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Hand applique is a simple crafting technique that layers fabric shapes on top of another to make a design. Applique is the French word meaning "to put on." The technique adds interest to anything made from fabric, and allows you to work in all those wonderful scraps of fabric you adore but couldn't find a way to use. You can make this pretty applique pillow in an afternoon.
When selecting fabrics for an applique project, chose different patterns in the same color family for visual interest. Thin 100-percent-cotton quilter's fabric works best for most applique projects.
Small, sharp scissors
Blue water-soluble marker
Fabric (100 percent cotton)
Thread (100 percent cotton in colors that match your applique fabrics)
Fine quilting needle
Trace or draw your desired pattern onto template plastic using a template pencil. (Unlike a regular pencil, a template pencil will not smear.)
Carefully cut out the pattern on the drawn line.
Place the template on the right side of your chosen fabric, and trace it using a blue water-soluble marker. Cut out the fabric shape about 1/4 inch outside the traced line. The extra 1/4 inch is the seam allowance.
To prepare the shape for appliqueing, tuck the seam allowance under and hand-press it in place. You may need to make small cuts into the seam allowance to achieve smooth results on curved edges.
Pin the prepared shape in place on the base fabric. Baste near the edge to hold in place. Remove the pins.
Using needle and thread, sew the hand-pressed edge of the shape to your base fabric using a tiny slip stitch. Remove the basting stitch. Erase any blue marks by dabbing with a damp cloth. You've just completed an applique!
The traditional hand-stitched applique employs a fine slip stitch to attach an applique shape to the base fabric, but you can also use alternative techniques.
For variation, cut out your shape on the traced line (no seam allowance is needed), and blanket-stitch your applique shape in a contrasting- or coordinating-color embroidery floss.
You also can applique on your sewing machine. Simply cut out your shape on the traced line (no seam allowance is needed), and sew a tight zigzag stitch along the edge of the applique. This results in a smooth raised edge.
You can applique without sewing. Simply trace your shape on fusible web and a nonfraying fabric, such as felt. Cut out your shapes on the traced lines (no seam allowance is needed), then iron on your design.
Microsuede boasts a luxuriously soft texture that's fun to use in applique. Because it's a nonfraying fabric, no seam allowance is needed. Simply cut out your shape on the traced line, then stitch or iron it on.