Has long been a teacher of English Literature, after the retirement focused on freelance copywriting. She’s now our full-time writer since our website allows her to know more about the hobby of her lifetime – sewing.
A professional fashion designer and seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step instructions on how to sew a summer skirt.
Last updated: July 05, 2021
While it might be relatively easy to come up with unique applique designs, getting them onto clothes or other larger pieces of fabric will be challenging without the right sewing machine.
Fortunately, it’s also fairly easy to tell the best sewing machines for applique apart from mediocre and bad ones. You just look at certain features, e.g., the working area, inbuilt stitches, type of machine, its stitching speed, and more. These should tell you how well the applique sewing machine will cater to your needs and projects. They’ve also been instrumental in coming up with the list of potential purchases below. So, if you want to know which options fulfill the criteria for the best sewing machines for applique, keep reading.
Brother SE600 – Editor’s Choice
Type: computerized sewing & embroidery machine
Stitches & designs: 103 stitches, 80 designs
Working area: 4” x 4” embroidery hoop, 6.4″ x 4.1″ needle-to-arm workspace
Dimensions: 21.18 x 15.51 x 16.54 inches
Weight: 26.2 lbs.
Other features: 710 SPM, 7 included feet, USB port, automatic needle threader, and thread cutter
The Brother SE600 seems like the complete package for anyone interested in appliqueing. It’s a computerized sewing and embroidery machine with tons of features meant to make your work easier. One example is the multiple inbuilt designs and stitches. As such, you can use the embroidery designs to decorate smaller pieces of fabric before attaching them to larger pieces of cloth like your jacket. Another is the 4” x 4”, which can be adequate for some of these projects. We noticed that you even get a multi-function touchscreen to control and tweak your stitches as you see fit. Also, if you outgrow the built-in embroidery designs, the USB port will come in handy to help you import new ones from other sources.
This SE600 is different from other Brother machines in terms of the value it brings. It tries to incorporate as many features for sewing, embroidery, and appliqueing as possible. You can see that in the versatility of the screen, the multiple designs in the machine, the USB port, and other features. Furthermore, it’s a reasonably capable sewing machine with a 710 SPM stitch speed, an automatic threader, and even an automatic thread cutter.
What are our favorite features?
The screen on the SE600 is a big part of the machine’s versatility, and we noticed you can use it to manipulate your embroidery designs and sewing stitches. This is inclusive of resizing, recoloring, and even just selecting which design to use. Additionally, with a USB port included, you have limitless design options to choose from. You just download them and feed them into the machine using a USB stick. The device’s capabilities as a sewing machine are also top-tier. This includes the 710 SPM stitching speed, the included sewing feet, and even the automatic capabilities we mentioned above.
What could be better?
In our opinion, the embroidery working area is fairly small and might be a bit limiting to some users. Also, those who wish to come up with custom designs will need to subscribe to the necessary software, which is quite expensive. This, of course, puts such functionality out of reach for most buyers. Another thing we didn’t like is the complexity of the user interface. It has proved challenging to use for newbies and other inexperienced users.
Other features: advanced needle threader, drop-in top bobbin, 8 sewing feet included, USB port
Next, we have the SE1900, which is also a computerized sewing and embroidery machine from the same manufacturer as its predecessor on this list. Notably, it has 240 stitches built-in in addition to 138 designs for embroidery. The inbuilt features don’t stop there as the machine is also capable of monogramming. Additionally, eight sewing feet are provided to buyers to help them with the initial use of the machine. That said, you’ll likely need to purchase extra feet as you look for ways to make full use of the device.
The Brother SE1900 differentiates itself from other offerings from Brother and other manufacturers by having a relatively large working area. As such, it seems geared more to embroidery even though it still has sewing capabilities. This can be seen even in the 138 built-in designs. Just like with its predecessor, you can embroider the designs onto a smaller fabric, thereby enhancing your applique. It also has a USB port to help expand its capabilities. Finally, it incorporates a touchscreen for easier control.
What makes it stand out?
Compared to the competition, the working area in this sewing machine for applique is quite large. As such, working on larger embroidery designs to be used in your applique projects should be a piece of cake. Additionally, we noticed that just like the Brother SE600 mentioned above, an intuitive touchscreen is included in the machine’s design. This screen even comes with step-by-step tutorials, therefore, allowing even beginners to use the tool. Lastly, it should prove significantly easier to use the machine due to the incorporated accessories and built-in needle threader.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Even though some of the features make the machine easier to use, we felt that novices still need to go through a small learning curve to unlock the embroidery machine’s full capabilities. Also, the larger 5” x 7” in addition to the extra stitches and inbuilt designs, don’t come cheap. As such, if you’re interested, you’ll need to part with a pretty penny to get the machine. Lastly, it has the same problem as its predecessor, the SE600, where you’ll have to purchase additional software to access some features.
SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960 – Best Sewing Machine Stitches for Applique
Type: computerized sewing machine
Stitches & designs: 600 stitches
Working area: not specified
Dimensions: 17.25 x 8.25 x 12 inches
Weight: 20 lbs.
Other features: 850 SPM, automatic needle threader, extension table, direct button stitch selection, automatic reverse
With the SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960, you won’t be able to incorporate embroidery designs into your applique projects unless you get creative. However, it is still very capable as a sewing machine for applique. This is evidenced by the 600 stitch patterns included. Also, as a computerized sewing machine, it comes with an LCD screen alongside one-touch buttons, which allow complete control over said stitches.
Being a major competitor to Brother, this Singer offering sets itself apart by incorporating up to 600 stitches. This is inclusive of alphanumeric fonts that might be handy in some applique projects. There is even the option of mirror imaging which is pretty uncommon for sewing machines of this caliber. Also, considering that some of your projects will take up huge chunks of real estate on the fabrics and garments you work on, the extension table provided should be a huge help.
What makes it special?
As we mentioned before, the 600 inbuilt stitches are more than enough for applique projects. Next, the included extension table gives you enough space to ensure nothing goes wrong as you sew. Another thing we liked is the control you have over the stitches. You can elongate them, increase the stitch length and width and even adjust the tension to match your appliqueing needs. Also, with the needle up/down function, you’ll be able to turn and adjust your fabrics even as you sew. Lastly, with an 850 SPM stitching speed, it’s likely that your projects won’t take very long to complete.
What cons did we find?
While not necessary for applique projects, embroidery capabilities can help improve the outcome of some of your projects. Unfortunately, this feature is excluded from the machine. Another downside we noticed that might not sit well with buyers is a problem with the automatic thread cutter. In our opinion, it’s fairly unreliable, and this is an opinion shared by a few other users as well. The feed dogs were also underwhelming in their mandate to pull fabrics through as you sew.
EverSewn Sparrow QE – Best Sewing Machine for Quilting and Applique
Type: sewing and quilting machine
Stitches & designs: 70 stitch patterns
Working area: 16” x 22” extension table (sold separately)
Dimensions: 18 x 7.5 x 12 inches
Weight: 23.85 lbs.
Other features: 8-inch throat space, speed control, and a built-in thread cutter, 6 presser feet.
The EverSewn Sparrow QE also meets the criteria for one of the best sewing machines for quilting and applique. At its base configuration, it’s a 23.85 lbs. device. This is in addition to having an 8-inch throat space. If for some reason, this proves insufficient for your needs, you get an option to purchase an extension table as well. It ships with a few accessories, including six presser feet. Also, while not at the same level as the 600 stitch patterns of the SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960, the 70 stitch patterns provided by this machine will likely still prove sufficient.
Ultimately this EverSewn Sparrow QE should be perfect for people who want an easy-to-use machine. Also, the fact that it’s a quilting machine means that you should find it easy to work with thicker fabrics.
What makes it special?
Even when appliqueing, threading a needle could still prove to be a headache and the included needle threader keeps you from having to deal with that. Next, we felt the machine’s interface, inclusive of the screen and button layout, is perfect and easy to use for newbies. Additionally, the 8-inch throat space will cater well to the needs of most applique projects. However, if you want more space, the option to buy an extension table is always there. Lastly, the machine offers exemplary control over stitching speed in addition to stitch length, width, and tension.
What cons did we find?
In our opinion, the machine is quite expensive. Even the 70 stitch patterns with the exemplary control you have over them and the throat space don’t justify the price tag. Additionally, if you want to get the extension table that gives you more freedom to use the machine, you will have to part with more money. Lastly, some users expect twin needle capabilities at this price range which is unavailable in the device. If this is a make it or break it feature, this isn’t the machine for you.
Other features: LCD display, drop-in hook system, 850 SPM, manual thread cutter, LED sewing light, twin-needle capability
The Eversewn Sparrow 20 is next on the list and is one of the most affordable applique sewing machines on offer. As a computerized sewing machine, it features a simple outward design, and it’s also lightweight. Additionally, there are 80 stitch patterns, 49 of which are decorative, built into the device. However, the working area is a bit limited, which might be a hindrance to some users.
The machine is made for people looking to save on purchase costs. Additionally, it’s very light and might work for people looking for a portable option.
What makes it stand out?
The machine is light which makes traveling with it easier compared to the other options. That said, there isn’t much of a size difference between this Eversewn Sparrow 20 and the other options listed. Additionally, the machine is versatile, as shown by the 80 built-in stitch patterns. Next, it’s hard to make mistakes if you can clearly see the work area, which is why the sewing light is a huge asset. Lastly, it features simple controls that are unlikely to be a problem even for newbies.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
While it does have an LCD screen, we noticed that it’s very basic and doesn’t have a lot of functionality. For example, since it’s necessary for selecting stitches and changing settings, it elongates the process of doing so, making it longer than it has to be. Additionally, we felt the construction was fairly flimsy. As such, you need to take very good care so you don’t drop, hit, or damage the machine. Lastly, it doesn’t have an automatic needle cutter like most of the competition listed.
Brother PE550D – Best Sewing Machine for Applique and Embroidery
Type: computerized embroidery machine
Stitches & designs: 125 decorative designs
Working area: 4” x 4” hoop
Dimensions: 16.5 x 7.8 x 12 inches
Other features: large 3.2″ LCD touchscreen, USB port, 45 Disney designs
Our third Brother machine listed is the PE550D embroidery machine for appliques. It features 125 built-in designs, 45 of which are Disney-themed. However, just like the other Brother machines we mentioned above, you can download extra designs from the internet or even design your own. After that, you load them onto a USB stick and plug it into the machine for use. Notably, the machine doesn’t have sewing-only capabilities. However, you can get around this by positioning two pieces of fabric in the working area. This includes your main fabric and the one with the applique design. The latter should be on top of the former. Consequently, the machine will embroider through both of them and attach them in the process.
Ultimately this Brother machine is best suited to those who prioritize embroidery over other sewing capabilities.
Why is it special?
In our opinion, this Brother machine is straightforward to use. It comes with a 3.2” LCD touchscreen that allows you to preview and choose the designs you want to be embroidered. The same screen even offers some editing capabilities, including resizing the designs, changing colors, and more. For those who struggle with using the machine, there are built-in instructions that you can access via the screen as well. Lastly, the built-in alignment tools should ensure the precise alignment of your designs on the fabric.
What are the flaws?
We felt the most glaring downside of this machine is the lack of traditional sewing capabilities. While it’s possible to get around this for applique projects, you still might need to buy a sewing machine in future. Another limiting feature is the small size of the working area. Also, those who want to design and use proprietary embroidery patterns will need to purchase expensive software. Finally, we noticed the machine has a habit of breaking needles, so you might need to get the more durable titanium ones if you want them to last.
If you’re going to buy an applique sewing machine, it’s essential to get it right the first time as there are some costs that come with getting it wrong. They may include paying for return shipping, time costs, and even buying another machine altogether. As such, the buying guide below has some valuable tips and tricks to help you avoid such outcomes.
What is applique?
Appliqueing Trusted SourceApplique Definition to Educate the World about Sewing fabricAppliqué (or applique) is a technique in which pieces of fabric are sewn onto a foundation piece of fabric to create designs. It is particularly suitable for work which is to be seen from a distance, for example, Banner-making. www.apparelsearch.com is an art where you sew smaller pieces of fabric with designs or patterns onto larger fabric pieces. The applications are numerous, including adding designs on napkins, the clothes you wear, blankets, and more. As such, the kinds of sewing machines that are good for applique are those that can easily support such projects.
How to choose the best sewing machine for applique
Ultimately whether the machine will make your appliqueing easier or not will depend on the features. After all, they dictate all the capabilities of the device. Below we check out these features and how they should affect your purchase choices.
Notably, you can pull off applique projects with almost any sewing machine, but some varieties will make it easier than others. Embroidery machines like the Brother PE550D, for instance, can reduce the steps needed for appliqueing. This is because you can choose the design on the machine and position your two fabrics with one on top of the other before you start sewing your design. The foundation fabric should be on the bottom.
When you’re done embroidering, you just cut off the excess material of the top fabric. If you have a regular sewing machine, your job may be more difficult but still possible. First, you will have to print the design on a piece of fabric then cut it out. After that, you sew it onto the foundation fabric as it is. However, this process will take longer as you have to adjust the fabrics manually as you sew around the outline of the pattern.
Nevertheless, both sewing and embroidery capabilities are a huge help when appliqueing. As such, if you don’t have one or the other, you’re going to be fairly limited in the projects that you can take on. Another consideration with regard to the type is whether the machine is computerized or mechanical.
Computerized alternatives Trusted SourceComputerized Embroidery Machines – BrotherComputerized embroidery machines come equipped with advanced technology and automated systems for a powerful and personalized embroidery experience. Learn more and shop now. www.brother-usa.com are more intuitive when selecting and changing settings. Another benefit is you can download some firmware updates. As for the mechanical ones, you might struggle a bit during your appliqueing projects because you’ll need to do everything manually. This includes repositioning and re-aligning the fabric a few times. Consequently, you should always make your purchase decision with the type of machine you’re getting in mind.
Built-in stitches and designs
The built-in stitches will determine the outcome of your applique. For instance, some are better for decorative purposes, while others are there for practical reasons.
Ultimately those with more built-in stitches get more flexibility and options with their projects. Additionally, they have more control over the end product. As such, getting an option like the SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960 with its 600 stitches could prove to be a good deal.
The same is the case for the inbuilt designs for embroidery machines. If you plan to use them for applique projects, then the more they are, the better.
The provided working area for both embroidery and sewing machines is another feature to look at. If you’re working on a small applique design, the size might not be a problem. On the other hand, a larger design will require either a larger working area or for you to keep pausing the project to reposition the fabric.
The latter comes with a higher risk of making mistakes. As such, options with larger working areas such as the Brother SE1900 are preferred.
For those with embroidery-capable machines, USB connectivity is another feature that could prove advantageous. Admittedly, you could use the inbuilt designs for all your appliqueing projects. However, that will get old after some time. With USB connectivity, such as in the Brother SE600 machine, you have the option of downloading new designs from the internet. You could even create new ones with compatible software and upload them using a USB stick.
Those who want faster completion of their projects should also check out the speed of the machine. The Eversewn Sparrow 20, for instance, has an 850 stitches per minute stitching speed. Consequently, you should finish your projects faster than if your machine has a speed of 710 SPM.
Also, the circumstances are different for traditional sewing machines and embroidery machines. For the latter, you can let the machine run continuously until the project is done. Conversely, for conventional options, you’ll need to start and stop the machine a couple of times to reposition the fabric, which could end up slowing you down.
A top-load bobbin makes using a sewing or embroidery machine so much easier. You just lift the needle plate under the presser foot and either insert or remove the bobbin as per requirements. However, not all sewing machines for applique and embroidery have that feature. As such, you should check your applique sewing machine options before you commit to a purchase.
Manual needle threading can be a very frustrating experience. Both the thread and the eye of the needle are small and hard to see. Additionally, if you have shaky hands or terrible vision, the process becomes even more challenging. These are the reasons why threading a needle manually tends to take a long time. However, you can reduce the prep time needed for your applique projects by using a more efficient threading system. This is where the built-in threaders come in. Also, while this feature is available in a lot of modern machines, there are exceptions.
Next, you can look at the controls on the machine. Options available include LCD screens, foot control, buttons, and more. Even the LCD screens available come in different configurations. The LCD screen on the Eversewn Sparrow 20, for instance, is relatively small and provides very little information on machine settings.
Contrastingly, the one on the Brother PE550D computerized embroidery machine is 3.2” in size, features touch capabilities, and will display most of the settings. The same device also has buttons for extra control. You’ll also find other options in between these two extremes.
Additionally, options like foot control allow you to start and stop the machine with your legs, so your hands remain free to reposition the fabric. All in all, you want controls that are easy to use for you, so check for that before the purchase.
Another aspect that might dictate how you use your sewing machine for quilting, embroidery, or applique is the accessories provided with the initial purchase. An example is the Brother SE1900 ships with eight sewing feet, so you can start your projects as soon as you get the machine at your door. However, others may ship without any sewing feet; therefore, you’ll need to purchase some before you can use the device.
There are multiple other sewing feet in the market that you might have to buy eventually. Additionally, sewing feet are not the only accessories that can be included or excluded from the purchase. Other examples include an extension table, needles, bobbins, and more.
The dimensions have also proven to be an essential factor when picking applique sewing machines. You want something that’s in line with your space needs. If you have a small workspace, you’ll need a small machine to match that. Conversely, you might not need to worry as much about the size of the device if you have a large workshop with lots of free space.
It also makes sense to look at the device’s weight, especially if you move or travel a lot. A lighter sewing machine for applique will be easier to carry or transport to your home and other destinations.
Next, you look at the price. Even on the list of applique sewing machines given above, prices vary from $200 to $1000. As such, you first decide on a budget according to your financial situation before deciding on a machine. However, the more money you are willing and capable of spending, the more features you’re likely to have. Cheaper options tend to be fairly limited in features.
Considering the cost of such a machine, having a backup plan in place if something goes wrong with the device is a good idea. Fortunately, most modern manufacturers tend to ship their applique sewing machines with warranties.
Consequently, in case of any problems, you won’t need to bear the extra costs. Also, these warranties come with different terms and conditions. A couple of markers to look at include how long the warranty is expected to last, the covered components of the machine, and the type of compensation you receive from the manufacturer if you activate the warranty. The more value you can get in your warranty, the better.
Lastly, there are some extra features that may come in handy. For instance, the twin needle feature is an asset in the Eversewn Sparrow 20. However, it’s also absent in the EverSewn Sparrow QE on the list above. Other examples of extra features include LED lighting, speed control, automatic thread cutters, and more. Just like the warranty, the more value you can get in terms of extra features, the better.
As we mentioned above, it’s possible to do appliques using an embroidery-only machine. In simple terms, you do it by embroidering your design over two pieces of fabric. One is the foundation fabric, while the other is the decorative fabric. If you place the decorative fabric on top, you can embroider the outline of the applique design. After that, you just cut off excess material.
In embroidery, you create your patterns and designs using different colored threads. While you still create patterns and designs in applique, this time, you do it by patching up different pieces of fabric. For example, if you print a design on polyester, cut it out, then sew it onto a denim jacket, that will be applique.
Typically you want thin needles because they don’t pick up too many threads of the applique at the same time. Additionally, they give a smoother outlook on the edges of your pattern or design. Size 10 milliner needles are a good pick. However, if you want to use a basting stitch to hold the fabrics in place before adding finishing touches, you might want to use a larger needle.
Compared to other sewing applique machines in the market, the ones listed above impressed us the most. The Brother SE600, for instance, packs multiple features meant to make it a jack of all spades in sewing, embroidery, and applique spaces. As such, it’ll be hard to find anything the machine can’t do. A bonus is that it’s also reasonably affordable.
The Brother SE1900 is more of a specialist device, and we especially love the large working area for your designs. As for our best value machine, the Eversewn Sparrow 20’s features are impressive for the price. It’s even great as a starter machine since it’s easy to use without sacrificing functionality.
As you can see above, choosing the best sewing machines for applique will also depend on what other needs you have for the machine. As such, the write-up above will help you achieve some clarity on the matter before you commit to a purchase.
Applique Definition to Educate the World about Sewing fabric