Iron-on Applique 101

Iron-on applique is a sewing technique I use a lot.  It’s an easy, versatile way to add an extra little touch to just about any sewing project.  I thought I would take a minute to do a quick step-by-step tutorial for iron-on applique.

First, you will need to purchase some iron-on adhesive.  I keep yards of this stuff around at all times.  It’s very reasonably priced.  I like HeatnBond brand the best.  In fact I wouldn’t waste my money on any other brand (Pellon in particular is very difficult to work with).

You will also need some cotton fabric.  I usually stick with fabrics that have medium to large prints with easy to cut shapes.

When you open up your iron-on adhesive you will notice that it has two sides.

A smooth side that feels like parchment paper and a bumpy side that is slightly shiny.  The bumpy, shiny side is the side that has the adhesive on it.  Whatever you do DO NOT let you iron touch the adhesive side!

Next you will want to cut out a piece of the adhesive that just barely covers the shape you wish to use as an applique.  In this case I’m using two little houses.

Turn your iron on to the “wool” setting.  Place the fabric on the ironing board with the right side down.  Place the piece of iron-on adhesive on the fabric with the bumpy (or adhesive) side down.  You want to make sure that you are ironing on the smooth paper side.  I want to be clear about this step, you are melting the adhesive into the wrong side of the fabric with the paper side up.

Slowly glide the iron over the paper.  Make sure to run the iron all the way out to the edge of the adhesive paper.  It should only take about 30 seconds to melt the adhesive into the fabric.

Allow the fabric to cool and cut out your shape.

Once you have the shapes cut out, peel the paper off the back.  It should come off easily.  If it doesn’t, that means the adhesive hasn’t melted all the way and you need to iron it a bit more.

Place the applique onto the clothing, being sure to position it exactly were you want it to go. Once it’s ironed there’s no making adjustments.  Once again you want to slowly glide the iron over the fabric applique being sure to get the edges.

When your fabric applique is secure, move to your sewing machine and carefully stitch around the edge.  The iron-on adhesive will keep the fabric from fraying when it’s washed.  The stitching is to make the applique a little more secure and to add a finished look.

Easy as pie!

Now that you’ve got the applique basics down the sky is the limit! You can use it on so many different projects.  It’s just my personal taste but I find that the simpler the applique the better it looks.  A little bit of embellishment goes a long way.


Have fun, don’t go crazy (unless you like crazy. the by all means applique everything in sight), and if you have any other questions please feel free to send a message.


20 thoughts on “Iron-on Applique 101

  1. jillcarmel

    I saw at the craftstore one that says little brother and big brother and hope to make them before my little grandson comes in Oct. It’s already in a pkg. so should be easy to do;just iron on.

  2. pettybunch

    You always bring back so many good memories of my sewing days!!  I am longing to get back to it, and hope I can very soon.  You are just REALLY good!!

    Blessings to you April!!

  3. inanorchard

    @oneblessedwoman -  I am fortunate to have a few good fabric stores in the area but I also buy a lot of fabric online.  The two you saw in the photo were both bought from Etsy and  Thanks for stopping by!  I love new visitors :)  

  4. fruitloops115

    you make this look so easy and cool, Really though, i didn’t know how you got your little sew on things to look so nice. Now I know. heat n’ bond. not pellon. 

  5. baileyandme

    i cannot thank you enough for this tutorial. BECAUSE i used to do this when i was 14 or so and forgot all about it!! we used to use this technique for making stiff, mennonite collars on dresses. man, i cannot wait to use it this way for baby stuff. :) very, very excited.
    so thanks…

  6. lifeisadance

    I LOVE iron-on applique! I have used it often myself, and I especially love *your* take on it. You think of ways to use it that would take me decades. :) I just absolutely love your style!!

  7. inanorchard

    @Anaiz Al@facebook - Yes, you could absolutely hand stitch around the applique!  In fact I love the look of hand stitching, it adds a really nice touch.  I would recommend a running stitch or a blanket stitch.  Thanks so much for stopping by, I always enjoy new visitors.  I hope this helps and have fun stitching!


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