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How do you attach applique to a dress?

By :yeweiqing 0 comments

Attaching applique to a dress is a creative way to add intricate designs, embellishments, and personal touches to your garment. Applique involves sewing or gluing decorative pieces of fabric onto a larger piece of fabric to create patterns or designs. This process can be done using a variety of methods, each suited to different types of fabric, design complexity, and desired durability. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you attach applique to a dress effectively.

Materials Needed

Before you begin, gather the following materials:

Dress (fabric should be clean and pressed)

Applique pieces (these can be pre-made or custom cut from fabric)

Pins or fabric adhesive

Sewing machine or needle and thread


Iron and ironing board

Fusible web (optional)

Fabric glue (optional)

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Planning Your Design

A. Choose Your Applique: Decide on the applique design and select the fabric. You can purchase pre-made appliques or cut your own shapes from fabric. Ensure the fabric of the applique complements the dress.

B. Placement: Lay the dress flat on a clean surface. Arrange the applique pieces on the dress to determine the best placement. Use pins to temporarily hold them in place. Step back and view the arrangement from different angles to ensure it looks balanced and appealing.

2. Preparing the Applique

A. Cut Out the Applique: If you’re creating your own applique, cut out the shapes using sharp scissors. Make sure the edges are smooth and even.

B. Use Fusible Web (Optional): Fusible web is a double-sided adhesive that can help hold the applique in place before sewing. Cut a piece of fusible web slightly smaller than your applique, adhere it to the back of the applique piece with an iron, and then peel off the backing paper.

3. Attaching the Applique

A. Pinning: Carefully pin the applique pieces onto the dress. Use enough pins to ensure the pieces stay in place, but avoid using so many that it becomes difficult to sew around them.

B. Fabric Adhesive (Optional): If you prefer not to use pins, fabric adhesive can help hold the applique in place temporarily. Apply a thin layer of adhesive to the back of the applique and press it onto the dress. Allow the adhesive to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

4. Sewing the Applique

A. Hand Sewing:

Thread and Needle: Use a thread that matches the applique or dress fabric. Knot the end of the thread.

Stitches: Use a small, tight stitch like a whip stitch or a blanket stitch. Start from the back of the dress, bringing the needle up through the applique edge and then back down close to the edge, securing it in place. Continue around the entire applique.

B. Machine Sewing:

Prepare the Sewing Machine: Select a zigzag stitch or a satin stitch on your sewing machine. Adjust the stitch width and length to suit the size of the applique and the fabric thickness.

Stitching: Begin sewing at the edge of the applique. Slowly guide the fabric through the machine, ensuring the stitches catch both the applique and the dress fabric. Pivot the fabric at corners to maintain a clean edge.

C. Securing Stitches: For both hand and machine sewing, backstitch at the beginning and end to secure the stitches. Trim any excess threads.

5. Finishing Touches

A. Remove Pins: Carefully remove any pins used to hold the applique in place.

B. Pressing: Use an iron to gently press the applique and the surrounding area. This helps to set the stitches and ensures the applique lies flat against the dress. Be sure to use the appropriate heat setting for the fabrics involved.

C. Inspect: Examine the applique to ensure it is securely attached and that there are no loose threads or gaps. Make any necessary adjustments or additional stitches.

Tips for Success

Choose the Right Applique Fabric: Lightweight fabrics like cotton or silk are easier to work with and less likely to cause puckering.

Stabilize the Dress Fabric: If the dress fabric is thin or stretchy, consider using a stabilizer or interfacing behind the applique area to prevent puckering and distortion.

Test Stitches: Practice your chosen stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure it looks good and holds securely.

Layering Appliques: If your design involves multiple layers of applique, start with the bottom layer and work your way up.

Patience and Precision: Take your time, especially when sewing curves or intricate designs. Precision ensures a professional finish.

Advanced Techniques

A. Raw Edge Applique: For a more textured look, leave the edges of the applique raw and allow them to fray slightly over time. This can add a unique, rustic charm to your design.

B. Reverse Applique: Cut shapes out of the dress fabric and place a contrasting fabric behind the cut-out areas. Sew around the edges of the cut-outs to secure the underlying fabric.

C. Embellishments: Enhance your applique with additional embellishments like beads, sequins, or embroidery. These can add depth and interest to your design.


Attaching applique to a dress is a rewarding process that allows you to personalize your garment and express your creativity. By carefully planning your design, preparing your materials, and using the appropriate sewing techniques, you can achieve a beautiful, professional-looking result. Whether you’re adding a subtle touch of elegance or a bold, artistic statement, applique can transform an ordinary dress into a unique and eye-catching piece.

How do you attach applique to a dress?
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