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January Technique of the Month: Applique!

What is Applique?  

Appliqué is ornamental needlework in which pieces or patches 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. There are three main methods of appliqué: machine appliqué, hand appliqué and fused appliqué. There are different types of using these methods, such as smooth edge appliqué, raw edge appliqué, reverse appliqué, decorative appliqué.


Applique Methods

  • Machine Appliqué: When a sewing machine is used to create the appliqué technique of stitching a piece of fabric to a background. You may choose to use one of the stitch variations possible on your particular model of machine to apply your top piece of fabric to the bottom layer. Popular stitches are zig zag stitch or a satin stitch.
  • Hand Appliqué: Hand appliqué is when a shape is sewn onto a background layer with a needle and thread. It can be done in a basic or more decorative way, depending on your experience. One of the more traditional methods of hand sewn applique is the needle-turn method, which is where a needle is used to turn under the seam allowance while you sew the pieces to the fabric background. This creates a neat edge rather than a raw one. Using hand appliqué allows you to add a decorative finish to your projects and add a variety of patterns and shapes depending on the project being worked on. 

Applique Techniques

  • Raw Edge Appliqué: Using a sewing machine, the raw edges of the fabric which is being applied to the background can be tidied by stitching around the shape with a stitch chosen to leave a tidy finish which is smooth and neat to the observer. A zig-zag stitch stitched closely together works well. This style works well for projects which will not be in constant use, as the raw edges are attached to the background fabric but not sewn over to create a seamless edge. The edges are left to fray. Smaller projects are ideal, such as greeting cards or wall mounted pieces. Items such as cushions or clothing need to have stronger more durable stitching, so this method is less successful. It can be done by hand or machine.
  • Reverse Appliqué: This really lives up to its name. Instead of sewing fabric shapes onto the top of a background layer, with this style you layer fabrics together and then stitch a pattern on top. Then you cut away parts of the fabric to reveal the shape and colour of the fabric below.
  • Decorative Appliqué: This method is open to many variations and interpretations. It can be achieved using a machine or by hand. If you are using a sewing machine, you may use the different styles of stitching available on your model to make your piece aesthetically pleasing. Using hand embroidery, you can choose to experiment with the many different embroidery stitches available to learn – it depends on the project you are working on.

We offer private one-on-one instruction for this incredible technique.  Please call 303-794-7312 today to reserve your spot!

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