Today is Part 4, the final post of the Sewing 101 Series, and Kim is going out with a bang! There’s so much juicy appliqué info in today’s lesson that will leave you falling in love with sewing.
Hi everyone! I can’t believe how fast the past 3 weeks have flown by–here we are at the final installment of the Sewing 101 series! We’ve covered sewing tools, sewing straight lines + corners, and curves in past lessons, and this week I’m going to introduce you to one of my favorite sewing techniques, appliqué.
When I first started sewing, I didn’t think that appliqué was a skill that I would use very often, but it turns out that I use some form of appliqué on almost everything I make!
What is appliqué? The general definition is an ornament that is applied to a different surface. In sewing, this typically means one fabric being attached to a different fabric.
Some examples of different styles of appliqué:
Satin stitched edge – machine stitched, satin stitch is a very tight zig-zag stitch that completely covers the edge of the appliqué
Raw edge – machine or hand sewn, some examples include a straight stitch sewn just on the inside of the raw edge of the appliqué, a blanket stitch, or a zig-zag stitch that is looser and leaves some of the edge visible (Straight stitch on felt)
(Hand sewn blanket stitch)
Turned edge – the edges of the appliqué are turned under, and are often hand sewn, to hide the stitches
(Dresden plate applique: the tips of the plate are turned under, and I zig-zagged the edges, but you could also hand sew the appliqué to the backing fabric with a blind stitch)
If you are doing a raw edged or satin stitched appliqué, a good way to adhere your appliqué to the fabric is to use fusible web, which is a fiber that sticks to fabric when heated. Underneath the fabric you are appliquéing you will want to use a stabilizer to support the stitching you will do around the appliqué, especially when sewing by machine (I’ll show you how to use both of these materials in my tutorial below).
- Fusible web: I mostly use Wonder Under paper backed fusible web, which is sticky on both sides, but there are several other brands and products for different uses.
- Stabilizer: can be temporary, such as tear-away or wash-away, or permanent, such as cut away, or in the case of our project below, some type of interfacing. A nice article covering the different types of stabilizers can be found here
- Interfacing: material that is sewn between two fabric layers, used to add rigidity and shape. Can be sew-in or fusible.
Since we haven’t covered it before, I wanted to take a moment to talk about zig-zag stitching. I often use a zig-zag stitch around the edge of applique pieces, and you may choose to use a zig-zag or satin stitch for the applique tutorial below, so here are a few of my zig-zag tips:
- Determine the stitch length and how close the zig zag stitches are together by practicing on a scrap of fabric before you stitch on your project. Check your machine manual for how to adjust the stitches.
- When zig-zag stitching, the needle moves back and forth from left to right. Start with the needle down on the outside of your appliqué piece, or just off the raw edge of your fabric, with the needle in the right sided position of the stitch.
- Use the embroidery presser foot for greater visibility while sewing appliqué.
Cloudy Day Appliqué Tote Tutorial
(This tutorial shows you how to make a tote, but you could put this appliqué on anything, from pillow covers, to tea cozies, to quilts, you name it! Just remember to figure out what type of stabilizer you’ll need for the specific type of fabric you are putting the appliqué on.)
- Fabric scraps (quilting cotton in various prints)
- Linen, linen/cotton blend, or lightweight cotton twill in a solid color (1/2 yard; at least 50″ wide)
- Quilting cotton for lining, solid color or print (1/2 yard, regular 42-44 inch width is fine)
- Wonder Under paper backed fusible web, regular weight (1/4 yard)
- Thread (cream or natural colored thread works great on natural linen)
- Sheer weight or lightweight fusible interfacing (1 yard if it is 20 inches wide, 1/2 yard if it is wider than 26 inches)
- Cloud and Raindrop templates
- Iron and ironing board
- Cutting surface
- Rotary cutter and/or scissors
- Sewing machine
- Seam ripper
- Zig-zag/embroidery presser foot (optional, but handy if you have one)
- Chopstick or point turner
Prepare the bag pieces
1. Cut one piece of linen, lining fabric, and fusible interfacing that are each 26″ x 11″.
2. Attach the interfacing to the wrong side of the linen according to interfacing instructions (typically this means fusing the bumpy side of the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric).
3. Cut two strips of linen that are 24″ x 4″, these will be your tote straps.
4. Fold one of your linen strips in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press with a hot iron. Open up the strip, and fold both long edges to meet in the middle, press again. Fold the strip along the original middle fold and press one more time. Repeat for the other strip.
5. Sew a single stitch with your machine along the long edges of the linen strips, on both sides, very close to the edges. Sew the side where the two folded edges meet first. I use a slightly longer stitch length (3.0 on my machine) for this step. Set aside someplace safe.
1. Print the appliqué template onto regular paper (make sure under print settings that your Page Scaling is set to “None”, or your pieces will print a bit small). Cut out the cloud and raindrop.
2. Cut a rectangle of Wonder Under that is a little bit bigger than the cloud piece. Fuse the rough side of the Wonder Under to the wrong side of your cloud fabric.
3. Remove the paper backing from the fabric, then cut out the fabric right along the edge of the fusible web.
4. Place your cloud template piece on the wrong side of the fabric, it will stick a little to the fusible web, which is helpful, because now you want to cut around the cloud template. Peel off the template paper. Repeat steps 2-4 for several raindrops (I made 5).
5. Fold the large linen rectangle in half, short sides together, and crease on one side to determine the midline. Open up the linen. Place your linen piece right side up on your ironing board. Place the cloud appliqué piece right side up near the top (one of the short sides) of the linen 2 to 2-1/2” from the top, and 1-1/2” from the side.
6. Fuse the cloud to the linen with a hot iron. Fuse the raindrops to the linen below the cloud, the lowest raindrop at least 2-3″ above from the midline.
8. Sew around the edge of each of your appliqué pieces. If you use a satin stitch, practice on scrap fabric before you work on your project. Remember to start with your needle on the outside of the appliqué pieces. Or you may want to use a simple straight stitch on the inside of the raw edges, which is what I will be using on the project (I like to use a shorter stitch length, 2.0 on my machine, so the curves are smoother). Either way, sew slowly and use my suggestions for sewing around small, tight curves from my last post.
You might find it helpful to roll up the bottom part of the linen and pin it on each side, to make it easier to maneuver the fabric while sewing.
Sew the Tote
1. Pin one of your bag straps to a top edge of the right side of the appliquéd linen, raw edge to raw edge. The outer edge of each side of the strap should be 2-1/2″ from the edge of the appliquéd linen (see photo). Measure to make sure the strap is centered, and also check to see that the strap isn’t twisted. I like the side of the strap where the folded edges meet to be toward the center of the bag. Repeat for other strap.
2. Sew both ends of each strap to the bag, close to the edge (about 1/4”).
3. Fold your appliquéd linen in half, right sides together, and short sides (top and bottom) together. Pin the long sides.
4.Sew with a triple stitch all the way along the long sides (which will be the edges of the bag) with a 1/4” seam allowance. Trim bottom corners, but do not clip the stitching.
5. Turn the linen right side out, and use a chopstick or point turner to push out the corners.
6. Fold your bag lining in half, right sides together, and pin the sides. Sew one of the long sides with a triple stitch and 1/4” seam allowance, and go all the way from the top to the bottom. On the other side, you will do the same thing, except leave a 3” hole unsewn, somewhere toward the bottom, at least a couple of inches from the bottom (see photo). Trim the bottom corners. Do not turn the lining right side out.
7. Place your linen bag piece inside the lining. Make sure that the straps are hanging down on the inside of the lining. The right side of the linen should be facing the right side of the lining. Match up the side seams with the top of the seam allowances open, and pin the pieces together, all the way around the top, matching the raw edges.
8. Sew a 1/2″ seam around the top of the bag, using a triple stitch. You may find this easier to do with a 90/14 needle. If your machine has a free arm, now is the time to use it. You’ll want to use it again for the topstitching in step 12.
9. Turn your bag right side out through the turning hole, and leave the lining outside the bag.
10. Turn under the edges of the fabric around the turning hole to create a straight line with the rest of the seam. Press with an iron, then sew the lining shut. You can either hand stitch it closed with a blind stitch or ladder stitch, or you can use your machine and sew very close to the edge (a zipper foot is helpful for this method). Don’t forget to backstitch!
11. Put the lining into the bag. Press the bag around the top edge, making sure the lining does not stick up beyond the top edge of the bag so the top of the bag will look neat after topstitching.
12. Topstitch around the opening of the bag, very close to the edge. I like to use a slightly longer stitch length (3.0 on my machine).
The bag is the perfect size for magazines or children’s picture books, and I love it as a library tote. The natural linen will get a bit crinkly with use, I think it adds personality!
Thanks for sewing with me during the Sewing 101 series, and as always, if you have any questions just leave them in the comments below.
Happy Sewing! Kim