Sunday, 29 June 2008

The Crafters' Way 54 - Applique

I write a weekly Craft column for a local paper. I post it here or you can view online at


Most crafters are familiar with the term applique. It comes from the French appliquer, which means ‘put on’. For most crafters appliqué refers to fabric shapes applied to a fabric background. Sounds simple? It can be. Most of us are familiar with using Fusible Web products then either hand or machine stitching for a permanent finish. Here a two more methods.

Needleturn appliqué - takes a little more effort than fusible webbing but the finished effect is certainly worth the effort. Trace your design onto the wrong side of fabric. Cut out the design approx 6mm from the traced line. Place your design right side facing up onto your backing fabric and pin in place. Turn the raw edge of the fabric under using your needle and slipstitch in place. This method really does take quite a bit of skill and practice. This is a brief description and not intended as a tutorial. For this method I would recommend a class or two with a skilled teacher. The extra tuition will show in your finished piece.

Reverse Applique – The above methods require the design fabric to attached to the top of the backing fabric. In this method we do the reverse. The design fabric is underneath the “ backing fabric’ which is then later cut away to reveal design. This method can encompass needleturn appliqué, however the method I describe here is simpler and much easier to accomplish without classes. You will need ‘backing fabric’, design fabric, paper, textile paint and embroidery thread. Trace your design onto paper, cut out. Pin the right side of design fabric to the wrong side of the backing fabric. Pin your cut out design to the right side of backing fabric. Using a textile paint and brush paint around the outside edge of design. Wait until paint dries before proceeding. Now thread a needle with embroidery thread and backstitch around the outside of the painted edge. You are attaching the design fabric to the ‘backing fabric.’ Carefully cut away the backing fabric to reveal the design fabric. Be Very Careful. The painted edge prevents the fabric from fraying.

Both of these appliqué methods can add an extra dimension to your quilts, clothes and textile arts projects. Once you learn the techniques you will be amazed at where you can “apply’ them.

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