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“Christmas Presents” Applique Tutorial

Learn to Applique the SIMPLE Way!

with the “Christmas Presents” Applique Tutorial



  I learned to applique as a young mom, many years ago, and the primary technique for applique was the hand-stitched method.  As I learned how to quilt, with all of the stitching by hand, applique was just one of the decorative techniques available to quilters.  Creating a hand-appliqued quilt design has so much possibility!  And I always loved the hand-stitching process, as it is so relaxing and peaceful.  Hand-stitched applique work is perfect for an heirloom quilt, but if you want to create a fun, quick, and easy applique design for a t-shirt or for kids’ clothing, here’s a simple technique to whip up an embellished garment quick as a wink!

 STEP 1:  Gather your materials for the project

 Whether you are planning on creating an applique design on a t-shirt, a pair of jeans, a skirt, or even a separate piece of fabric to make a pillow or wallhanging, you will need the same basic materials.  One of the fun aspects of applique is that you can use up lots of fabric scraps that you might have stashed in your sewing corner that are just to small to be used for anything else.  Or, if you want everything to coordinate for a complete outfit, then you’ll want to purchase enough extra fabric for your applique.  But usually 1/4 of a yard of each fabric should be enough for any applique design you have in mind.

At this stage of the project you will also want to decide on the particular design you want to use.  One place to find great applique patterns is either in kids coloring books or free images on the internet.  I like to search online for images of whatever theme I’m working on.  So, for instance, if I’m working on an outfit with frogs as the theme, then I will search for free images of frogs until I find one that I like.  Or zebras, or birthday cakes, or snowman images, or ducks, or whatever you have in mind.  For the Christmas Presents applique design, I just cut out some shapes, free-hand, until they looked the way I wanted them to!  I have included several simple applique patterns with this tutorial for you to use on your creations, but feel free to find your own wherever you can.

You can make beautiful machine-appliqued designs using any regular sewing machine that does a zig-zag stitch, using a regular presser foot.  Let’s get busy!  Get your materials together and start your appliqué project.  You will need:

*  Scrap fabric

*  Matching or coordinating thread

*  Iron-on interfacing

*  Fusible Web

*  Scissors

*  Various embellishments such as ribbons, rick-rack, buttons, beads, or lace

*  Garment you want to applique

 STEP 2:  Preparing your garment


Embellishing a garment with an applique design is not difficult, but there are a couple of things you need to do in preparation before you begin the actual applique process.  If you are going to be stitching an applique design to a t-shirt, you will begin by turning the shirt inside out and press out all the wrinkles on the inside front.


 Then cut a piece of iron-on interfacing to cover the entire inside front of the shirt.  Although your design will probably not fill up the entire front of the shirt, it is better to have extra interfacing to be sure that all areas that you will be stitching on are covered.  The interfacing on the inside of the t-shirt is to provide stability to the knit fabric when you are stitching the applique design in place.  Press the interfacing thoroughly onto the inside front of the t-shirt.  Now you are ready to begin to create your applique!

 STEP 3:  Cut out applique pieces

 Print out your applique design on copy paper, or trace and draw your design.  Before you cut out the applique design pieces from your fabric, you will need to press fusible web to the back side of your fabric scraps.  Cut out all of the pattern pieces from the copy paper and pin them onto your various fabrics, all with fusible web pressed onto the back side.

As you are choosing your fabrics for your design, you can decide whether you want your design to be fun and whimsical, or if you want a more realistic look.  Choose colors, textures, and designs to create an overall composition that you like.

Peel off the paper from the back side of the fabric pieces where you pressed on the fusible web, and lay your applique pieces out to create your design.

 When you have the design the way you want it, remove all the pieces EXCEPT THE BOTTOM “LAYER” pieces of the design.  These pieces will be the ones that you press and stitch on first.


 STEP 4:  Stitch on the first “layer” of your applique design


With the first “layer” of the design pieces laid out on your garment, carefully press them in place.  This is a very important step, as this will hold each applique piece in place while you stitch it on.  Set your machine for a WIDE, CLOSE zig-zag stitch (called a satin stitch).  On my machine that setting is at 3.6 WIDTH (on a scale of 0 – 5.5) and .30 LENGTH (on a scale of 0 – 5.5).  That setting will create a stitch that should be wide enough to cover the edge of each applique piece, catching in enough of the fabric to hold the piece securely in place, and tight enough to provide a smooth row of stitching all around the applique piece.


 Begin on a relatively straight edge of each applique piece.  If you have curved or rounded edges, begin on an edge that has the slightest curve.  It is easier to begin and end your stitching to line up if you are working on a relatively straight edge.  Begin stitching around your first applique piece, keeping the presser foot centered over the edge of the fabric.  Carefully stitch around the design, curving and turning as necessary.


 If you have an inside or outside corner, end with the needle in the DOWN position, lift the presser foot, and pivot the fabric around so that you can continue down the remaining edge of your design.

 Stitch all the way around the first design piece, returning your stitching to the beginning place, and overstitch a few stitches.  Then, return your machine to a straight stitch mode, and stitch back and forth a couple of times, ACROSS the zig-zag stitching, to securely tie off the stitches.  Press thoroughly after stitching.

*   stitch all the way around the appliqué piece, returning to your beginning point, and overlap the stitching for approximately 1/8” – ¼”.

*  return your machine setting to a straight stitch, and take three or four stitches back and forth across the end of your zig-zag stitching to tie off securely.

If you have any additional, decorative stitching on your design, you can do that after you have securely stitched the outside edges in place.  For the Christmas presents, stitch across each “package” and then stitch another row of the satin stitch from top to bottom, creating the look of “ribbon” wrapping around the “present.”


 Carefully press your garment after you have stitched your first “layer” of your design in place.

 STEP 5:  Stitch on remaining “layers” of your applique design:

Using the same technique, lay out the next “layer” of your design, press and stitch in place.  If you are including any embellishment on your applique pieces such as rick-rack or ribbon, you will want to stitch them onto each piece BEFORE you stitch the design piece onto the garment.

 This will ensure that any raw edges of your embellishments will be securely stitched into the satin stitching that you will be using to attach the design piece to the garment.

 Continue this process until you have stitched all “layers” of your design in place.  Press design carefully between stitching each “layer” in place.


 STEP 6:  Complete applique and finish garment

 If your applique design has been stitched onto a t-shirt, you will need to remove all of the excess interfacing from the inside of the garment.  Turn the t-shirt inside out, and CAREFULLY pull any excess interfacing away from the garment fabric.  Usually it will just pull off quite easily.  You can pull it right up to the stitching, and then trim very carefully around the stitching.  Be very careful not to clip into the fabric of the garment!


 After you have trimmed away all the excess interfacing, turn the t-shirt right side out and press everything thoroughly.  Stitch on any additional embellishments such as buttons, charms, or beads, and your appliqued t-shirt is finished!



If you would like to purchase the complete ebook pattern, “Learn to Applique the Simple Way!” from mamas*little*treasures, please visit my Etsy shop at www.mamaslittletreasures.etsy.com   The complete ebook pattern includes step-by-step instructions for creating the appliqued jeans!

Using other appliqué designs included in this pattern:

 All of the appliqué patterns included in this tutorial can be used in exactly the same way as the “Christmas Presents” pattern.  Just follow the same steps, cutting out the design of your choice using a variety of fabrics.  Be sure to use the fusible web on each pattern piece to hold it securely in place while you are stitching it onto the garment.  And don’t forget to use fusible interfacing on the inside of any t-shirt top when you stitch on an appliqué design to provide stability and keep the stitching from tearing the shirt.  Just follow these simple directions for appliqué, and pretty soon you will be embellishing everything in sight!  Have fun and watch for more appliqué pattern eBooks from mamas*little*treasures.


 Copyright 2008 by Nina Newton aka mamas*little*treasures.  All text and images contained herein are owned by and are copyright 2008 mamas*little*treasures.  None of the contents of this pattern eBook may be reproduced or republished.  This pattern is for the express and sole use of the customer for personal or home use, and may be used to create garments for the customer to sell on his or her own.

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