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Written by Cath Quinlan on January 3, 2022

Fun Foxy Cushion (Applique with Satin Stitch, Pivot Function & Tapering Stitches)

Anybody that knows me will wonder why I am writing a BLOG on applique the manual way.  I am a self-confessed digitiser and machine embroiderer.  To be fair, I started my applique days learning the old-fashioned way.  I still remember going to a class with my Mum and discovering all the twists and turns needed to create great applique with the good old satin stitch.   From there I moved onto blanket or buttonhole stitch and of course machine embroidery.

It has been my mantra through the years when talking to customers about which machine will suit their needs, to always ask if they are appliquers. (If that is even a word.)  Because if you are, then the only way to go is with a machine that has the automatic pivot function.  What is this, I hear you ask?

foxy cushion 1

The pivot function is when your needle is in the down position, your foot will automatically lift.  This gives you the freedom to hold the fabric with both your hands and manoeuvre to the desired position.  The PFAFF Expression 710 and PFAFF Expression 720 machines will lift the foot approximately 2mm above the fabric each time.  This is perfect for those applique projects with bulky corners and overlapping fabrics.

I had a wonderful time recently creating a fancy little fox with applique and the ‘good old’ satin stitch.  I used the PFAFF Expression 720 machine which also gave me the tapering option on any stitch.  I remember using the manual width control to give me those lovely points, but with the tapering function I can chose the degree of taper, and which end I would like it to be at.  So, with this versatility I was able to create some professional twists and turns on this fun and furry little fox.

fun fox cushion image2

On both the PFAFF Expression 710 & 720 you are given the option on what degree of taper you would like.  To select the taper function, go to the Sewing Programs icon on the right of the screen.

fun fox cushion 3

You will now see the taper option for the beginning and end of each taper.  Notice the small triangle on the bottom of each icon.  To select the exact taper, simply long hold on the end taper you require and another window will appear.

fun fox cushion image 3

For the body of the fox, I selected the 60-degree taper for the beginning and the end of the stitch.  I used Satin Stitch 1.1.9 and adjusted the length and width of the stitch until I was happy with the size in proportion to my applique piece.

fun fox cushion image 4

Once the taper has been selected and you start to sew it will give a wonderful wedge to the beginning of the satin stitch.  To get another taper at the end of the stitch simply select the Reverse button on the front of the machine and continue to sew until the machine stops.  I recommend doing this with the needle set in the down position so you then have the pivot function activated and can turn easily and start your next taper.

To give the fluffy tail some added dimension, I used some white fur for my applique piece.

fun fox cushion image 5

To integrate the stitching with the tail I increased the width of the satin stitch to 9mm and increased the stitch length to open out the stitch.  Again I used the 60-degree taper at the beginning and end and did a series of stitches side by side with some overlapping to give this effect.  I absolutely love the results and feel that the tapering gave this tail a fun and fluffy appearance.

fun fox cushion image 6

One of my favourite feet for applique is the PFAFF Sewing Star Foot (Part No. P8206540-96).  It is open for absolute perfect visuals but has the bar across the front of the foot to keep the fabric from bunching up in the open section.  This is one of my standards in my foot collection!

fun fox cushion image 7

As I am no artist, I always search for colouring books/pages to help with my shapes.  I stumbled across this amazing site that teaches you how to draw.  That is where this fun fox came from. 

I must admit to absolutely enjoying step of this process and getting back to basics with the help of some modern techniques like the tapering stitches and pivot functions to help along the way.  Applique can be daunting when you are new to sewing but take your time, always have a practice piece beside you to test your stitches first (you don’t have to unpick those), always, always have stabiliser behind your stitching for best results and most of all, have fun!

To see a quick video on how this fox cushion went together click here.

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Article written by Cath Quinlan
Cath Quinlan has been designing and teaching for more than 10 years. Her talents lie in digitising, free-motion quilting, machine embroidery and education. She has co-authored two internationally distributed machine embroidery books, published many projects in Australian craft magazines and digitised and sold numerous embroidery designs and patterns. Her passion remains in education and the ability to share what she knows with anyone willing to listen. Cath’s teaching style is fun and relaxed, and she truly believes that ‘anyone can do it’.

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