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Free motion appliquéd greeting cards made by handmadebyanni

How to: free motion appliquéd greeting cards

Free motion stitching is not limited to quilting!  

Anni from handmadebyanni shows us the technique of how to doodle stitch your way to charming greeting cards. One of the great advantages of this technique is that you can sew in all directions, just like drawing. 
The great thing about free motion work is that it doesn't have to be so precise. The hand drawn, irregular effect contributes to the charming and slightly naive character of this kind of work. 

Take inspiration from her examples and your leftover fabrics and trims to create your own.

Materials needed 

  • Folded blank card
  • A single piece of card slightly smaller than or the same size as the front of the folded card
  • Fabric scraps, trims, buttons, ribbons, and decorations – raid your stash!
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing
  • Glue stick
  • Small adhesive dots
  • Thread: a variety of sewing and embroidery thread weights and colours to suit your design 

Equipment needed 

  • Brother sewing machine with free motion ability – Anni used the fabulous Stellaire combination sewing and embroidery machine
  • Free motion presser foot suitable for your machine (check on support.brother.com which foot is compatible with your machine model)
  • Air erasable marking pen
  • Scissors
  • Decorative edged scissors

Patterns needed 

You can find inspiration for your own pictures by searching online for line drawings or looking at colouring in books. Simpler images work best.

To build a card you will need a piece of fabric as a background, and then the different elements of the picture, which can be made up from different fabrics and finished with trims.

How to 

Step 1 

Attach the free motion presser foot to your sewing machine. In the menu, select the free motion sewing foot button and the centred straight stitch. 

Tip: if you are using another model, check your manual for free motion set up. 
Setting up free motion sewing on Brother Stellaire

Step 2 

Choose the image you’d like to ‘doodle’ on to your card, and then select the fabric scraps you will use. Fuse the interfacing onto the back of the fabric scraps. This give the fabrics more stability, which is a great advantage when free motion sewing.

Fabric with interfacing applied to the back

Step 3 

Cut out all the elements of your image and lay them out to see if you are happy with the result.

Tip: you can embellish the edges of the fabric you’re using with pinking shears or curved scissors. It looks pretty and prevents the fabric from fraying.  

Fabric and thread elements of design laid out on card

Step 4 

Place, glue down and then sew the background fabric for the design in place.

Tip: practise free motion sewing on a test piece of fabric and card first. It is important to stay relaxed and move the work at a steady pace while you are sewing to get fairly even stitches. Remember: perfection is not the aim! 
Brother sewing machine free motion sewing around fabric shape on card

Step 5 

Place the next layer of your design elements, glue in place and then sew. As free motion sewing creates slightly irregular lines, think of it as doodling. The best way to achieve the doodled effect is to sew several rounds of stitches.

Free motion sewing with Brother Stellaire around edges of fabric on card

Step 6 

It’s time to add embellishments. In this example I used a button as a flower centre.  

Tip: buttons can be sewn in the free motion mode and with the free motion presser foot, however, it is best to not use the foot control but instead only power the machine by turning the handwheel for better control. 
Sewing on button on Brother Stellaire in free motion mode

Step 7 

You can even add wording to your card using the free motion method!

Draw the letters onto a piece of stabilised fabric with the marker. Copy the lines with the sewing machine. Do at least 2 passes. The air erasable marker lines will disappear after a while. 

Tip: you could even add a message or an affirmation with a P-Touch labelling machine. A wide range of machines and tapes are available to print on tapes and even on ribbons!    
writing freemotion text using Brother Stellaire sewing machine

Step 8 

When the design is completed, place small dots of glue at the back of your work. Carefully stick your free motion work onto the front of a folded card. 
Embroidered card with glue dots to stick onto folded card

Step 9 

Your card is complete. Add a message inside and send it! 
Free motion appliqué and embroidery card made on Brother Stellaire
We can’t wait to see what you make! Remember to tag me on Instagram, and Brother on Instagram and Facebook so we can share your makes and inspire others.

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