How to Applique Letters


Applique letters are a fast and simple way of personalizing fabric items such as clothing, purses and tote bags. The project involves making your own letters from fabric, then applying them to your chosen fabric item. This means the design is entirely customizable, from the style and size of the letters you use to the color or pattern of fabric for the applique. Make one large, bold letter to represent the initial of a name, or spell out whole words or phrases for a more complex design.

Things You'll Need

  • Fusible adhesive
  • Fabric
  • Iron
  • Stencil (optional)
  • Fabric marker
  • Sharp scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Fray glue
  • Apply the fusible adhesive to the wrong side of the fabric by pressing it with an iron on low heat, according to the manufacturer's instructions. The smooth backing paper should be facing up, with the textured side facing down on the fabric.

  • Trace the letter you want to applique onto the fabric side using a fabric marker. Use a stencil, print out a letter from your computer to trace around or draw the letter freehand.

  • Cut out the traced letter using sharp scissors, following the marked lines very carefully. Cut out any inside shapes, such as the middle of a D or A, by folding the fabric inside the shape and cutting carefully along the fold to make a slit. Insert the scissors through the slit to trim the inside of the shape out.

  • Peel off the protective backing paper from the back of the letter. Press the letter in position, adhesive side down, on the item you are applying it to. Press the fabric side of the letter firmly with your iron for several seconds. Lift the iron and repeat until the letter is bonded to the item. Work slowly and make sure you use even pressure.

  • Sew along the outer edge of the applique with a sewing machine to secure the letter to a fabric item. Use a straight or zigzag stitch 1/4 inch inside the edges of the letter, or sew a wide zigzag stitch that goes over the edges of the applique. Sewing is an optional step, but it makes the applique more secure and long-lasting.

  • Dab fray glue all around the edges of the letters to keep the fabric from unraveling.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sew the letters on by hand using a decorative stitch to make the appliques more interesting.
  • Be sure to purchase fusible adhesive, which is sticky on both sides, as opposed to fusible interfacing, which is sticky only on one side.
  • Use non-fraying fabrics, such as felt or faux leather, for your appliques to eliminate the need for fray glue.
  • Do not leave the iron sitting on top of the letter for extended periods of time or you may melt the adhesive and damage the fabric.

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