Easy Applique in 4 Simple Steps

I have a continually growing stash of pretty fabric scraps left over from large projects combined with fat quarters of cotton prints I simply couldn’t resist sampling. Since I primarily sew garments and accessories, what do I do with all these small bits of cloth?





Tie-Back Floor Pillow Cover from Sew Liberated.

Answer: Appliqué!

Appliqué is the perfect way to use up fabric odds and ends and customize a project at the same time. I’ve added appliqué to skirts, bags, scarves, pillows, and even small gift items such as fabric journal covers, baby toys, and handmade cards. I love the challenge of making something only from what I have on hand, forcing me to come up with creative combinations of fabrics. And appliqué is such a fun and easy technique, I guarantee you will become addicted to it once you start!


I got some great ideas for appliqué projects from Meg McElwee and her book Sew Liberated. For you Anthropologie fans out there, her projects have that same combination of modern-style-meets-retro charm. Meg is a great teacher, and her appliqué primer section has a wealth of information full of all the different ways to do appliqué broken down with step-by-step photos.


Below is her simple technique for doing raw or unfinished-edge appliqué with paper-backed fusible web for the template material. This technique works well with 100% cotton for the appliqué pieces. All the designs shown here use this easy technique.


The fusible web allows you to easily secure the appliqué in place for stitching, leaving a raw edge that you can cover with a variety of decorative hand or machine stitches. It works well for both large and small appliqué pieces and is ideal for pieces with an intricate edge.





figure 1

figure 2

figure 3

Tools and Materials:


– Paper-backed fusible web
– Iron and ironing board
– Craft scissors
– Fabric scissors
– Embroidery scissors
– Fine-tipped permanent marker or pencil


1. Place the fusible web directly over the template with the paper side facing up. Trace the template using a fine-tipped permanent marker or pencil (figure 1).


2. Cut out the shape, leaving an allowance of about ¼" (6 mm) around the edge (figure 2).


3. Place the fusible web, fusible side down, onto the wrong side of the appliqué fabric and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fuse the web to the fabric with your iron. Let cool.


4. Cut along the pencil markings on the paper backing (figure 3). Remove the paper backing just before you are ready to fuse the appliqué to the background fabric.


Then start stitching! Meg recommends several decorative stitching options for finishing the raw edges including blanket stitch, blind hem/invisible stitch, satin stitch, zigzag stitch, or a simple straight stitch. So start using up those scraps today!


Happy sewing,


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