How Do I Choose the Best Clothing Applique?

R. Dhillon

Clothing appliques consist of layered fabric that is typically embellished with embroidery and other decorations, such as sequins. Originally, people who used clothing appliques had to sew them onto their clothing with a sewing machine or a needle and thread. Today, however, there are other options for applying appliques, such as fabric glue and iron-on methods. To choose the right clothing applique for your needs, figure out which method of application is best for you and whether the applique meets your needs. You should also consider the style of the applique and look at its care instructions.

Appliques can be sewn on using a decorative stitch for added decoration.
Appliques can be sewn on using a decorative stitch for added decoration.

People who know how to sew can select any type of applique, while people who don't know how to sew might want to consider using an iron-on clothing applique. Typically, sew-on appliques are sewn onto clothing using satin stitches, which provide finished edges that prevent the fabric from fraying. This type of stitch can be made by most people who know how to sew by hand and those who know how to use a sewing machine. In general, iron-on appliques can be applied by anyone who owns an iron, since the application instructions are usually very easy to follow. If you can't find a suitable iron-on applique for your clothing, you might be able to adhere one using fabric glue.

Deciding whether you are willing to hand wash the item on which the applique is applied is an important factor in choosing a clothing applique.
Deciding whether you are willing to hand wash the item on which the applique is applied is an important factor in choosing a clothing applique.

Before purchasing a clothing applique, it is important to determine what it is being used for. In general, you can use any applique for decorative purposes, but appliques that are used to patch holes in clothing must be the right size. To patch such a hole, choose a clothing applique that is larger than the opening. Secure the applique to the fabric using satin stitches to prevent the hole from growing. If you're using an iron-on patch, sew around the edges of the hole before applying the applique to prevent the tear from growing.

Since these accessories come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors, it is important to choose a clothing applique that's right for you. When shopping, consider how the colors and patterns in the applique will look when applied to your garment. You might find that some colors and patterns don't look good together. Additionally, the size of the applique usually affects the overall style of your clothing. For instance, large appliques might dominate an item, while tiny appliques might be hard to notice, especially when they're applied to patterned fabrics.

Appliques feature a variety of images and patterns. Some images, such as unicorns and animals, tend to be more appropriate for kids' clothing, while other types of appliques, such as those that feature flowers or abstract designs, might be appropriate for all kinds of clothing. Before selecting one, consider how it affects the sophistication or playful appearance of the garment. In general, it should complement the mood or theme of the clothing.

If you want a clothing applique that blends well with your garment, you might want to select an applique that comes in a simple, unique shape, such as an anchor or star. Unlike some patches that feature an image or design with a background, these kinds of appliques usually don't have a lot of detail. This allows the fabric of your clothing to be the applique's background, and helps it blend with the clothing.

The care instructions often vary among different types of appliques. To make washing your clothing a hassle-free experience, choose an applique that allows you to clean your item using your preferred cleaning methods. For example, if you apply a hand-wash-only applique to a T-shirt, you'll likely have to always wash that shirt by hand to prevent the applique from damage. Most clothing appliques come with care instructions, and you might be able to find these instructions on the packaging or online.

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Discussion Comments


You have three options: 1) Take the shirt to a professional cleaner. 2) Try to spot treat the white shirt with bleach. Be sure to do this in a well ventilated area. 3) Carefully remove the applique with a seam ripper, then wash the shirt with bleach, and then sew the applique back on by hand or with a sewing machine. If using a sewing machine, satin stitches work well.

Always be careful when using bleach. It can be harmful to your health if you breathe it in for an extended period of time and shouldn't come into contact with your skin. It will also lighten or remove the color of almost anything it touches.


My wife had shirts made for our kids with sewn on appliqués and one of them bled onto the white shirt it is on. How can I safely remove the red stains without ruining the appliqué?

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