Tuesday, 24 January 2012

How to Applique

I mended my duvet cover using a sewing method called applique, which is to patch or "apply" something to the original piece of fabric. I do love a bit of applique. It's uses are many and varied and you can work on a project as big or small as you want. It's particularly good if, like me, you like hand sewing, as I find appliqueing small things tricky to do on a sewing machine, and much more rewarding done by hand (in front of the tv). It's also great if you want to make an expensive piece of fabric go a really long way. I quite often buy the kids really cheap plain supermarket Tshirts and then applique on a dog/car/apple/flower in a way that frankly Mini-Boden would be proud of. (like I said before, I have spare time but not spare money)

So here is a brief guide to applique. This is how I do it - I'm sure there are many variations, but this way works for me. I am thinking in particular of my lovely sister Anna while I write this. She lives much, much too far away from me and she recently had an applique "mishap" (quelle horreur!). I so wished I lived near enough to pop over for a cup of tea and an evening of crafting. But I can't, so I hope this is useful.

1. Decide what design or pattern or image you want to use. I sketched mine on to paper using some images on the internet as the basis for the design. but I often trace them from templates in books.

2. Next, you need a product called BondawebIt looks like tracing paper but one side is smooth, one rough. You buy it by the metre in haberdasheries, Hobbycraft, on the internet. I'm sure other products are available but this is the one I see in stock everywhere and buy. On the smooth side of the Bondaweb trace or draw the image you want to use. You will be ironing your image onto the REVERSE of the fabric so make sure your image is reversed when you draw it on the Bondawed. (This is only really important if you're appliqeuing on letters or numbers). There is no reason why you couldn't just draw free hand onto the Bondaweb. I don't because I'm not that good at drawing.

3. Roughly cut around the shape and then lay it onto the back of the fabric you have chosen as your patch/applique. Iron it on, making sure you iron onto the smooth, papery side of the Bondaweb. The rough side is coated with glue, and the heat from the iron sticks it to the back of the fabric. If you iron the gluey bit, your iron will be a hot nasty mess and need a good scrub...let's just say I learnt the hard way.

4.  Now cut carefully around the pencil outline and then peel away the papery layer. The glue will now be on the back of the piece of fabric.

5. Position your pieces of fabric wherever you want them on the item you are appliqueing with the right side facing you and the gluey side facing the fabric. Iron them on. Delicate fabrics or crafting felt may need to be ironed through a tea towel so that the iron doesn't scorch them.

 6. Now you'll have a real sense of what the finished piece will look like. Next, the patches need to be stitched around the edges. Essentially, the Bondaweb holds the patch in place and stops it fraying until it has been sewn on. I usually use straight stitch but running or blanket stitch look good too. Use whatever colour thread you like depending on what you're working on.

And that's it really.

It's VERY addictive. You can go to town with layers of fabric, embellish with buttons and beads, but I kept this simple because I wanted it to be easy to wash. I am working on some applique cushions for gifts which I will show you soon.


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    That is really useful. I must have a go at some more applique and will hopefully use the bondaweb correctly this time. I agree sewing by hand is much easier for this sort of task. Too fiddly with a machine.

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