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Unicorn Free Motion Appliqué

My daughter needed some warm winter clothes, and I thought a cute hoodie sweater dress would do the trick. What do you do when it looks more like a pink Jedi robe than a cute dress?

Ask your Instagram and Facebook followers what to do, of course. Thankfully, my problem solving social media friends (you are following me, aren’t you?) gave some great suggestions. Pockets, flowers, hearts, and a belt were suggested, but the one that stuck in my head was a big unicorn.

In one of the sewing Facebook groups I’m in, a few people had shared their free motion appliqué projects.

What is free motion appliqué?

Free motion appliqué is drawing over an appliqué design with your sewing machine. Rather than a blanket, satin or straight stitch, you sew your appliqué in place with more decorative, free-motion stitching.

Here’s how mine turned out:

How to free motion applique a unicorn with free template

To add even more flair, I used pink metallic thread for most of the design, and then a variegated thread for the mane and tail. I seriously LOVE how it turned out.

What do you need to free motion appliqué?

Firstly, you need a design. You can download my unicorn template here.

Secondly, you need a stabiliser. This stiffens your fabric and prevents it puckering as you sew. I used a tear-away stabiliser (just what I had in my stash), but wash-away or steam-away stabiliser would also work well (and save time picking out the bits of stabiliser!

Third, you need your base fabric (the fleece hoodie in this case), and fabric for the appliqué design. I used a jersey knit for this, but quilter’s cotton, fleece or most other fabrics would work. You can use multiple fabrics for a more detailed, layered design. I stuck with a simple design for my first attempt.

Fusible webbing can also be used to stick your fabrics together before you appliqué.

To truly free motion appliqué, you need a sewing machine where you can drop the feed dogs. This means you guide the fabric through the machine, rather than it being fed through by the machine. Being able to decrease your footer pressure also helps. If you’re not confident doing this, you can leave the feed dogs in place and let it guide your fabric.

How do you free motion appliqué?

Here are the steps to free motion appliqué on fleece or other knit fabric:

    1. Print out your design on paper. You can download my unicorn template here.
    2. Trace your design onto the smooth side of your stabiliser.
      How to free motion applique steps (2)
    3. Cut out a piece of the unicorn fabric out that is larger than the design. If you’d prefer to fuse your appliqué fabric to the base fabric, cut out the outline of the design, and fuse in place following the fusible webbing instructions.
    4. Pin or iron on the stabiliser to the applique design.
      How to free motion applique steps (3)
    5. Drop the feed dogs of your sewing machine and decrease the footer pressure (if possible).
    6. Slowly sew over your design, guiding the fabric through the machine. I drew over each section twice to give a bolder design. Whenever you need to, stop, drop the needle into your fabric, lift the presser foot and adjust your fabric.
      How to free motion applique steps (4)
    7. When you’ve sewn over your design, tear the stabiliser away (and wet it or steam it, depending on the type of stabiliser.
      How to free motion applique steps (1)
    8. As I didn’t cut out my appliqué fabric to start with, I then carefully trimmed around the outside with embroidery scissors.

Unicorn Free Motion Applique Hoodie

    And there you have your completed free motion appliqué (and a hoodie that looks much less like a Jedi robe!). Isn’t it pretty! It’s a gorgeous way to add a special touch to clothing, quilts, cushions or other sewing projects.

How to free motion applique. Great tool for embellishing clothing, cushions or quilts. Includes free unicorn template.

If you like the hoodie, I’m putting together a free pattern for it. Sign up to the Cook Clean Craft newsletter to find out when it’s ready.

If you’re looking for more free motion appliqué designs, check out these downloadable designs on Etsy (Affiliate).

How to free motion applique. Great tool for embellishing clothing, cushions or quilts. Includes free unicorn template.