Sometimes a project is just crying out for that finishing touch to transform it into something special. Whether it’s a handmade cushion, bag, garment or even a tablecloth, Marion Elliot advises on how to use simple raw edge appliqué to add some style to your sewing projects…
Perfect your machine appliquéing skills
It’s best to use a smallish-sized zigzag stitch for appliquéing the fabric shapes, otherwise the outlines look a little gappy, with too much fabric showing between the stitches. If you’ve got one, use a see-through appliqué foot, as it makes following the curves of the cut-outs much easier when you can see where you’re going! Try ‘drawing’ on details like leaf veins and butterfly’s wing patterns with straight stitch in black thread in an imprecise way, to keep the spontaneous feel of your original drawings, and experiment with different sizes of stitch to give a lively effect.
Mixing it up with pattern
The principle to bear in mind when using any kind of patterned fabric for appliqué is to avoid anything too large or busy, otherwise the appliquéd shape will be too confusing to ‘read’ and overwhelmed. So instead of giant geometrics or massive florals, look to delicate and classic patterns. In this example, Marion has used a quirky flower motif as a template to create a fun appliquéd duvet cover. She attached the fabric shapes with fusible webbing and machine stitched over the raw edges with zigzag stitch to keep them from fraying.
Using fusible webbing
When applying appliqué shapes with fusible webbing, use a pressing cloth to protect the fabric surface and the iron. This is because if the gluey paper of the webbing comes into contact with the iron, it will leave a residue on the plate that will mark any other fabric you iron later. Use an offcut of cotton sheeting, or a purpose-designed Teflon® pressing cloth, which is heatproof and transparent so that you can see through to your shapes in order to position them accurately before fusing.
Take your designs to the next level
Add interest to your appliquéd shapes with buttons, beads or sequins, although make sure they’re washable so that they’ll survive repeated laundering. Or outline them with thin braid or ribbon, machine stitched with a medium-length straight stitch. You can also add dimension to your appliquéd designs by lightly padding the shapes halfway through attaching them to the background fabric. They can then be machine quilted using straight stitch, hand embroidered or decorated with beads.
Have fun with raw edge appliqué!
Apply your appliquéing skills to make some fabric patches – great for transforming holes in jeans into a decorative feature. Simply fuse a fabric shape onto a slightly larger piece of tough backing material. Machine stitch around the shape with straight stitch and trim away the excess backing fabric, then pin to your chosen item and appliqué in place with zigzag stitch.
Marion Elliot gives advice on various sewing techniques in her book, Get The Most From Your Sewing Machine. Experiment with different materials and get expert tips for creating unique projects on any machine.
Have you tried raw edge appliqué? What are your favourite motifs? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page to tell us your thoughts!
*Images taken from Get The Most From Your Sewing Machine.