Beginner’s Appliqué Guide

Have you fancied trying appliqué, but were not sure where to start? This beginner’s appliqué guide will show you everything needed to get going.

Appliqué has been used in quilt making for centuries, and is a useful technique to know in addition to basic quilt blocks. It’s also used in many other stitching crafts and can be used to decorate items such as bags and cushions.

In addition to the techniques, this beginner’s guide also contains links to our free applique templates, so you can get started straightaway.

What is Appliqué

Appliqué is a technique whereby one piece of fabric is placed on another background fabric to make a pattern or picture. It can be held in place by hand stitching, machine sewing or fusing.

My preferred technique is to use fusible bonding web and then to machine sew around the edges. This material is a non-woven fabric impregnated with adhesive which is activated by heat. It is often sold under the name ‘Fus-a-web’.

This technique is perfect for beginners and you can achieve results quickly.

How to Use Fus-a-web

Using Fus-a-web is easy and fun. Here are the 6 steps for using it on your applique project:

drawing applique shape on fus-a-web

1. Draw out your required design on the paper side of the Fus-a-web.

Trimming fus-a-web (fusible bonding web) for applique

2. Roughly cut out the Fus-a-web, slightly larger than your drawing.

ironing on fus-a-web to backing fabric

3. Place the rough, non-paper side down on the wrong side of your appliqué fabric. Press in place using a hot iron.

Cutting out applique shape

4. Cut out your shape carefully, following your drawn lines.

peel off backing paper from fus-a-web

5. Peel off the backing paper, and position your appliqué shape on the background fabric.

ironing applique shape onto backing fabric

6. Iron your applique shape to the backing fabric.

You’re now ready to finish by stitching around the edges of your appliqué shape.

Stitching your Appliqué Project

There are three common stitches used for appliqué, and you can experiment with each on a piece of scrap fabric to see which one you prefer.

Running stitch

This is a quick and simple way to fix your fabric piece in place, and can be used on all sewing machines. When your finished item is washed there may be some slight fraying of your appliqué shape, but this just adds to the style and handcrafted look. This technique is also called raw edge appliqué.

running stitch applique

Zigzag stitch

This stitch goes up to the edge of your appliqué shape, so there is no raw edge. It can give a vintage style feel to your finished project. I’ve used a contrasting thread colour so it can be seen in the photo, but you can choose a thread that matches the colour of your fabric.

zigzag stitch applique

Satin stitch

This stitch is similar to zigzag, but the stitch length is very short. It results in a solid line of embroidery stitches and can look very professional. Your particular sewing machine may have satin stitch as one of its settings. If it does not, you can use a zigzag stitch and experiment with shortening the stitch length.

satin stitch applique

Useful tips:

If your sewing machine has a speed control, it’s useful to slow the stitch speed down. This gives you more control and will allow you to place your stitches exactly as needed.

Choose a thread that coordinates with your fabrics (I have used contrasting thread in these photos so that it can be seen easily).

Free Appliqué Pattern Downloads

We have created some free appliqué pattern downloads for you to enjoy.

Flower appliqué templates

Christmas appliqué templates

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