Types of Applique

Different types of applique work for different materials. It is important to know as well that “types” refer to the method of stitching. Some types are great for embroidery machines, while others better lend themselves to hand appliquéing. Some stitching techniques work just as well by hand or machine, but some are specific to one method or another.

Embroidery Machine Techniques


Determining the types of applique to work with will depend primarily on the fabric and the purpose of the item. For example, a t-shirt for casual wear may look great with an appliqué using the raw edge technique. The common techniques of this craft activity are:

  • Raw-edged:  Unlike most other techniques, this style required no turning under of the edges of the appliqué. Instead, you sew so close to the edge that it is almost impossible to fold it under. This technique gives an appliqué a fraying edge, which is great for some items. It is important to periodically cut off excess strings over time as the appliqué frays more after each wash.
  • Straight Stitch or Flat Stitch: This is one of the most basic stitches in embroidering, sewing and of course for doing an appliqué. It is the regular stitching and it is great for an embroidery machine or hand appliquéing.
  • Reverse stitch: This is simply doing many of the other stitches in the reverse as the name implies. Like many other types of stitches, this is suitable for hand or machine embroidering.
  • Freezer Paper: This produces an almost flawless design with the stitching being almost invisible. If you want the stitching to be visible as part of the design, you can do this by using satin stitches around the edge. The name refers to the fact that the design is traced onto freezer paper which is then ironed onto the fabric so that it sticks.
  • Satin Stitch: This method helps to completely cover the raw edges of the appliqué so that there is no fraying.  These series of flat stitches are also known as damask stitch. A regular sewing machine is common in making these stitches, especially the newer ones which have this feature. It is also possible to do them by hand. This is one of the fastest techniques for sewing appliqués so it is common among people who practice this art form.
  • Needle Turn Stitch: This refers to a technique where the practitioner uses the needle to turn the edge of the appliqué under. This technique has been around for a while, but it takes practice to get it just right.
  • Blind Stitch: This hand sewing technique helps to make an almost invisible stitch hence the name. This is the same stitching you would use to hem a garment.
  • Buttonhole Stitch: This is a common hand stitching method, which produces stitches that are close together and which look somewhat like an ‘L”.

Applying an appliqué by hand is still quite popular with many people, but a regular sewing machine or an embroidery machine is quicker. The different types of appliqué whether done by hand or machine use the same patterns and stitching methods. The techniques vary depending on the effect you want to achieve.
Some have found ways to improve on these stitches to get their own unique looks. The basic techniques remain however, and are what most people use when creating appliqués. Some designs will look better depending on the types of applique technique that is used.
Regardless of the types of applique technique used, the result can be creative. The availability of downloadable appliqué patterns is making it easy to find the right designs. Whether it is designs for children’s clothing, soft furnishings such as pillows, kitchen towels or other items, there are appliqué panels available.

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