What Are Iron-On Appliques?

Patti Kate

Iron-on appliques are pieces of decorative fabric, typically embroidered, that are applied to an article of clothing or other fabric. The iron-on appliques are sometimes referred to as iron-on patches and are small in size, typically measuring anywhere from 2 to 4 inches (5.1 to 10.2 centimeters). Most iron-on appliques are sold at craft stores. When ironed onto the chosen material, the applique remains permanent and is safe for washing and drying.

An iron.
An iron.

It is common to find iron-on appliques sold in packages of three or more. Most appliques feature colorful designs and patterns, such as flowers or geometric shapes. Some iron-on appliques are flag designs that represent different countries.

The bottom of an iron.
The bottom of an iron.

Many people use iron-on appliques for decorating a costume. For instance, an applique with a skull and crossbones design might go well with a pirate costume that is used for a Halloween or costume party. An applique in the design of a badge might coordinate with a policeman's costume.

Iron-on patches and appliques differ from iron-on transfers. Iron-on transfers are typically created with special paper and ink. The image is then transferred onto material using a heated iron. Iron-on appliques are embroidered patches of fabric, created with intricate stitching. A heated iron is also used for transferring a fabric applique onto clothing, curtains, or another type of material.

Some iron-on appliques are used to decorate a shirt or jacket for special occasions and holidays. An applique of a Christmas tree is one example. This type of design may also be ironed onto a sweater or sweatshirt for a festive look.

In addition to intricate stitching, an applique may also be made with sparkly rhinestones or glitter. Another variation includes three-dimensional designs that incorporate multiple layers of fabric or sequins onto a single applique or patch. Both children and adults enjoy iron-on glitter appliques, because they can transform an ordinary T-shirt or other clothing into a totally different look. Children's designs often include cartoon characters, while appliques for adults may be phrases, initials, and names. Iron-on fabric appliques also include individual letters, for creating a unique word, name, or saying.

Custom made iron-on fabric appliques may also be special ordered. Many online companies create customized appliques that can be designed from almost any drawing or sketch. For example, individuals who have a company logo may wish to have their own design incorporated onto an iron-on applique. Custom-designed iron-on appliques are generally ordered in large quantities.

Iron-on appliques are fabric pieces that are ironed-on and used as either patches or embellishments.
Iron-on appliques are fabric pieces that are ironed-on and used as either patches or embellishments.

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