Appliqué is a sewing technique that allows you to create designs by adding layers of fabric. This is the process of cutting pieces from a second fabric – or a selection of fabrics – then positioning and securing them to the main piece to form a larger pattern or design.
The name itself is derived the Latin and French and means to join or apply. As a sewing technique, this dates back through the centuries, both as a means for increasing the longevity of textiles and clothing and adding creative embellishments.
Appliqué is popular across many sewing disciplines, from quilting to dressmaking and crafting to home decor. The process is worked by following a series of simple steps and has the option of adding variations to the finishing, which is perhaps why it remains so popular with sewing enthusiasts to this day.
A popular method for applying an appliqué design is fusing the motif onto the fabric, which can be achieved using Bondaweb. Bondaweb is a web of adhesive on a carrier sheet – also known as backing paper – this glue is heat activated, so it can be applied to fabrics using a domestic iron.
The adhesive is sandwiched between the main fabric and the fabric for the motif – so it isn’t visible on the finished project. Because the elements of the design are bonded together with glue, they can be left as they are to create a raw edge design, although it is recommended to include stitching if the finished project is to be washed. Alternatively, they can be finished by working around the edges of the motif with neat stitches – either using a sewing machine or by hand.
This technique is excellent for using offcuts of fabrics, and a wide range of materials from cottons and linens, to heavier weight cords and denims can be used. Working with materials of similar weight will create a more uniform finish than mixing and matching fabric types. Due to the versatile nature of appliqué, these can be added to a wide range of projects include quilts, cushions, garments and accessories. Depending on the chosen project, when you apply the design may vary. For example, it is possible to add appliqué to a finished garment or cushion cover. However, when adding to a quilt block may be preferable to create the appliqué onto the specific pieces before working into the block and ultimately piecing it into the quilt top.
Here is a quick guide to using Bondaweb for appliqué:
With the design mirrored, trace the motif onto the paper side of a piece of Bondaweb and place it onto the wrong side of the fabric.
With the iron set to a medium (no steam), heat (2-3 dot setting), cover with a slightly damp cloth and press with the iron to fuse Bondaweb.
Carefully cut out the motif using the drawn lines as a guide and peel off the backing paper.
Place the cut motif onto the right side of the outer fabric.
Using the iron (on a medium, no steam setting), cover with a slightly damp cloth and press with the iron to fuse the motif into position.
Allow the design to fully cool – you can leave it as a fused piece or work around the design with hand or machine stitching for a decorative effect.
Five Top Tips for Appliqué
Once fused, leave the Bondaweb to cool fully – this can be around 30 minutes – this helps the adhesive secure the fabric pieces together completely.
Make sure that the design is mirrored when drawn onto the backing paper/carrier sheet of the Bondaweb, as this will ensure the correct orientation on the finished piece.
For beginners trying out stitched designs, select a thread colour that matches the fabric of the motif to help create more even-looking stitches.
Appliqué can be worked in layers to build complete pictures and designs; sewing on additional embellishments is great to elevate your projects.
To help remove the backing paper from Bondaweb, use the tips of a pin or needle to make a score across the centre of the piece. This will create a small rip in the paper, making it easier to remove.
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