Busby Fall Leaves

Fall Leaves Machine Embroidery Table Topper

In North Carolina the days are not cooler yet in mid-September, but with football season in full swing and shorter days, we’re all thinking of cooler weather and dressing up our homes for fall. Are you in the mood for cooler weather? I’m Marjorie Busby from bluefeatherquiltstudio.com here to share a machine embroidery Fall Table Topper idea with you.

The GO! QUBE Mix & Match 6” Block and GO! QUBE Mix & Match 6” Companion sets are used to make this table topper. This table topper features a center Bear’s Paw block made with the cutting dies and a six inch border for machine embroidered maple leaves from the Fall Medley applique die and machine embroidery design set.

Some of my favorite fall table runners are those that look like the leaves are just tossed onto the fabric and stitched in place. That inspired this table topper. The six inch border is used to “toss” the leaves, although in the end, it turned out they are not at all randomly placed. The technique I used is what I call “dot to dot” machine embroidery applique placement. You will find a detailed video tutorial here. This is a great technique to use with any machine embroidery to create borders or to complete applique quilts. This method allows you to use your embroidery machine to place your applique exactly where you want it to be and gives you the freedom to stitch designs outside that box of the embroidery hoop.

Supplies Needed:

GO! QUBE Mix & Match 6” Block Set and GO  QUBE 6″ Companion Set

Fall Medley applique die

Fall Medley Machine Embroidery Design Set by Marjorie Busby

Completed pieced Table Topper with a six inch finished outer border

Assorted Fall Fabrics for the pieced blocks and the Leaves

1 yard Background Fabric for six inch borders

½ yard Border and Binding Fabric

Fusible Web (Lite Steam-a-Seam2 is recommended) Or washable glue stick

Lightweight Tearaway Stabilizer

Spray adhesive (I prefer Sulky KK2000 as it disappears after 24 hours or with heat)

Fabric Marker (the washaway blue or air erase purple work well)

Thumb tacks and foam pin anchors (made from foam mats)

Embroidery Machine and 5” x 7” Embroidery Hoop

Step 1: Make the quilt top.

The table topper was pieced using the block shown below. Four blocks were made and assembled with a 1-1/2” finished sashing and center cornerstone. A two finished gold border was added around that. The six inch finished border was added and then finally, a two inch border around the six inch border. Complete the construction of the table topper before beginning the machine embroidery.

TIP: Before you start the machine embroidery, stitch a test leaf on a piece of background fabric to be sure your machine is in good working order and that you are satisfied with your fabric and thread choices.

Step 2: Cut the leaf shapes with the applique die and lay them onto border for placement.

The fabric for the leaves is prepared by cutting 6” x 6” squares from the fusible web and fusing it onto the wrong side of the fabrics that will be used for the leaves. The leaves should be cut with the fusible side facing the foam on the die. The paper is not removed until after the leaves have been cut. With paper on the fabric, it is best to cut not more than 2-3 leaves at a time using the GO! cutter and die.

After the quilt top is pieced including borders, it is time to place and mark the leaf applique. I placed my quilt top on my design wall and pinned and placed the leaves on the top until I had a design that I liked.

Step 3: Marking the leaf placement on the border.

The five points of the maple leaf were chosen as the “placement” points and a blue water soluble marker was used to make a short line underneath each leaf point. The reason a line was used here instead of a dot is that the background fabric was a multicolor batik with lots of dots already and the short line was easier to identify on the fabric.

Step 4: Stitch the placement line onto the stabilizer and align the background fabric with the placement lines. 

Hoop the stabilizer into a 5 x 7” embroidery hoop. Thread the machine with the thread color to be used for the leaf embroidery. Mount the hoop onto the machine and stitch the placement line onto the stabilizer.

Spray the stabilizer with Sulky KK2000 (being sure to cover the actual hoop so that the adhesive is only on the stabilizer). Turn the embroidery hoop so that the back of it is facing you. Using thumb tacks, place a thumb tack into each leaf point so that the sharp point of the thumb tack is facing you when the hoop is placed right side up.

Find the top dot/mark for the leaf and match it with the corresponding thumb tack. By placing a foam pin anchor over the point of this thumb tack, it can be used as a pivot point for placing the leaf. Carefully adjust the fabric so that the other marks match the other thumb tacks. These marks may not correspond exactly, but you will be able to adjust so that the leaf fits equally within the marks. It is important here not to stretch or distort the background fabric. In this case, the thumb tacks are used as a guide rather than as an exact placement.

To check the leaf placement, I use a small, handheld LED light and shine it through the back of the stabilizer so that the leaf placement line and blue marks are both visible. If the placement is not to my liking, it is easy to reposition the background fabric.

Step 5: Prepare hoop, stabilizer and table topper for the embroidery machine.

Remove the thumb tacks, pin the background fabric securely to the stabilizer outside the embroidery area. Even though spray adhesive is used, the table topper is large thus making it necessary to secure the fabric to the stabilizer with pins so that there is no movement of the fabric. The size of the table topper also makes it important to roll the excess fabric neatly beside the hoop and pin or secure it (I used a hair clip in the photo below) so that it does not fall into the embroidery area or underneath the hoop while the machine is working.

Step 6: Complete the embroidery.

IMPORTANT: Step or re-set the embroidery machine back to the placement stitch which is the first color in the embroidery file. The placement stitch for the leaf is completed two times—once on the stabilizer and a second time on the background fabric.

When the placement stitch is complete, remove the hoop from the machine and secure the leaf aplique just within or on top of the placement line. NOTE: If you are using Lite Steam-A-Seam2, the hoop can be moved to the “cut” position and using tweezers, you can place the leaf within the placement lines and lightly press the applique shape into place with your fingers.

Remount hoop into position and stitch the tackdown stitch. There is a thread stop after the tackdown stitch so that the leaf veins may be stitched in a different color if desired. For this project, I used a single thread color throughout the entire leaf. There is a second thread stop after the leaf vein stitches for the decorative applique stitches.

When the stitching is compete, remove the hoop from the machine and tear away any excess stabilizer outside the stitching.

Completion: Repeat this process until all leaves have been stitched.

REVIEW: At the end of every project, I always think of the different variations that can be made as well as the things I would do differently next time. I must admit, I loved doing this project and think only of the variations. Wouldn’t it be fun to stitch a variety of leaves in the border? There are two Rustling Leaves dies (Sweet Gum, Poplar, Maple, and Oak) and a matching machine embroidery set that offer lots of possibilities and embroidery fun.

What would you do differently? Does this inspire you to use your embroidery machine to make a quilt border? If so, what applique dies would you use? 

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