What Materials Are Used for Applique?

With a sewing machine, creativity is unlimited, while an average individual might think the sewing machine’s only function is for the regular stitching process, hobbyists and professional crafters know the sewing machine can do more as it can be used for different beautiful crafts such as quilting, embroidery, and applique

The applique sewing technique is a fascinating sewing procedure that results in beautiful and appalling designs. This sewing technique can be done in different ways and styles which makes it an outstanding and enjoyable sewing technique.

If you’re planning to make applique your newfound hobby and have been wondering what it entails, you’re in the right place as we will be explicitly discussing the applique sewing technique, the materials that can be used for applique, and other helpful information to help you kick start your applique projects.

What is Applique?

Applique is a needlework technique that deals with the attachment of numerous shapes together on a base fabric to produce designs and patterns. The applique base fabric is required to be large while small pieces get attached to it. 

The applique sewing technique can be performed by hand or by making use of a sewing machine. You will also be needing other items such as applique pieces, background fabric, interfacing, needles, pins, fabric or applique scissors, and an iron. 

Professional sewers including quilters make use of the applique technique to provide additional depth and texture to their quilting projects. When properly done, your applique appears just how you want it. It can be elegant or simple, and it can produce realistic, geometric, and abstract designs.

Is Applique the Same as Embroidery

While many do think that applique and embroidery are the same sewing technique, they are both different. Embroidery is the art of creating patterns and designs on fabric, making use of various colour threads while applique is a patchwork technique that can be created by stitching a piece of cloth to another to produce dimension and texture to an existing cloth.

Are Applique and Patching the Same?

It is common for beginners to think patchwork and applique are the same, but they are both different. While both sewing techniques deal with the sewing together of small fabric pieces, the patchwork process attaches fabric pieces without making use of a background fabric while applique required a background fabric.

Patchwork stitches appear and can be felt underneath while it got covered by the background fabric and cant be seen in applique.

What Are The Methods of Applique?

There are different types of applique and you can choose your preferred method to create your applique projects. The main applique methods are.

– Machine Applique

This method requires a sewing machine to create the applique technique to stitch pieces of fabric into the background fabric. Depending on the model of your sewing machine, you can make use of a variety of stitches in binding these fabric pieces to the bottom layers.

The common stitches that are used during an applique process include zig zag and satin stitches. 

– Hand Applique

The hand applique method is the process of sewing shapes on the background layer making use of a needle and thread. Hand applique can be done in a basic way and also allow you to provide a more decorative finish to your project by the addition of different patterns and shapes.

Embellishments such as beads and sequins can also be added while practising hand applique to finish your project.

– Fused Applique 

This is an applique method for less experienced crafters and also can be used for quick projects. It requires the use of an iron-on adhesive like a fusible web to fuse your fabric pieces’ shapes to the background fabric.

What Materials Are Used for Applique?

Many materials are ideal for applique, these materials include cotton, silk, linen, and wool. Some machines can be used on fabric and numerous types of needles. You can also make use of one of iron-on, tear-away, cut-away, mesh, or soluble interfacing. 

You might also want to get a seam ripper in case there is a mistake during your applique process. Tracing paper and carbon paper can be used to easily create your design and transfer designs. To prevent the fraying edges of your fabric, you can make use of the fray check as it can also ensure your applique item remains nice.

You can also prevent your webbing from getting stuck to the iron by making use of the press cloth in between your applique project and the iron. 

What Are the Most Popular Materials to Use For Applique?

Different types of fabrics are perfect for applique. To save time and the stress of picking the right fabrics, you can easily purchase a pre-cut applique piece to execute your project. But if you’re willing to pick the fabric for your applique by yourself, you should take note that some materials are more perfect for applique than others. 

– Natural Fabrics

The most ideal fabric option for your applique is natural fabrics. Natural fabrics are sturdy enough to support decorative stitching. They are also an excellent choice as background material as it ensures the foundation fabric is strong enough to add to your designs.

Examples of natural fabrics include cotton, silk, linen, and wool. These materials are all ideal for both machine and hand applique processes. 

– Blended Fabrics

As it is not mandatory to make use of cotton and synthetic fabrics for your applique, you can make use of blended fabrics as well as they’re a combination of both natural and synthetic fabrics. Blended fabrics also provide sturdiness which allows you to easily make use of the decorative stitches on the fabric. 

Examples of blended fabrics are cotton and linen blend, cotton and polyester blend, and so on. You can easily go for your preferred mixture percentage of the blended fabrics to suit your needs. 

– Synthetic Fabrics

Synthetic fabrics can also be used for applique. However, it is important to ensure you chose a strong and sturdy fabric to support the needed stitches and won’t badly get worn at its edges. Rayon and polyester are good examples of perfect synthetic fabrics for your applique project.

Can I Use a Random Material for Applique?

While you can make use of your preferred fabrics for applique, you will also have to put some factors into consideration when selecting a fabric for your applique to ensure an excellent applique process. You will have to put the fabric strength into consideration and ensure that it has a strong and close weave. Your background fabric is required to be strong to provide support to the attached applique pieces. 

You should also take note of the care instructions of your preferred fabric, making use of a fabric that is not machine washable or cannot be used in a dryer, using such fabric with others that are washable will cause issues as you cannot risk washing your project without ruining fabric. 

Another factor to consider is how your stitches will react to your preferred fabric. Making use of a cheap fabric will require additional stitches to ensure the fabric doesn’t unravel or fray after completing your applique project. 


By following this article, you will have come to realize that applique is a decorative sewing technique that is different from embroidery, patchwork, and quilting.

We also discuss the variety of fabrics that can be used for applique and how important it is to put the fabric strength into consideration before selecting a fabric for your applique project to achieve an appalling applique result.