Have you been avoiding appliqué?

Glitter Lux

Fashion brands are turning increasingly to machine embroidery as an exciting and cost effective way of enhancing collections. Danielle Park and Natalie Greetham of Madeira UK report on this growing trend.

Embroidery has always been a popular way to embellish clothing and accessories. The wide range of thread types finishes and thicknesses all offer a unique look, meaning the design options are endless; let your creativity run free!

Appliqué is a French word, meaning to join or attach patches of fabric and was used to patch over holes and strengthen threadbare areas of clothing. Historically appliqué has been associated with quilting however; designers and embroiderers have increasingly favored the technique to add dimension, contrast and texture.

The advantages

Appliqué gives embroiderers several advantages, with a lower stitch count production times are reduced and output increased, reducing thread and production costs and increasing garment profitability. However difficulties with appliqué were often related to alignment of fabric with the embroidery design and the extra production process of trimming the fabric, but, there are now several types of tear-away appliqué fabrics on the market. Alignment and trimming complexities in production can be a thing of the past.

Tear-away appliqué fabric has been welcomed by the industry and eliminates a production process, further increasing efficiency and ease of implementation into your production operations.


While tear-away appliqué fabrics tend to be synthetic, so offer another dimension in mixed media garment embellishment and a contrast between texture of threads vs more smooth synthetic fabrics. These fabrics are ideal for direct to garment application on accessories; bags and baseball caps, the variety of finishes give a unique, dynamic and modern look.

Key points to consider when using the new range of appliqué fabrics include:

  • Needles – Using a size 60 a 70 sharp point needle is recommended to create a clean appearance with non-woven/ synthetic tear-away fabrics.
  • Be sure to include a decorative running stitch just on the inside of your satin stitch border! This will lock in the appliqué in the centre of your design. Remember, these are tear-away fabrics and the border is designed to sufficiently perforate the fabric for easy removal. Without this anchoring running stitch inside, the appliqué fabric may become loose with washing.
  • Once the design has been embroidered the excess fabric can easily be removed by making an initial cut up to the satin stitched border then following the contour of the design the rest will smoothly pull away, no fiddly trimming required!

Being able to offer customers something different keeps you ahead of the competition and is an opportunity to generate valuable new business!

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