How To Make A Simple Heart Applique?

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Easy difficulty level for making a simple heart applique.

After reading Ann Small’s inspiring book about fabric manipulation, I decided to try a similar technique by creating a small heart applique for girl’s dresses.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a faux chenille style heart applique suitable for girls’ dresses, tunics, or t-shirts. It’s is size approximately 20 cm by 15 cm (7 7/8 inch by 5 7/8 inch).

To create a heart applique you will need the following:

  • fabric rectangles of different colours (I chose three colours: dark violet, pink and white.) Make sure you cut them from fabric that has been prepared for sewing.
  • heart template (download here)
  • washable fabric marker and tracing pad
    • or tracing paper and tracing wheel
    • or stabiliser and liner
  • scissors
  • small embroidery scissors

1. Prepare cotton fabrics

Pretreat all fabrics the way you would when working on any other sewing project. Prewash the fabrics and tumble dry, or let them dry and iron.

Cut out a 20 cm by 15 cm (7 7/8 inch by 5 7/8 inch) rectangle from each fabric. In case you want to use a specific fabric twice, cut two rectangles. I used the following colour order for my applique: dark violet at the bottom, then white, pink, white again followed by pink as the top layer. So, I cut out one dark violet rectangle, two white and two pink ones.

Stack of fabric rectangles prepared for faux chenille heart applique.
Individual layers of cotton fabrics prepared for the applique.

2. Transfer the template

Download the heart template below (.pdf format) and print it out. The A4 paper format is suitable for any home printer. You can transfer the template in several ways (see the instructions below).

Transfer method 1: Transfer paper and tracing wheel

You can transfer the template using a tracing wheel and a tracing paper. Put the transfer paper with the coloured side up. Place the fabric right side down on the tracing paper. Place the image with the heart on the top of the fabric and trace the template (see the images below).

Pink cotton fabric placed on blue dressmakers tracing paper.
Tracing paper and fabric right side down.
Heart template transferred to pink cotton fabric using a dressmakers tracing paper and tracing wheel.
Traced template on the right side of the fabric.

Use a tracing paper you are familiar with. In case you are using a tracing paper for the first time, try it on a scrap of fabric and make sure the markings can be washed out.

Transfer method 2: Sharpie marker and stabiliser 

Another method to transfer the template is to trace the outlines to a stabiliser. You can use a simple, non-iron stabiliser, iron-on and tear-off stabiliser. For this example I used a an iron-on and tear-off stabiliser. Do the following: put the stabiliser on the top of the template and trace.

I do not recommend using a black sharpie for drawing the outlines as it’s not quite clear which part was already traced and which not (see the images below).

Transferring a heart temple to stabiliser with a sharpie.
Partly traced template with a green sharpie.
Heart template transferred to a stabiliser using a sharpie.
Template traced on a stabiliser.

Transfer method 3: Marker and tracing pad 

If you own a tracing pad, you can trace the template using a water soluble marking pen (see the images below). Test the marker on a scrap of fabric to be sure it can be washed out. Use the following order: tracing pad, heart template, upper most layer of fabric right side up. Do not forget to turn the pad on and trace.

Heart template between a pink cotton fabric and tracing pad.
Tracing pad turned on in a dark room with no lights on.
Heart template transferred to cotton fabric.
Completed tracing. Tracing pad turned off.

4. Sew the stack together

It does not matter which method you decide to use for the template transfer. Either put the fabric with the traced template on the top of the stack and baste all layers together or iron on the stabiliser with the template on the upper most layer and baste all layers together.

Stabiliser with heart template basted to stack of cotton fabric.
All layers basted together with the iron-on and tear-off stabiliser.

Start sewing at the centre of the template and gradually sew line by line towards the outer outline. I used a thread that matches the colour of the fabric.

Sewing stitches according to heart template on a stabiliser.
Sewing with the use of a stabiliser with the traced template.
Heart template sewn with an iron-on and tear-off stabiliser.
Sewn heart template using an iron-on and tear-off stabiliser.
Sewn heart template traced directly to the fabric.
Sewn heart template traced directly to the fabric.

In case you work with an iron-on and tear-off stabiliser, tear the stabiliser off. Be careful not to damage the stitching.

Tearing off the stabiliser from cotton fabric.
Tearing off the stabiliser.

5. Cut in between the stitching

Use small sharp embroidery scissors and cut four upper layers of fabrics in between the sewn lines. Be sure not to cut through the last layer at the bottom of your stack. The bottom layer needs to stay uncut. Cut out thin stripes about 2-3 mm (1/16 – 1/8 inch) wide following the shape of the heart (see the images below).

Cutting in between the stitching of the heart template.
First cutting through the upper four layers following the heart shape.
Cutting out thin stripes of stacked fabric with embroidery scissors.
Cutting out the first stripe in between the sewn outlines.
Cut out lines of stacked fabric.

6. Cut out thin stripes of the upper most layer

Cut out away thin stripes of the upper layer about 2 mm (1/16 inch) of the applique to reveal the layer just below (see the images below). The applique is almost finished.

Thin stripes upper layer fabric are cut away.
Thin stripe of the upper pink layer cut away.

7. Rub the heart applique for a more interesting look

Fold the heart and rub the right sides together. By rubbing the applique the edges will ravel a bit and gain a more interesting look. Some of the parts cut on the straight grain will ravel more than parts that were cut on the bias. I would not machine wash this kind of applique using a high spin speed.

Rubbed fabric of the heart applique for achieving more interesting look.
Finished applique sewn to a white cotton fabric.

7. Experiment with variations

The simplest variation is to use a thread of a contrasting colour or a multicoloured thread. Also the amount of fabric cut off makes a big difference. Of course, the order of individual cotton fabrics too. Look at the images below.

Rubbed fabric of the heart applique for achieving more interesting look.
Variation of faux chenille style heart applique with a multi color thread topstitching.
A scary version of faux chenille heart applique.

8. Sew the finished heart applique onto a garment

I chose one of the hearts I have created and sewn it onto a small girl’s dress. I used a pattern from Pattern Making For Kids’ Clothes as I usually do for all kids’ clothings.

For the ruffle on the bottom I used the same pink colour as the pink on the heart applique. For topstitching I decided for the same multicoloured thread as for the sewn outlines of the heart. I have used a concealed zipper at the back following this tutorial for sewing a concealed zipper.

Conclusion: How To Make A Simple Heart Applique?

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial and find it helpful. I also hope it inspired you to create your own designs based on this technique. If you liked this tutorial, please be so kind and share it. Thank you.

Girls sleeveless summer dress with pink heart applique.
Finished dress with one of the appliques.

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