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Applique Artistry

Applique Artistry
Created by Sarah Ann Smith, Camden, Maine


Sarah calls this project The Balinese Garden Pillow in honour of the beautiful Bali flannel batiks she used to create her fanciful flowers. However, she claims the real star of the shower was her Janome Memory Craft 6500 Professional. The machine's versatile, programmable stitches easily executed her unique artistic pattern. Step-by-step instructions are given for the pillow, but Sarah suggests the design could also be used as the central block in a medallion quilt, a wall hanging or adapted for a table runner. Although we love the exotic style of the Bali fabrics, you could also use plaids and homespun's on osnaburg for a country look. Ultra suede or sheep appliques on a cream fabric would produce a sophisticated effect. And, tone-on-tone fabric with gold threads for the stitching would create an entirely different, contemporary feel.


Janome Supplies Required

  • Memory Craft 6500 Professional
  • Any Janome serger (optional)
  • Standard foot "A"
  • Satin Stitch foot "F"
  • Darning foot "P2"
  • Zipper foot "E"
  • 1/4" Seam foot "O"
  • Knee Lift
  • Janome Embroidery thread to match your fabrics

Fabric and Notions Required


Pillow Top

  • One 10 1/2" x 10 1/2" square
  • Two 5" x 10 1/2" strips
  • Two 5" x 19 1/2" strips
  • One 21" x 21" backing
  • One 21" x 21" piece of batting
  • Assorted scraps for applique leaves and flowersPillow Form
  • 1/3 to 1/2 yd. fabric for binding
  • Two yds. yarn, ribbon or bias tape for the stem
  • Threads to coordinate with or accent your flower, bud and leaf colours
  • Fusible web
  • Iron-on tearaway stabilizer
  • Applique pressing sheet (optional)
  • Paper or template plastic
  • 12" - 14" zipper


Applique Preparation

  1. Download applique patterns from Janome Online at
  2. Trace leaves, large and small buds, flower (including shadow lines) and calyx patterns provided onto paper or plastic template.
  3. Apply fusible web to the back of applique fabrics according to manufacturer's instructions.
  4. Trace and cut twenty-four leaf patterns onto the fusible web using templates. Turn templates over for similar leaf shapes that go in both directions.Note: You will only need twenty-one leaves. Use the extra leaves on scrap to "test-drive" threads and stitch settings.
  5. Trace and cut four large and eleven small buds. Cut a few extra to "play" during placement and to test stitch settings.
  6. Trace and cut two flowers and two calyxes (the cup shape at the base of the flower).


 Inside Information

The flannel batik fabrics used in this project were provided courtesy of Princess Mirah Designs/ Bali Fabrics Inc. Sarah selected one multi-coloured batik flannel for all the flowers (less then 1/8 yd.) and less than 1/4 yd. (total) of scraps from three blue-green or green batik flannels for the leaves.


Pillow Top Construction

  1. Thread the needle and bobbin with all-purpose thread.
  2. Select Straight stitch #1.
  3. Attach the 1/4" Seam foot "O".
  4. Sew the 5" x 10 1/2" strips to opposite sides of the 10 1/2" x 10 1/2" square.
  5. Zigzag or Overcast stitch the raw edges. Or, use your serger to clean finish the edges.
  6. Press seams toward the dark fabric.
  7. Sew 5" x 19 1/2" strips to top and bottom of strip-square-strip unit.
  8. Clean finish the edges.
  9. Press seams toward the dark fabric.
  10. Iron stabilizer to wrong side of pillow top background.

The Stem

  1. For the stem, you can use yarn, twisted ribbon or bias tape. Each will add texture and dimension to the stem. Sarah used yarn on her sample.Note: If using bias strips, they can be made into tubes, like a spaghetti strap for a dress, or left raw edged, which would allow them to fray and create texture and dimension. For raw-edge strips, cut them about 3/8" wide.
  2. Find the half-way point in the stem.
  3. Following Diagram 1, place the half-way point in the exact centre of pillow about 1" above the seam line for the centre square. Pin in place.
  4. Make a circle with the yarn/ ribbon/ bias, then cross the ends and bring the ends up to the centre to form the stems for the flowers.
  5. Pin the spot where the yarn/ ribbon/ bias crosses as well as at the ends of the yarn. Note: Do not trim extra until you have stitched the stem into place and finalized the placement of your leaves and flowers.
  6. Following Diagram 2, at the North, South, East and West points, nudge the yarn/ ribbon/ bias towards the centre. Then do the same at the NE, SE, SW, and NW corner to achieve an undulating stem.
  7. When you are satisfied with the placement of the yarn/ ribbon/ bias, pin in place.
  8. Thread the needle and bobbin with thread that matches the yarn/ ribbon/ bias.
  9. Select Blanket stitch #34 in Mode 2.
  10. Sew the yarn/ ribbon/ bias in place. Keep the straight/ forward portion of the stitch right next to your yarn so the stitching will be hidden under the yarn when you are done.Note: If you use a narrow bias strip for a raw-edged stem, use a straight stitch down the centre of the fabric. Then fray the edges with an old toothbrush. Try twisting and turning the bias to create neat bends and ridges just like a real stem.

Flowers and Leaves Applique

  1. Place applique flowers, buds and leaves around the stem. Following the sample, begin with the two large flowers, then add the buds, and finally fill in with the leaves.
  2. When you are satisfied with your composition, remove only the calyxes and the dark shadow lines on the big flowers.
  3. Use an applique pressing sheet and fuse the pieces to the top.Note: You will fuse the calyxes and shadow-lines after stitching the main part of the flower.Inside Information - Take the extra leaves and buds and fuse them to a scrap of your background fabric. Practice the stitches as given blown on the scraps before you begin sewing on your pillow top. Depending on the fabrics and threads you choose, you may wish to adjust the width and length of the stitches, especially on the Satin Stitch used on the central flowers. This will also give you a good idea how your thread colours look. Sarah used thread to simulate an overhead light source. She used three colours of greens for the leaves, with the lightest green on the upper leaves, a light-medium for the middle level, and a medium tone green for the lower leaves. A variegated thread works well for the stamens above the two large flowers.
  4. Thread the machine with selected thread colour.
  5. Attach the Satin Stitch foot "F".
  6. Insert Knee Lift.
  7. Select stitch #65 in Mode 2.
  8. Stitch the leaves in place. Begin stitching at the tip of the leaf to the base, lock stitch and cut thread. Return to tip of leaf and stitch down the other side of the leaf to base, lock stitch and cut thread. Hint: Unless otherwise noted, keep needle in the needle down position to make sure your pivots at the curves smooth. Use the arrow on the foot to guide along the outside edge of the leaf.
  9. Select stitch #49 in Mode 2. Adjust the width to 2.5 and length to 2.0.
  10. Stitch the buds. Begin stitching at the narrow stem-end of the bud on the right hand-side (as you look at it) with the right hand side of the stitch pattern reaching the very edge of the applique.
  11. Gradually increase to the default width of 5.0, stopping to pivot at the curves.
  12. When you approach the narrow stem-end of the bud, slow down and decrease the stitch width to fit the width of the applique.
  13. Stitches will overlap at some pivots and at the base.
  14. Complete with the locking stitch but do not cut the thread. Inside Information - When approaching an outside curve, make sure your needle is in the down position on the outside of the curve before pivoting to go around the corner. It is better to make several small pivots rather than one larger pivot. A large pivot will create a sharp bend or corner. Several small pivots will create the illusion of a gentle curve.
  15. Move the needle to the UP position. Select Triple Stretch stitch #5 in Mode 1.
  16. Observe the needle position, and if needed, reposition the fabric so the needle will enter the fabric just barely outside the edge of the applique.
  17. Return the needle to auto-down.
  18. Outline the bud, overlapping the first few stitches, then lock off and cut the thread.
  19. Select Zigzag stitch #8 in Mode 1. Adjust the width to 2.0 and length to .35.Note: Be sure to test stitch.
  20. Stitch the flowers. Begin on the side of the flower. As you approach the point of the petal, gradually reduce the width of the stitch to 1.0 at the tip. With the needle down, pivot at the tip. Very carefully, slightly adjust the fabric so the tiny Zigzag will stitch on top of the previous stitches, and then increase the stitch width gradually to 2.0.
  21. Repeat this process for other petal points then stop at the stopping point. Lock off and cut thread.
  22. Return to the beginning of the Satin stitch around flower.
  23. Select Tripe Stretch stitch #5 in Mode 1.
  24. Carefully note the needle position, and if needed, reposition the fabric so the needle will enter the fabric just barely outside the edge of the applique. Return the needle to the DOWN position.
  25. Outline the flower next to the Satin stitch, lock off and cut the thread.
  26. Place the shadow-lines slivers so the point doesn’t quite touch the inside edge of the satin stitching. Fuse in place.
  27. Select Zigzag stitch #8 in Mode 1. Adjust the width to 2.0 and length to 1.0.
  28. Zigzag in place, narrowing at the tip. Pivot with needle down at the tip, then increase stitch width back to 2.0.
  29. Select Triple Stretch Stitch #5 in Mode 1.
  30. Return to where you began and outline as above.
  31. Place the calyxes on top of the flower appliques, making certain the outside edges are evenly aligned. Fuse in place.
  32. Satin stitch and outline all the way around the calyx as described above.
  33. Select stitch #9 in Mode 3.
  34. Stitch the stamens on the flowers. Set the needle to stop in the UP position. Set the machine so it locks at the end of every motif/ stitch sequence. This facilitates pivoting over the curvy top of the flower. You will want to position each motif so it comes up from the top of the flower at close to a right angle.
  35. Repeat the motif until you have stitched the length of the top of the flower.
  36. Repeat for the second flower.


  1. Layer the top with batting and backing.
  2. Thread the needle and bobbin with thread that matches the background to emphasize the applique. You will need two different threads, one to match each area.
  3. Attach the darning foot "P2".
  4. Echo quilt around the applique pieces.
  5. Trim the completed top to 19 1/2" square. Make sure that the outside edges are parallel to the central square and that the outside strips are equal.

Pillow Back

Note: You'll be making Sarah's special "deep-pocket" lapped zipper placket. It is flatter than conventional lapped zipper construction and looks much nicer on home dec items.

  1. Mark the centre of the long edge of the 4" x 19 1/2" piece with a pin.
  2. Centre your zipper face down on the long side of the strip.
  3. Attach the Zipper foot "E".
  4. Stitch the zipper in place.
  5. Turn the zipper face up and press the seam.
  6. Topstitch close to the edge to create a clean look and prevent the fabric from getting caught in the zipper.
  7. Place the 17 1/2" x 19 1/2" piece right side down onto the other side of the zipper and stitch in place.
  8. Fold the large piece so that you create a 1/2" deep zipper placket. Pin in place.
  9. Topstitch a scant 1/8" from the edge of the fold to secure the top to the bottom strip. Sew just as far as the zipper tape.
  10. With the needle down, pivot and stitch across the zipper tape to the top edge of the zipper.
  11. Pivot again and stitch through the fabric and zipper tape approximately 1/2"from the folded edge for the length of the zipper.
  12. At the end of the zipper (but before you have stitched off the end of the zipper tape) pivot again and stitch across the zipper to the edge of the fabric.
  13. Topstitch a scant 1/8" from the edge of the fold to secure the rest of the top to the bottom.
  14. Square up the back to 19 1.2" x 19 1/2", making sure the zipper is parallel to the bottom edge.

Pillow Back

  1. Place pillow top and pillow back wrong sides together.
  2. Attach the Standard foot "A".
  3. Select Straight stitch #1. Adjust the length to 4.0.
  4. Baste 1/8" from raw edge around pillow.
  5. Cut bias binding. You will need about 1 3/4" to 2" wide strips, 60" in length.
  6. Fold bias binding in half lengthwise.
  7. Place raw edges along the outside edge of the pillow.
  8. Attach the 1/4" Seam foot "O".
  9. Stitch bias binding in place.
  10. Wrap the folded edge to the back and blind-stitch in place by hand.

Sarah's Pillow Suggestions

  • Not all pillows are created the same. A pillow whose tag says it is 16" square can measure anywhere from 14 1/2" to 18" across the middle. To get the look you want, wrap a tape measure around the pillow at its fullest part, then divide by two. For the sample, Sarah used a 16" pillow form.
  • For relaxed and roomy pillows, use a form whose actual measurements are smaller than the pillow cover.
  • For a plump pillow, use a from whose actual measurements equal or exceed the size of the cover. In this case, you will want to bevel the corners of the pillow to avoid "dog-ear" corners (see Sarah's trimming technique).

Technique For Trimming Plump Pillows

  1. Trim very long, skinny triangles off each side of the pillow corners.
  2. Make the length of the triangles slightly less than one-third of the actual size of the pillow. For example, if the pillow measures 15" across the fullest part, my triangles will be about 4 1/2" long. For pillows 16" and under, the short end of the triangle should be no more than 1/2". For pillows 16"- 24" and under, the short end can be about 3/4" long. For oversize pillows, you may want to go up to one inch- for a 26" Euro square, the triangle will have the one inch short side, an 8" long side, and the diagonal.
  3. Sew the pillow as usual, but when it is turned it will appear to be a square shape.

Table Runner Option

  1. Determine the finished size you would like for your table runner (16" x 42" is a good size).
  2. Cut the fabric 1" wider and longer than desired finished size.
  3. Use three yards of yarn or ribbon laid out in a long oval on the top's background fabric, letting it wave and twist like a branch.
  4. Begin with five flowers, eight large and fifteen small buds, and thirty leaves.
  5. Place them around the stem, using the pillow directions as a guideline. If you need more or fewer flowers, buds and leaves, adjust your total number.
  6. Follow the applique directions for the pillow.