Applique digitizing technique

Let’s talk about applique styled machine embroidery embroidery designs.  An applique embroidery design, in general, will have three steps. Step 1 is a placement stitch and the machine must stop after it stitches this step.  Many refer to this as color #1 because home embroidery machines will stop at the end of a color.  You place fabric in the hoop covering this placement stitch and are now ready to stitch the next color.  Step #2 is the tackdown stitch which holds the fabric in place.  Again the machine stops because color #2 is different than both color #1 and color #3.  You carefully remove the hoop from the machine, trim around the stitches so that the fabric you placed in the hoop fills the area, and carefully return the hoop to the machine to stitch color #3 which is the finishing stitch.

At the most basic of explanations and designs, these three stitch objects set as three different colors are what make up an applique embroidery design.  You can use the same color thread at the machine, but in order to stop stitching, the machine needs the color breaks.  So if you are digitizing an applique, you need to create these components for each piece of fabric you want in the applique.  So if you drew an object set it to a single run in blue, then drew another object on top, set it to be a single run in green, then drew one more object on top of the previous two and set it to be a satin zig zag and made it red – you would have created an applique design. Using copy and paste, this is how we did it “in the old days” when we were learning how to digitize – before youtube, blogs and facebook!

Some programs like Embrilliance StitchArtist have an automated stitch type called applique.  The three stitch types are linked together to a singular object.  What a FAST and easy way to create SIMPLE applique designs that you would want to stitch in this exact order – placement, tackdown, finish, placement tackdown finish, and so on.  FANTASTIC for simple designs OR for those that are not overlapping or touching each other.

But what if you want to create a multi pieced applique and you don’t want the finishing stitches of each shape to completely cover the shape?  The LAW OF DIGITIZING as it pertains to creating designs that stitch intelligently and make you “sigh” and go “wow this is stitching so nicely as if it was digitized by an artist” – if you don’t want stitches some place – Don’t Put Them There.  It really is that simple. It is NOT hard to do once you’ve thought about what it is you want to create.  I’m always thinking about what the final design needs to look like.

Every tool has a job and a purpose but just because there is an “automatic applique” stitch type – that doesn’t mean you have to use it to create an applique.  You know what an applique needs to stitch at the machine.  It needs the placement, tackdown and finishing stitches.  AND no one says that they have to be the exact same object shape.  The placement stitch really needs to be the outer boundary so you know where to put the fabric – if you are digitizing the letter “A”, the placement line does not require that you stitch the hole, does it?  Same goes for the finishing stitch.  It doesn’t even have to be a satin border!  You can “finish” or cover the edges with fill stitches – even multiple layers of fill stitches –  to create shading and other artistic effects!

Here is an applique design that I have digitized in Embrilliance StitchArtist .  There are a couple of different things about this design – the finishing stitches are not the traditional machine embroidery satin stitch.  You will also note when you watch the design stitch out that there are no jumps between the purple legs.  I really don’t like to trim jumps and the machines just stitch faster when they travel vs having to slow down, lock, trim, relocate, lock, and ramp back up to speed.  When you have run stitches that travel instead jumps that trim, the machine will just keep on the speed its going.  So when ever possible I like to incorporating travel stitches into the designs I create – hiding them under stitches that will stitch/cover later.

Both of these items are very easy to accomplish in StitchArtist.  First let’s talk about how to get the pretty motif stitch around the applique pieces.  After creating the shape and choosing applique, I set the finishing stitch to None.  If I am using a fabric cutter, I only select the Position stitch.

Yes, I could simply set this stitch type to a single run since I was planning to not have a material position stitch.  However, I know me – I like to change my mind and setting it to be an applique stitch type gives me to flexibility to quickly add the material option in the future by checking the box.  If I set it to a run and later decided I wanted the second run, I would have to copy and paste and make sure it was in the right order or change it from a run to an applique, set it to none and check both boxes.  So I saved myself some extra work today by setting the shapes to applique none in the beginning.

OK, so I have no finishing stitch – how do I add this to my design so it does have one that stitches all together at the end?  I drew a line around the top part of the shape only along the outer edges and set it to a motif run.  Because it was an open path, The decorative stitch of the turtle shell was going to cover the spots where the head and legs connected anyway!

And since the decorative stitching of the shell was going to cover the sections in between, I simply created short little single runs to travel from one leg to the next.  Since these runs are connecting to the stitches before and after, you will want to turn off the ties if you have them set on your running stitch.  There is no reason to lock these little runs as we want them to be  a planned part of the design.

So here is the link to the Turtle files.

I have included a PDF with some notes as well as the cut files if you have a cutting machine.  If you have StitchArtist, you can open the BE file and go to Create mode to see what it is that I have digitized.  Looking at how other people create designs is how many of us learned to create our own designs. Please do NOT share this file but please DO share the link so that others may visit my page to get all of the information that goes along with the design.  Yes, it is a free gift from ME, so please allow me to give it to those that want it 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.  I do not work for Embrilliance but I am an affiliate which means that I can make a small commission on any sales made on the Embrilliance website when you get there using my affiliate link.  You do not pay anything extra – in fact you may even get a discount!  So if you are looking to add to your software, I would appreciate it if you clicked on this link to get to the Embrilliance website and then clicked on purchase to get to their online store!

Lisa’s Embrilliance Link

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