Fabric to Non-Fabric Applique: A Tutorial

Dinosaur Upholstery Fabric on Vinyl Record AlbumDo you ever think I will run out of weird stuff to do to vinyl record albums? As a crafter who works primarily with recycled materials, I find vinyl records especially inspirational: they’re rigid yet can be malleable, you can incorporate the song titles and album title into your piece or not, you can cut and drill them, you can paint them, you can do things with them that I haven’t even thought about yet, and I’ve thought about it a lot.

Although my bread-and-butter is the ubiquitous record bowl, I’ve made everything from jewelry to artwork with these babies. If only I could bring to them my love of fabrics, especially the ones in those big sample books of upholstery fabric that I bought at a charity thrift store a few months ago and have been so obsessed with…


Applique of fabric onto vinyl is a simple and effective embellishment technique that stands well alone, or that can be included as part of a larger product. This technique is also identical to how you’d applique fabric onto anything non-fabric, and therefore it’s quite, you know, applicable.

Two notes: 1) I already know that my vinyl won’t catch on fire if I iron it through my fabric–if you’re going to applique onto any other non-fabric material, test it first. If you’re going to melt the paint off of your wall, at least do it over in the corner where the couch can hide it.

2) No-sew adhesive is not a green material; consider your green crafting manifesto before you use it. My personal green crafting manifesto asks me to use natural or recycled materials whenever possible, but permits me to use a new synthetic material if nothing eco-friendly is available. This fact, combined with the fact that the other two components of this project are recycled, makes this a workable project for me. Decide for yourself is this is a workable project for you.

You will need:

  • vinyl record album (make sure it’s scratched, warped, or otherwise unplayable–otherwise, that’s not recycling)
  • recycled fabric to applique (you won’t be washing this, so use anything you want–my upholstery samples that I’m using actually have paper on the back, so I needed a use for them in which they wouldn’t be washed)
  • no-sew heat bond adhesive, the strongest you can find (make sure that the package clearly says that the adhesive is NOT temporary)
  • pattern for the applique, such as a stencil or a simple shape, already cut out and ready to trace
  • sharp scissors for cutting fabric + adhesive
  • small sharp thread or nail scissors for cutting tight corners
  • iron (if your applique is smaller than your iron AND your material can melt with too much heat, beg or borrow a mini iron)

Trace pattern onto paper backing1. Cut out a piece of applique fabric that’s larger than the applique you want to create. Lay it face down on your ironing surface, and lay your adhesive on top, adhesive side facing the back side of your fabric and paper side facing up.

2. Following the directions on your adhesive package, iron the adhesive to the wrong side of your fabric, then cut the piece off of the adhesive roll.

3. Trace your pattern for your applique directly onto the paper backing of your adhesive. Remember to reverse it if necessary.

4. Cut through the fabric, adhesive, and paper backing to cut out your applique.

Iron your appliqueHere’s where you may need to do a test run. Depending on the thickness of your fabric and the balkiness of your material (vinyl isn’t as easy to bond as canvas, for instance), you may need to add a few seconds to the ironing time that your adhesive instructions call for. Overheating the adhesive, however, will just cause it to melt into your applique fabric and it won’t bond that way, either. So play for a bit before you settle down to business.

5. Peel the paper backing off of your applique and put it exactly where you want it to be. Iron it to your material. If you underheat the adhesive, it won’t stick, but you can just reheat it. If you overheat the adhesive, it will melt into your fabric and then your whole piece will be crap, so be careful to follow the amount of time that you’ve determined is best for bonding.

Horse applique on vinyl record albumIf you’re dealing with a material that heat can melt, such as vinyl, or that heat can damage, such as a painted surface, you’ll also want to be careful to keep your iron within the bounds of your applique itself. For this you may need to use a mini iron, which will allow you to iron down fiddly little corners and bits without melting the vinylΒ  next to that bit.

6. Let your applique cool down completely to make sure that the adhesive is sticking well, then admire.

5 thoughts on “Fabric to Non-Fabric Applique: A Tutorial”

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  3. Pingback: Clothing Repair: Reverse Applique for Sleeves and Pants Legs : Crafting a Green World

  4. Pingback: Clothing Repair: Reverse Applique for Sleeves and Pants Legs - Zidee.com

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