What Are Iron-On Appliques?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 11 January 2020
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Iron-on appliques are pieces of decorative fabric, typically embroidered, that are applied to an article of clothing or other fabric. The iron-on appliques are sometimes referred to as iron-on patches and are small in size, typically measuring anywhere from 2 to 4 inches (5.1 to 10.2 centimeters). Most iron-on appliques are sold at craft stores. When ironed onto the chosen material, the applique remains permanent and is safe for washing and drying.

It is common to find iron-on appliques sold in packages of three or more. Most appliques feature colorful designs and patterns, such as flowers or geometric shapes. Some iron-on appliques are flag designs that represent different countries.

Many people use iron-on appliques for decorating a costume. For instance, an applique with a skull and crossbones design might go well with a pirate costume that is used for a Halloween or costume party. An applique in the design of a badge might coordinate with a policeman's costume.

Iron-on patches and appliques differ from iron-on transfers. Iron-on transfers are typically created with special paper and ink. The image is then transferred onto material using a heated iron. Iron-on appliques are embroidered patches of fabric, created with intricate stitching. A heated iron is also used for transferring a fabric applique onto clothing, curtains, or another type of material.


Some iron-on appliques are used to decorate a shirt or jacket for special occasions and holidays. An applique of a Christmas tree is one example. This type of design may also be ironed onto a sweater or sweatshirt for a festive look.

In addition to intricate stitching, an applique may also be made with sparkly rhinestones or glitter. Another variation includes three-dimensional designs that incorporate multiple layers of fabric or sequins onto a single applique or patch. Both children and adults enjoy iron-on glitter appliques, because they can transform an ordinary T-shirt or other clothing into a totally different look. Children's designs often include cartoon characters, while appliques for adults may be phrases, initials, and names. Iron-on fabric appliques also include individual letters, for creating a unique word, name, or saying.

Custom made iron-on fabric appliques may also be special ordered. Many online companies create customized appliques that can be designed from almost any drawing or sketch. For example, individuals who have a company logo may wish to have their own design incorporated onto an iron-on applique. Custom-designed iron-on appliques are generally ordered in large quantities.


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