I have always loved embroidery. Hand, machine, appliqué–I find it the perfect way to add beautiful, unique details to an otherwise mundane piece of clothing. It’s also a great way to get creative and make something that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to purchase. Embroidery machines can be a tad pricey, so I started doing applications by hand to make my daughter’s clothing more fun and unique. Hand application is not difficult, but it does take creativity and knowing a few tips and tricks helps the process go more smoothly. Better yet, you can accomplish this without a pattern! I often use free clip art, hand drawn ideas, or coloring book pages to create beautiful appliques. In this post I am going to show you just exactly how I do a hand application!
Step 1: Pick a pattern.
I often have an idea of what piece of clothing that I am going to be sewing up. For this project, I chose to use the Gardenia Top as my base. I like to cut my pattern pieces first, rather than just draw an outline before adding the applique, but either way works fine. The application will be added to the front of this shirt BEFORE SEWING THE SHIRT TOGETHER. It is definitely easier to add details before the garment is sewn.
Step 2: Choose a design.
You can search the internet for free clip art, draw a picture, or use an illustration that’s part of a printed fabric design. I found the design that I’m using today on Shutterstock. Just make sure that the design will fit into the area that you are using (don’t forget to leave room for seam allowances). If the design is too big or small, you can use the zoom feature on your printer settings to adjust.
Step 3: Transfer the design to stabilizer.
Transfer the design to the Wonder Under or another lightweight fusible stabilizer. You do not need to use stabilizer, but I find that it adds stability and makes the whole process much easier. Sometimes, I use a washable glue stick in a pinch. If your design has words or if you care which way it is facing, you want to use a mirrored image so that when you transfer to your fabric, you will be able to have your final image facing the correct way. If you are doing a multi-layered design like me, you will need to separate the design into sections. You can trace the different layers separately or sometimes you can cut out individual parts.
Place your Wonder Under over the mirrored design, the right side facing you. Leave a little bit of space surrounding your drawings so that you will be able to cut each piece. I leave about ⅛ of an inch around each piece. If it is a section that I want to overlap with another piece, I leave about ¼ inch so that there will be no gaps between the designs.
Step 4: Iron design pieces to fabric.
Cut out each piece and iron it to the WRONG SIDE of the fabric. Make sure your fabric is larger than your wonder under, or else you will end up with a sticky mess on your iron.
Step 5: Cut and iron to your background.
Cut the pieces out and remove the paper. Arrange the pieces in your designated area. You can either place them right on the front of your shirt or onto another piece of fabric. Adding them to a piece of fabric gives you an added dimension, and it’s also nice in case you mess up…then you don’t ruin the entire front of the shirt! Iron design pieces onto the fabric. If necessary, transfer any additional markings using a water soluble pen to help you know where to stitch.