Design and Layout
I recommend doing some sketches of your design before progressing. This will aid you greatly by helping you know what your applique shapes need to be and where they go. Once you iron your applique pieces down, you can only rarely remove them without damaging them and the ground fabric. The design doesn’t have to be complete or exact. I like to leave lots of room for fun. You can also use colored pencils for your designs although I do not. I like the colors to guide me as a I work.
(this sketch is not the same used for the actual embroidery, sorry)
This is not a required step but it is the one I use. When I pin applique motifs to my ground fabric they tend to move and this can mess up my design layout. It’s especially noticeable when I have lines that need to match up. So I use an iron on adhesive such as Heat N’ Bond or Wonder Under. I prefer Heat N’ Bond because it really bonds and because the adhesive doesn’t separate from the paper backing in storage. However Heat N’ Bond can be stiff, even the light version, so if your fabrics are delicate, use something lighter like Wonder Under.
Both of these products are iron adhesives that have a paper backing. You draw your motif design onto the paper. Cut out around the design. Place it adhesive side down onto your motif fabric and iron on per the instructions of your adhesive. Cut out around your drawn design. You will have pieces like this that will not unravel.
Place the adhesive side down on your ground fabric, arrange all the pieces making sure that the conform to your layout. Iron on.
This shows the side view of the ironed on motifs. If you do it correctly, they should stick well. Only test when cool.
Draw Your Design Layout on Ground Fabric
Before I begin stitching, I take my water soluable marker and draw out the stitch line layout as a guide.