When I sew, I hoard all the leftover fabric scraps, meaning for them to be used for applique at some point. Applique work is somewhat addicting and once you start, you will reach a stage when all your wardrobe space is taken up by scraps for applique. And what to applique is never a dilemma with letters always available in many different fonts and styles – so many words to applique on so many projects.
Applique letters are always in fashion. They are favorites for decorating Tshirts, bags, quilts, Bed linen, pillowcases etc. Here are the easiest and the best methods to make the perfect applique letters
How to easily design the letter for your applique letter.
Get a print out of your letter shape. Open your MS paint – most every computer has this program.
If you want the letter shape in an A4 paper dimension open a page with a pixel size of 794 x 1123 px; write your alphabet to a size of about 800+ size in the font you want and you can then print it to the full size ( 210×297 mm is A4 size) on a piece of A4 sized paper ; For small sizes make changes accordingly.
Method 1 for Applique letters
This first method to create applique letters is by the standard method of machine appliqueing – making zig zag stitches all along the fabric edge of the letter shape. Instead of painstakingly doing it by hand you can do it easily with your sewing machine
Iron all wrinkles out of your applique fabric . Ensure that the fabric is without any starch or sizing; if it is a newly bought fabric do prewash fabric, otherwise your applique will shrink horribly on the main fabric.
Iron a fusible interfacing piece to the back of the fabric piece for applique. The interfacing is added so that your fabric has some weight. If you do not want this, skip the interfacing part.
Cut out the letter shape by keeping the cut out letter printout on the fabric you mean to cut the applique from and tracing around it ; alternatively, you can use the carbon paper to trace the letter outline.
Now keep this letter shape on fabric and pin or tack stitch in place so that it would not shift when sewing.
Attach an open toe embroidery presser foot on your sewing machine. It is alright if you do not have this foot. But it does make your sewing easy. If you do not have the foot keep your zigzag foot on the machine.
Turn the stitch knob from straight stitch to zig zag stitching.
Start stitching along the outline carefully. For a loose zig zag stitch, use a stitching length of 1.5 but for dense satin stitches change the stitch length to 1. The stitch width I am using is 2, but this is dependant on your applique shape and or your preference
Method 2 for Applique letters
This involves making a sort of facing or lining for the letters with thin fusible interfacing. The advantage of this method is that you can make the final applique look as if it is floating on your main fabric with some nice invisible stitching
When designing your letter for this method you will have to ensure that the parts of the letter are not interconnected. If they are, you will have to disjoint them and design them that way. You will be turning the alphabet inside out, so you need a continuous line. For eg, the line connecting the alphabet H will not turn properly.
Take your letter printout. Mark 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch all around the letter. Make an outline along these new markings. This is what you will transfer to your applique fabric.
Keep the printout on top of the applique fabric right side up. Mark the letter outline using a carbon sheet. Alternatively, You can cut out the letter and make outline on the fabric as well
Cut out the new letter shape from the fabric
Take a small safety pin and attach it to one end of the alphabet, on the right side.This will help you to turn the applique right side out easily.
Take a piece of fusible interfacing, big enough for the letter. Place it in front of you the sticky (shiny) side up
Place the new letter cut out, reversed, on the interfacing (sticky side up)as in the picture below. Applique letter cut out is Reversed, right side down
Now using a regular sewing machine foot sew the two pieces together with the 1/8 or 1/4 inch seam allowance
If you had cut 1/4 inch seam allowance, trim outside the stitching line leaving only a 1/8 inch seam allowance; clip generously every 1 inch ; you will be turning the piece inside out and you want smooth edges
Now make a small hole in the back of the piece ( on the interfacing). See picture above. It should be on the opposite side of where you attached the pin.
Through this hole turn the applique inside (right side) out
Make all the turns smooth. Tadaa You have your easy applique piece which can float on the fabric; No raw edges to deal with. Use a mildly hot iron to straighten the wrinkles. Keep a paper under it so that it wouldnot stick to the ironing board.
Place the applique where you want it to be. With a moderately hot iron press the fusible interfacing fixing it onto the main piece.
There are many ways of stitching this applique letter to your fabric –Hand applique stitch, blind stitch hand, blind stitch sewing machine, or just simple straight stitch or narrow satin stitch along the edge as I have done.
Check out the post on Hand Applique for more details on how to do the hand applique stitch.
Method 3 for applique letters
If you are wary of all these steps for some simple letter shapes, and you are not worried about the fabric fraying around the edges the easiest method is to attach a fusible adhesive to the applique letters you have cut up. No need to sew a thing here. Just peel and stick- easy peasy!
The fusible adhesive is available as sheets which you can cut out as per your size. It has stickiness on both sides. One side will have a paper backing which is peelable.
You can trace the letter to the shiny side ( letter as it is) or to the paper side (reversed). Some of them are printable – just reverse the letter and print.
The backside of the applique fabric piece and the shiny side of the fusible adhesive is attached together by ironing as you would do with fusible interfacing. Now when you have to apply the applique, simply peel off the back of the applique piece and stick it. The fastest and easiest applique letters, right?
One word of warning about this method – though the manufacturer may claim the fusible adhesive can go through some mild washing and drying (on low heat) without it peeling off – some brands may not survive washing. So beware of using this method on things you mean to wash.