The basic idea of applique seems easy cutting a shape out of one fabric and sewing that shape onto another fabric. However, it is actually a fair bit more complicated than simple embroidery. there are a few things that you need to consider such as whether to hand sew or machine sew, what materials to use, how to stop the edges from fraying, etc.Applique is suitable for small or large scale work but not every material is appropriate for every applique project. If you are planning applique for something that will require frequent washing such as table mats you must choose fabrics that wash well, e.g. linen. If you are planning something purely decorative such as a wall hanging there is a wider choice of fabrics to select.
There are two important steps in applique. The first includes the designing and transfer of the design to the fabric, the second is the applique itself. There are two approaches to designing for applique . The first approach is to work directly with materials, cutting shapes, arranging and rearranging the shapes, and stitching them to a background either by hand or machine without any planning.
Applique is widely used throughout the world as in many cultures it is common to decorate oneself and one’s surroundings. Various cultures have even developed their own style of applique, e.g. the Cuna Indians of the San Blas Islands, off the coast of Panama have developed a style of applique called mola work. The designs used are often symbolic. Often, the women get together to applique and have a social time.
Applique has also been used by various churches for religious garments, decorations such as wall hangings, and altar cloths. Often these items have symbolic or ceremonial significance with the applique consisting of symbols, such as the star to represent the bright star that shone above the manger of baby Jesus, and the cross to represent Christianity. Other designs like spirals are used simply for decoration.