Fashion Terms

What does appliqué mean?

Appliqué is a decorative design made of one piece of fabric sewn on top of another.

On occasion the technique is used in conjunction with embroidery.  Using appliqué for portion of a design can reduce the stitch count needed for an embroidery which can potentially reduce the cost of manufacturing.

In its broadest sense, an appliqué is a smaller ornament or device applied to another surface.  The technique is very common in regard to textiles and clothing, but can also be applied to other materials for use in other industries.  For example, in the context of ceramics, an appliqué is a separate piece of clay added to the primary work, generally for the purpose of decoration.

Appliqué is a sewing technique in which fabric patches are layered on a foundation fabric, then stitched in place by hand or machine with the raw edges turned under or covered with decorative stitching.  The term is borrowed from French and, in this context, means "applied" or "thing that has been applied."  From the French appliquer, “to put on,” appliqué is most often used to embellish clothing or household linens. Like patchwork (piecing), it is a method of constructing or embellishing quilts.

Appliqué is a surface pattern that is used to decorate an aspect of a garment or product.

In the context of sewing, an appliqué refers to a needlework technique in which patterns or representational scenes are created by the attachment of smaller pieces of fabric to a larger piece of contrasting color or texture.  A famous example of appliqué is the Hastings Embroidery.

Appliqué is every designer's go-to when they want to create an artisanal effect. It's especially prolific in couture.

In this sense, appliqué refers to using fabric shapes/designs usually on the trim of a garment.

You may want to also read fashion blog posts about other embellishment techniques for clothing.

We hope this helps you better understand this apparel industry term.  If you have suggestions regarding how we can improve the information above, please let us know.

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