What is this applique foot of which you speak?

March 10, 2008 at 11:50 pm 10 comments

I’ve mentioned about a kazillion times that, for the most part, I’m a self-taught sewer. (That’s sewer, as in “one who sews,” not “an underground conduit for carrying sewage.” Dear God, is there a better term for that?) And while it can be a lot of fun and quite satisfying to figure things out on my own, I’ve found that too often, when I finally do learn The Right Way, I realize I’d been doing it The Hard Way for a long, long time.

Through trial and error and time, I figured out how to applique. I use double-sided fusible web with every applique project I do, and I’ve tried several times to do a zig-zag stitch around the outside of various appliques, but it always ends up looking embarrassingly messy. So instead, I use a simple standard stitch.

applique stitch

Using that stitch has always worked for me, but I really wanted to have more than one applique option. And I knew there had to be a way to do the zig-zag stitch, because other people were managing to do it without making it look like a monkey had taken over their sewing machine.

I had a specific applique project in mind that I knew would only look good with a zig-zag stitch, so I did a little bit of research and, through a combination of several blogs, learned two things. One, I should set the stitch width at 3 and the stitch length at .5. And two, I should use — wait for it — an applique foot.

I’m sorry, what now? There’s an applique foot? Seriously?

The applique foot is clear plastic, so you can see where the heck you’re stitching, especially around curves, and it has a small arrow in the front center, so you can keep the edge of the applique fabric lined up with the arrow. Beautiful.

(Edit: Check your sewing machine manual to see if it comes with an applique foot. It might be called something different, like a blind foot or an open toe foot, but it should be clear plastic with a little arrow front and center.)

applique stitch

I did a trial run, realized how incredibly fun and easy is was to do a zig-zag applique stitch The Right Way, and spent the rest of the afternoon working on the above project. This and the strap from yesterday’s post are part of a tote bag that I’m making for The Boutique.

It’s already received Nola’s stamp of approval. Poor thing had a rough day of napping.


I had a dream last night that I came upon another blogger who was copying all of my photographs. She wasn’t actually using MY photographs, but she was setting up her own photographs identically to mine, and I was furious

I’d like to give a very special thank you to Jox over at The Knitted Blog for submitting my strap tutorial to Craftzine. Thank you, Jox! You’re the best!


Entry filed under: Handmade goodies, Kitties, Sewing, The Boutique, Things and stuff.

How to sew a double-sided strap Petah Tote

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. april s  |  March 11, 2008 at 12:15 am

    ok – I am so glad you posted this! I do applique exactly how you do and hate always guessing about the curves that I’m stitching around. I’m going out tomorrow and buying myself an applique foot – and i love that you gave the correct width and length settings! Thanks again 🙂

  • 2. Sandra :)  |  March 11, 2008 at 12:16 am

    OOPS!!! I did some applique today and used the regular foot that was on my machine – I didn’t realize there was a proper foot for this, LOLOL. I quite enjoyed the zigging and zagging and the results – I’ll probably get even better results if I use the right foot – thanks for the very timely reminder, LOL!!! *smacks forehead in an ‘I could have had a V8’ move*

    Now if you’ll please excuse me, I have to go set up a photoshoot with my cat, my cutting board and some fabric … 😉

  • 3. Emily Hilleke  |  March 11, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Question: When you were doing the standard stitch, were the edges of your applique piece turned under? Were they fused down? How did you hide the raw edge?

    Can’t wait to see that tote!

  • 4. Karyn  |  March 11, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Emily — Great question! I use double-sided fusible web to permanently adhere my appliques to the base fabric. I don’t turn the edges under because the fusible web keeps it from fraying too badly, and any slight fraying that does occur gives it a slightly “raw” look that I really like. That’s just my personal taste — I’m sure some people prefer to turn the edges under.


  • 5. Goosie Girl  |  March 11, 2008 at 9:18 am

    You are a jewel. I thank you so much for these wonderful instructions and admire your ability to “hang in there”. I’ve experienced this same problem many times! But unlike you, I gave up and went on to something else. You’ve just inspired me to try again. LOL, Renee

  • 6. Betty  |  March 11, 2008 at 11:21 am

    oh jeez an applique foot? I never would have guessed. Seriously, I am a crazy bad zig zag stitcher too. I will have to try the 3 and 5 stitch suggestions. Did you make those applique circles? The stitching look great! If the applique foot is what makes the big difference–I am all over finding one.

  • 7. AB  |  March 11, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Thank you for this excellent post! I learned just what I need to know to make my “embarrrassingly messy” zig-zagging when sewing on patches a thing of the past!

  • 8. Jenaveve  |  March 17, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    I glossed over some of this particular post thinking I wouldn’t really ‘get it’ due to lack of applique knowledge, and funnily enough – this past weekend I had my first go at applique and your post sprung to mind. I had to come back and read it, and sure enough it all MADE SENSE! Don’t you just love those ‘penny drop’ moments?

    I think I have one of those feet you speak of – well, it’s definitely got some clear bits and an arrow. And I used a fusible thing-a-me called ‘Appli-Kay’ which is the fusible stuff with paper backing. I also used a straight stitch but I will be sure to try the zig-zag one day soon. Thanks for your response to Emily – this is a big help too.

  • 9. Annie  |  March 21, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    I seriously had not a clue in the world that there was such a thing. At all. This changes everything. My sewing life may never be the same. And, this is going to blow my mom’s mind completely. Isn’t it amazing the things that a person doesn’t know and then doesn’t know that they don’t know…

  • 10. Christine  |  March 23, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Hi, I have a question if you can help me please? When I’m doing my applique, The stitches are breaking the fabric and making it fray. I’m using satin and the fusible webbing. It doesn’t matter what size needle I use. Larger size needles do make it worse, but even a size 9 will do it to some degree. What am I doing wrong? Please help! And no, I am Not using the applicae foot. I would very much like to try one though. Thank you in advance for your time, Christine Perez


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Visit my Etsy shop

Click here to visit my Etsy shop. The Boutique


Fat Orange Cat is a site about finding the beauty in all things homemade, appreciating the secret story of dusty vintage pieces, and realizing there is nothing cozier than curling up under an old quilt with a glass of wine. ::: If you feel inspired, please leave a comment - I'd love to hear from you! ::: Email me at karynjeanne12(at)gmail(dot)com.

Upcoming craft shows

Copyright information

All material on this site is sole property of Fat Orange Cat. Feel free to link to my site, but please give proper acknowledgment.


Support handmade!

I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

%d bloggers like this: