The Ultimate Applique Post

June 21, 2013

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

I get lots of emails from readers with lots of questions about applique. I answer many things not mentioned in the first 2 tutorials so I decided to make a big tute with everything I know all in one place that will hopefully answer all questions you might come up with while creating your own unique appliqued creations.

I taught myself to applique a few years ago. I had nothing to go on, I made it up as I went along, and through trial and error, and MANY hours behind the machine, I’ve mastered my art of applique. I used to think of it as the poor sewists embroidery, but now I usually prefer it to the embroidered look as it pushes the boundaries of what I can do with fabric and thread.

I’ve done lots of cool projects over the years. Some are featured here on my blog, buried back in the early days.

I started with tees and bibs. I probably made 50 shirts and bibs before I branched out past that.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

I love this little face!

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Then I started doing things like pillowcases,

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

aprons,

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

and dresses.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Then I realized the sky was the limit and I started appliqueing everything I could get my hands on!

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

This past year I really started pushing myself to do more, be better, and make amazing things.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

I discovered how much I love to applique and it really put a lot of my projects over the top. A handful of my favorite tutorials featuring applique are listed here. Click on the picture to take you to the full tutorial.

Sew Like My Mom | Baby Blocks Tutorial Sew Like My Mom | Superhero Cape Tutorial Sew Like My Mom | Nap Mat Tutorial Sew Like My Mom | Bean Bag Tutorial Sew Like My Mom | Strawberry Shortcake Tutorial Sew Like My Mom | Christmas Stockings Tutorial Sew Like My Mom | Applique Towel Tutorial Sew Like My Mom | Twirly Tshirt Dress Tutorial Sew Like My Mom | Shirt Bibs Sew Like My Mom | Hooded Towel Tutorial Sew Like My Mom | Cape Shirt Tutorial Sew Like My Mom | Towel Wrap Tutorial

So, let’s get to a very detailed tutorial on how to do complex appliques. You’ll need to read through my other applique tutorials before this one, because I’m leaving out some steps and assuming you already have the missing information since it’s found in the other 2 places.

The first one gives information on letters, tracing, how I start, stop and finish the seams, and using fusible web.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

The second builds on the basics of the first and shows how to nearly applique around curves, to make beautiful letters and rounded edges.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

One question I get the most from readers is what fonts do I use and where do I get them. Most of my fonts come from dafont.com and are safe to download. When choosing a font to use, remember they’re usually easiest to applique around if they’re sans serif. I know some of the letters in the Pharmacy font have serifs, but it’s so cute I deal with them.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

This third tutorial will walk you through the process of a more difficult, multi-part applique.

I made Chloe this Lalaloopsy shirt for her birthday this year…

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

and her teacher fell in love with it since her daughter (Kate) is also a fan so I made this one, too.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

They both ended up becoming the tutorial so I’ll try not to confuse you, but I’m going to use elements of them both.

Chloe’s shirt wasn’t designed from any particular Lalaloopsy, I just made her up from fabrics I liked. But Kate’s shirt I made to look like her favorite doll, Toffee Cocoa Cuddles.

For the Toffee doll, I did a Google search for a good image and turned it so I could make it bigger.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

I used a different image for her hands, which happens to be the same one I based Chloe’s from.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Using my Heat n Bond Lite, I traced the images right from my computer screen. For complex designs, you’ll need to trace each part individually. I like to label my parts to make sure I don’t confuse anything when I go to iron.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Select your fabrics and take them all at once to iron.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Once all your pieces are cut out they’ll look like this:

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Then lay them all together on the item you’re appliqueing them to. For me, it’s a shirt. You’ll need to layer them in the order they’ll go so you can figure out what pieces you need to sew on first. The paper on the Heat n Bond will make them curl, so I peel it off so they lay flat. If you need to keep a piece you’ve labeled “right” or “top” or something to keep them straight, don’t peel your paper off them yet.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

I like to do the hair parts behind the head to give them depth and make them appear to be on the back of the head. So they get ironed down and stitched first. Here’s another hint–when doing something like this, I don’t stitch them along the edge that goes under the head. My skin fabric is thin and the hair is bright so not only would the stitching show through, but it would stick up and make an unnecessary lump under her head.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Next is the body. Your design will look pretty silly at this point, but go with it. Each time you go to iron on another piece, use the other pieces around it to make sure you’re ironing in the exact right place.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Keep layering the parts as you build the design up, checking the placement of your pieces before you iron.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

This is where it got really late at night and I forgot I was taking pictures for the tutorial, so we’re switching shirts to finish it.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Once you have all your fabric pieces sewn on, you’re ready for the finishing details. Things like decorative stitching, buttons, ribbons, etc. Usually this step will add the final piece of amazingness to your project, so don’t skimp if you need them!

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

There’s no need to put anything on the inside of the shirt. Your threads will remain intact through many, many washings as long as you leave them long enough–about 1/2″ or so. I’ve washed Chloe’s shirt probably a dozen times now and they look the same as they did the day I finished sewing.

Sew Like My Mom | Ultimate Applique Tutorial

And that’s it! With a little patience and a little thinking outside the box creativity, you can applique just about anything you heart desires! I hope I’ve answered all your questions. If you still have more, please post them here in the comments and I’ll try to answer them the best I can.

57 Responses to “The Ultimate Applique Post”

  1. Jennifer said:

    Wow wow wow your amazing! I hope one day I can do this!!!

  2. Jenna said:

    Awesome tutorial. As a computer person, I just want to make sure no one traces directly on their laptop screens or LCD screens that aren’t made of glass. If you trace or press on a flat panel computer that is not hard/glass, you may damage the screen. You can achieve the same result with the tracing by printing the image and taping it to the window. This way you can control the size of it as well, before you trace it and make sure it will fit on your shirt/tote bag/blanket. You can also flip it with your print settings to make letters come out the right way.

  3. Melissa said:

    I’ve been tracing off my laptop screen for 5 years and it hasn’t done any damage. As long as you’re not pressing down hard enough to change the pixels, it’s perfectly fine! I married a computer person who watched me do it thousands of times and I promise, it can be done just fine!

  4. How to Applique - a Sewing Tutorial  said:

    […] For more great information about appliqué, see this post from Sew Like My Mom. […]

  5. paulahug said:

    Thanks for the information. This was very useful to me. I am starting my own business at home.

  6. Ronna Heller said:

    I.love this

  7. Letters for Applique - Sew Like My Mom | Sew Like My Mom said:

    […] covered HOW I applique in multiple posts. The most comprehensive of these is the Ultimate Applique post. It covers basics about doing characters and objects with layers of applique. This post contains […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: