Applique is a wonderful way to personalize your creation or gift. It is a little daunting to people who have never tried it but is really simple when you sit down to do it. Like most things, the more you practice, the better you get. I have done a TON of applique through my custom work with Noodles & Milk. So, needless to say, I have had plenty of practice. For those of you who have always wanted to try, this is the perfect step-by-step tutorial to get you on your way.
What you will need:
-Fabric scraps for applique
-Steam-a-seam 2 (can use the lite or regular)
-Applique design template (I print out letters in cute fonts from the computer)
-Open foot attachment (optional)
-Sulky Tear-easy stabilizer
1. Find a design that you want to applique. Either draw your own design or (as I like to do) print something off your computer. I personally use applique to personalize everything as an alternative to embroidery, so I am always looking for cool fonts to trace.
2. Take a piece of your Steam-a-seam and following the instructions on the package, trace your design onto the fusible paper.
3. Flip the steam-a-seam paper over and trace the design again in reverse on the opposite side.
4. Loosely cut out your design just enough to get rid of the excess paper (save your excess for another project- this stuff is not cheap!).
5. Take the fabric scraps that you want to applique with and place them right side down onto your ironing board. Peel the back the side of the steam-a-seam paper that has the RIGHT SIDE of your design on it. (Make sure that you only tear away the paper and leave the sticky filing and reverse image in tact). Place the sticky side down on wrong side of fabric. At this point, you should see this:
6. Iron over the fusible paper so that it adheres to fabric. (Note- to avoid getting pencil on your iron, I place a paper towel over the lettering and iron onto the paper towel).
7. Cut out design from fused fabric. Peel paper backing away leaving only the cotton and sticky webbing.
8. Flip design over so that the right side is up. Place onto your backing fabric at desired location. Iron applique into place. (Note- if you are putting applique onto temperature sensitive fabric like the minky shown, make sure to place a fabric scrap over the applique and iron the fabric scrap).
9. Cut a piece of Sulky stabilizer paper large enough to cover the applique. Pin it in place on the backside of your fabric BEHIND the applique design. (Note- If you are using a fabric that "moves" a lot- think terry, minky, chenille, etc- I find it useful to pin the applique into place for added stabilization. If you are just using a cotton backing fabric the extra pining is not necessary).
Are you ready to FINALLY get sewing?!?!?
10. Change your sewing machine setting to a zig-zag stitch and if you are using an open-foot attachement, put it on your machine at this point. Play with the width and length settings on a scrap until you get one that appeals to you. There is no right or wrong here. I personally like a shorter stitch length and a tighter width.
11. Going slowly, sew zig-zag all around your applique. Make sure the stitch completely covers the edge of the design. For crispness, make sure to slow at the curves and stop at corners to make a clean turn. Make sure to backstitch/lock stitch at the beginning and end.
12. When entire applique is sewn into place, flip fabric over to the wrong side and gently tear away the stabilizer paper.
13. Now you are finished! Your design is complete or if you are using this fabric to sew onto a blanket, burp cloth or other item you can continue as you normally would. Enjoy your design and remember that practice makes perfect!
Note- for beginners, I recommend practicing with cotton applique ironed onto another cotton fabric. The applique is extremely stable this way and it makes for an easier surface to practice your zig-zag stitch on.