All of the appliques (eyes, nose, muzzle, tummy, tail and other embellishments) on my toys are made of quality wool felt. I love this soft material since it’s durable and easy to work with as its edges don’t fray. Appliques can be sewn either by hand or using a sewing machine. Let me show you how I applique wool felt.
To applique means that you stitch some additional pieces, embellishments to your fabric.
HOW TO HAND APPLIQUE
I hand applique the small parts of my small toys because I think the result is nicer and neater.
TIP: It’s advisable to hand applique using a thread that matches the colour of your felt piece, because in this way possible mistakes won’t be noticable. In this tutorial I used a contrasting black thread so that you can see my stitches better. In fact, I like the kind of frame this black thread gives to my appliques. 🙂
TIP: Sew all your toys with a double strand thread to strengthen your stitches.
- I place my felt applique on the base, on which I’d like to sew it on. If the applique is small, I simply hold it in place, but I usually pin the bigger ones to the base so that they don’t slip away during sewing.
Sometimes, I trace the applique on the base using an erasable marking pen so that I can see the outline and can adjust the sides to it.
- I thread my needle (with a double strand thread) and tie a double or maybe triple knot at the end of it.
If you’re a beginner, you can draw little dots to mark where you need to come up with the needle. I usually sew using 2-3 mm stitches, but you can also use 4-6 mm ones, depending on the size of your applique.
- I usually start sewing in the inside of a corner (if there’s any). I start sewing from the back side (“wrong side” or bottom) of the base. I poke my needle up through both layers of felt. I make sure that my needle will come out inside the applique.
- I pull out the thread as far as the knot on the back lets me. (It will stay on the back and won’t be seen on the front.)
- Then I poke my needle just above the top edge of the applique and come out with the thread on the back/bottom. I always make sure that my stitches are perpendicular to the edges of the applique.
One stitch is done! 🙂
- I repeat this method about 2-3 mm next to my first stitch. (You can use larger stitches if you wish.) My stitches should always be at more or less the same distance from each other.
As a beginner, you might find it easier to sew following your previously marked dots.
- I stitch over and over again, going from left to right, always a little further from my first stitch, until I sew my applique around.
- I often sew through my last stitch twice before I tie a knot on my thread at the back of the base. Finally, I trim the excess thread.
TIP: You can “hide” your knot by leading your thread through a couple of stitches at the back, but make sure you don’t loosen them with that!
And voilá, your felt applique is finished! 🙂
Appliquing using a running stitch can be a bit faster and easier than using whip stitch. Although I hardly ever use this stitch to applique felt, I’ll show you how to do so.
- Just like with whip stitch, I poke my needle up through both layers of felt, but this time I stitch along the edge of the applique, about 2-3 mm from it, inside.
- I try to make equally long stitches and spaces between them.
- So I bring my needle up inside the applique, then move it ahead a bit and poke it through the felt layers down the back/bottom. I keep doing so until I reach my first stitch. It’s like waving the needle constantly up and down.
- I finish sewing at the back/bottom by tying a double or triple knot. Finally, I trim the excess thread.
It’s done! 🙂
HOW TO MACHINE APPLIQUE
To save time, I machine applique larger felt pieces. As felt edges don’t fray, you don’t need to use a zigzag stitch, which is commonly used to applique cotton. To me, simple straight stitch is the perfect solution!
- I like to trace the applique onto the felt base, so that I can adjust the edges to it. Sometimes I also mark the sewing line on my applique so that I can follow it with my machine foot. My seam allowance is about 3 mm in case of small appliques, but you can raise it if you wish.
- I always do a couple of back stitches at the beginning and end of sewing to secure my stitches. It’s worth slowing down at the curves and corners, even helping your machine by turning the wheel manually.
Voilá, it’s finished!
TIP: If you sew using a matching coloured thread, little mistakes won’t be seen on your applique (unlike on mine! 🙂).
So this is how I applique. 🙂 I hope that I could help you with this post. Feel free to try all of these techniques to see which one works best for you!
All the wool felt appliques of my Funny Finger Puppets and Cactus the Take-Along Cat were sewn by hand, using whip stitch. And my new felt board pattern (which is going to be released in a couple of days) contains appliques that are easier to sew using a sewing machine.
Fancy giving them a try? Get the patterns HERE.
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