Choosing the Best Appliqué Fabric- A Beginner’s Guide

Adding appliqué to clothing is a great and unique way to completely transform an outfit and give it a new and trendy look.

Many sewers also use appliqué technique to decorate pillows, quilts, clothes, and home décor.

So if you want to add a pop of color and texture to your sewing projects with appliqué, then choosing the suitable fabric is critical!

However, with so many options present in the market, selecting the correct fabric to work with can be tricky.

We’ve done extensive research for you and compiled a list of the best fabrics for appliqué in this blog. From bold prints to delicate textures, there’s something here for every style and skill level. Let’s dive in!

Choosing the Right Fabric for Your Project

Choosing the Right Fabric for Your Project

Several aspects must be considered when choosing the suitable fabric for your appliqué project. Here’s a list of factors:

  • Durability

The very first thing you should consider is the fabric’s durability. Several materials offer higher durability and can withstand regular and rough usage and environmental factors.

  • Fiber Content

The properties of fibers can vary greatly depending on their type. Well, natural fibers like cotton and linen have higher fiber content and are well-known for their breathability and absorbency. 

Synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester, on the other hand, have lower fiber content. However, they have a higher level of durability, plus no wrinkling problems.

  • Texture

Consider the feel of the fabric when choosing for a particular project. Soft fabrics may be more comfortable for clothing, while rougher fabrics may be more appropriate for making rugged bags or purses.

Now that you have learned about all these factors let’s start browsing the various fabric options available. 

What are the Most Popular Materials to Use for Appliqué?

Here we have narrowed down a list of fifteen of the most popular materials used in appliqué. We also have provided a brief description and the pros and cons of each material to help you get started.

What are the Most Popular Materials to Use for Appliqué

1. Cotton

Cotton is one of the most common materials used for appliqué. It is highly durable and can easily hold up through multiple washes.

As cotton is a versatile material, it offers a wide variety of colors, prints, and patterns, which you can use to make all sorts of crafts. The fibers are incredibly soft to the touch and make an excellent choice for crafting projects.

Cotton can be iron-onto fabric or adhered with glue.


  • Durable and long-lasting.
  • Lightweight, breathable, and comfortable to wear.
  • Biodegradable and can be recycled.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Easy to work with.


  • Difficult to iron and harder to achieve clean, crisp lines.
  • Frays easily.
  • Not as stretchy as some fabrics, so a snug fit isn’t possible.

2. Poly Cotton Blend

Polycotton blends are fabrics that feature a combination of cotton and polyester fibers. This unique blend offers both polyester’s strength and durability and cotton’s softness and comfort. 

This fabric is typically used in apparel and quilting, but it is also an excellent choice for appliqué. Polycotton fabric is easy to iron and can be found in countless prints and colors.


  • Lightweight, durable, and easy to work with.
  • Colorfast, so its vibrancy won’t fade with time.
  • Breathable and comfortable.
  • Resistant to shrinking, stretching, and wrinkling.


  • Not as soft as other fabrics.
  • Not as absorbent, so dyeing can be hard.

3. Wool


Wool is a luxurious, natural material that is ideal for appliqué. It is a robust, durable fabric that looks amazing when embroidered or applique.

Wool is an excellent choice for winter wear, baby clothes, and quilting projects. Remember that it will require special care as wool is more sensitive to high temperatures.


  • Softer and more pliable than most other fabrics.
  • Naturally durable and wear and tear-resistant.
  • Naturally flame retardant.
  • Absorbs dye easily.


  • Relatively expensive.
  • Non-stretchable, making it more challenging to sew intricate shapes.
  • Challenging to work with, as it sheds fibers quickly.

4. Felt

Felt is an excellent choice for appliqué. It is a lightweight, inexpensive fabric and is available in various colors, designs, and textures.

Felt is ideal for creating whimsical projects such as clothing, pillows, and stuffed animals. It can be adhered with glue or with an iron-on appliqué patch.


  • Easy to cut and manipulate into any shape.
  • Durable and long-lasting.
  • Inexpensive to work with.
  • Readily available in different colors and textures.


  • Difficult to get clean and precise edges.
  • Difficult to stitch through the layers.
  • Felt can fray and unravel quickly.

5. Fleece


Fleece is a cozy fabric that is relatively easy to appliqué. It is a lightweight, stretchy material often used to make blankets, ponchos, and hats.

Fleece is highly durable and will hold up through lots of use and washing. It can be ironed-on, appliquéd to cloth, or hand-sewn with thread.


  • Well known for its durability and versatility.
  • It can hold shape and color.
  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver.
  • Ideal for beginner sewers.


  • Pretty expensive.
  • Relatively thick.

6. Leather

Leather is a popular material used for appliqué. It is a more expensive option compared to other fabrics, but it offers a luxurious, stylish look and can last for years if properly cared for.

Leather is often used for bag appliqués and decorating apparel. It can be secured with glue or a unique leather sewing machine.


  • Durable material.
  • Smooth texture.
  • Easy to clean and maintain.
  • Does not fray.
  • Lightweight nature.


  • Stiffness and lack of elasticity.
  • More expensive.
  • Some types of leather can be difficult to clean.

7. Vinyl


Vinyl is an excellent choice for appliqué. It is a lightweight, economical, and durable material in many colors and textures. Vinyl can be adhered with glue or with an iron-on appliqué.

It is often used to create fun designs like flags and monograms.


  • Easy application.
  • Pretty flexible.
  • Extremely durable.
  • Incredibly cost-effective.
  • Totally waterproof.
  • Low-maintenance, easy to clean.


  • Can’t be removed once applied.
  • Might be hard to work with for beginners.

8. Denim

Denim is another excellent choice for appliqué. It is a durable, cotton-based fabric that can be found in a variety of colors and prints.

Denim is a great choice for making jeans, bags, and jackets. When appliquéd, it offers a classic and stylish look to any project.


  • Strong, durable, and heavy-duty fabric.
  • Affordable and easy to find.
  • Highly resistant to fraying and fading.
  • Non-toxic and chemical resistant.


  • Prone to shrinking.
  • Difficult to keep clean.
  • Heavy fabric, making it difficult to work.

9. Satin


Satin is a luxurious fabric that is perfect for appliqué. It is a smooth and shiny material, and sewists often use it for making formal and evening wear.

Satin can be hand-sewn or fused with an iron-on appliqué patch. Remember that it is best to avoid using pins with satin as they can leave unsightly holes.


  • Smooth fabric.
  • Ideal for delicate and intricate appliqué designs.
  • The nice sheen adds visual appeal.
  • Easy maintenance.


  • It can fray easily.
  • Slippery nature, so it can be difficult to work with.
  • More expensive than other fabrics.

10. Twill

Twill is a sturdy, natural fabric that is ideal for appliqué. It is made using a weaving technique, which gives it a unique texture and appearance.

Because of its durability, twill is often used to make bags, jackets, and other apparel. It can be ironed on or hand-sewn with threads.


  • Lightweight and flexible.
  • Strong and durable.
  • Easy to manipulate.
  • It can be dyed and printed on.


  • Difficult to create complex designs.
  • Does not offer a wide range of customization options.

11. Acrylic


Acrylic is a popular choice for appliqué because it’s easy to work with and can be used for many projects. It’s also relatively inexpensive, so you don’t have to worry about ruining something expensive or fragile, especially if you are a beginner in this field.


  • Lightweight, so it is easy to work.
  • Durable and can withstand wear and tear.
  • Can be machined, drilled, bent and sawed.
  • Relatively inexpensive.


  • It can melt when exposed to high temperatures.
  • Does not absorb dye very well.
  • The edges of acrylic fabric can fray easily.

12. Silk

Silk is the best fabric for appliqué work because it is soft and lightweight, making it easy to manipulate while stitching. It is also strong and semi-durable, so it can withstand rigorous stitching. 

Additionally, silk has a smooth texture, allowing intricate designs to be created.


  • Smooth texture.
  • Easy to dye.
  • An extra layer of sophistication.
  • Resistant to fraying.


  • Very delicate and can easily be damaged.
  • Very expensive.
  • Does not have enough tensile strength.

13. Linen


Linen is naturally strong, breathable, and easy to manipulate. It is an ideal fabric for appliqué work because it is lightweight and has a smooth texture.

Linen also holds its shape well and has a natural stiffness that makes it easy to manipulate. It is also quite absorbent, which allows appliqué pieces to adhere securely to the underlying fabric. 


  • Strong and durable.
  • Lightweight and breathable.
  • Colorfast.


  • Stiff and frays easily.
  • Can be expensive for beginners.

14. Linen Cotton

Linen cotton is an ideal fabric for appliqué because it is lightweight yet strong, easy to manipulate, and resistant to wear. It is also easy to dye and can be found in various colors and patterns.

The fabric is also very absorbent, making it perfect for appliqué projects that require a lot of intricate work. 


  • Lightweight and breathable.
  • Offers a unique texture.
  • Easy to work with.
  • Can withstand repeated washing and ironing.


  • May fray easily when cutting.
  • The fabric is prone to wrinkling and creasing.

15. Muslin


The muslin cotton fabric is one of the most popular and versatile fabrics used in appliqué. It is lightweight, strong, durable, and has a smooth, almost silky feel.

The fabric is also highly absorbent, making it ideal for appliqué projects that involve a lot of stitching. 


  • Easy to work with.
  • Thin and breathable.
  • Inexpensive.


  • Not very durable. 
  • Prone to tearing or fraying.
  • Shrinks significantly when washed.

Other Equipment Needed for Appliqué

Other Equipment Needed for Appliqué

To create beautiful applique projects, you need the right tools and equipment. Having the right tools will make your applique projects look professional and polished.

Stepwise Method to Create a Design using Basic Appliqué

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to produce appliques by hand, apply them to your item, and then stitch them with a conventional sewing machine. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you may mix layers to create more elaborate designs.

Step 1: Choose a template for an appliqué.

Step 2:  Choose your fabrics.

Step 3:  Apply a flexible web on the incorrect side of your material.

Step 4: Trace the templates onto the fusible web backing.

Step 5: Iron the garment while cutting out applique pieces.

Step 6: Insert a stabilizer pin into your garment.

Step 7: Insert your appliqué design by stitching it in place.

Step 8: Rip off stabilizer.

Step 9: Apply more embellishments to your design.

Here is the stepwise method to create Basic Appliqué: Step by step layered applique for beginners.

Tips and Tricks for Working with Appliqué on Different Fabrics

With the appropriate technique, appliqué isn’t as difficult as it appears. Use these ten pointers to improve your appliqué skills.

Tips and Tricks for Working with Appliqué on Different Fabrics

  • Pre-wash all fabrics before starting your appliqué project. This will help you avoid shrinkage of the fabric during the process.
  • Stitching your applique at a point or corner is tempting, but you’ll get much nicer corners if you start from the middle point.
  • Check that the needle is in the center of the foot. If it’s not, remove the fabric, and tap the foot pedal to move the needle to the correct position. This will ensure that you create clean and straight edges.
  • Starting with the bottom layer, stitch each additional layer one by one. The start and the finishing threads can be covered when you use the satin stitching on the top.
  • When you use an open-toe foot, it becomes simple to see all of the corners and points of a shape, and it also has a tunnel along the underside to accommodate the satin stitch’s raised edges.
  • Experiment with different needle sizes, brands, and types when doing hand applique. 
  • You can also use a straight blanket, zigzag, or decorative stitch for applique.
  • Use a stabilizer to prevent puckering and create a more professional appearance.


Appliqué is the perfect way to add a unique touch to any garment. With the right fabric and careful attention, it can become an easy and enjoyable sewing project.

We hope this article has provided you with all the information needed to choose the best fabric for your applique projects.

From lightweight cotton to stretchy fabric like wool, there’s sure to be something here that will work for whatever design you have in mind!

Best Fabric for Appliqué: FAQ

Q: What is the main type of stitch used in appliqué?

A: The main type of stitch used in appliqué is a running stitch. This stitch consists of small, evenly spaced stitches that form a zigzag pattern across the fabric. Another popular stitch is the Buttonhole stitch.

Q: What are the different types of appliques?

A: Appliques come in a variety of materials, shapes, and sizes. The most popular types are button appliques, brass appliques, plastic appliques, ribbons, and fabrics. 

Q: What fabric is good for appliqué?

A: Cotton or linen fabrics, which are easy to manipulate and handle, are a good choice for working with appliqué. They also hold the shape of an appliqué better than the thicker fabrics.

Q: How do you prepare fabric for appliqué?

A: Preparing fabric for appliqué is fairly straightforward. First, wash and press your fabric to remove any dirt. Then use a stabilizer such as fusible webbing to add extra strength and stability to it.

Once done, cut out the shape you want the appliqué on using a pair of sharp scissors.

Q: How do you select a printed fabric that is suitable for appliqué?

A: To select a printed fabric that is suitable for appliqué, it is important to consider the design, color fastness, wrinkle resistance, and ability to cut and sew without stretching or distorting it.

Additionally, it is important to check for shrinkage and availability in various sizes, water repellency, and stiffness.


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