When embroidering an applique on a small shirt or baby Onesie, the biggest obstacle can be the embroidery process itself. It is really difficult to hoop something that small and, when you do, the tight embroidery field makes it difficult to keep fabric out of the way. Fortunately, there is an easier alternative!
Applique designs with satin stitched edges can be applied to clothing just like a patch. Embroider as a freestanding design and then attach it using fabric glue.
Cotton fabric works fine when stitching applique designs on fabric and stabilizer the traditional way. With freestanding applique designs, a more dense material, like felted wool or fleece, works well. It provides a substantial base to support the satin stitching around the edges.
Hoop a water soluble fabric type stabilizer. Use the same color bobbin thread as that with which you are stitching. The design follows traditional placement stitches, followed by a tack down, trimming, and satin stitched edges.
The final color stop adds decorative details to the middle of the flower. When embroidery is finished, remove everything from the hoop and trim away stabilizer, close to the satin stitching.
Remove water soluble stabilizer around the edges with a wet cloth and let it dry. Add fabric glue to the back and apply to the front of the shirt where desired.