What is Appliqué? (Appliqué for Beginners Part 1)

by Morgan | July 8, 2018


What’s the difference between appliqué and piecing?

Piecing is when two fabrics are sewn side-by-side, attached to each other. When you think about appliqué, think about applying one piece to another. This is when you have a background fabric, you place (or apply) a piece on top of that, and then secure it in place. 

Types pf Appliqué

Fusible Appliqué - uses Heat n'Bond or some other fusible product to "glue" the shape into place. You cut the fusible to the size of the shape, iron the shape down on the background fabric, and stitch around the shape to secure it. This method leaves exposed raw edges but has been improved with laser-cut pieces and modern fabrics.

Traditional Appliqué (Needle Turn) - uses hand-stitching and a needle to turn the seam allowance under. You cut the fabric shape, sew it to the background by hand, and turn the seam allowance under the design as you go. This method does not leave exposed raw edges and has been the traditional method. 

At Shabby Fabrics, we offer Block of the Months, kits, tutorials, and other projects using both fusible and traditional appliqué. In this blog post, I'll go over the tools you need for both, and in future posts I'll teach you methods and guide you through some projects so you can see which method you prefer. 

What supplies do I need for Traditional Appliqué?

You don't need a lot to get going with appliqué, so I've outlined the products you need, why you need them, and where to get them. We have a 9-Piece Appliqué Kit available on our website because it's nice to get everything you need in one place at one time, but you can always gather the supplies on your own.  

Neutral Kimono Silk Thread for hand appliqué

This is used to hand-stitch your shapes down after you've placed them on the background shape. 

Straw Needles

You'll use these needles to with the silk thread for hand-stitching the appliqué down. 

Roxanne's Glue Baste-It

This amazing glue helps to hold your shapes down when you place them so they don't shift while you're stitching them. You don't need to use much - just a couple drops will do - and it holds beautifully. 

CutRite Heavy Duty Freezer Paper

This is what you'll use to make the template 

Stiletto turning tool

Loew-Cornell stipple brush

This brush is used for applying your spray starch. 


You'll need a large pair of scissors to cut out the shapes, and a small pair of scissors to do detail cutting or when you want more control than you'd get with larger scissors. 

Spray Starch

Make sure you use a heavy spray starch. The liquid spray starch makes the appliqué template a little too damp and loose for what we need. 

 Sealing Iron


This is used to draw the outline of the shape for the pattern you make out of the freezer paper, so you could use any pen or marker. 

Pressing Mat

What supplies do I need for Fusible Appliqué?

You don't


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Appliqué Quilting