First of all, start by learning your embroidery machine, and if applicable, your software. Becoming familiar with them will make your life much easier.
Above is a photo of some of our favorite tools and supplies and a brief description on how we use them:
1. Heat N Bond Lite (HBL or HNBL): This product acts as an adhesive when ironed to the BACK side of your appliqué fabric and makes trimming your appliqué easier and eliminates bubbles in your final product. Cut a piece large enough to cover your fabric piece and iron it to the back side of your fabric with the "rough" side down and facing the wrong side of your fabric. I purchase mine at WalMart.
2. 505 Temporary Spray Adhesive: 505 is used to temporarily adhere the stabilizer to your garment while you are stitching. You can purchase the same by clicking here.
3. Sample square of No Show Polymesh Stabilizer: This is the most important piece in creating a top-notch appliqué. It is IMPORTANT to stabilize properly for the product you are stitching on. We have stitched on a variety of products including, T-Shirts (cotton, ribbed knit and interlocking knit). For our demonstration purposes, we will refer to cotton, interlocking knit, and rib knit fabrics since they seem to be most widely used. Allstitch is our choice of vendors.
4. Sample square of Fusible Cover-A-Stitch: One of my favorite supplies is Cover-A-Stitch and the recipients of your shirts will love it, too! Cover-A-Stitch is available in a variety of colors to match the item you are using it on. It is used on the back side of embroidered shirts and garments not only to protect the stitches and keep them from unraveling, but to protect the sensitive skin touching the embroidered garment. I've tested a few others and Allstitch has the best.
5. Prewound Fil-Tec Magna Glide Bobbins: If you run a multi-needle machine and do a lot of embroidery, you will fall in love with these bobbins. We purchase them by the boxes which come 100 pieces to a box. They have a magnetic core that makes it so easy to switch out an empty bobbin even while in the middle of stitching.
6. Bamboo or other stick: Our second favorite supply is a stick of any sort. This particular stick came inside a bag of polyfil that is used for stuffing pillows and such. One of us has sewn their finger when moving a loose thread out of the way while stitching and I won't mention who, but it wasn't ME! I always use this stick anytime I'm required to go anywhere near the moving needles. You can find a pack of bamboo sticks at your Dollar Store, but no matter what you pay for them, it will be much cheaper than a trip to the emergency room and will keep you from joining the not so prestigious "sewn your finger" club!
7. Disappearing Marking Pen: We keep several of these marking pens on hand and use them for marking the center on our items. Once your item has finished sewing, simply spray the mark with a dab of water, let it dry, and the mark will disappear.
8. Oiler Pen: If your machine requires oiling (ours does on a daily basis), this oiler pen is the trick to placing the oil in those tight spots and in minimal amounts. Too much oil will cause oil to drip on your garment which is very difficult to remove.
9. Gingher Double Curved Scissors: These double curved scissors have a bend in the neck which allows for great maneuverability in your hoops while trimming appliqué. The curved tip keeps you from accidentally cutting your garment while trimming appliqué as it gently lifts the appliqué fabric while you are cutting. You can find a pair by clicking here.
10. Fine Tip Tweezers: I would love to find 100 pairs of these things but haven't had any luck. They were part of a "gift" pack from our dealer when we purchased our machines. They have the finest point which is great for trimming jump stitches. These tweezers, paired with a pair of squeezers (see #11) are a great team! They eliminate those little poky thread tails and leave your embroidery super clean. If you find a source to order them, grab ten of them---you will not regret it!
11. Squeezer Scissors: As mentioned above, these squeezers are great for trimming jump stitches. The fine tip allows you to snip those threads in tight spots. Most of the jump stitches probably don't need to be trimmed, but they drive me crazy, so I trim. :) I do not recommend using these squeezers to trim your appliqué as they will dull very easily. I always keep several pairs on hand and purchase them here.
12. Mini Craft Iron: An inexpensive craft iron is all you need to tighten and fuse your HBL to your garment. It only heats to 350 degrees which is perfect for appliqué. You can find them by clicking here.