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Applique for Embellishment


Applique is a design influence that can be hand sewn - where the edges of the applied shape or design is carefully folded under a scant amount and nearly invisible small regular stitches are used to tack down the piece (needle-turn applique), or edges are machine sewn to the fabric backing using a narrow zig zag top stitch (raw-edge applique), satin stitch or any of a selection of a machine’s built-in decorative stitches. Applique designs can even be glued or fused onto a fabric backing first then the edges are hand sewn or machine sewn usually to ensure they remain in place.

Applique is known as a textile craft with a timeless origin, spanning all cultures, perhaps as a decorative means to patch up holes in clothing to extend the life of the garment, later as an astonishing art form that decorated not just bedcoverings but mobile palaces and the walls and clothing of royals. Applique work has even been used to tell a story of a historical event. Some designs have survived millennia carved into ancient stone.

Basic Applique Techniques

Freezer paper template – Trace desired shape onto the dull side of the freezer paper, then place onto fabric piece, iron in place with the shiny side down, cut out leaving a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance, peel off freezer paper and proceed with pinning shape onto larger fabric backing, using a turn-needle approach to turning or folding under the edge of the shape by using the needle to push the seam allowance under the shape then taking a small stitch into the turned edge letting the thread travel within the fold to exit the fold and take a very small stitch into the backing fabric, continuing around using this method. An alternative is to trim the shape to a scant 1/8 inch and use a machine zig zag stitch on the edges, or satin stitch or decorative machine stitch to enclose the edges.

Fusible interfacing method – trace applique shape onto the interfacing, cut out shape leaving a scant 1/4 inch seam outside the tracing, place adhesive side down on right side of shape, stitch on the traced line, cut out on the outside ¼ inch seam edge, cut small slit into the center of the interfacing, then pull fabric through the slit, smooth edges neatly and iron onto the fabric baking. Use a decorative machine stitch to encase the edges or hand stitch using very small nearly invisible stitches. Alternatively use a matching or clear thread to tack down the applique edges if a nearly invisible stitch is desired.

Raw edge applique – uses a double fusible interfacing where the template shape is cut out exactly with no seam allowance, fused to the wrong side of the fabric piece, shape is cut out and fused to the larger fabric backing. A zig zag, blanket stitch or other decorative stitch is used on the shapes' edges to tack them securely.

There are many other hand and machine applique techniques that can be found online with useful video tutorials to follow. This ornamental needlework technique of applying a small fabric shape onto a larger fabric backing to produce creative design elements is a fascinating and artistic craft.

Applique as viewed on Pinterest

Sew happy, sew inspired.


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Content copyright © 2015 by Cheryl Ellex. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Cheryl Ellex. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Cheryl Ellex for details.

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