When you download an appliqué design, you'll find two files: a die line (which begins with the letters DL) and the full embroidery file (which begins with the numbers 25). You'll use the die line file to cut the appliqué fabric to the exact shape for the embroidery. You won't sew the DL file on a garment - you'll just use it to cut the fabric. Begin by opening the die line file in your embroidery software, and printing it. If you don't have embroidery software, or cannot print from it, then you can sew the die line file to make a template. To do this, hoop a piece of paper. Load the die line file into the embroidery machine and embroider that file. You can use an unthreaded needle, and the needle will perforate the paper. For the example to the left, there is thread in the needle. A die line is a simple running stitch outline, so it only takes a moment or two to sew. Once the die line file has finished sewing, set the paper aside and prepare your appliqué fabric. You can use almost any fabric for appliqué. We're using lightweight cotton, so we are backing the fabric with one piece of cutaway stabilizer. Spray the stabilizer lightly with adhesive. Smooth the appliqué fabric on top. Spray a bit of adhesive on the backside of the paper template, and smooth that on top of the appliqué fabric and stabilizer. Then, cut the shape from the fabric and stabilizer “sandwich”. Remove the paper template from the fabric and stabilizer (sandwich). If you are planning on using the appliqué design again, you can store that paper template with the color change sheet for a future use. Next, back the garment with stabilizer. Hoop both fabric and stabilizer firmly. Begin embroidering the design - the full embroidery file, the one that begins with the numbers "25." This file consists of three main parts. The first part is the die line. This running stitch outline traces the shape of the appliqué fabric. Once the die line has finished sewing, spray the backside of the fabric and stabilizer "sandwich" with adhesive, Place the appliqué piece in the sewn die line. Continue embroidering the design. The next thing to sew is the tack down stitch. This is a zigzag stitch which binds the appliqué fabric to the garment. You’ll also see a satin stitch border sew. This gives the appliqué fabric a nice, smooth seal. The appliqué design might have other elements that embroider, too. This bunny has ears, eyes, nose, and a tail. You'll find the color change sheet is helpful when embroidering, as the fields are labeled with convenient descriptions. Appliqué embroidery is a wonderful way to add your favorite fabrics and patterns to your embroidery. Let your imagination run wild!
(Note: you can choose almost any fabric for appliqué embroidery. If you're working with a high-pile fleece or fur, it may be necessary to trim the nap at an angle (angling inward) after the shape has been cut to avoid fuzz peeking through the satin stitch border).