What are Some Uses for Appliques?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

Appliques are cut-out designs that are available in many different styles in fabric or in wallpaper. Crafters can use them alone or create designs around them. They can be used on clothing, home furnishings and walls.

Appliques can be made from several combination of fabrics to create a decorative embellishment.
Appliques can be made from several combination of fabrics to create a decorative embellishment.

Store-bought appliques designed for use on clothing are usually made from polyester or rayon satin thread, and some have metallic thread and/or sequins or beads. There are a number of ways to use them on clothing for men, women, or children. One way is to personalize belongings, such as a backpack or a shirt, with an applique that reflects a personal interest, like an animal motif for an animal lover or a musical instrument applique for a musician.

Appliques are typically applied to fabric with a decorative stitch.
Appliques are typically applied to fabric with a decorative stitch.

Another way to use appliques creatively on clothing is to cover a permanent stain, which can save a garment that would otherwise have to be discarded or recycled. They can be especially cute on children's outfits, and there are many kid-appropriate designs available, including teddy bears, flowers, sports logos, and much more. The sewer can coordinate the applique to suit the style and color scheme of the outfit.

Either store-bought or hand or machine sewn appliques can also dress up household items such as throw pillows and towels. Motifs can be cut from patterned fabric, hemmed, and then sewn onto home furnishings. For example, individual fish can be cut out of fish patterned cloth and, once the edges are hemmed to prevent fraying, the fish can be sewn to a bathroom hand towel. Ribbon or braid trim may also be added.

Wallpaper appliques often look and work like giant stickers, and many of them are peel and stick. In most cases, they can be repositioned if the person who attached them doesn't like where he or she first placed them on the wall. They can be especially fun for a child's room and can be used to create a kind of mural on a wall. A decorator can paint the wall an accent color or two first, and then maybe paint on some added details around the appliques. Many different children's designs are available, and include animals, trucks, flowers, sports, and licensed characters.

Discussion Comments


I tried to applique with my mum and I failed so bad, I ended up breaking the sewing machine! It was really embarrassing and I had to put off going to uni for another month to pay her back. I felt so ashamed and I am never doing it again.


@StarJo -- Sequin appliques are a lot of fun and can really dress up the right outfit. I used some of these when I was in dance. Many of the dance outfits are very expensive and I had to find a cheaper way to get my dance outfits than buy them brand new.

I was able to create some great looking outfits using sequin appliques. They were a lot of fun to make and I ended up being able to have a lot more outfits than I would have if I had to buy all of them new.

You can pay quite a bit of money for custom appliques, but I just used some cheap ones that still got the job done. By adding some sequins and glitter, it made a plain outfit look pretty glitzy.

My youngest son loves giraffes, but I can't find a lot of clothing items his size that have giraffes on them. I found some appliques that were perfect so I applied them to some colorful t-shirts for him.

He absolutely loves these shirts and would wear them every day if I would let him. I am not very handy when it comes to sewing, but these were easy to apply and have lasted through several washings.


@feasting -- I also like the large wall murals. I have one that covers one wall of my spare bedroom, which I turned into an office. This is an outdoor scene that looks just like the view from my small house up at the lake.

I don't have nearly as much time as I would like to visit the lake, but I can look at the mural every day and almost feel like I am there. The outdoor scene with trees around the lake, water in the background and ducks flying overhead is very relaxing for me.

It was quite challenging putting something that big on the wall, but I have certainly enjoyed it.


I just love decorative wall appliques. I like to go all out and buy the giant ones that take up most of the wall.

I have a wall applique that is a cherry blossom tree. The trunk is in one corner of the room, and the branches reach nearly all the way across to the other corner. Each branch has several pink and white blossoms on it.

It is a peel and stick applique, but it was a bit of a challenge to apply. The branches and blossoms have a lot of small curves, and I had to be careful not to let them get twisted around and stick to each other.


@orangey03 – I have a lot of respect for people who craft appliques. My good friend makes and sells flower appliques of all shapes and sizes, and her work has become really popular, because not many people can do what she does.

I bought some orange and yellow flower appliques from her to put on my purse. I had seen a purse for sale that was covered in three-dimensional flowers, but it cost way too much, so I decided to just add some appliques to the purse I had.

My friend's appliques are rather inexpensive. I think that she's selling herself short, but she says that the price is one of the reasons they are so popular.


I'm really no good at sewing, but I can manage to attach an embroidered applique that someone else has made. Embroidery artisans get really detailed with appliques sometimes.

I bought some dragonfly appliques to sew onto some towels for my bathroom. The embroidery was outstanding. I could see thin lines of detail in the wings and on the body.

I would never have the patience for something like this, but I'm glad that someone else does. I have no problem leaving that up to the professionals.


Creative patches make good appliques for torn clothing. I had ripped a hole in the knee of my favorite jeans as a child, but instead of tossing them out, my mother cut a flower shape out of some metallic pink fabric and made the coolest patch I had ever seen.

She even attached a few sequins to the patch for some extra shimmer. To make the applique look more natural, she added a few other smaller identical appliques to different spots on the jeans.

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    • Appliques can be made from several combination of fabrics to create a decorative embellishment.
      By: kitikit
      Appliques can be made from several combination of fabrics to create a decorative embellishment.
    • Appliques are typically applied to fabric with a decorative stitch.
      By: Africa Studio
      Appliques are typically applied to fabric with a decorative stitch.