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How To Applique

In embroidery, applique is a kind of ornamental needlework which is done by sewing together small patches of fabrics to form a larger pattern. It is commonly used as decoration, especially on garments. The technique is accomplished either by hand stitching or machine. 


Appliqué is commonly practiced 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. Applique, in sewing, is an artistic and great way to personalize designs in clothing. 


However, applique can be challenging to do, especially for beginners, and for those who are using embroidery machines.  Here are steps to show you how to appliqué effectively (in the most stress-free way as possible):


Things You’ll Need: 

Applique Fabric

Heat n bond light

Embroidery thread


Marking Pen 


Stabilizer (medium-weight)


Temporary Spray Adhesive


  1. Pick out fabrics you’ll be using: What kind of fabrics do you want to work on? Where do you want your design placed? On your blanket, pillowcase, or shirt? Decide these things first before anything. When choosing a fabric make sure to choose something of great quality and one that’s tightly woven.
  2. Hoop it. After selected fabric and hoop size on your machine, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the fabric in the hoop properly (so that the machine won’t hit it) and then put it into the machine. When you’ve stabilized it, you’re ready for the next step. If you are not familiar with this hooping technique, see this tutorial on using Sulky® Sticky Stabilizer.
  3. Perform the color sequence on your machine: Before you prepare to actually attach your appliqué, you’ll need to make sure your machine is ready for the process. Choose your colors for the appliqué locator as well as the tack down stitch and the cover stitch. When that’s done, put the appliqué stop command in the right place on the design and place your fabric where the locator stitch is ready to go.
  4. Ready your design: Center the item you want to stitch on and mark the spot you want with a temporary making pen. Make sure your fabric is stabilized before sewing. Then, do the outline of your applique design first. This outline will be covered later so you can use any thread you want.
  5. Sew the appliqué locator stitch and then the appliqué: After the stick for the appliqué locator has been sewn as your guide, use a temporary adhesive to properly place your appliqué embroidery designs (making sure it lines up as planned) and then continue the process with the tack down stitch to make sure the appliqué stays in place during the rest of the process.  After the covering stitch, you can take the appliqué off your machine and remove the hoop for inspection.
  6. Cut the fabric. Remove the hoop from the embroidery machine then cut the excess applique fabric from around the stitch. Try to get very close to the stitch but be careful not to cut the finished applique! After the fabric is cut and removed, trim off the stray pieces. 




Applique is Very Easy To Do!

While it may take some time to get right, putting your computer to work at performing appliqué is well worth the learning curve! It will help you get creative and use all those stray pieces of fabric you’ve just been keeping. You can also create a personal and customized gift with this technique. Plus, you have to admit that it’s pretty cool to see the machine doing most of the painstaking, eye-crossing work that you used to have to do by hand. 


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