What is "Appliqu?" - Definition & Explanation
Last Updated on: 29-Apr-2023 (11 months, 18 days ago)
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Appliqu is a decorative technique in textile art where fabric pieces are cut out and sewn onto a base fabric to create intricate designs. This article explores the rich history of appliqu, its various types, tips for handling, and profiles of top international users and manufacturers. Delving into the world of appliqu unveils a captivating journey of craftsmanship and creativity.

History and Origin

Appliqu has a long history dating back to ancient civilizations. It has been practiced in different cultures across the globe, from the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the indigenous tribes of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The technique gained popularity during the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Europe, where it adorned ecclesiastical garments, tapestries, and decorative textiles.

Types of Appliqu

Appliqu encompasses a variety of styles and methods, each offering unique design possibilities:

  1. Needle-Turn Appliqu: This traditional hand-stitched technique involves folding the fabric edges under and securing them with nearly invisible stitches.
  2. Raw-Edge Appliqu: In this modern approach, fabric pieces are cut out and directly sewn onto the base fabric without folding the edges, resulting in a more casual and contemporary look.
  3. Reverse Appliqu: Here, layers of fabric are stacked, and the top layer is carefully cut and stitched to reveal the contrasting fabric underneath, creating a striking effect.
  4. Shadow Appliqu: This technique involves placing a layer of sheer fabric over a solid fabric and stitching around the design, creating a shadow-like effect.

Tips for Handling Appliqu

Working with appliqu requires attention to detail and precision. Here are some tips to enhance your appliqu experience:

  • Fabric Selection: Choose fabrics that complement each other in terms of color, texture, and weight. Consider the final application and ensure the fabrics can withstand the intended use.
  • Preparation: Properly prepare the fabrics by washing, drying, and ironing them to minimize shrinkage and ensure a smooth application.
  • Marking and Cutting: Accurately trace and cut out the appliqu pieces using sharp scissors or rotary cutters. Use marking tools that are suitable for the chosen fabric.
  • Placement and Pinning: Carefully position the appliqu pieces on the base fabric, securing them with pins or temporary adhesive to maintain alignment and prevent shifting during stitching.
  • Stitching Techniques: Choose appropriate stitching techniques, such as hand stitching, machine stitching, or a combination of both, based on the desired effect and your skill level.
  • Finishing Touches: After securing the appliqu pieces, carefully trim any excess fabric and press the finished work to ensure a polished appearance.

Top International Users and Manufacturers

Appliqu is embraced by textile artists, designers, and manufacturers around the world. Here are a few notable international users and manufacturers:

  1. Liberty London: Liberty London, a renowned British department store, incorporates appliqu in their fabric collections, featuring intricate floral and nature-inspired designs.
  2. Patch NYC: Patch NYC, based in the United States, is a design studio known for their handcrafted appliqu accessories and home decor items, blending vintage aesthetics with contemporary flair.
  3. Chitrali Craft: Chitrali Craft, a cooperative of artisans in Pakistan, specializes in traditional needle-turn appliqu, producing exquisite textiles adorned with intricate motifs and vibrant colors.
  4. Kuna: Kuna, a brand from Panama, showcases the artistry of the indigenous Guna Yala people through their appliqu molas, vibrant textile panels created using the reverse appliqu technique.


Appliqu stands as a testament to human creativity and craftsmanship, bridging cultures and eras through its diverse applications. From ancient civilizations to modern designers, this decorative technique continues to captivate and inspire textile enthusiasts worldwide. Whether through delicate needle-turn appliqu or bold raw-edge designs, appliqu adds a touch of artistry and personal expression to fabric creations.

Applique is a technique in which pieces of fabric are sewn onto a foundation piece of fabric to create designs.
1) Decoration or trimming cut from one piece of fabric and stitched to another, usually with a satin stitch, to add dimension and texture. If the appliqu? occupies a significant amount of the design, the stitch count can be reduced.
2) In Schiffli embroidery, an embroidered motif is usually cut away from the base fabric and then stitched onto the finished product.
The ultimate form of artistic needlework, appliqu? is the process of sewing something - usually a cutout fabric motif - to a garment or another fabric item for a decorative effect. Combine your imagination with this technique to create unique quilts, clothing and household accessories.

Some other terms

Some more terms:

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