There are many instances in dressmaking when you’ll be forced to replace that convenient machine sewing needle with a much slower hand sewing one. In the case of sewing decorative appliques, you may be asking yourself- why would I ever need to attach them by hand when I can easily topstitch them on the sewing machine? When it comes to decorative garment applications, things are not always as simple as they appear.
In many instances, the only way to safely sew an applique is by hand using a sort of modified slip stitch method. In some scenarios, you may even save some time by opting for hand stitching in lieu of machine stitching altogether. Here are some situations when hand sewing appliques is not only recommended but also essential to the structure, finish and look of a garment:
In today’s tutorial, I’ll go a step further by showing you how to actually extract an applique from a lace or ornamental fabric and hand stitch it to the surface of a silk crepe de chine. The need for this comes up quite often when you can’t find the right pre-cut appliques on the market. In that case, it is totally acceptable to cut your own from a suitable fabric. I’ll show you this simple process below.
1. Cut out the desired applique portion from your fabric carefully following its edges.
You want to be close to the applique outer lines but not cut so close that you actually weaken the applique weaving.
2. Choose the desired location of the applique on the garment, and pin it in place in the desired position and orientation.
3. At this point, I suggest hand basting it to the garment as doing so will provide a lot more control and stability in the hand stitching process to follow.
4. Lastly, use thread that matches the applique’s edges and hand stitch through the very outer edge of the applique to the fabric surface underneath. I used a sort of slip stitch style but since my applique is heavier than my fabric, I caught about 2-3 mm of the fabric for increased stability. With a conventional slip stitch, you usually only catch 1-2 threads such that the stitches remain invisible on the other side- mine is just one step more durable.
Note: If you are sewing an applique to a garment that has already been lined, only hand stitch through the top garment layer avoiding the lining underneath. Your goal is to hide as much of the hand stitch on the inside of the garment as possible.
Continue hand stitching until the entire applique is attached as desired.
In most cases, you do not need to iron the finished applique. Especially in instances of working with decorative lace appliques or heat-sensitive fabrics, avoid pressing the application altogether.
Similar tutorials you may like:
How To Sew With Sequin And Beaded Fabrics
How To Sew Novelty Trims And Trim Insets
4 Hand Sewing Stitches And Techniques You Should Know As a Sewing Beginner
What Is Basting. How And When To Use It In Garment Construction
Sewing Pin Basics: Types Of Pins Used In Dressmaking
A journey into our design process, sewing tutorials, fashion tips, and all the inspiring people and things we love.
Designer by trade and dressmaker at heart. I spend most of my days obsessing over new fabrics and daydreaming new ideas.
Executive Assistant &
Client Relations Manager