Applique is a crafting technique in which a piece of fabric or other type of embellishment is applied to a base fabric, often with numerous layers being built up on top of each other. The word applique comes from the French for ‘to apply’ or ‘applied’. These days applique is mostly used as a form of decoration but it origins are extremely practical in that pieces of fabric were sewn over holes in clothes to mend them.
Applique is a very popular technique in ancient Indian art. A cast called the Darjis would decorate fabrics for use in tent making, banners and other religious artwork. Popular applique shapes at this time included elephants and flowers due to their symbolism for the Indian people. African artists would use fabrics to create banners that recorded their history as well as commemorating the lives of friends and family members. Probably the most famous group of people who used this technique were the colonial American women who are famous for quilt making.
Fusable Web Interfacing
Thread (try and match fibre to fibre when choosing your thread i.e if your sewing onto cotton then use cotton thread)
Basic Applique Technique
1. Firstly you need to choose the shape that you want to applique as well as choosing a base fabric. Perhaps you have a plain white child’s t-shirt that you want to add a dinosaur design to?
2. Either draw or print out your dinosaur template and cut it out. If you are using a pattern that is not symmetrical (such as letters) then make sure you ‘flip’ them so that when you adhere it to the fusable web it is the right way around.
3. Use your template to copy the shape outline on to the fusable web. If your design has a number of component parts (eyes, teeth etc?) cut the fusable web up in to parts dependant on what fabric they are going to be adhered to. Iron the fusable web shape on to the wrong side of your fabric and then cut them out.
4. At this stage you need to take stock of your component parts and make a note of which order they need to attached to the fabric in. Remove the fusable web backing paper from the bottom most part and stick it to the t-shirt.
5. Sew around the edge of your design with a tight zigzag stitch. Once this is done iron this layer.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 in order to sew on every component part of your design.