How to Collage Applique on Your Embroidery Machine


The Collage Technique

Collage applique has been part of the quilting world for years. Where traditional quilts are made from blocks that are pieced or sewn together, collage quilts are made of small, colorful pieces of fabric that are layered in an artsy way.

With Kimberbell's collage applique technique, it's easy (and so much fun!) to create this effect on your embroidery machine. Simply organize your scraps by color and layer the cut shapes within the stitched placement line. These small colors and shapes come together to create a grand, dimensional picture!

Before I demonstrate how collage applique is done, let's take a look at some projects that feature this remarkable technique.

Bless This Nest

Just as a bird builds its nest from a little of this and a little of that, this design transforms simple fabric scraps into textured beauty! The Bless This Nest  design below is part of Emma's Collage Pillows by Kimberbell.


Doesn't this look like a pillow you'd buy at a high-end decor store? Find Emma's Collage Pillows at your favorite quilt shop and make it with your embroidery machine! 

Be You-tiful Tea Towel

Here's another design with the collage technique: the Be You-tiful Tea Towel  from our Digital Dealer Exclusives program. 


Just look at those gorgeous florals! And all done from layered fabric scraps. Find this design through a participating quilt shop HERE. 

Tip: You don't even need to live near the shop. Because the Digital Dealer Exclusives program is digital, you can contact any participating shop and they can send the files to you through email, etc. 🙂

Make Life Beautiful

Let's look at one last example. Here's a collage applique design from the Live Creatively Bella Box. Notice how the different fabrics come together into a harmonious whole. Beautiful!


Collage Applique: Step-by-Step

Although this technique may look complicated, it's actually extremely easy.  And to prove it, I'll whip up a quick collage design below and take you through each step!

Step One: Load the Design File & Stitch the Placement Line

This simple heart design comes on the Emma's Collage Pillows CD and is included as a practice project.


Step Two: Cut Fabric Squares & Fusible Web

Cut fabric squares and fusible web about 5x5" in size. This is a great chance to raid your fabric scraps!

Tip: Fusible web is a double-sided sticky product made by several different brands. Just ask your shop what they carry and they'll be able to help you! 


Step Three: Remove Paper Liner and Adhere Web to Fabric

Peel off one side of the fusible web paper and stick to the wrong side of the fabric. Press firmly to adhere. (You can also run over it with a dry iron for a few seconds to make sure it's nice and secure.)


Step Four: Cut Fabric Pieces Into Shapes With Rounded Edges

Use a whole hodgepodge of fabrics from the same color group. Pieces with rounded or curved edges work much better for collage applique than pieces with straight edges. 


Step Five: Stitch Placement Line & Place Fabric Pieces

Peel off remaining paper liner from fabric shapes and place fabric as desired within (and overlapping) the placement line. Just have fun with this part! Anything goes!

Be sure to completely fill the placement line and extend beyond the stitches. Finger press to adhere.


Step Six: Stitch the Tack-down Line & Trim

After the tack-down stitches secure all the little pieces in place, just trim the excess fabric from the edges of the line.


Step Seven: Stitch the Collage Detail

The final collage stitching will quilt the design on top and add all the fun details. And that's it! Each tiny scrap adds up to a beautiful work of art. (And this whole process took me about half an hour at most!)


Always Unique

Because you'll choose different fabrics and placements every time, NO two collage applique designs are ever alike. Here's an illustration of that same heart design done with different fabrics. 

Screenshot 2022-06-10 at 12.25.52 PM

Just think of the creative possibilities with just one design! Collage applique is just SO. DANG. FUN.

Tips for Cutting Fabric Shapes


Here are just a few tips when cutting out those fabric shapes:

  • Cut curvy pieces with “fingers” that can interlock & weave with other pieces.
  • Fussy cut flowers/shapes from fabric.
  • Cut shapes that mimic the collage shape.
  • Patterned fabrics make the design more visually interesting.
  • Add small amounts of different colors.
  • Add hidden shapes/images cut from fabric. (You can even do an “I Spy” with hidden images!)

Give it a Try?

Once again, here's another look at the Be You-tiful Tea Towel design, now available through participating Digital Dealer Exclusives shops. (Contact a shop today if you'd like to give it a try!)


I  think you're really going to enjoy collage applique. 🙂 


P.S. Click the video links below for even more fun with this highly creative technique!

Kim's Collage Applique Tutorial

Watch Kim as she demonstrates collage applique and gives helpful tips and tricks!


Kimberbell's Collage & Charcuterie Night

What do collage applique and charcuterie have in common? Join the Kimberbell staff for a fun night of discovery!



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