Clothing + Fashion applique techniques

Published on September 28th, 2013 | by Becky Striepe

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4 Applique Techniques to Customize or Mend Your Sewing Projects

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applique techniques

Got a sewing project that needs an oomph or a stain or tear you want to cover? They one of these applique techniques!

Whether you’re new to sewing or a veteran seamster, you’ve got to love a good old applique. You can use applique to add a cute detail to otherwise plain fabric or to cover up a stain or tear. Applique is simple and fun, and there are lots of different ways that you can incorporate this technique into your sewing

New to applique techniques?

‘Applique’ is basically a fancy word for ‘patch,’ and even a novice seamster can easily learn how to applique. Just like with a patch, there are lots of different ways that you can apply it to your projects.

The difference between an applique and a patch is that an applique is more intentional. You’re not just covering worn out elbows on an old corduroy jacket. You’re adding a cute bunny to a baby’s onesie or comic book art to a boring necktie. An applique doesn’t just cover imperfections: it adds to your projects overall look.

1. Freezer Paper Applique 

The video above shows you how to create a cute applique with finished edges using a freezer paper template. Also, can we talk about the tiny iron that she uses? I bet that requires a lot less energy than my big old iron! Plus, it allows you to do more detailed work, like finishing the edges on an applique.

2. Reverse Applique

Reverse applique takes the applique idea and turns it on its head. Instead of sewing a patch over your fabric, you sew it underneath, then cut away the fabric over the patch you just sewed to reveal the fabric underneath. Need some more? Julie shared a great reverse applique tutorial right here!

3. No-Sew Applique

With the right supplies, you don’t even need sewing skills to add an applique! This applique tutorial is for modding out a onesie, but you can use the same technique to do appliques of all shapes and sizes.

4. Quick and Dirty Applique

This applique technique works best on sturdier fabrics, like quilting-weight organic cotton or sturdy vintage fabric. Just cut out your shape, pin it in place, and use your machine’s zig zag to sew down, trying to catch the edge of your applique with the outside of the zigzag. Depending on how close to the edge your stitching is, you may see some fraying over time, but the zig zag will control it for the most part. This is a good technique if you’re going for a more handmade look. I used this technique to add a bone detail to a homemade dog treat bag.

Do you have a favorite applique technique that’s not listed here? Share yours in the comments!

Image Credit: Sewing Machine photo via Shutterstock


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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



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