Saturday, 25 February 2012

Tutorial ~ Simple Machine Applique Using Vliesofix

You know that phrase "there's more than one way to skin a cat"?  (Always hated that phrase, btw, the poor cat!)  Well the same applies to applique.  There are lots of methods, but there are two that I use regularly: hand applique, and machine applique using vliesofix.  I'll show you how to do hand applique in another tutorial later.

Using vliesofix makes applique very quick and easy to do, and it looks great for things like T-shirts, bags, or jackets.  I personally don't like to use it when I am quilting, but you certainly can.  For kids quilts that have a more fun, funky look, it would work just fine.  I guess I just tend to go for a more traditional looking quilt, so I prefer hand applique for that.

What the heck is vliesofix?  I hear you ask.  It is a fusable web that comes on a backing paper.  You use your iron to fuse the vliesofix to your fabric, and basically turn the fabric into a sticker.

So, how do we go about it?  Let me show you...

To start with, here's what you will need:

A T-shirt (or something else to applique onto), fabric, a shape to draw around (ok, maybe I should also do a tutorial on how to make applique pattern stencils, would anyone be interested?), vliesofix (or another type of fusible webbing), a pencil, sharp scissors (but not your best fabric scissors, as you'll be cutting the backing paper of the vliesofix), and an iron (and the ironing board, but that didn't fit in the picture ^_^ )

First draw your shapes onto the backing paper (the smooth side) of the vliesofix.  I've got just one wheel pattern, but of course, I will draw two wheels.  If your shape is directional, you will need to turn it over to trace round it, so that it will end up the right way round, as you will be fusing it to the wrong side of your fabric.  This is particularly important with letters!

Cut roughly round your shapes, about 0.5cm from the line (don't worry, you don't have to be exact, but you do want to have a bit to trim away)

Place this on the wrong side of your fabric, with the backing paper up, and use your iron to fuse it to the fabric.  If your fabric has a directional design, do make sure that you have it the right way round!  You can see through the vliesofix, so do check what will be in your shape once you cut it would be a shame to find that you've cut off your favourite part of the motif, say, or all the heads, if it's a fabric with characters on it!

Now cut along the line to cut out your shapes

At this point, it is a good idea to give your iron a quick clean, by grabbing a bit of scrap cotton fabric (best if it is white, or pale coloured) and ironing it.  See those dirty marks on the fabric?  That's from a little bit of the vliesofix adhesive getting on my iron.  It would be a real shame if that got all over your lovely T-shirt!

Now, peel the backing paper off your fabric shape

Put it in position on your t-shirt, with the right side up and press to fuse in place.  If your design has more than one piece, you will need to fuse and sew the pieces in the right order.  For this design, I have the body of the car, and the wheels.  I will fuse and then sew around the car, before I add the wheels.  Just remember that anything that is in the background needs to be stitched before you add any foreground pieces (I hope that makes sense ^_^)

Now, you are ready to sew your applique.  Some brands of fusible webbing claim that you don't need to sew them, but I'm not sure if I believe that.  I'm pretty sure that the edges would peel away after a while, especially on something like a kids T-shirt.  Too much wear and tear to get away without stitching. Set your machine to zig-zag, with a fairly small stitch width, and a very small stitch length.  I have my machine set on 2.5 stitch width, and about 0.75 stitch length.  Do a wee test on a scrap of fabric.  You want the stitches to be nice and close together, like a satin stitch, and I like a narrow zig-zag.

Now, open the T-shirt up so that you don't sew the front and back together (that would be a bit of a disaster!) and place your work so that when the needle is on the right-hand zag of the zig-zag, it will come down just to the right of the edge of your applique piece.  Then stitch all the way around.

Pay particular attention when going around corners, especially any inner corners.  I had trouble getting a good close-up picture that shows this clearly, so I hope you can see what I am talking about.  See how I am sewing around the windows of the car.  I have just come to the corner, and I have carried on sewing past the edge of the window far enough that when I turn the corner, and the needle is on the left, it is the width of the zigzag away from the edge of the fabric.  Hope that makes sense!  

Once you've sewn all the way around, keep sewing for about 1cm over the top of the previous stitching. Pull your work out so that you have a long tail before cutting the threads.  Pull the threads through to the back,  knot, and cut off.  Next, if you have more pieces in your design, like the wheels in this one, then fuse and stitch them just as you did before.

Don't worry if the edges of your shape look a little wavy, just give the tee a good press, and it will be all beautiful!

And there you have it!  A beautiful applique tee!
(Yes, I know it's a different colour... I already made that one, so I couldn't photograph the process, but I just had to share this picture of the Young Lad in his Car-car Tee)

You might like to visit the patterns page for downloadable pdf patterns.  
At the moment, what I have available is a very cute love heart tee, and I plan to add more.
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, I have plenty more planned, so watch this space!



  1. You make that look so easy - I might have to have a go :-)

    1. Vliesofix really does make applique so easy to do! It's fun too! Do give it a go, I'd love to see the results :)

  2. I really need to get my sewing machine back from it's long term borrower! This looks great Browen.

  3. Thank you for this instruction. It was most helpful with a huge task I'd been given.

  4. Thank you for this instruction. It was most helpful with a huge task I'd been given.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I'm glad it will be useful :)


Thank-you so much for taking the time to comment, I love reading them all!