Tuesday 2 June 2015

How to Appliqué ~ Preparing Shapes and Fusing to Base Fabric

Last week I showed you nine robots, fused and ready to stitch. Today I thought I'd show you the process - from the diagram of a robot on a piece of paper, to an appliquéd robot on fabric. The tutorial will show you how to appliqué your own robot and includes a link for the free PDF template for the Robot Mechanic.

How to Appliqué... Preparing the shapes and fusing to the base Fabric ~ Threading My Way

The procedure for doing raw edge appliqué is much the same, regardless of the design. In the case of our robot mechanic, there are quite a lot of small pieces, perhaps making it a little more complicated than some appliqués. It's not difficult, but at times it is fiddly and definitely time consuming.

Some appliqué templates come with the pieces separated ready to cut out. Due to the complexity of our robot, the time required to redraw him in pieces and the fact that it's free, you'll have to do a little work. Trust me, it's not hard. Here we go...
  • Print the robot three or four times. 
  • Decide on the fabrics you will use for each piece.
  • Cut out the pieces. You can see I've cut over lines, which is why you need three or four copies. It may help if you colour the robot in the same colours as the fabric.
  • Keep one copy of the robot uncut. You will need to refer back to the original throughout the process.

I have printed the robot at 100% size onto A4 paper and have cut the blue backing fabric to 8" x 11".

When cutting some pieces, I'll sometimes extend them a little. For instance, where the arm joins the shoulder, I may make the arm a little longer, so that it can be placed under the shoulder. If you look at the top of the head, you can see I've cut it so the top of the head can be placed under the hat.

Group all the pieces that will be cut from the same fabric together.

You will need double sided fusible webbing to glue your appliqué to the fabric. Do NOT cut the appliqué shape out at this stage.

For each piece of fabric, cut out one piece of double sided fusible webbing, slightly smaller than the fabric. In the example above, I have cut out nine pieces of double sided fusible webbing.

One side of the fusible webbing feels rough or bubbly. This is the side you will iron onto the fabric to appliqué. As per the manufacturer's instructions, iron the double sided fusible webbing to the WRONG side of the fabric. This is how I do it.
  • Place the fusible webbing on the ironing board, rough side facing up. 
  • Place the fabric on top, wrong side down. The rough side of the fusible webbing and the wrong side of the fabric are together.
  • Place an old cloth under the webbing and on top of the fabric before you iron, so glue doesn't get onto the iron or the ironing board. I'll be honest and say I omitted this step, but I was very careful to make sure the webbing was totally covered by the fabric.
  • Set your iron to the appropriate setting for the fabric, as this is uppermost, and don't use steam. (The iron should only come in contact with either an old cloth or fabric, not the fusible webbing.)
  • Press the iron rather than sliding it, to attach the fusible webbing to the fabric. It only takes a few seconds.

  • Wait for the fabric and webbing to cool down.
  • Trace each shape onto the fusible webbing. Be consistent with placing the paper shapes face up or face down. Face up (print side of the paper up) will result in a robot facing the opposite direction to the original. To have the robot facing the same direction as the original, place the paper shapes face down (print side of the paper down).
  • Cut out each shape.

  • Place the shapes on the base fabric, to determine the correct position. 
  • Note which pieces will be layered underneath others, so you know which pieces to fuse first.

  • Peel off the backing paper. There will be a thin film of glue left on the wrong side of the fabric.

If you have trouble starting to peelo off the backing fabric, a pair of tweezers can help.

  • Place the appliqué onto the blue base fabric.
  • Put the old cloth on top of the appliqué. Again, you can see I omitted the cloth. Be warned you may get glue on your iron. I was lucky and didn't.
  • Press until the appliqué shape is glued to the fabric - a few seconds.
  • Repeat with each piece. I continually refer back to the uncut robot for correct placement.

If you make a mistake with positioning, it is possible to carefully lift, reposition and iron. The edges of the fabric may fray a little in the process, though.

Your robot mechanic is now ready to stitch. The glue alone is not enough to permanently stick the fabric. There are many different methods for stitching appliqués. I'll show you how I do my stitching later this week.

The template is just a starting point. Instead of using fabric for all the small pieces, you may decide fabric paint is a better option, or perhaps stitching the details will achieve the same effect. Use your imagination.

Download the FREE Robot Mechanic. Don't print from your browser. Click the Download button as per the image below. If you have any problems with the download, let me know.

If you make something with the Robot Mechanic, I'd love to see photos:

Feel free to share this post via social media-:)

... Pam

Edited to add


  1. They really are so much fun! And I love your fabric choices too. I'm very bad at using an old cloth - and my iron does suffer for it! I frequently get cursed by my husband as he irons a work shirt and a yucky mark appears from nowhere on the sleeve!

  2. I suspect most of us are guilty of not doing as we say when it comes to ironing applique Pam :)

  3. Great tutorial :)

    Thanks for linking up..

  4. Nice tutorial and your robot is cute! Thanks for sharing at the Submarine Sunday Link Party!!


Thanks for stopping by! I love reading your comments and try to reply to all of them via email. If you don't receive an email reply from me, check back here.