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Gingham Fruit Machine Applique Kitchen Towels: Aurifil 80wt Thread

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It’s day three of our Aurifil 80wt designer series, and our final project highlights how wonderfully this thread performs for machine appliqué. There are lots of options for appliqué, which is essentially just adhering a feature fabric to a background or base fabric. But with machine appliqué, you need a quality thread that can both outline accurately as well as fill without obliterating the accent fabric. Aurifil 80wt performed fantastically in the outline stage, creating smooth even stitches. We then added overlapping lines of embroidery to simulate gingham. The resulting stitch work is so delicate and precise, you almost have to do a double-take to realize it’s stitching and not real gingham fabric! 

As with all our 80wt designer projects, the embroidery files are available as free downloads courtesy of Aurifil Thread. Each of the three fruits is a separate design you can download in ART, EXT, JEF, PES, VIP, and VP3.

The stitching of these little designs may seem basic, but as is often the case, creating something so clean and simple can sometimes be harder than a more complex stitch out. Your thread must perform flawlessly to produce the distinct lines that make up the design. Because there is more “air” or white space around the design, there’s more attention drawn to each stitch. The Aurifil 80wt thread allows you to make basic – beautiful!

We used classic Moda toweling for our samples, which comes pre-hemmed along the selvedges. This means you just need a simple hem top and bottom to finish each towel. Of course, you could also use a purchased kitchen towel. 

We recommend using a quality cotton for the towel fabric, but because our designs specify a solid white quilting cotton for the base shape of the fruit, you could even use a terry cloth. The appliqué fabric will overlap the terry’s nap, allowing the fine stitching to still stand out. This appliqué method with a white base fabric also means you can use any color for the toweling and the gingham stitching will still retain its traditional bright white look. 

Our towel samples finish at 16” wide x 26½” long. The fruit designs finish approximately as follows: the Red Apple at 3½” x 3⅝”, the Green Apple at 3¼” x 4”, and the Pear at 3½” x 4”. You can position them in any way you choose, even using a “fruit salad” of all three designs on a single towel. 

The designs would also be a cheery addition to placemats, hot pads, and other kitchen linens. They’d even be cute as a featured embellishment on a child’s jumper or overalls. 

Although we are focusing here on machine appliqué, we have heard amazing things from folks using the Aurifil 80wt for hand appliqué – especially for paper-piecing. The word on the street is that the thread is to fine and so easy to work with that the hand stitching literally disappears, making the shapes appear to be magically attached!

Our thanks again to Aurifil for letting us help with the launch of their amazing new 80wt thread collection. We found it wonderful to work with and highly recommend it. Whether you choose one of our projects or design your own, the right thread is critical. It holds everything together on the inside and makes the finishing details stand out and look their best.

Look for the Aurifil 80wt thread collection in its debut 88 colors at your favorite online or in-store independent retailer, starting in December. We hope it will be so wildly successful that it soon is available in all 270 standard Aurifil colors.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • Machine appliqué embroidery download(s) from the Getting Started section below
  • ⅞ yard of 16” wide toweling for EACH towel or your choice of towel yardage or a purchased towel; we used 16” wide, 100% cotton Moda Toweling
  • TWO fat quarters or scraps of 44”+ wide quilting cotton for the appliqué elements; we used White for the base fruit shape and Dark Green for the leaves
  • Tear-away stabilizer as recommended for your embroidery machine
  • Aurifil 80wt thread for the appliqué:
    White 2021
    Green 2890
    Beige 2312
    Red 2250
    Apple Green 1147
    Yellow 1135
  • We also recommend Aurifil 80wt thread in White 2021 for the bobbin
  • Aurifil 50wt thread is recommended for the towel hemming
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

From the toweling, cut ONE 28” length for each towel. 

Embroidery preparation

  1. Download the Gingham Fruit embroidery design(s) of your choice in the appropriate format for your machine. Save the design to a memory stick. You should also print the PDF file(s) with the design crosshairs for placement. 
  2. Our Download Page also contains all the Color Chart information with the color change steps. This information has been repeated below as well. 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Hem the toweling

  1. If working with traditional toweling, you need only add a simple hem top and bottom. Our Moda Toweling came 16” wide with a generous ½” hem along each side. To match this, fold back the top and bottom raw edges ¼” and press, then fold an additional ½” and press again. 
  2. Edgestitch along the inner fold in a matching thread to secure both hems. We used Aurifil 50wt thread.
  3. If you are making your own towel from another fabric, you’ll need to stitch both the side hems and the top and bottom hems. And, if using a purchased towel you needn’t do anything at all to prepare the towel other than press it flat. 

Machine appliqué

  1. Thread the machine with white Aurifil 80wt thread in the bobbin and 80wt thread in the top as listed on the color chart.
  2. Cut away excess paper from the Gingham Fruit Template. Position the template on the pre-hemmed towel. We placed ours 5” up from the bottom and centered side to side. Notice that the crosshairs are positioned at a 45˚ angle. This is so the gingham will stitch on the bias. Pin the template in place.
  3. Hoop the stabilizer and place the hoop in position on your embroidery machine. 
  4. Place the towel over the hoop with the template under the needle of the machine. Rotate the template until the crosshairs are perpendicular to the sides of the hoop, with the crosshairs' arrow pointing toward the top of the hoop. The needle should be directly over the center of the crosshairs. 
  5. Pin the towel to the stabilizer and remove the template. If possible, use your machine’s baste function to secure the towel in place. 
  6. Set up the machine for embroidery, following your manual. 
  7. Follow the steps and suggested colors on the Download Page Color Chart for the embroidery (also shown below). 
  8. Appliqué in the hoop is done in four steps. The first step is a stitched outline. We stitched this sample in a colored thread to best show up in photography. As you’ll see below in step three, we actually suggest using matching thread (white thread in our sample) for this step to avoid any color show-through. 
  9. For the second step, place the appliqué fabric (the white quilting cotton in our sample) over the stitched outline, making sure it is completely covered. 
  10. Stitch a second outline. Again, we are using a colored thread for photography; you should use matching thread.
  11. Step three is to trim the excess fabric close to the stitched outline. In this photo of our actual sample, you can see we used the recommended matching white thread.
  12. Step four is to embroider a satin stitch outline. 
  13. Once the main fruit shape appliqué is completed, the design will cue you to change thread in order to stitch the gingham checks. Only the top thread color changes; the bobbin thread remains the same throughout.
  14. And finally, when the fruit is complete, the leaves will be appliquéd in the same manner: first with an outline stitch…
  15. Then you will place the green appliqué fabric and stitch the outline and the veins of the leaf, following the same steps as you did above for the fruit shape appliqué. 
  16. The final stitch step is the stem.
  17. When all of the embroidery is complete, remove the hoop from the machine. Remove the excess stabilizer from the back of the embroidery and press from the wrong side.

Below is a Color Chart summary

APPLE (Red) - 7901 Stitches, 95 mm x 111 mm

  • Green 2890 Stem
  • White 2021 Placement outline for apple
  • White 2021 Tack down outline. Trim appliqué.
  • White 2021 Satin stitch outline
  • Beige 2312 Base of apple
  • Red 2250 Gingham
  • Green 2890 Placement outline for leaf
  • Green 2890 Tack down outline. Trim appliqué.
  • Green 2890 Satin stitch outline and leaf details

APPLE 2 (Green) - 7771 Stitches, 109 mm x 93 mm

  • White 2021 Placement outline for apple
  • White 2021 Tack down outline. Trim appliqué.
  • White 2021 Satin stitch outline
  • Green 2890 Stem
  • Apple Green 1147 Gingham
  • Green 2890 Placement outline for leaf
  • Green 2890 Tack down outline. Trim appliqué.
  • Green 2890 Satin stitch outline and leaf details 

PEAR - 8975 Stitches, 96 mm x 108 mm

  • Green 2890 Placement outline for leaf
  • Green 2890 Tack down outline. Trim appliqué.
  • White 2021 Placement outline for pear
  • White 2021 Tack down outline. Trim appliqué.
  • Green 2890 Satin stitch outline, leaf details and stem
  • Beige 2312 Base of pear
  • White 2021 Satin stitch outline
  • Yellow 1135 Gingham
  • Green 2890 Placement outline for leaf
  • Green 2890 Tack down outline. Trim appliqué.
  • Green 2890 Satin stitch outline and leaf details


Project Design, Design Digitizing and Sample Creation: Michele Mishler



Comments (11)

Melissa Hahn said:
Melissa Hahn's picture

I downloaded the file to make these for a Christmas gift, but the design with the cross hairs wasnt in the pdf. Am I missing something? 

Melissa Hahn said:
Melissa Hahn's picture

Nevermind... I didnt download the separate pdf for each of the fruits. I thought the pdf that came with the embroidery file was what yall were talking about. Im sorted out now. False alarm. :)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Melissa - Great that all is well. Let us know how your towels turn out -- and how you like the new Aurifil 80wt!

Melissa Hahnb said:
Melissa Hahnb's picture

Doing them now. Nothing like last minute eh? LOL The "color page chart" you link to is incorrect for the green apple. The stem is done before the gingham. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Melissa - Went over the files with our original digitizing magician. Here's her answer: The stem, leaf outline, and details are the last color sewn. Seven colors show on the screen of the machine: first three are the applique of the fabric, 4th colour is the apple green gingham, last three colours are the leaf applique which ends with the leaf outline and stem sewn. In the image, you can see that the leaf is in front of the apple, meaning it is the last to stitch. For the red apple and the pear, the stem stitches prior to the gingham, but for the green apple, the stem and leaf stitches after the gingham. It has to do with the placement of the leaves--some are behind the fruit and some are in front of the fruit.

Melissa Hahn said:
Melissa Hahn's picture

I understand that... but in the file, you have the stem being done before the gingham. I just did it last night. Check the PES file.  

In other news, Im done with them and would like to share a picture but I cant seem to here. So here is a picture I shared with a group on facebook.

Thanks for the wonderful directions, and the free files! My sisterinlaw will love them! 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Melissa - we'll do some additional checking after the holiday - thanks for the follow-up. We don't allow pictures within our comments, but we would LOVE to see a photo. I can't access the link above because I'm not part of your group, but you can certainly share with us on our Facebook (sew4home) or Instagram (sew4home_diy). We'd love to share.

Beth R said:
Beth R's picture

Thank you so much for this tutorial!  The towels are so cute, and I've never tried working with 80wt thread - can't wait to try it.

Mary L Cohen said:
Mary L Cohen's picture

Can't wait to try this and your timing can't be more precise as I am learning how to do this format of embroidery.  You tutorial was fantastic.  THANK YOU!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Mary - That's excellent. You are so welccome. You'll love working with the 80wt thread - so lovely and precise.

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