Knowing How to Applique

Knowing how to applique could give your cushions and quilts a new look. This sewing process is done by placing decorative fabric on top of a base fabric. All it needs is your imagination, the fabric and a little know how to make beautiful designs.

Lovely wall hangings and fabric pictures can be made using this technique and sewn either by machine or hand. Interest could be added by using the sewing threads as a highlight or focal point of the design.

How to Applique - Basics

The beginning of this type of embroidery or sewing decoration can be done by making up a design, making pattern pieces, from card or stiff paper,j and then cutting the fabric out ready to put onto a backing fabric. This would be the best way if accuracy is needed and there is a correct way to show the chosen design.

Another way this could be done is  where the fabric pieces are not placed in any order but where they look the best. Either way is up to the person making the item. This sewing can be done by hand or machine.

Base Fabrics -

  • Should be fairly strong and not too flimsy so that it wouldn't support the fabric that will be laid on top.
  • An open weave fabric would need the support of iron on interfacing or such like to give it strength and then a lining would be needed to cover the interfacing. 

Top Fabrics -

  • To get an even look by cutting out designs using many different fabrics, try to get the warp and weft threads going the same way so as not to twist the finished look.  Sometimes this is not possible and  you will need to use the fabric in a different way such as on the diagonal. Bonding fabric would then be needed to stabilise it.
  • Any type of fabric can be used, oddment you may have, but you will need to bear in mind the use the finished garment would get. If it is going to get a lot of wear and tear then all the fabric should be washable.
  • Sometimes you need to have a lot of little bits of material to get the look you want and Hobbycraft sell small pieces to do just this.

Putting Together

Before you begin to sew all the fabrics will need to be pressed so there is little chance of any puckering.

By Hand - The pieces can be drawn onto the base fabric and then then cut with a seam allowance added making them slightly larger. Pin in place. These are then sewn on by tucking the raw edges under and stitched using a thin needle and matching thread. The seams may need to be clipped a little especially if sewing a curve or a sharp point. The seam line can be followed while sewing with the material rolled under to hide the raw edges.

By Machine - The pieces are first attached a narrow zigzag stitch and then going over these by using satin stitch. A good quality thread matched closely to the material is also used so there is no bold dividing line. The pieces can be held in place with a small amount of fabric glue or a bonding material.


Have fun in trying out your designs and take time to get it just right.

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