Try this machine appliqué technique that resembles hand stitching. It has several names: Blind Appliqué, Invisible Appliqué, and Hand-Look Appliqué. It gets its names because the stitches are very tiny, and the finished look is similar to hand-sewn appliqué where stitches are barely visible along the edges of the appliqué shapes.
Some BERNINA models have a preprogrammed stitch on the quilt menu (stitch is #1331 on my B 790 PLUS and on most BERNINA models). It is preprogrammed to work for this appliqué technique. If your machine does not have this, select the blindstitch (Stitch #9 on most BERNINA models), normally used for hemming. Adjust the stitch to a length of.75 mm and a width of 1 mm so that it barely takes a bite into the appliqué shape.
My favorite presser foot to use for appliqué Open Embroidery Foot #20/20C/20D. The open area between the toes lets you see exactly where you are stitching, which is important when you are trying to follow the edges of the appliqué shapes. The foot can also act as a stitch placement guide. When the needle is adjusted to the far right, you can guide the edge you’re following along the inside edge of the right toe and stitch is perfectly placed. If you adjust the needle to the far left, you guide along the inside edge of the left toe.
The goal is to make the stitches invisible, and you have two types of thread choices. Using a monofilament thread makes the stitching inconspicuous. A clear nylon or polyester “invisible” thread will work with most fabrics but if you have dark appliqué shapes, you may want to try a smoke-colored monofilament that does not reflect as much light. A second option is to use a thread color that matches the appliqué. It melts into the shapes and is barely noticeable. Using a fine, lightweight thread – 60-100 weight – also makes the thread less visible. These threads are sold as applique, lingerie and bobbin threads. All of these options help you see the indentation of the stitch, rather than the actual thread and this adds to the hand-sewn appearance.
To prepare the fabric for stitching, fuse a paper-backed fusible web to the wrong side of the applique fabric. I use OESD Appliqué Fuse & Fix. Draw the shape on the paper and then cut the shape out. Don’t forget to mirror image the shape when you draw it on the paper so it is oriented the way you want after cutting it out and tuning it over. Peel the paper from the back, which exposes an adhesive side. Position the shape on the background fabric and press into place. You can also fuse this side for a stronger hold but the adhesive is more than enough to hold the shape in place for stitching.
Place 1-2 layers of tear away stabilizer behind the background fabric. Position the fabric under the foot with the edge of the appliqué shape, aligned with the inside right toe of Foot #20. Adjust the needle to the far-right position. Most of the stitch falls on the background fabric, taking small “bites” into the shape as you sew around it. Adjust the stitch width if needed to make the stitch into the shape just enough to secure it to the background fabric. Stitch around the shape, using the Freehand System (knee-activated presser foot lifter) to pivot as needed to go around curves smoothly.
Click here for more WeAllSew posts on other types of appliqué techniques.
To see more appliqué techniques using BERNINA presser feet, see The Big Book of Feet at your local BERNINA store.