Good morning! I've had a few requests lately for tips on applique work. I love using applique in my projects, but I really only use one technique these days. When I showed it to my mother once (she's an accomplished needlewoman who employs many different applique techniques in her quilts and embroideries) she was less than impressed, but I've stuck with my method because it produces the effect that I'm after with applique. And that is an application of fabric that is smooth and soft, with no 'crispy' edges or awkward corners. Because I usually applique onto things for children, I've found that my favourite method washes well with no disintegration of the fabric layers, and it's softer and more comfortable to wear.
I know there are many different products on the market for helping with applique- such as fusible webbing. I've never remembered to look for them in my local craft shop, although I'm sure they are great products if you're after a quick applique job. But in my opinion you don't need these, but rather, just a good old needle and thread. This method works best when you use a light-weight, tight-weave fabric for the appliqued motif.
Here's how to do it.
You will need:
A fine, sharp sewing needle and fine thread (poly-cotton blend is good.)
Something on which to applique- a tshirt, dress or cardigan for example, plus some fine, but tight-weave cotton fabric to use for the applique.
Paper and pencil, sharp scissors and dressmaking pins.
First of all decide what shape you'd like to applique, and draw it on the paper. Use this pattern to cut the shape from your fine fabric. (I'm using a plain old circle here for ease of explanation.) Iron this shape well (you might want to carefully iron the surface of your tshirt/etc too.)
Using some little sharp scissors, cut small incisions all around the edge of your shape, as shown below. (My cuts measure about 3mms.)
Thread your needle and tie a knot on the end. Now you can start your applique. Fold a bit of your motif under at one point of the edge and press together with your fingers. Hold this edge in place against the garment with your left hand while you insert the tip of your needle into the garment, and up again through the folded edge just a few millimetres away. Hmm, it's a bit tricky to explain, but you should get the idea from the photo below. Basically, you're just folding the shape under along the edge with your left hand while securing the edge with your little stitches. (If you're right-handed that is.) You can pull them in place securely but be careful not to pull too tightly. You want a smooth worked surface, not a puckered one.
Carry on like this all the way around the shape. Remove the dressmaking pins as you go. When you're finished your applique, tie a knot close to the edge of the work and thread it under the motif to hide it.
I know those stitches look rather small and tiresome, but it really doesn't take too long. Before you know it you'll be sewing all sort of shapes onto all sorts of things. Good luck!