Thursday, 19 June 2008

How to...appliqué (part one)

I thought I would write a little tutorial on appliquéing as I have had a few questions lately on how I do it, how I choose the fabrics etc. This is by no means a definitive set of instructions for the 'correct' way to appliqué - this is just how I do it.
I have included a design for you to use if you are stuck for ideas! I am more than happy for you to use the 'Red Delicious Apple' design on any of your non-commercial sewing projects. I am not sure how to include cool PDFs to this blog so you can just print the apple drawing if you wish to use it. This tutorial is going to be in a few parts as I am again parenting alone and have to spend more time on housework than I would like…

Things you will need
Tee-shirt or onesie
Fabrics for the appliqué
Vliesofix (Wonder-Under) or similar iron on fusible webbing
Fusible Tear-away (if required)
Baking paper or one of those iron mat things
Thread – either plain white or contrasting or colours that match your appliqué
Scissors, pencil, tracing paper
Sewing Machine (that has a zigzag stitch)

Step 1: Choose a garment for your appliqué. This can either be purchased new, a used one you have on hand, one with a big raspberry stain that needs covering or one from an op shop/thrift store. You can use a ‘base garment’ that is any thickness as later I will show you how to use a fabric stabiliser. Thicker garments don't need fabric stabilisers if you want to avoid that future step. 100% cotton tee-shirts are of course the ideal but I use some with a little elastane/Lycra for stretch. Wash and dry your tee-shirt or onesie before you are ready to use it.

Step 2: Choose your fabrics. Sometimes I chose the fabric because the of the appliqué design or the pattern or colour of the fabric may make me think of a design. When choosing your fabrics you can use new or vintage natural fabrics – cottons, linen, or light weight cotton corduroy. For appliqué on tee-shirts, I would stick with light to medium weight cottons. I love using quilting weight fabrics and cannot go past fabrics by ‘Free Spirit’ – of course the home of Heather Bailey and a host of other talented fabric designers. Don’t be restricted in your search by only looking at new fabrics – when I am at the op shop I am always looking at clothes, linens, and sheeting not for use as was originally intended but to be re purposed into fabric for appliqués. And because you only need a small amount for an appliqué, you can splurge on more expensive fabrics! Some great Australian fabric designers (including this one) sell small pieces of their wonderful prints that could be included in your work. Of course all new or used fabrics need to be washed and dried prior to use.

3: Choosing your design. This is where you get creative! Making your own design is easy or if its not, don't be put off. You can get ideas from anywhere including children's books or special appliqué pattern books. Just remember that if you are using an existing design, please don't use it to make garments to then sell. If this is your first attempt at appliquéing, I would start with a simple design. The 'Red Delicious Apple' design I have included above is fairly simple and can be made out of one piece of fabric if you wish. Of course you can use different fabrics for the apple, leaves and stem. If you are drawing your own design, keep in mind that small detail does not always lend itself to this type of appliqué – its very hard to do lots of tight curves for example. Print out the apple picture, trace the design onto paper or tracing paper and cut it out so it's a template.

Next part will cover getting your fabric ready, fusing the cut design to the garment, and applying a fabric stabilizer. This little tutorial series will end with setting your machine and appliquéing!


Kate said...

You are so generous to be sharing your secrets! Thanks - I have wanted to ask you how you did it.

tiff said...

Wow, that was great. So interesting.

Joanne said...

Thanks Rach - I cannot wait for the next instalment! I am definately going to give this a go!

Poppy & Mei said...

Ooooooooo! This is way too much fun! THANK-YOU!
I just packed my machine so I'll have to sew in my mind for a while...Xxx

Jenny said...

It's always great to see how people create such wonderful things.
I have always been very wary of applique, I seem to end up with loads of bunching and not the greatest finished product. Hopefully I can follow the instructions and it might help.
I love your fabric choices.

Kris said...

This is inspiring in that I'll lie in bed scheming about all the things I would make if only I wasn't quite so sadly inept. But it's lovely to dream ...

I've tagged you for a meme, just a trivial little one but would love to hear your answers ... Details are at my site.

Selina said...

I say leave to the experts! I just wouldnt attempt it, looks like it would just end in tears for me.

You do a fab job, thanks for sharing anyway.

Jessica said...

I have unsuccessfully appliqued many times never quite knowing how to do it. I'm looking forward to the next installment! Thanks!

Mary Beth said...

Thanks for sharing your skills and insights. I've done a little appliqueing for my babes and it is fun, but I never feel like I'm doing it right. Fortunately, I'm not a perfectionist. I'll be checking in on your next installment to see if I can pick up any more tips. Thank you!

Kirsten said...

This is great, thank you! I have done just a handful of applique things and just was winging it.

Jelly Wares said...

I love your applique, thanks for sharing a tutorial of how you do it with us all.. I'll deinitely be checking in on the next installment for some more tips..

Jodie :)

CurlyPops said...

Thanks for the tutorial...I can't wait for the next instlament!

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

Thanks for the tips - your appliques always look so fabulous!