Learn how to applique and make this easy heart pillow! Heart decor is perfect for Valentine’s Day, but hearts are always great in my book. We all need a little more love in the world right now.
If you like this heart pillow, you might also like this cute felt heart banner!
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I am so excited to share this technique. Applique is one of my favorite ways to add detail to something. I used to use it to make my son custom t-shirts when he was a baby, so it will always be special to me.
What is applique?
Applique is the process of attaching a fabric shape to a base layer of fabric. Think of it like a patch.
What can applique be used for?
Applique is used to add detail to items like pillows, quilts, t-shirts and more. If it’s fabric, it can be appliqued.
Is applique the same as embroidery?
No. Embroidery is using thread to add details to an object. I like to think of it as drawing with thread.
Applique would be more like decoupage.
However, you can combine applique and embroidery. This tutorial uses a sewing machine, but you’re welcome to hand embroider it. Personally, I love a blanket stitch.
What do you need for applique?
You need fabric, iron-on adhesive, an iron, and either a sewing machine or embroidery thread.
What fabrics can be used in applique?
Almost any fabric can be used. I would avoid using fabric that is too thick, like upholstery fabric. It’s probably doable, but your sewing machine is going to struggle.
I would also avoid fabrics that cannot be ironed.
Using iron-on adhesive reduces the chance of the fabric fraying at the edges.
Can a regular sewing machine be used for applique?
Yes! My machine has a special satin stitch, but you can also just use the buttonhole setting. Increasing the size can make it a little larger. Alternatively, you can use a tight zig-zag stitch.
Can you use a Cricut to cut the fabric for applique?
Yes. Detailed shapes can be cut with a Cricut or Silhouette. I plan on doing a full tutorial for this in the near future.
Follow my tutorial for applying the iron-on adhesive, use the pink fabric mat, choose “Bonded cotton” in the menu and use the rotary cutter. Then sew as directed.
Heart Applique Pillow
- Fabric for the pillow (I used this buffalo check fabric)
- Fabric for the heart (I used this pink fabric)
- Iron-on adhesive
- Sewing machine
How to Applique
Using Iron-On Adhesive
- Print and cut out your template. (Template download is below the tutorial.)
- Cut a piece of fabric for the heart. I cut it slightly larger than the template.
- Cut a piece of the iron-on adhesive.
- Place the fabric for the heart face-down.
- Place the iron-on adhesive paper-side-up on top of the fabric.
- Iron on medium heat for a few seconds until it sticks completely to the fabric.
- Trace the template onto the paper backing of the adhesive.
- Cut out the heart shape.
- Peel away the paper backing.
- Place it in the center of the pillow. Use a ruler if you need to find the center.
- Iron the heart onto the pillow until it sticks. It might take a few times to get it to completely stick.
Sewing the Applique with a Sewing Machine
If your machine has the ability to adjust the speed, slow it down. If not, just sew slowly.
- Set your machine to satin stitch if your machine has that setting. If not, you can use a buttonhole stitch or a tight zig-zag.
- Start sewing on a straighter part of the heart. Use the line in the center of your sewing machine foot to keep it lined up.
- When you reach the corner (or top center of the heart) stitch past the edge for about the width of your stitches. So if your stitches are 1/8″ wide, stitch for another 1/8″ past the edge.
- Stop sewing and make sure the needle is in the down position in the fabric.
- Lift the presser foot and turn the fabric.
- Keep sewing until you get the next corner or center of the heart and repeat steps 13-15.
- Continue sewing until you reach the place you started.
Sewing the Pillow
I need to start this part of the tutorial with a disclaimer. I just bought a new sewing machine that is waaaaayyyyy fancier than what I’m used to, so my sewing is not great as I learn to use it.
It got better as I went, so please don’t judge the crooked lines on the pillow. (Also probably should have switched to the white thread, but re-threading the machine still makes me want to cry.)
- Sew the zipper. I wrote a tutorial on sewing zippers in pillows if you need help.
- Unzip the zipper a few inches
- Pin the pillow fabric right sides together.
- Sew along the edges, being careful when you get to the zipper. (Make sure not to sew over the metal part of your needle will break…)
- Clip the corners. This creates nicer corners on the finished pillow.
- Flip the pillow inside out and insert the pillow insert. I’m a huge fan of these feather pillow inserts. They’re super affordable and will last forever.
Tips for Applique
- Try using decorative stitches instead of a plain satin stitch if your machine has fun stitch options.
- You can also hand embroider the edges.
- It’s also possible to add fun embroidered details, like dainty flowers.
- You can use a thread that matches or contrasting colors. I had intentions of using a matching color, but I ran out while making a bobbin.
- For more complicated designs, be sure to mirror the design.
This download includes both a printable PDF to cut out by hand and cut files to use with a Silhouette or Cricut (SVG, PNG, JPG and DXF files are included.)
Print scaled to 100% for best results.
All downloads are for personal use only. Please do not redistribute or sell files.
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