What You Need
Embroidery hoop (These can be found for a dollar or so at most craft and sewing shops.)
Backing material (I used burlap, but you can use linen, felt, or plain ordinary cotton.)
Scraps of fabric for the applique
1. Draw your shape on the back of the fabric, then cut it out. It's best to start with something simple. I wanted to do a heart for Valentine's Day, but my preschooler insisted on a star instead. (Note: I do know how to draw a symmetrical star, I swear, but I kind of liked this off-kilter zigzag one.)
2. Mount your backing fabric on the embroidery hoop, then tighten the hoop and pull the fabric until it is taut and even. Trim the backing fabric to within an inch or so of the hoop. Make sure to leave enough extra fabric that you can loosen the hoop and adjust the fabric if you want to reposition your design, but not so much that it flaps around and gets in your way.
3. Pin your applique to the backing.
4. Thread and knot your needle with the embroidery floss. If you've never used embroidery floss before, you should know that it is actually six threads intertwined. You'll want to cut off your desired length of floss, then separate the threads into smaller skeins. For straightforward stitching like this, I like a thicker skein, so I separate the floss into two three-thread skeins. (And if all this talk of separating threads is too much for you, regular old thread will work just fine, too.)
5. Start sewing from underneath. Sew a simple whip stitch all the way around your applique. Don't worry if your stitches aren't perfect. It's not uneven! It's rustic! When you're done, knot your thread from the back.
6. Trim the excess backing fabric away from the embroidery hoop, and voila! Your art is ready to hang!
Once you get the hang of applique, it's addictive. Next thing you know, you'll be appliqueing every unadorned fabric surface that crosses your path. Onesies, bibs, cushions – nothing will go un-appliqued!
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(Images: Tammy Everts)