Sewing appliques into your sewing projects, give interest and detail that you wouldn't get from other sewing embellishments. It takes a little more effort for a lot more WOW! Appliques can be customized, per made, embroidered or jewelled. You can use letters, numbers, shapes, and sayings. The sky is the limit.
According to Wikipedia, this is the definition of an applique.
"Appliqué is ornamental in which pieces of fabric in different shapes and patterns are sewn or stuck onto a larger piece to form a picture or pattern. It is commonly used as decoration, especially on garments. The technique is accomplished either by hand or machine. Appliqué is commonly practised with textiles, but the term may be applied to similar techniques used on different materials. In the context of ceramics, for example, an appliqué is a separate piece of clay added to the primary work, generally for the purpose of decoration.
You can purchase a variety of appliques from online craft and sewing stores, and your local fabric stores usually have a good selection of pre-made appliques.
I personally have found the online craft supply stores to have the best selection of sewing appliques. The variety is much more extensive.
However you can find pre made appliques in any sewing section of your local craft or sewing and fabric stores.
A relatively new machine on the market for crafters are the craft cutting machines. There are a number of makes and models available and the technology is increasly amazing. I don't have one of these, YET, but it will be a future purchase.
There are many ways to apply an applique. Here is one way I have used letters to add interest to a quilt.
The fabric and colours I chose are purely for examples to show how you can make your own letter appliques. You can use this same method for any type of applique, like bears, toys, flowers for example. This is also a great way to use up scraps of fabrics from other projects or recycle fabrics from garments not worn any more.
Appliques can be homemade or purchased. If you have an embroidery sewing machine you can place applique on your projects this way. You can hand embroider applique or cut fabric and embroider this way.
Below are some examples of different ways to applique.
I found these letters at Michael's craft store. They were in the children's paints and craft section. Or you could make your own letters and numbers using card stock.
I started by tracing around the shape and then cut it out.
Once you have the letter cut out you can use fabric spray glue and or stitch a straight seam just enough to secure the applique. Depending on the fabric, I use both spray glue and a straight seam.
These are the finished edges with machine stitching and with the fabric paint. You can finish the edge of your applique one of two ways. I have an applique stitch on my sewing machine, but you can get the same effect, by adjusting your zig zag stitch to a very narrow stitch.
Or you can use fabric paint purchased from the craft store. Follow the manufactures instructions given on the packaging.
There are many different ways to make homemade appliques. Some supplies I have listed below will make the process a little easier.
Spray adhesives are great for temporarily placing your applique pieces where they need to go. Some adhesive are a permanant application and some are not. The adhesives that are not permanent, still would require stitching to hold in place, so you can move things around until you're satisfied with the look you're going for.
Heat and bond is an amazing product to add images to your sewing projects. It is an iron on process and then you can finish the edges as you wish.
I did this quilt in the same manner as above. This is an example of how it turned out.
You will see how I built this quilt and use applique to add interest.
Some pre made appliques come with an adhesive already on the back. You would apply the applique with an iron. I find even with the adhesive I still like to either hand stitch or machine stitch the applique on to my projects. Sewing by hand or sewing machine gives extra stability to your project.
Purchased appliques are an easy way to add popular licensed characters, or holiday images, without owning an embroidery machine.
If you do have an embroidery machine and you haven't explored the many wonderful things you can do with your machine, have a look at embroidery software. This is a wonderful addition to your sewing projects you may not have tapped into yet.