Textiles 101

Discover the Timeless Art and Craft of Appliqué

Appliqué embroidery—or, simply, appliqué—is a form of ornamental needlework that’s as old as cloth itself. Appliqué differs from traditional embroidery because cloth is used to form the decorative motif instead of thread. To make an appliqué, pieces of fabric in varying colors, shapes and textures are arranged in a pattern and sewn onto a larger piece of background fabric. Appliqué can be stitched by hand or with a machine, and can be finished with different types of edging, such as a classic satin stitch or a more informal raw edge.

Schumacher Den Applique in Cumin

The abstracted grid of Den Appliqué, a fabric by designer, artist and Schumacher collaborator Hadiya Williams, is based on paper cutouts.

Design by Andrew Brown

In the Birmingham bedroom of designer Andrew Brown, a Good Luck Knot Appliqué adds a bold flourish to each Euro pillow. The shams and curtains are in Incomparable Moiré, the canopy is lined in Sauvage High Performance Woven, and the bedspread is Ginkgo Embroidery.

Francesco Lagnese

Appliqué began as a practical way to mend holes in tents, blankets and clothing. Examples date back to the ancient Egyptians and Middle Ages. The process was used to strengthen worn fabrics, patch holes and add decorative flair to banners and ceremonial costumes. An easily recognizable example from more recent decades is the classic 1950s poodle skirt with fabric fragments appliquéd to create an adorable poodle design.

Today appliqué is found on many of Schumacher’s fabrics, and is beautiful on everything from pillows and curtains to bedding and table linens. The hand-cut petals and leaves of Jackie Appliqué Embroidery have an Arts & Crafts quality that feels both contemporary and nostalgic. Another Schumacher favorite is Topi Appliqué, featuring a bold graphic motif with a hint of animal print.

Schumacher Pagoda Trim in Red

From designer and Schumacher collaborator David Kaihoi, Pagoda Trim features a stylized suggestion of a roofline rendered in graphic appliqué.

For an unconventional take on appliqué, look no further than designer Miles Redd’s Ribbon Appliqué Panel. Grosgrain ribbons in graduating widths (and four color options) are appliquéd to a 12-foot-tall ivory panel, creating a unique upholstery fabric with a bold, modern feel. The fabric can hang straight for dramatic curtains and shades, or be used on the bias to give furniture a surprising asymmetrical twist.

Schumacher Ribbon Applique Panel

Embellished with grosgrain ribbons in graduating widths, Miles Redd’s Ribbon Appliqué Panel is a couture-worthy textile with limitless applications.

Schumacher Sangomar Applique Pillow in Citron

The bold curves of Schumacher’s Sangomar Appliqué fabric, now in a perfectly finished 22″ pillow. Both the fabric and pillow are available in three colorways.

The ancient sewing process of appliqué has stood the test of time and provides endless decorative possiblities for modern-day designers. Whether your style is minimalist or print-forward, there is an appliqué fabric for everyone.

Shop a few more of our favorite appliqué fabrics below.

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