Excerpt: Sewing Machine for Appliqué

Excerpt: Sewing Machine for Appliqué Photo by Craftsy

Learn my top sewing-machine features for appliqué with this free excerpt from my book.

Many quilting books assume you’re using a mid- to top-of-the-line, modern sewing machine that’s designed with the quilter in mind. While such machines can make work easier in a lot of ways and give you more options, you don’t need anything special to make the quilts in this book. My main sewing machine is a secondhand Pfaff from 1986,* with a couple electronic features (such as needle-down) but mainly mechanical operations. What people say about not building them like they used to is true in this case—the machine is a workhorse. But it doesn’t do some things that would be great for appliqué, such as a blanket stitch or a good blind hem. I’ve written the appliqué methods so they can be successful on the widest range of machines, but if you’re looking for bells and whistles, these are some that make appliqué easier.

  • Needle-down function (keeps the needle in the fabric when you stop sewing)
  • Fully variable stitch width (not incremental) and needle position
  • Good blind-hem stitch (see page 80 for details)
  • Good blanket stitch (see page 41 for details)
  • Horizontal and vertical spool pins
  • Ability to mirror stitches and change stitch density for decorative stitches


* Since writing my book, I’ve upgraded to a current-model Janome, but I still believe any decent machine is perfectly capable of appliqué. I’d now add that a thread cutter is a huge convenience, and a knee lift (or automatically raising presser foot) is fantastic for all the pivoting appliqué requires.