How to Applique Tutorial

This is the best tutorial for how to make and sew on fabric appliques.

I love making my own appliques. One of my favorite parts is that you can make whatever image you want. For us geeky folk it’s a way to have fan gear that they don’t sell in stores. Recently I made a appliqued My Neighbor Totoro tunic set for my niece.

DIY Totoro and Catbus outfit

I’ve mentioned before her love for Totoro like her mermaid Totoro birthday party, her Kindergarten Totoro cape, and of course her awesome Totoro costume (to name just a few). So when Crafty Con announced that September would be Studio Ghibli (the animation studio behind Totoro) I decided that I would compete. You can read an interview they did with me they had some fun questions.

Crafting Con Geeky Craft competition

You heard that right today I’m doing my very first sewing competition eep. I would love you to hop over to Crafty Con check out my full look and vote! In the meantime I thought I’d break down the steps for making your own applique like I used to decorate the pieces of my Crafty Con entry which was made with the Norah Tunic and Lollipop Leggings patterns from The Mouse House and Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop respectively).

How to Make Your Own Fabric Applique

My favorite technique for how to make fabric appliques at home and how to sew them on.

DIY applique tutorial

Start by ironing your heat’n bond to the WRONG (that is the ugly, back side) of your fabric.

How to make a fabric applique

Now your fabric will be backed with paper that once your shape is cut out you will peel off to reveal more adhesive. This paper can be drawn on to add your design but if you do that make sure to mirror your image or any text since the fabric side will come out reversed.

Transfer your design to your applique fabric. You can use a stencil, draw it on, or use a cutting machine to run it through a Cricut or similar cutting machine. To use a cutting machine I’ve found if you run it through on the vinyl setting with the FABRIC side up (that is the paper side down). For the Totoro and Cat Bus designs I just drew them onto the paper backing.

Cut your fabric either by had with scissors, exacto knife or with a cutting machine.

How to sew appliques tutorial

Peel the paper backing off of your paper and lay it onto whatever you want the applique on and iron it with a press and hold motion as opposed to a dragging motion. In my case the tunic and leggins. I find it helpful to add the applique before assembling your project or in the middle if you need to put pieces together. Really just think through what steps there are and what access you’ll have. For my tunic I sewed the whole thing up then added the applique. For the leggins I did the first few steps of sewing and then added the applique before sewed the leg seams since it would have been impossible to get my sewing machine into the leg hole to top stitch.

the best easy applique sewing tutorial

If you are layering or have different colors do that and assemble your design. For Totoro did the gray first then the white then the black and green.

How to sew appliques at home. Great DIY tutorial for making and sewing fabric appliques

Top stitch. If you use the ultra hold strength heat’n bond it’s supposed to not require stitching but I like the look of top stitching. The ultra hold kind stays stiff so if you want something more flexible stick to the light kind. I prefer to do a straight stitch around the edge of any large pieces then I just leave the smaller pieces to stick with the heat n bond. I also like to just pick up my needle and move it form place to place and then trim it all at the end. For a more classic look you can use a zig zag stitch or a satin stitch a very close set all around the edges. It’s just a matter of preference.

How to applique Totoro and Cat Bus

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  1. This is so awesome! I absolutely love what you did with the Norah!

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