Sewing & Pattern making Terms


Appliqué, derived from the French word “appliquer,” meaning to apply or put on, is a technique widely used in sewing to describe the process of layering one fabric on top of another. Seamstresses and pattern makers utilize appliqué to add decorative elements, create intricate designs, or incorporate additional fabric textures onto a base layer. This technique involves securing the fabric in place through sewing or other fusing methods. In this article, we will delve into the art of appliqué, exploring its applications, techniques, and its role as a surface embellishment.

Applications of Appliqué

Appliqué offers a range of creative possibilities in sewing projects. Here are a few applications where appliqué shines:

  • Decorative Embellishment: Appliqué allows you to add eye-catching decorative elements to garments, accessories, or home decor items. By layering contrasting or complementary fabrics, you can create vibrant, textured designs that elevate the overall aesthetic.
  • Design Detailing: Seamstresses and pattern makers employ appliqué to incorporate intricate design elements onto a base fabric. This technique enables the addition of shapes, motifs, letters, or patterns, enhancing the visual appeal and personalization of the project.
  • Fabric Repair or Reinforcement: Appliqué can be used to mend or reinforce damaged areas on a fabric. By overlaying a new fabric piece onto the affected area, you can cover imperfections, reinforce weak spots, or extend the life of a well-loved garment.

Appliqué Techniques

There are various techniques used to execute appliqué. Here are two common approaches:

  • Raw-Edge Appliqué: In raw-edge appliqué, the fabric pieces are layered onto the base fabric, and the edges are left exposed. The fabric edges may fray slightly over time, adding a rustic or vintage charm to the design. Raw-edge appliqué is often secured in place by stitching close to the fabric edges.
  • Turned-Edge Appliqué: Turned-edge appliqué involves folding under the fabric edges before applying them to the base fabric. This technique yields clean and precise edges, creating a polished and finished appearance. The turned edges can be secured in place using stitching or an adhesive method.

Surface Embellishment

In addition to layering fabrics, appliqué can also refer to surface embellishment. Seamstresses and pattern makers use appliqué to add decorative elements such as beads, sequins, lace, or embroidery onto a base fabric. These embellishments can be arranged in intricate patterns or designs, transforming the fabric’s surface into a work of art.

Methods of Attachment

Appliqué can be affixed to the base fabric using various methods. Some common techniques include:

  • Sewing: The most traditional method involves securing the appliqué to the base fabric through stitching. This can be achieved using hand stitching or machine stitching, depending on the desired effect and level of detail.
  • Fusible Adhesive: Fusible web or adhesive allows you to bond the appliqué fabric to the base fabric using heat. This method eliminates the need for stitching and provides a clean, seamless appearance. Fusible adhesive is commonly used in machine appliqué techniques.
  • Hand Embroidery: For added decorative detail and reinforcement, hand embroidery stitches can be used to secure the appliqué fabric in place. This method allows for creativity in stitching patterns and thread choices, adding a unique touch to the appliqué design.


Appliqué opens up a world of creative opportunities for seamstresses and pattern makers. Whether used for decorative embellishment, intricate design detailing or fabric repair, appliqué allows you to layer fabrics, experiment with textures, and create visually stunning projects. Embrace the techniques of raw-edge or turned-edge appliqué, explore various attachment methods, and let your imagination soar as you transform fabrics into works of art through the artful application of appliqué.

Got Questions?

Melissa Villegas
Pattern Maker &


Melissa Portrait

Villegas Patterns

Recent Patterns

Need A Tutorial?

For detailed and in-depth instructions, watch my pattern tutorials on YouTube