A history of applique
Handmade applique has a long and rich history in the UK, dating back to the 17th century. During this time, it was commonly used as a decorative technique in the creation of bed coverings, clothing, and other household textiles. In the 19th century, the rise of the industrial revolution saw a decline in the popularity of handmade applique, as machine-made textiles became more widely available. However, the craft continued to be practiced by a small number of artisans and remained a cherished tradition in rural communities.
In the 20th century, there was a revival of interest in traditional crafts, and handmade applique saw a resurgence in popularity. Many people were drawn to the unique, personal touch that this technique brought to handmade items, and the intricate, detailed designs that could be achieved through this method. Today, there are many skilled artisans in the UK who specialize in this craft, and there are also many workshops and classes where people can learn how to create their own handmade applique designs. Additionally, the popularity of handmade crafts and vintage-inspired styles has helped to further increase the popularity of this timeless technique.
Tools of the applique trade
Here are the main tools used in applique:
Needles: Used for hand-stitching the fabric pieces onto the base fabric. Examples of needles include embroidery needles and sharps needles.
Fabric Scissors: Used for cutting the fabric pieces to the desired shape. These scissors should be sharp and precise to ensure clean cuts and a neat finish.
Pins: Used to temporarily hold the fabric pieces in place while they are being stitched.
Thimble: A small device worn on the finger to protect it while pushing the needle through the fabric.
Fabric Glue: A temporary adhesive that can be used to hold the fabric pieces in place until they are stitched.
Transfer Pencil or Chalk: Used to mark the placement of the fabric pieces onto the base fabric.
Embroidery Hoop: A round frame used to stretch the base fabric while working on the applique design. This helps to prevent the fabric from bunching and ensures a smooth surface to work on.
Techniques of applique
Applique is a decorative needlework technique that involves layering pieces of fabric onto a background fabric and stitching them in place. It is a popular technique used in quilting, clothing, and other textiles. Here are some of the main techniques used in applique:
1. Raw-Edge Applique: Raw-edge applique involves placing the applique fabric on top of the background fabric and stitching around the edge, leaving the raw edge of the applique fabric exposed. An example of this technique is a simple flower or leaf design on a quilt.
2. Turned-Edge Applique: Turned-edge applique involves folding the edges of the applique fabric under and stitching them in place, creating a neat, finished edge. An example of this technique is a patchwork quilt with intricate designs made from many small pieces of fabric.
3. Blanket Stitch Applique: Blanket stitch applique involves using a blanket stitch to attach the applique fabric to the background fabric. An example of this technique is a decorative bird or butterfly design on a childs jacket or backpack.
4. Fusible Web Applique: Fusible web applique is a quick and easy method of applying the applique fabric to the background fabric using a fusible web, which is then ironed in place. An example of this technique is a simple, large design on a tote bag or t-shirt.
These are some of the main techniques used in applique. The specific technique used may depend on the project and the desired outcome, but the above techniques are a good place to start for those new to applique.
Ideas and inspiration for applique
For creators keen to captivate the British craft fair audience, introducing appliqué designs that resonate with local sentiment and aesthetics can make a compelling difference. Here are some inventive ideas tailored for appliqué creations:
1. British Landmarks: Craft fabric scenes of renowned UK sights. Picture the Tower Bridge, Stonehenge, or Edinburgh Castle transformed into striking appliqué wall hangings.
2. Classic British Flora: Embrace the UKs native plants. Designs could include the delicate bluebell, the vibrant poppy, or the iconic English rose fashioned into cushion covers or table runners.
3. British Wildlife: Turn to the animal kingdom for inspiration. Appliqué depictions of the red fox, badger, or the majestic stag can adorn tote bags or quilts.
4. Teatime Motifs: Given the nations fondness for tea, motifs like teacups, teapots, or biscuits can be transformed into charming patches for aprons or kitchen towels.
5. Traditional Symbols: Icons such as the double-decker bus, red telephone box, or the Union Jack can be reinvented as appliqué designs for throw pillows or blankets.
6. Festive Designs: Gear up for Christmas markets with appliqué mistletoe, holly, or Christmas pudding on festive tablecloths, stockings, or napkins.
7. Historical Figures: Pay homage to Britains rich history. Appliqué profiles of figures like William Shakespeare, Queen Victoria, or Sir Isaac Newton can make unique notebook covers or wall decor.
8. Countryside Scenes: Capture the serene British countryside with scenes of rolling hills, stone cottages, or traditional farm animals on larger pieces such as bedspreads or curtains.
9. Sea and Shore: Being an island nation, the seaside holds a special place in many hearts. Design appliqué patches featuring lighthouses, seashells, or fish, ideal for bathroom towels or summer totes.
10. Nursery Rhymes: Delight younger visitors with appliqué designs inspired by traditional nursery rhymes. Think Humpty Dumpty on a childs jumper or the Three Blind Mice on a babys quilt.
To illustrate, a tote bag adorned with an intricate appliqué of the Tower Bridge, framed against the backdrop of a sunset, or a cushion cover embellished with an appliqué poppy field can evoke a sense of nostalgia and familiarity, drawing craft fair visitors to appreciate and potentially purchase these heartfelt creations.