when possible.
Thus, I always cut my blocks a little larger than they need to be and hoop the larger fabric. Then, I later cut the block to size after embroidering the applique.
However, if you can’t start larger or need to conserve fabric, you have the option to float your embroidery fabric.
When floating, I highly recommend using a basting stitch or pinning the block’s perimeter to your stabilizer to hold things in place. Again, using a sticky stabilizer or fabric adhesive to hold the layers together can be helpful, but be careful the grip isn’t too good.
One other solution is stitching scrap fabric to the sides of a block to make the block larger, hooping the large block, and then removing the seam or just cutting it off to square up the block after the embroidery is finished.
4. Order of Embroidery Pieces
Once you’re ready to embroider, your machine stitches a placement line first. This is where your first piece of applique fabric will go. (Take the paper off, now.)
You can press it on using a mini-iron or gently hold the fabric in place.
Then, the machine will stitch either a tacking stitch or the applique border, depending on the design.
The next step in the embroidery process is another placement line, as seen above, where you place the next iteration of fabric on top.
The process continues until your applique is complete!
I’m glossing over this section as all machine applique is relatively similar, and you can learn how to applique with an embroidery machine in this tutorial here! So, check that out if you need more help with the exact details.
Phew, this was a long one! I hope I’ve answered all your questions regarding using an AccuQuilt and embroidery machine together and you’re as excited to use them together as I was.
Wondering what else an AccuQuilt can do? Check out some of the best AccuQuilt dies and what to do with them!