In its broadest sense, appliqué is a smaller ornament or device applied to another surface. In the context of ceramics, for example, an appliqué is a separate piece of clay added to the primary work, generally for the purpose of decoration. The word appliqué is a french word that, in this context, means "that has been applied".
In the context of sewing, applique refers a needlework technique in which pieces of fabric, embroidery, or other materials are sewn onto another piece of fabric to create designs, patterns or pictures. It is particularly suitable for work which is to be seen from a distance, such as in banner-making. A famous example of applique is the Hastings Embroidery.
Appliqued cloth is an important art form in Benin, West Africa, particularly in the area around Abomey, where it has been a tradition since the 18th century and the kingdom of Danhomè.
Applique is used extensively in quilting. "Dresden Plate" and "Sunbonnet Sue" are two examples of traditional American quilt blocks that are constructed with both patchwork and applique. Baltimore album quilts, Broderie perse, Hawaiian quilts, Amish quilts and the ralli quilts of India and Pakistan also use applique.
Types of applique
Applied pieces usually have their edges folded under, and are then attached by any of the following:
- Straight stitch, typically 2-3mm in from the edge.
- Satin stitch all around, overlapping the edge. The patch may be glued or straight stitched on first to ensure positional stability and a neat edge.
- Reverse Appliqué there will be a few pieces of material, stitch a random design onto them and then you can cut away the layers
Applique was also used for school badges.
Applique process and electronic sewing machines
Modern consumer embroidery machines quickly stitch applique designs by following a program. The programs have a minimum complexity of two thread colors, meaning the machine stops during stitching to allow the user to switch threads. First, the fabric that will be the background and the applique fabric are afixed into the machine's embroidery hoop. The program is then run and the machine makes a loose basting stitch over both layers of fabric. Then, the machine stops for a thread change, or other pre-programmed break. The user then cuts away the excess applique fabric from around the basting stitch. Then, the machine continues following the program and automatically sews the satin stitches and any decorative stitching over the applique for best results.
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