Sewing applique – a beginner’s guide

Despite sewing for quite a few years now, sewing applique was something that was just never on my to do list. Not for a long time.

It wasn’t until my boys got a little bit older and started making up what they want to wear and came up with very specific designs in mind when I started to learn how to applique.

And I realised that it can also be a lot of fun. There are lots of uses for applique and clothes is only one of them! You’ll find a lot of easier projects to start: cushion covers, bags, towels, …

What you’ll need:

  • a template – you can also find some printables on my free patterns site HERE
  • fusible webbing
  • fabric – scraps, leftovers from previous projects work great here

When searching for a template, don’t limit yourself to applique designs. A great source of ideas for children’s clothing are, for example, coloring books or children’s books.

Draw or print your applique design.


Trace the applique design piece(s) onto the back (paper) side of fusible webbing. If your image is directional (like words) you’ll need to flip it so it’s backwards on the paper. That way when your applique design is cut out and laid on the garment, it will be turned in the right direction.


Iron the fusible webbing to the back of the piece of fabric you’ll use for the applique.

Before cutting, allow it to cool, to prevent the adhesive from getting all over the scissors. Cut out the piec(es).


Peel off the paper – you’ll see that there is a layer of glue left on the underside of the fabric – it will enable the applique to stick to the fabric. Place the applique parts layer by layer onto the garment where you want the applique to be.


Once you have the pieces arranged, iron them onto the fabric.

Hold the iron on the applique for a few seconds, then lift and reposition it until you’ve done the whole applique.

If you glide up and down with the iron, your applique pieces could move.

Sew the applique onto the fabric.

You can play around with seams for different outcomes. Sew the applique on with a straight stitch, zigzag stitch or any of the decorative stitches you have on sewing machine.

Try not to hurry, sew slowly and as evenly as possible. When you reach a corner or curve, lower the needle, raise your presser foot and turn the fabric slightly. Drop the presser foot, make a stitch or two, and repeat. Sewing this way is really time consuming, but the result is a nice, even stitch.


Need ideas? You’ll find some free printables here: