Monday, April 25, 2011

{Applique Week} Inspiration

April's theme week is all about applique. Applique (properly spelt appliqué, but in English the accent is often omitted) literally means the application of one material to the surface of another. In terms of fashion and homewares this generally consists of fabric shapes attached singly or to create an image or pattern.

To kick off the week and whet your appetites, here's a bit of vintage applique inspiration.

This page from a 1940 Sears catalogue features not one but three different applique ideas. I love love love the pink one with black-outlined bow applique, in gingham on solid at the collar and with the effect reversed at the hem - definitely going on my to-copy list. Then the green stripe dress with red buttons and cherry appliques - what's not to love? The third isn't actually applique but "daisy bouquets printed to look like applique".

The frock above, from 1942, features "a smart splash of color in the cut-out print that is appliqued at shoulder and on the lower skirt".

Above: Daisy appliques and delicate hand embroidery adorn a neckline. (Photo from myvintagevogue)

A simple dirndl dress from 1942 appliqued around the hem (and on the sleeves - cute touch) with a repeated apple motif.

In the 1950s, of course, applique really took off as an embellishment to circle skirts, and a wide range of both ready-cut felt appliques and transfer templates were available. Of course there was the ubiquitous poodle, but there were tons of other themes available too. I love the "Date Time" set above (the one with the phone, clock and music). Oriental dancers seem a little random. And mean kitty (below) just isn't nice!

I love the suggestions for use: "Add a fashion flair to skirts, tea aprons, pillows, tote bags, cafe curtains, table runners, party decorations, jackets, pot holders, place mats."

Circle skirt patterns were often sold complete with a set of applique transfers - this bird & cage design is one of my favourites. It comes up quite often on etsy.

The adorable Cafe Parisien motif on this Swirl dress from the 50s/60s is in a combination of machined satin stitch and applique.

How about this for advanced-manual applique? A 3-dimensional bird with velvet body and a cascading feather tail from 1922. Isn't it fabulous? I really want to use this idea one day.


  1. Some very cute ideas there!Thanks for sharing :) I've tried applique before, and . . . erm. . .well, lets just say it didn't go well! lol
    Ashley x

  2. This is great – thank you for sharing –I am currently in the process of “Debrafying” a Denim Jacket with Heart Appliqué’s from 11 various fabric that I have made an item from. This post has given me some vintage ideas. Thanks - debs*

  3. I LOVE applique...and I love how it seems to have been popular across several decades on women's garments, household linens, and even bedding. Just adds such unique and beautiful touches of sweetness!

  4. I've never been a massive fan of applique, but that last 3d bird is amazing!

  5. This is such a great post!! Thank you for sharing!!!

  6. I have a fabulous western dress with some really fun appliqué on it I have always wanted to reproduce and I was playing around last week end with some appliqué and well you have given me some new ideas on what to do with my new found skills!!!! Great post

  7. Hooray for applique! I have been itching to try my hand at it for some time, having drooled over countless vintage garments sporting it, or illustrations. I'm especially intrigued by the idea of appliquing a circle skirt. I have a folder with several images of 50s "novelty" skirts featuring some really cute (and unusual) applique. Now if only I could find the time...

    Can't wait to see what else you're going to post for applique week! :)

    ♥ Casey


I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Related Posts with Thumbnails