Embroidery Appliques for Repairs

One of the more practical uses for machine embroidery designs is to use them for making repairs as well as covering stains and holes.

Some repairs can be made by just embroidering a design over the top to hide the damage. In many cases more than embroidery is required, and it is not always easy to hoop some items, so an alternative method is required.  

Creating an applique to be positioned carefully and sewn in place is the answer. With the right stabiliser and embroidery design it is even possible to embroider out an applique using tulle, organza and other light fabrics. Many designs can successfully be embroidered out on sheer fabrics, if that is all that is required to do the repair and the use of sheer fabric means that they will not be too bulky. You need to use a good quality wash away stabiliser and select the right type of design and fabric. My preference is tulle as it does not fray.

Appliques being embroidered in the hoop

Over the last year or so I have discovered, surprisingly, that many of my designs at Graceful Embroidery can successfully be embroidered out on tulle. Obviously, you need to find the correct size of design that will cover the holes and areas in question. Do not choose designs with lots of thread changes and colour blending.  If you using a medium weight of fabric to be included in the applique you can use a lighter design with some fabric showing through, but you will probably need some type of border.

My thoughts in this area all started when one of my little granddaughters came to me with a torn pocket on her new coat. I embroidered a flower from Mes Appliques Florales 1 on tulle, twice the size of the hole, which I successfully attached over the corner with some hand stitches. Providing that you use the right colours the repairs can look quite natural. Even though I considered putting another flower on the other side to balance it, she asked me not to.

Tee shirt with fraying neckline

I also noticed that the fabric under the binding around a favourite tee shirt was showing right in the centre of the neckline! For this I would use applique leaves and flowers from the Orchids for Ruth or the  Winter Jewels collections, to create a dimensional neckline for to cover the problem.

Make the necessary repairs first to confirm how big the design needs to be.

When choosing a design for your repairs you need to consider;

  • The shape and size of the design
  • The density of the design
  • The quality of the design – it should have plenty of underlay to support the stitches if it is being stitched on to a sheer fabric

I would suggest doing some experimentation first especially if you have never stitched out sheer fabrics. It is a lot easier than you think and it really does not matter if the fabric puckers as you will cutting it all away. Browse through your designs and select a few to stitch out in a mid-size hoop. Create a new file to copy and paste the designs you are going to use, so the original files are not lost. Make sure you leave about an inch between each element. Assign appropriate colours to the designs, so they blend well with the items you are repairing.

Finished appliques – perfect for repairing

Use a good quality wash away stabiliser and some sheer fabric. One layer of fabric should be enough. After the embroidery is complete trim away any threads and cut out each design leaving about half an inch all round. Wash away the stabiliser and soak in fabric conditioner for a softer look, preferably overnight. Dry on a towel and then trim away the sheer fabric. If you snip the embroidery by mistake secure the stitches with Fray check.

Arranging orchids around neckline

You now have an assortment of possible appliques for your repairs. Pin and hand sew in place. An alternative is to use Bond-a-web but you may still need to secure the applique with some hand stitches especially if it is going to be washed frequently. Keep the appliques you don’t use for another time. I have a box of them for repairs and decoration.

The daffodils and tulips in Anastasia’s Spring 1, flowers from Symphony of Flowers 1 and Fields of Poppies 3 are perfect for making appliques. The ivy leaves in Celtic Ivy 1 are suitable too. In Mes Applique des florales there are leaves and flowers in several sizes. For larger areas use the Dorothy Margaret designs. This is an embroidery edited specially from Natalie’s Wedding day 2 stitched out on organza that was required to cover a curved seam that had pulled on a favourite silk skirt. I used Bond-a-web to attach the design but it also needed some hand stitching.

A prepared applique using Bond-a-web

As well as flowers consider butterflies, birds and lace panels. Once you are confident in creating these appliques you will be considering many other uses for them.

Happy embroidering from Hazel at Graceful Embroidery

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