Most of the things I make involve some applique work, which is to patch or “apply” something to the original piece of fabric. I love the extra dimension it gives, lifting what might be plain and utilitarian into something beautiful.

Appliqued bunting, bags, and superhero sets

I’ve recently been making an owl bag for a very lovely lady. Today I thought I would give you some insight into one of the handmade processes that went into making it: how to applique using bondaweb.

What is bondaweb?
Bondaweb enables you to applique without using pins, and it makes delicate fabrics like cottons easy to cut precisely. It is essentially a piece of paper which has a web of heat-activated glue on one side. You buy it by the metre in haberdasheries, Hobbycraft and from the internet. I’m sure other products are available but this is the one I’ve seen and used

You’ll need                                                                                                                     Pencil, fabric to applique, backing fabric, bondaweb, iron and ironing board, fabric and paper scissors, sewing machine all threaded and ready to go!

Let’s get started then  

  • Draw your shape onto the smooth side of the bondaweb (This is the side which feels like normal, bog standard paper)
  • If you’re wanting to applique a shape which is not symmetrical down it’s y axis (like a letter for example) you’ll need to draw the mirror image of it, so that it is the correct way round on your finished item. When you start it is easier to use symmetrical shapes so that this does not matter.
  • If you doubt your artistic skills, it can be helpful to use a template (a picture in a book, a print out from the internet…) The bondaweb is transparent enough for you to be able to trace your image easily.
Draw your shape in pencil onto the smooth side of the bondaweb
  • Cut roughly around your shape, leaving a small margin around the edge.
  • Put the fabric you’re going to applique face down on the ironing board, give it a quick iron to get rid of any creases and place the bondaweb shape on top, with the smooth side facing up. If you’re using a patterned fabric, you might need to be aware of placing your shape so that the pattern is the right way up, centred and that any stripes or checks run down in a straight line
  • Following the manufacturer’s instructions, iron the bondaweb shape onto the fabric. (This usually means, a fairly hot iron, with no steam pressed onto for about 5 seconds)
Iron the bondaweb onto the wrong side of the fabric. Make sure the paper side of the bondaweb is facing up, you want the glue side to stick to your fabric, not your iron
  • After the fussed fabric and bondaweb have cooled, cut out your shape, right up to the pencil line you drew
Cut out
Cut out your shape, you should find the bondaweb has stabilised the fabric, making it easier to cut without the edges fraying
  • Now remove the paper from the fabric, You’ll be able to feel that this has left behind the gluey web, fused to the wrong side of the fabric. Place your shape on your backing fabric, and when you’re happy it’s in the perfect spot, iron your applique shape onto the backing fabric (again following the instructions on your packet of bondaweb)
Iron the applique shape onto the backing fabric
  • The last step is to sew the applique shape in place. This provides extra security to prevent the applique coming away from the backing fabric and also seals the raw edges which may fray. You can use any stitch you like, a blanket stitch or a zigzag stitch work very well. A simple straight stitch is fine, if you don’t mind the raw edges on the applique. I used a satin stitch, which is really just a very close zigzag, because I think it gives the most professional looking result.
Sew the applique shape using the stitch of your choice

After a few more hours work, here’s the finished owl bag…

Owl bag

If you have followed this tutorial I’d love to see your finished item. Post it to my Facebook wall

If all this sounds like too much fuss and bother for you, why not check out what’s in my shop or contact me using the contact page to discuss how we could create something special together.

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