Applique Embroidery Designs - Techniques Guide

How should I prepare Fabrics for Applique embroidery designs?

Pls follow the simple guidelines that I generally go through. Before attaching the pattern pieces (applique embroidery design) to the backing fabric, the pieces of fabric forming the design must be cut out and prepared so that the raw edges are not exposed. Below are some of the popular methods that can be used to prepare the applique embroidery design pieces and the method of joining the pieces, hand or machine, to which they are best suited.

Hand Basting

The first is hand basting. This can be done by hand or machine appliqué. Pls go through the guidelines carefully. Using a cardboard template, trace the applique desing to the right side of the fabric. If desired, help stabilize the design pieces by stay-stitching, either by hand or by machine, just outside the drawn line using a very small stitch. Trim approximately 1/8" away from the marked line. Very carefully, clip the fabric almost to the line on curves and on inside points. Turn the raw edge to the underside of the design piece on the marked line and carefully finger press. With the right side of the fabric facing, hand baste the raw edge in place close to the edge and press lightly. After attaching the design piece to the background, remove the hand basting thread. There, wasn’t it simple !!

Freezer Paper

This again can be done by hand or using machine. Using freezer paper (a white butcher's paper with plastic coating on one side), trace the applique design pieces on the paper side of the freezer paper. Note: this will be the wrong side of the design, so it will be necessary to reverse letters and other similar designs. Cut out freezer paper on the marked lines. Attach to the fabric by placing the plastic side of the paper to the wrong side of the fabric and pressing with a dry iron set on medium heat. Trim around the attached freezer paper designs leaving a 1/8" to 1/4" seam allowance. Carefully clip the seam allowances almost up to the freezer paper on inner points and curves. Press the seam allowances over the paper side of the freezer paper. After attaching the desing piece to the background fabric, make a small slit in the background fabric behind the design piece and remove the freezer paper. Pronto, there it is!!

Wash-Away Stabilizer

This is best done by hand. Trace the design pieces on to a water dissolvable stabilizer such as Solvy™. Note: final design will be reverse as with freezer paper method above. Place stabilizer with traced design on the right side of the design fabric. Sew on the marked line by hand or by machine using as small stitch. Trim around the attached stabilizer fabric designs leaving a 1/8" to 1/4" seam allowance. Carefully clip the seam allowances almost up to the sewn line on inner points and curves. Make a small slit in the stabilizer and turn the fabric design and stabilizer right side out. Use a point turner or other blunt instrument to help push all the points and curves into shape. Press lightly on the fabric side with a dry iron. After completing the applique washing in cool water will remove the stablilzer. Note: some quilters use old dryer sheets in place of the water soliuable stabilizer. In this case, the dryer sheet remains in the finished product. Be sure that the dryer sheet does not contain any residue which could stain the finished applique.

Fusible Web

This is best done by machine. Trace the desing pieces on to a lightweight fusible web such as transweb or wonderunder. Note: final design will be reverse as with freezer paper method above. Cut the design pieces out leaving a generous margin around each piece. Following the manufacturer's directions, fuse one side of the web onto the wrong side of the design fabric. Now cut the design out on the marked lines. Remove the paper from the other side of the fusible web and fuse to the applique background being sure to follow the manufacturer's directions. Be careful as this method of preparing the applique embroidery design is permanent once the design has been fused to the background.

Hand Applique

This is a procedureless way (if I may use such a word). The reason is that this art of hand applique covers a wide spectrum from primitive folk art to the sophistication of Baltimore Album quilts. Different techniques can be used create the same effect with no one technique being the "right" one. If you are a Beginner, I suggest you should experiment with several different techniques to find the one that you are most comfortable with.

  • Blind Stitch
  • Buttonhole stitch
  • Needle Turn

Machine Applique

While machine applique can be used as a quick alternative to hand applique, the sewing machine can be used to open new creative possibilities in the applique technique.

  • Blind stitch
  • Satin stitch
  • Fancy stitch

Other Applique Techniques

  • Broderie Perse
  • Reverse appliqué
  • Hawaiian appliqué
  • Shadow appliqué
  • Stained glass appliqué
  • Celtic appliqué
  • 3-D/ Special Effects applique

Where can I see some good techniques on applique embroidery designs and learn some of these techniques through projects?

a) Secrets of Embroidery : This site has over 2000 pages with a large appliqué collection and also applique embroidery designs tutorials.

b) ArtisticThreadWorks : You have unlimited design downloads with a small membership fee. This website has a well classified design library, which enables an easy search.

c) Shalin-Craft : This is famous for its hand embroidered appliqués.

d) America's Sewing & Embroidery Center : A hybrid website with a lot of information on applique embroidery designs as well as other forms of embroidery.

e) Embroidery Designs Our own digitized designs. $12.95 per set or $45.00 for everything. : Designs By Sick : This is a small site but contains some good unique designs on applique.

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