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How to Sew an Applique to Anything

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Learn how to add an applique design to just about anything! It’s such a fun way to personalize any project, and you don’t have to be an expert. Come learn my best tips for Easy DIY Applique. With a few simple items you can design, prepare, and finish in no time.

For some projects, it is easier to sew your applique design to the fabric before sewing the item together. But you can also applique letters, shapes, and motifs cut from fabric to finished items like tee shirts, bags, towels, and hats. For a change from the traditonal, try messy applique too!

Plus I have a bunch of free applique patterns for you to download too.


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You will need:

  • The fabric or item that will have a design or name appliqued to it.

  • A design or letters that you’d like to see in fabric on the item (reverse image – see below)

  • Small pieces of fabric for the applique design.

  • Fusible web adhesive such as HeatnBond lite.


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If you are planning to cut out a traced shape to applique, keep in mind that your shape will be reversed after the tracing and fusing process.

For example, you can use a word processing program to enlarge cute letters for someone’s name, but before you print them choose ‘reverse image’ print settings.


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If the reverse image print setting for your design or letters is not available, you can still trace the design in reverse image if you hold it up to a window with the design facing out.

I recommend HeatnBond lite paper backed fusible web to trace your pattern. Trace the design onto the paper side of the HeatnBond, cut it out with about 1/4” of paper left around the design. Fuse to the BACK of your fabric and then cut the shape out along the lines and remove the paper. Easy.


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To make applique even more easy and fun, try using HeatnBond EZ print sheets from Thermoweb. Simply place one EZ Print sheet into your inkjet (not laser) printer and print the pattern.

Tip: I found it helpful to only put one EZ Print sheet in my printer at a time. When I put two in there, they stuck together.


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Next, carefully arrange your prepared applique pieces wherever you like. Always use something besides pins to hold your applique design to the fabric. Sometimes I use a Super Stik glue stick (also from Thermoweb) to glue small applique pieces on. It works perfectly.


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Now you’re ready to press the applique pieces to fuse them into place.


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Finally, stitch the applique to your fabric with your favorite stitch.

The easiest applique stitch is a simple straight stitch around each piece in the design.

Another popular stitch for applique is the satin stitch. Use a zig zag stitch with a width of about 2mm and a small stitch length of .5-1.

If your sewing machine has a blanket stitch, it can add a hand-sewn look. Feel free to experiment with the different stitches on your machine.

I always test the stitch that I want to use on some scrap fabric until it looks just right.

After sewing each piece to the project, you’re done!

Below you’ll find all my favorite free applique patterns. Enjoy!

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Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂

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