Oct 01 11

My First Self-Digitized Applique Quilt Block!!

Oh my gosh…I’ve actually digitized a whole quilt block with multiple pieces…I can’t believe it!  This is no big deal for all of you who know how to digitize, but I am a computer idiot who is not at all intuitive when it comes to working on the computer, so this is a big deal for me!  For those of you who don’t understand machine embroidered applique, know that I did not stitch this block.  My embroidery machine stitched it but I created the digital file that told it what to stitch and where to stitch it.  Here’s how it all works…

First, the machine stitches a placement line that tells you where to place the applique shape:

(Please excuse the lousy photos; I had a lot of trouble with lighting and these were taken in different rooms.)  The placement line is that light  green stitched line.  It tells me to place the applique shape exactly within those stitched lines.  Here is the applique fused into place:

Next, I return the hooped block to the embroidery machine and the edges on the stem were finished with this lovely stitching.  I wish you could see this in real life because it’s very 3-dimensional and looks like a row of beads has been stitched:

(I should tell you that the first time I learned to digitize this stem occurred at about 11:30 pm, and I just had to stitch it out immediately!  When I saw that incredible finishing, I was so excited that I could not sleep that night…no joke; I went to work with less than 1 hour of sleep under my belt that day.  Lesson learned-don’t digitize at night when you have to go to work early the next day!)

Next, the machine stitches out the placement lines for all the flowers that will emerge from this stem.  You can see the placement lines for the 3 flowers as red stitching lines:

I fused the 3 flowers just inside the placement lines, and here’s the block back on the embroidery machine, ready to be finished:

And here’s the finished block once again:

Notice that I used a different thread color for each of the applique pieces; this is because I really believe that threads play a major role in how we “see” applique shapes and if you want to really dress them up, you want to put some thought into thread choices.  I am using all kinds of trilobal polyester threads (Ricky Tims Art Studio Colors Threads by Superior Threads are great for this), as well as polyesters (Robison Anton) and also rayons.  All of these threads have a wonderful sheen to them, so they will add a subtle “glitz” to your project. And the very best part is…all the time that my embroidery machine was stitching this out, I was free motion quilting another quilt on my Pfaff!


  1. Michele Says:

    Thanks so much for providing a step-by-step visual of how the process works.
    I had a vague idea but it’s great to see it detailed like that.
    Your work, as always, is beyond gorgeous and very inspirational.
    Thank you for generously sharing your knowledge.

  2. Diana Pearson Says:

    You did a great job! I do a lot of custom digitizing for customers (photos of their dogs) but just this week did my first applique digitizing using the Accuquilt Go Butterfly- it is so cool watching it stitch out correctly! And thank you again for drawing my name for your DVD- I chose Feathers 4 and am learning so much!

  3. Jodi Says:

    Did you use a Bernina machine to do the digitizing? what kind of software did you use? I think it looks great!! I tried some digitizing back in the day (1999) when I got my Pfaff 7570 but I was spending so much time doing digitizing that I was not sewing!! So now I don’t remember how to do it and it is too bad too cause I really would have liked to digitize a design for a label I wanted to make. 🙁

  4. Debbie St. Germain Says:

    You did a wonderful job on your first piece. I have one of those machines and I still haven’t used the embroidery features, I really need to learn how to use it.


  5. Sally Says:

    Gorgeous work. Which of your machines did you use for this? TIA, Sally

  6. Kelly Jackson Says:

    Wow….that is impressive!!!