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Applique technique & embroidery stitches

Applique in "official" terms, is the attachment of one fabric piece to a base fabric piece, sewn by either hand or machine.

It is a great technique that quickly fills in areas, adds texture and contrast to an embroidery design, and is heavily used as a decorative element on clothes, bags, cushions..you name it!


There are a few ways to Applique and I'm going to show you a couple of the simplest ways to do this. I'll be using a Doe Bunting Design to demonstrate.

First off you have to get the fabric piece ready that you want to applique.


Technique No 1:

If you are anything like me you will have an array of fabrics in your stash, mostly cotton without a selvedge edge..or in plainer terms fabric that frays! Interfacing and/or any kind of fusible web are 2 inventions of wonder that swoop in to the rescue and laughs in the face of frayed fabric edges!

Interfacing is generally used to add support to fabric, and comes with a shiny adhesive layer on one side,  fusible web usually comes in sheets with paper on one side and a sheet made from interwoven fine glue strands on the other.


The important thing to remember when using either is that you need to copy the REVERSE image of the motif you want to applique...and this should be drawn on the NON-shiny side of the interfacing and fusible web!

If you have used a fusible web then you can adhere this cut out piece of fabric by peeling off the paper (non shiny side!) which reveals the glue layer. Simply lay the fabric piece in position and iron again to attach.


Technique No: 2

Fabric like felt and fleece is a great fabric to use for applique as it does not fray and can create a lovely thick padded effect. When using this type of fabric no fusible web or interfacing is required and you do not need to worry about cutting out templates in reverse!

applique fusible web applique interfacing applique pin shape felt or fleece applique cut out shape and place

Simply cut out the shape you require from your pattern, pin onto fabric or draw around, then cut out the fabric shape.

Another stitch (and probably the easiest) that can be used to attach your fabric piece is Straight Stitch...

applique straight stitch

It is worth considering whether you actually need to sew the  piece of fabric all the way around the edge  in order to secure it in place. Some fun effects can be created by stitching a pattern or design onto the fabric piece, these stitches also anchoring the fabric pieces together. You can see an example of this below.....  

applique tree bark applique finished tree bark

Back stitch has been used to fill in the tree bark design whilst also attaching it to the fabric background.

You can find a VIDEO tutorial HERE sharing how I have appliqued an embroidery design onto clothing.

You can also find a video HERE demonstrating how to applique a design using free motion machine sewing (using a regular sewing machine!)

blanket stitch

Once you have your chosen fabric piece cut out and ready to sew, you now have to decide how you want to attach this piece. There are many ways you could do this.....I'm going to illustrate 3 ways....

First off you can attach your fabric piece using Blanket stitch...