Appliqué has always been one of my favourite sewing techniques. I love creating new designs for t-shirts, clothing and decor. It may look difficult, but with a few tips and tricks, it’s surprisingly easy to do. And the design opportunities are endless!
Here’s my step-by-step guide for fabric appliqué, with a free ‘little deer’ template. I used the template to create this cute cushion cover. You can read the tutorial HERE. But you can use these instructions to help you complete any fabric appliqué project, whether it’s one of your own designs or one you’ve purchased.
I have a number of appliqué patterns available for instant download in my ETSY STORE. These patterns are great because they’re perfect for the beginner and have step-by-step photos and very clear instructions. These PDF files have more than just your basic template! Here’s a little peek.
Anyway, lets get started!
YOU WILL NEED
- Cotton Fabric Scraps in coordinating colours for your appliqué shapes. 100% cotton is recommended
- A Garment or Base Fabric to appliqué on to
- A template, pattern, or line drawing to use as your design pattern. This tutorial uses my ‘little deer’ template. You can access it HERE, save it to your computer and print it whenever you need it.
- Paper Backed Fusible Heat Bonding Web like Vliesofix or Easyfix
- Pencil or Pen
- Iron and Ironing Board
- Embroidery Needle and thread or Sewing Machine with complimentary thread colours
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Be sure to read the tutorial from beginning to end, before commencing your project. If you haven’t tried appliqué before, make sure you practice using some fabric scraps. Take your time. And enjoy it!
All of my appliqué projects use a ‘blanket stitch’. I find that this stitch gives a great finish, and longevity for the appliqué, as it helps protect the raw edges of the appliquéd fabric. Many sewing machines will have a blanket stitch setting (which is what I use). Alternatively, you can hand stitch your appliqué. If you are new to hand stitching, a quick Internet search brings up lots of videos, images and tutorials for different stitch types.
Apart from blanket stitch, you can also use a straight stitch, or tight zig zag (satin) stitch on your sewing machine. When satin stitching, it can be useful to use a stabiliser behind the fabric you are appliquéing on. ‘Tear away’ or even ‘freezer paper’ can be used to help stabilise the fabric and avoid stitch puckering. But for blanket stitch, I feel like a stabiliser can be more of a hindrance than a help. I like the freedom of stitching without it. You can manoeuvre your fabric more easily and get a neat finish.
LETS GET SEWING!
1 Trace Your Image, Pattern or Template
Choose a design to appliqué. There are many free designs available. Look to Google and Pinterest for inspiration. You can also purchase patterns and templates including some in the Molly and Mama range. Click HERE for a link to purchase.
For this project I have used a deer design I created a while back. You can download a copy of it HERE, and print it to a size that suits your project. This design will produce a completed appliqué that is a ‘mirror image’ of the template you started with. If you’d like your appliqué to appear the same as the template, be sure to adjust your printer’s settings so it prints in mirror image (my settings say ‘flip horizontally’). To make appliqués that are larger or smaller, just enlarge or reduce the template size by changing your printer’s settings.
Trace the template onto the paper side of your fusible web. If using a design with several pieces, be sure to leave sufficient cutting space between each piece (around 5mm).
2 Cutting Out
Roughly cut around your traced piece of fusible web ensuring you leave a small border. Do not cut on your drawn outline.
3 Secure The Fusible Web To Your Fabric
Take some time to decide on the fabric you will use, and where you will position your fusible web. Take note of fabric that has a directional print or pattern. You don’t want the pattern to be upside down on your project. Try and always work with the grain so that the threads in the fabric run horizontal and vertical across the template (and not diagonally).
If you’re using a design with many fabrics, take note of how they’ll overlap. You don’t want darker fabrics on the bottom that are layered with light coloured fabrics, as the dark under-fabric will show through.
Once you are happy with your fabric selection and placement, heat your iron to a hot non-steam setting. Place the fusible web piece onto the wrong side (the back) of your chosen fabric so that your template (on the paper side) is facing you and webbing is between the paper and the fabric. Fuse the paper to the fabric by running the hot iron over it for a few seconds.
4 Cut Out Your Template Piece
Follow your traced lines to neatly cut out your appliqué piece.
Peel the backing paper off. If using a template with more than one piece, position the pieces neatly on your garment (or project fabric) so it all fits together nicely.
5 Secure Your Appliqué
When you are happy with your positioning, secure the appliqué fabric by going over it with a hot iron. The heat will ‘melt’ the bonding agent to secure your fabric piece to the garment or project fabric.
6 Time to Stitch
It’s time to blanket stitch around the raw edges of your appliqué design. You can also use a satin stitch (which is a tight zig-zag stitch), or a straight stitch on the sewing machine. Choose a stitch you are comfortable with. However, I find that a blanket stitch protects the raw edges of the fabric and gives the neatest finish.
In a design with a single piece of fabric, start stitching in an inconspicuous place (in a bend, corner, or a place that may be covered with a button or bow embellishment later).
For multi-piece appliqués, you would start stitching on the bottom layer of the appliquéd fabric. The top overlapped pieces are stitched last. Use different coloured sewing cotton or embroidery thread to match or compliment your chosen fabric if you wish. If you are stitching by hand, use two strands of embroidery thread.
Remember to secure your stitching well at the beginning and end (by back-stitching on the machine).
Here’s what your completed appliqué will look like from the back;
And from the front;
Here’s a quick overview!
7 Add Any Embellishments
This template doesn’t require embellishing, but you can add a button for the deer’s nose or a bow around its neck. Be sure to attach all embellishments securely.
To add a bow, tie a small bow with some ribbon and trim the ends. Heat seal the ends with a heat sealing tool, or by quickly running a lighter flame along the cut edge of the ribbon to melt the fibres together. This ensures the bow doesn’t fray. Position the bow and secure it to the appliqué by hand stitching it firmly in place. Use sewing cotton in a similar colour to the bow. I prefer to disguise my stitches under the bow ends and loops so they can’t be seen.
TIPS FOR APPLIQUÉ
- Be sure to check your printer settings. Remember that your finished appliqué will be a mirror image of your template.
- Reduce or enlarge your template on your printer to create a suitably sized appliqué for your project.
- 100% cotton fabrics work best for appliqué.
- Use a bobbin thread that matches the colour of your garment or base fabric.
- Use top threads in colours that coordinate with your appliqué pieces.
- Use the best quality sewing cotton you can. Gutermann and Mettler are my brands of choice. I feel they give a better finish, a neater stitch and the cotton is less likely to break during stitching.
- Use an appliqué foot on your sewing machine if you can. It has a clear plastic base, so it’s much easier to see what you are doing (see above images).
- When sewing on t-shirts and knit fabric, use a ball point needle in your machine. This type of needle won’t break or damage knitted fibres, like a normal needle can.
- Some people like to use a stabiliser under the fabric they are appliquéing on. ‘Tear-away’ or even freezer paper has been known to help keep stitching from puckering and moving during the appliqué stitch process. This is great when you choose a ‘satin stitch’ setting on your machine. I prefer not to use any form of stabiliser when using blanket stitch. This allows my sewing to have movement and flexibility while stitching, which gives a neater finish and allows my stitching to be more accurate.
- There are a number of online tutorials for tips and tricks when stitching appliqué with your machine. Get to know what your machine is capable of.
- Take your time when you are stitching. Practise makes perfect!
- Hand embroider and stitch using the best quality embroidery thread you can. I love DMC threads for their quality and range of colours too.
Most of all, have fun, enjoy it and practise, practise, practise! If you have any extra tips or tricks to add, I’d love to hear them. So don’t be shy. Please leave a comment. Or share your creations on the Molly and Mama Facebook page.
Thanks for taking the time out of your day to support Molly and Mama. If you’ve found this tutorial useful, feel free to let me know.
Happy stitching, Lauren x
This post was written by Lauren Wright and appeared first on Molly and Mama http://www.MollyandMama.com.au