What is Appliqué?

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Image by SweetJessie on Flickr

Applique is the embodiment of cool. Appliqué is a design technique by which pieces of material are attached to another material. It’s one of the oldest forms of design in the world, and is still commonly used around the globe today. At least the technique is something we can all agree on.

Image by Sykossa on Flickr

There are a few simple supplies you will need to gather before beginning a hand appliqué project:

  • Small scissors with a sharp point
  • Straw needles (size 10 or 11 work well)
  • Appliqué pins (Clover manufactures a good appliqué pin)
  • Thimble
  • Thread to match your appliqué pieces
  • Fabric pencil or marking tool
  • Appliqué glue such as Jill Finley’s “AppliGlue” or Roxanne’s “GlueBasteIt” (optional)
  • Stiletto for turning edges (a toothpick will work in place of a stiletto)
  • Template plastic or freezer paper for making patterns
  • Spray Starch and small paintbrush (if using the freezer paper method)
  • Iron

Use a fabric pencil or marking tool that contrasts with your fabric to trace the design on the right side of the fabric. You will want this outline to show up on your fabric so you can easily see it while you are doing your hand appliqué.

Image by PINKE on Flickr

Next you will cut out the shapes using a pair of sharp scissors. Be sure to leave 1/4” extra fabric on the outside of the traced design. This is important because this is the fabric you will be turning under to create a finished edge on your appliqué pieces.

Next you need to attach your appliqué pieces to the background fabric. For some designs you can simply place the pieces where you want them; however others require meticulous placement of pieces. Your pattern instructions will give you information on how to mark your background fabric to ensure the pieces are appliquéd in the correct spots.

Image by Marianna on Flickr

You can then attach your appliqué pieces to the background fabric by using a couple of small dots of appliqué glue placed in the center of the appliqué piece (be sure not to place glue near the edges you will be stitching if you choose this method). Or you can also attach your appliqué pieces by using appliqué pins placed in the centre of each appliqué piece.
Begin by threading your needle and placing a small knot at the end of your thread. For needle-turn hand appliqué, use your fingers to fold under a short section of your appliqué piece. Come up from the bottom of your background fabric with your needle. Next you will take a stitch straight down into your background fabric. When you bring the needle back up, you will again come up through the background fabric and through the edge of the appliqué piece, making your stitch as close to the edge as possible. Your stitches should be close together—no further than 1/4” apart.

As you continue to stitch you will use your needle to turn under the unfinished edges of your appliqué piece along the marked line.
Continue working in this manner until you have completed appliquéing your piece to the background fabric.

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