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Great tips for applique

Yesterday on the blog Kate from Horris & Deedle shared some FREE applique templates* and today she’s going to share her tips for bringing your applique to the next level!  So over to you Kate . . .

*Find yesterday’s blog post with the free templates HERE.

Applique Tips with Kate from Horris & Deedle-01

I’m a real fan of dessert and I have to say that when I eat out my sweet tooth isn’t easily satisfied. The base product, be it a tart, cake, pudding etc has to be quality but it needs to be enhanced by lots of contrast- contrast in textures, flavours, temperatures…..I know you’re hearing me. Think of a cold piece of apple pie, soggy- bottomed pastry, soggy apple and some vanilla ice-cream. You could take it or leave it really. But then think of some perfectly crisp shortcrust pastry, warm, soft apple on the inside, the slightest sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on the top and a pie that is so fresh and hot it almost burns the roof of your mouth on a Winter’s night. Team it with just a smidge of creamy cold vanilla ice-cream and you’re onto a winner. So it is with appliques…..contrast is the key.

I’m a bit of an applique addict and over the years of my addiction I’ve discovered a few tips on how to take something from ’almost there’ to a unique original.

Here are the best ways I know to add interest to an applique.

  1. Variety and Contrast

Choose fabrics which contrast well with each other and with the background material. Appliques which have too much of the same colour will look drab and it will be hard to distinguish features. Your fabrics should be a mixture of patterned and plain fabrics to allow some features to stand out and others to drop into the background.

Miss Bunny applique by Horris & Deedle   Mr Frog applique by Horris & Deedle

With Miss Bunny here I chose a plain dusty lilac for the majority of her body. Because the t-shirt is patterned the plain fabric stands out from the t-shirt and also gives somewhere for the eye to rest. Also, because of the busy-ness of the actual t-shirt itself I kept the tummy patch and ear inserts plain and only used the simple pink spots for the cheeks and bow.

With Mister Frog here, his striped tummy adds a good point of interest because the t-shirt background is dark and plain allowing him to almost jump off the shirt (sorry for the dad’s joke).

  1. Add Layers

Layers are another way to add a lot of interest to your creature. You can do it by adding different textured fabrics like felt or corduroy and by using lace/ribbons/buttons etc. Also, you can add layers by making features three dimensional. Miss Bunny’s bow is good example of this.

In the t-shirt below I made fabric fish scales which were only sewn onto the t-shirt on one edge of each scale . Together with the bubble buttons and the pom pom ribbon this little fish came together really well.

Fish scale applique   Butterfly applique by Horris & Deedle modelled


For these butterfly wings, I cut some coloured strips of fabric on the bias to stop it fraying, gathered the strips and then sewed them on in the shape of the wings.

Appliques by Horris & Deedle

These icy-pole t-shirts really came to life with the variety of small coloured buttons on the middle icy-pole.

Adding the ribbons to the side of the camera for the neck strap, as well as for the view finder make this camera t-shirt so much character.  I used the camera applique template from the Adventure Flags pattern by Swoodson Says from Issue 10 for the camera base.



Another great way to layers is to vary your stitches. Using a combination of machine ziz-zag/ free motion and hand stitching all helps to add interest.

I use free motion applique mainly when using knitted fabrics or when sewing on small or curved areas.

For larger straight lines on woven fabrics a zig-zag stitch prevents lots of fraying on the edges when it goes through the wash.

  1. Tell a Story

You don’t have to tell a whole novel on a t-shirt but adding one or two things can make it a whole lot more interesting.

Appliques by Horris & Deedle

With these icy pole t-shirts I took a bite out of the choc-mint ones because those are my favourites.

Mr Frog applique by Horris & Deedle

Mr Frog here is trying to catch a fly. His eyes are looking up, his tongue is out and we can actually see the fly too. When I first started making this t-shirt the fly wasn’t there. I showed it to my kids and asked them what they thought. After politely telling me that they liked it, each of them said in one way or another, “that yellow thing on the side of his mouth looks weird.” I gathered that the fact that it was his tongue wasn’t obvious enough so I added the little fly. I didn’t know how to draw a simple fly but while I was reading Georgie her bedtime book one night I saw a good one to copy.

adding interest to applique with horris & deedle

Which brings me to my last point.

  1. Be on the look out.

Look out for simple drawings and motifs in books, on signs, in brochures or anywhere else.  Think about how they would look in certain colours and fabrics and if you think it will be a winner then go for it.

Bear applique by horris and deedle modelled

Finally, a few tips about the sewing.

It’s a good idea to put some light-weight iron on interfacing on the inside of the t-shirt. It makes the knit fabric so much more stable when you sew the applique on. It also helps to prevent annoying thread breakages.

As I mentioned before, knit fabrics are great for raw edge or free motion applique as they don’t fray. You don’t want your free-motion applique to look neat, otherwise it will inevitably show up flaws and mistakes. If it was cooking we’d say we were going for rustic.

Appliques by Horris & Deedle

This bird has been sewn on using free motion. I sew over each area two or three times so that it looks like I wasn’t trying to get the edging perfect, a bit like when you sketch something with a pencil. The fabric in this is all woven fabric but it has survived through the wash quite well because there are no long straight edges.

Frog applique by Horris & Deedle modelled

Here’s my little model styling his new clothes. And yes, those are the Fox Shoes from the Wild Things Baby Shoes pattern in the latest One Thimble by Big Little Patterns.


Wild Things Baby Shoes sewn by Horris & Deedle

They are not nearly as fiddly to sew as you might think. The instructions are fantastic and the cuteness factor is off the scale. Unlike most baby shoes, they are easy to get on and actually stay on his feet.

We would love to see any of your applique critters or any other OT sewing on the One Thimble Sewing Enthusiasts Facebook Page.

Thanks for reading along,


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Bear and Bunny t-shirt appliques

This week on the blog we have Kate from Horris & Deedle.  She’s got a week of applique fun planned for you!  Today she’s giving you some free applique templates, tomorrow she’s sharing her tips to take your appliques from ‘almost there’ to unique, on Wednesday she’ll show you how she’s combined freezer paper stenciling with applique with great results and on Thursday we’ll have an interview with Kate right here on the blog!

Bear and Bunny T-shirt Appliques.

Bear & Bunny Appliques by Horris & Deedle

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Make your own pre-quilted fabric

Have you ever looked at clothing made with pre-quilted fabric and thought … WOW … I’d love to get some pre-quilted fabric to play with!!!

… and then ended up getting distracted before it made it from your shopping cart to your sewing machine?

If you have, then this blog post is for you!

Make your own pre-quilted knit fabric


When I was playing with design ideas for the Marty Hoodie I tried out some ways to pre-quilt knit fabric and retain some stretch, using fabrics I had on hand.  This blog post will show you what I did and hopefully inspire you to bring some pre-quilted awesome into your next winter sewing project!

What fabrics to use:

The two fabrics I had, that I thought might be pretty good for this project were fleece (fluffy on both sides) and sweatshirt fleece (fluffy on one side).

I tried:

  • 2 layers of sweatshirt fleece – fluffy sides together
  • 1 layer of sweatshirt fleece – fluffy side against a layer of the stretch jersey I was using for my hoodie
  • 1 layer of sweatshirt fleece – fluffy side away from a layer of the stretch jersey I was using for my hoodie.
  • 1 layer of fleece with a layer of the stretch jersey I was using for my hoodie.
  • 1 layer of fleece between two layers of the stretch jersey I was using for my hoodie.

kt and the quilted pocket By far my favourite was the layer of fleece with a layer of the stretch jersey I was using for my hoodie.  Kt loves that it makes the inside of her kanga pocket fluffy and soft.






How to:

I used the same technique for all my combinations.  If you’ve got different fabrics to try, I’d still give this method a go.

Practice on scraps of your fabrics.  You need to find out whether your pre-quilted fabric will “shrink” after quilting and also how quilting will effect the stretch if you’re needing to retain the stretch.  This will help you choose what size pieces to start with.

  1. Place your layers wrong sides together.  If using 3 layers have the fluffiest layer in the middle.  You can pin or use wonderclips or basting spray as your would with a regular quilt if you would like.  I found that the pieces I was using kind of “stuck” together so I didn’t need to. Quilt your fabric image-01
  2. Mark stitching lines with chalk or fading pen on the right side of the jersey.  I had my lines about 25mm (1″) apart.
  3. Increase your stitch length (I increased mine to 4).  If you have a walking foot be sure to use it.
  4. Sew along the centre diagonal first – corner to corner then sew the other lines working from the centre out.
  5. When you’ve sewn all the lines in one direction turn your fabric around and do the ones that cross them.  Again start at the centre and work outwards.
  6. Cut your pattern piece from your pre-quilted fabric.  It might be a good idea to baste around the edges after cutting out your pattern piece.

Rag quilt sewn using the Threading Rainbows tutorial from issue 11

I’d really love to have a play to see if this same method would work with regular quilting fabrics (with no stretch).  I used fleece in my rag quilt (woven fabrics on either side with a layer of fleece in between) and it worked beautifully so I think fleece in the middle should work with woven fabrics also to make woven quilted fabric.

(Side note: I used the Threading Rainbow’s tutorial for making the Rag Quilt from issue 11 to make my Rag Quilt.  They also included a tutorial for using rag quilt panels in clothing in this issue – which is well worth a look!)

When researching this blog post, the other tutes I found for DIY pre-quilted fabric, used a layer of batting between two layers of cotton fabric.  So if fleece doesn’t give you the result you’re looking for then be sure to give batting a go.  If using batting you’d use the same method I have here.

Happy Sewing



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OT11 sneak peek

Not long now till you can get your hands on One Thimble Issue 11.  If you’d like to look inside One Thimble Issue 11 check out this flipbook!

New to One Thimble and wondering how it works?

One Thimble is a digital sewing magazine (e-zine).  It is delivered as a PDF file and you can flip through it like a magazine on your computer or tablet device.  Patterns can be printed out on a regular home computer and assembled as you would with a regular PDF pattern.

Purchasing an issue of One Thimble will get you two download links.  One is the link to the E-zine – it has the articles at the front and all the patterns and pattern pieces at the back.  You can print your pattern pieces from here and also follow the tutorials from here.  The second link is to a ZIP file with the stand alone patterns all seperate.  Some people prefer to only have a single pattern open when they’re sewing.  If that’s you then this is the download you’ll want when sewing.

If you have any other questions just send me through an email to

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Behind the seams of Issue 11

Preparation for this issue started way back in December 2015.  With this brief:

Search for Issue 11 contributors “Imagine this . . . You’re in the city on a bleak winters day. Everything is monochrome & dark – black, white, grey, navy. Then out of the corner of your eye you catch a flash of colour, a glimpse into a world of the imagination.  Is there a wild jungle, a world of vibrancy and fun around us?

Embrace unexpected fun details in this urban jungle inspired issue – pops of colour, punchy unexpected details, winter, urban secrets, beyond the everyday, i-spy, wild, jungle, animals, contrast hem, fun pockets, reversible features, costumes for everyday wear.”

These are the patterns we came up with after the final cut!

Clothing Sewing Patterns Included in One Thimble Issue 11

Non-Clothing Patterns included in One Thimble Issue 11

More information about the patterns – including size ranges and fabric requirements will be “revealed” in the coming days!

The Details:
Issue 11 to be released 13th May 2016
12 PDF Sewing Patterns
26 Articles

How to get your copy:
Join the mailing list or keep an eye on our social media accounts to see when the issue goes life OR
Purchase a subscription and it’ll be automatically emailed to you the day before release!

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