A healthy stock of fabric scraps is a great resource for applique on your embroidery machine. Keep an eye out at thrift stores and yard sales for packaged scraps. You only need a couple of inches to make all the difference in getting just the look you want to fill in that applique space. Organize your scraps by color groupings as you get them to help make a quick choice - mine even get arranged within the color groups into prints and solids. (Editor's Note: small, clear boxes and Ziploc bags are perfect for sorting scrap fabrics.)
Have you ever wanted to cry because you thought your machine "ate" your project? See the problem in a new light and think of fixing it with applique. Re-hoop the damaged garment with fresh stabilizer and run your outline color stop once. Very carefully trim away the fabric with the damaged design without cutting into the new stabilizer. Stitch the outline color stop again, add fabric, and proceed with the final applique step. Then, stitch a full design within the applique space. It's better than tossing out the project completely and you may be quite pleased with the new look.
Applique doesn't always mean you have to use cotton quilting fabrics. There are plenty of fun fabrics available that can add texture and dimension to your design. Take a stroll through the fake furs and plush fabrics at your local fabric store and start to imagine sheep and monster designs that touch you back. The price of these fabrics can be high, but if you only need 1/8 to 1/4 yard pieces for applique, then it becomes quite affordable to play with. Take a friend, or group of friends, shopping to split and share those 1/8 to 1/4 yard pieces into workable applique squares. You'll end up with a nice stash assortment for everyone for very little money.
The next time you are fabric shopping and dreaming about what to do with all those quilt fabrics and you just can't choose from a whole wall, purchase 1/8 to 1/4 yard pieces of several of your favorites to add to your applique stash. Also, be sure to think of applique when sewing friends are de-cluttering their sewing rooms. It only takes a couple of inches to cover an applique area. Great applique projects start with a variety of fabrics to choose from so that you are sure to get just the color and texture you desire.
You may have seen those scissors in your local store with one blade that resembles a pelican's beak. What in the world could that be for? They are a great example of the right tool for the job. These funny looking scissors are designed for the unique need of trimming close to applique edges without cutting the stitches you want to remain. The large blade lifts the fabric slightly, while the razor sharp edge of the regular blade trims it away. If you plan on doing applique, these scissors are highly recommended for your tool box.