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Last-Minute Homemade Christmas Ornaments

handmade applique Christmas ornaments

Christmas Eve—the lights are twinkling, the stockings are filled, and not a creature is stirring . . . well except for those last-minute quilters! True confession: I almost always have something that gets stitched up and finished on Christmas Eve. Last minute I know, but where does the time go to in December? If you are like me and your sewing machine is flying as Santa’s reindeer are flying over your house, try these homemade Christmas ornaments that come together in a snap.

If you are among quilters who seldom if ever use the decorative stitches on your sewing machine, Beth Ferrier’s easy method of embellishing appliqué will change that. She shows you how to combine decorative machine stitching with turned-edge appliqué using wash-away appliqué sheets for elegant results.

Beth Ferrier’s Stitched Christmas Ornaments

• Stapler
• Wash-away applique sheets
• Fat quarters for ornament appliqués
• Scraps for ornament cap appliqués
• Chalk or wash-away pencil
• Light box (optional)
• Sewing machine equipped with decorative stitches
• 90/14 topstitching needle
• Polyester machine embroidery thread
• 50-weight cotton thread
• Glue stick


handmade applique Christmas ornaments
Cut out the templates

1. Make photocopies of the full-size ornament and ornament cap appliqué templates or trace them directly onto the matte side of a wash-away applique sheet following the manufacturer’s instructions, being sure to transfer the stitching lines. Staple a template to as many as 5 appliqué sheets at a time, making sure all appliqué sheets are matte-side up. You will use 2 layers of appliqué sheets for each ornament and 1 layer for each ornament cap. Cut out the ornaments and ornament caps. Set them aside.

2. Following manufacturer’s instructions, press 2 layers of large scraps of the appliqué sheets to the wrong side of a scrap piece of fabric.

handmade applique Christmas ornaments
Experiment with different decorative stitches

3. Set up your machine with a 90/14 topstitching needle. I recommend using polyester machine embroidery thread by Floriani in the needle and a 50-weight cotton thread in the bobbin. Using the prepared scrap fabric, audition the decorative stitches available on your machine, adjusting stitch length and width to achieve pleasing results. One of my favorite stitches is a narrow zigzag with a length of .5 and a width of 1 to 2. Adjust the top tension and bobbin tension as necessary to ensure your bobbin thread does not show through on the right side of the fabric.

handmade applique Christmas ornaments
Press appliqué sheets to the wrong side of the fabric

4. Press 2 layers of the ornaments you cut from the appliqué sheets to the wrong side of your appliqué fabric. Cut out the ornaments with a 1/4″ turn-under allowance all around.

handmade applique Christmas ornaments
Use chalk to trace the stitching lines from the template

5. Using a light box and chalk or wash-away pencil, trace the stitching lines on the template onto the right side of the fabric. You may mark these stitching lines freehand; I marked gentle arcs across the middle of the appliqué patch and used the edge of my sewing machine foot as a guide to keep the lines of stitching evenly spaced.

handmade applique Christmas ornaments
Finished ornament

6. Stitch the marked lines or as desired through all layers, starting and ending in the turn-under allowance. Apply glue to the turn-under allowances then pinch the allowances over the edges of the applique sheets, easing out creases as you go. Repeat for the top and side turn-under allowances of the ornament cap. Glue baste the bottom seam allowance of the ornament cap to the wrong side of the ornament.

Beth Ferrier is a quilt teacher, designer and author. Check out her book, More! Hand Applique by Machine.

Wishing you a Happy Holiday from the whole Quilting Daily team!

Sew long, Katie