How to add fabric appliqués to your sewing projects

how to make a fabric applique

Would you sometimes like to personalize your sewing projects with a name, initials or a special shape, but you don’t have an embroidery machine at home? Don’t worry! In this tutorial, we are going to show you how you can easily jazz up your sewing work with appliqués made out of your fabric scraps. With this technique you are even able to create (bigger) projects with different layers of appliqués.

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Supplies you need to make a fabric appliqué:

  • printer, paper & paper scissors to cut out your template
  • fabric (scraps)
  • lightweight interfacing (I recommend Pellon Shape Flex 101)
  • fabric marker pen
  • fabric scissors
  • some pins
  • embroidery stabilizer (I use Pellon Stitch-N-Tear Lite)
  • color matching/contrasting thread


If you prepare your appliqué template on a computer you will also need a printer, paper and paper scissors for printing and cutting out the template.

Preparing the appliqué template:

First of all, you need the shape of your wished appliqué as a template. For this step you can use the word processing program on your computer. Here you can insert special shapes like a heart directly from the program or insert your own image and adjust the size to your needs.

For letters or numbers just type in the signs you would like to have as appliqués, choose a suitable font and size and print them out on paper. Of course, you can use any other computer program that you like to prepare paper templates.

There are la lot of things around a house, which work also great as a template. Just think about cookie cutters, kid’s toys, decorating items or already existing designs from a book, magazine or something similar.

If you feel comfortable, you can even draw the shape of your appliqué free hand on paper or directly onto the prepared fabric (see next step).


Preparing the fabric appliqué:

Take a piece of fabric that is a bit bigger than your paper template.

Especially if you use a very light fabric for your appliqué (and maybe also for the fabric on which you’ll stitch the appliqué) we recommend to fuse a lightweight interfacing (also a bit larger than the template) onto the backside of your fabric piece to give the appliqué more stability when you sew it on.


Optional: Fuse a piece of sewable “Heat’n Bond LITE” (approx. the same size than the interfacing) to the backside of your fabric on top of the lightweight interfacing according to manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t remove the paper of the “Heat’n Bond” yet.

The “Heat’n Bond LITE” allows you to fuse the fabric appliqué onto your project before sewing it on. So you don’t need any pins to keep the appliqué in place.

Place your paper template inverted on the backside of your fabric/interfacing/bonding paper and trace around its outline with a fabric marker pen.


Cut the fabric appliqué along the traced line. A sharp detail fabric scissors is perfect for that.


Fuse the appliqué with right side up on the right side of your sewing project. In case you don’t use fusible bonding hold the appliqué in place with some pins.


Place a piece of embroidery stabilizer (cut it a bit larger than the whole size of your appliqué) on the backside of your sewing project. You can use a bit of fabric glue to hold the stabilizer in place. You can also take some pins to secure the embroidery stabilizer.

Sew with a zigzag stitch and a color matching or contrasting thread around the edge of your appliqué. Place your fabric appliqué so that the right needle position stitches right next to the appliqué only through the layer of your basic sewing project and the left needle position through the appliqué as well.

Tip: We recommend to check the length and width of your preferred zigzag stitch first on an old piece of fabric before you start sewing the appliqué. Sew slowly. Raise the presser foot (with needle-down) and turn your fabric if necessary.


For more security feel free to sew a second time around the appliqué (maybe with a smaller stitch length) – as you can see it here with the heart appliqué:

Pull the end of your thread with a sewing needle through the fabric to the wrong side…


…and knot the ends. Repeat these steps with all your other appliqués in case you have two or more to sew on.


Remove the embroidery stabilizer carefully on the backside of your fabric.


You are done and can now finish your sewing project 🙂


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