I tested my towel applique skills out first on Valentine goodies for my little cousins, Ella and Wren. I loved how Ella's turned out; my biggest quibble with it was a wonky spot on the "A". (I forgot to take pictures of them, but just trust me.) I royally jacked up Wren's towel, and she ended ended up with just a heart appliqued on her towel. It was Valentine's Day, after all. That little project inspired me, and as I mentioned in my previous post, a very special little boy recently had a birthday, so I made a towel for him, too! While I was happy enough with it and his mom loved it, there were still things I would have done differently.
Now that I've done this a few times, I've got a few tips I wish I'd had before I started doing it. (I, hard-headed as I am, just dove in and looked up solutions to my problems later.)
Make sure your machine's tension is right for satin stitching. I've got a Singer Simple, and because I've only ever really done basic straight stitches, this isn't something I have to think about that often. I had the good sense to adjust the top thread tension, but I kept jamming until a loosened the bobbin tension a little as well.
Be careful when cutting, especially if you are using printed fabrics. Notice that my "N" and "H" could have been more symmetrical.
This may seem obvious, but curved letters are much harder than straight letters! (At least for me.) Go sloooooowly, or else you wind up with the "O" above.
Since the terry cloth fabric of the towel is so thick and relatively sturdy, you can just use a coffee filter for a stabilizer. Trust me. And coffee filters are way cheaper than stabilizer!
Use some sort of adhesive backing to essentially 'glue' your letters to the fabric before sewing. For a project like this with lots of little turns and corners, pins are for the birds.
If you want more detailed information about machine applique, visit http://www.rostitchery.com/satin-stitch-applique.html. She's got lots of great tips on all sorts of craft projects, and her sewing/craft and mom blog are both great reads!