Appliqués are shapes or letters with an adhesive on the backside so that they can be applied, using an iron, to everything from clothing, (think adorable initials on Children's coats, for example) to pillows, to tablecloths.
Making your own appliqués is a great, simple, project to do with children and is an easy, and affordable, way to create custom pillows, and decorations for any holiday.
To make appliqués you'll need fabric (I highly recommend 100% wool felt, and cotton flannel), paper scissors, fabric scissors, embroidery scissors, a marking pen, pins, paper and a fusible web like Pellon “Wonder-Under”.
If you want to create text, you can either draw your letters or print them out. You will have to be cutting these out, so a large, block, text is going to work much better than a narrow, scroll text.
Additionally, if you're going to be making an appliqué of a shape (bird, snowflake, heart, easter egg, etc.) remember that you only need to draw the outline. Details (wings, eyes, etc.) will have to be drawn, sewn, or embroidered on later
After you've printed or drawn them, cut out your shapes or letters.
Iron your fabric out smooth.
You can read the instructions on the adhesive if you'd like. They'll be similar to what I'm about to tell you.
Take a minute to examine your adhesive. You'll notice that one side is smooth and feels like parchment paper. The other side is rough, and this is where the adhesive is located. In the picture below I have separated the adhesive web from the backing so that you can see it.
Place the rough side of the adhesive onto the wrong side of your fabric. This leaves the right side of the fabric touching the ironing board, and the smooth, parchment paper (the backing), side of the adhesive facing up. Iron over the backing. Don't leave the iron too long in any one spot, but be sure that you cover the whole area of adhesive.
In the picture below I've pulled the backing away from the adhesive so that you can see the adhesive web on the fabric. Don't pull the backing off. Leave it there and we'll remove it later.
Place your paper template onto the fabric, backwards. The letter below is an “M”, but because we're working on the wrong side of the fabric, we have to make sure that we cut out mirrored images of what we want our finished product to look like.
Pin the shape onto the fabric, through the fabric, adhesive, and backing.
Then trace along the shape with a marking pen.
Remove the pins and the paper template.
Carefully cut out along the lines you drew. For small spaces and holes, you'll want to use sharp embroidery scissors. Take your time and move slowly to avoid accidentally cutting through any part of your shape or text. The sharper your scissors are here, the easier this will go.
Here is my letter “M” cut out from the fabric with the adhesive backing still intact.
Now you can remove the backing from your shape. Carefully pull it off the entire shape, moving especially slowly around very narrow or thin places. You'll see the adhesive web on the backside.
The backside, or adhesive side, of my letter “M”.
The front side, or fabric side, of my letter “M”.
Measure and mark where you'd like your appliqué. Place the appliqué adhesive side down onto your pillow, collar, tablecloth, curtain, apron, etc. and pin it in place. Iron over the entire appliqué, being sure that it doesn't fold or move.
Ta da! You have just made a darling appliqué. Good work! To go the extra mile, I recommend hand embroidering around the entire appliqué. If you have a machine that has embroidery stitches, you could certainly use that as well. You could also apply ric-rac or trim around the appliqué for an extra cute vintage touch.
Now what to do with your darling appliqués? To learn how to make a darling, envelope style pillow sham check out my tutorial here.