Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Hand Applique

Applique is a needlework technique to attach patches of fabric onto a background fabric to form the design or embellishment pattern. We can sew the patches of fabric in place by hand or machine. If you are using sewing machine, set your sewing machine to a desired stitch and test the stitch on the scrap of fabric before you start stitching. If you are sewing by hand, you must know at least some basic hand sewing stitches like running stitch, backstitch, blanket stitch and blind stitch.

Before you begin stitching, you may have to pin or adhere the appliques in place, some of the tools like bead-needle, fusible interfacing, and fabric glue are popular choices that used to attached the appliques to the background fabric. Anyway, some people might not use any tools to help them in guiding their works.

There is a variety of methods to do applique, the methods shown below are my favorite hand sew applique methods.

1. raw edge applique
2. finished edge applique
3. needle-turn applique ( turned edge applique)

Raw edge applique

This is the simplest way to sew on an applique. The raw edge of the applique fabric is left exposed. From the photo above, you can see the edge become frayed, don't you think the frayed edge bring you a natural look? Usually, I will use the backstitch in this method. Of course, you can use other stitches as long as you are satisfied with the outcome.  Apart from the cotton fabric, you can see many people like to use this method on a felt applique. The edge of the felt applique won't become frayed, it will bring you a different look and feeling.

Finished edge applique

In this method, you have to place two applique pattern pieces right side together and stitch completely around the edges. First, place two applique fabric pieces right side together and start preparing your applique pattern pieces by tracing around your prepared template onto the wrong side of the fabric. Then stitch completely around the edge and cut a hole in the middle on one side of the applique, then turn the the applique right side out. Now, pin or baste your finished edge applique on the background fabric and stitch it down with blind stitch. If your applique involve a convex curve shape, and the seam allowance is more than 0.5cm then you have to make a few small notches on the curve edge so the shape can lay flat when you turn it to the right side. The photo shown above is a semi-circle applique, although it has a convex curve shape, I don't make any notch on the convex curve edge because the seam allowance is narrow enough to create a flat surface.

If you are using fusible interfacing, trace the pattern ( mirror image) on the dull side of the fusible interfacing. Place the fusible side (shiny side) on the right side of your fabric and sew the fusible interfacing onto the right side of the fabric along the line you traced. Then, cut out the pattern piece, leaving a 0.5cm seam allowance. Notch the convex curve edge if necessary and cut a hole in the middle of the fusible interfacing. Turn the applique right side out, press your applique in a nice shape, place it on the background fabric and hold it in place using a warm iron. The fusible interfacing will bond with the background fabric. Now, you can easily stitch it down.

needle-turn applique ( turned edge applique)

This is a traditional method, what we have to do is to turn under the seam allowance with a needle before the applique is stitched to the background fabric. First, prepare your applique pattern piece by tracing around your prepared template onto the right side of the fabric. Cut out the pattern piece and leaving a 1cm seam allowance around the edge of the shape. Before you start sewing, make a few small notches on the convex curve edge ( only if your design involve a convex curve shape) and finger press around the stitching line that you have drawn onto the applique piece so you can easily turn the edge under when you are sewing it down. Usually, I will pin it in place and sew it down with blind stitch.

If you find it is not easy to turn under the edge and press the edge with your fingers, there is an alternative method that you can try out. Place your template (mirror image) on the wrong side of your applique fabric, fold the seam allowance up against the template and press with a warm iron. Remove the template when you have finished pressing. Then, you can place and hold your applique on the background fabric with pins, fabric glue or the basting stitch and stitch it down with blind stitch.

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