Adventures in Applique!

Back in the dark ages, before I was confident enough to make my own clothes (you know, the first 28 years of my life!) I had an ongoing love affair with applique. I’d start with some boring RTW basic, and add my own flair! It was the perfect way to make my clothing more personalized without having to handle those annoying construction details. 

Now that the construction and fabric choice is the fun part, I haven’t done much applique lately. I thought it might be fun though to share some of my pre-blog makes! 

#1: The Original Hoodie

Appliqueing everything!

In the mid 2000’s, I spent a year working for Girl Guides of Canada. I won this sweatshirt in a raffle at the Christmas party, and then was soundly mocked for dressing like a student at work!

Appliqueing everything!

You see, this shirt started out its life with a huge “University of Guelph” logo across the front. (I graduated from Guelph, so I didn’t much mind, but I can see now that it was aiming a bit low for office fashion!) I promptly ripped on the logo, and tried to think of something to cover the obvious damage left behind. I’d just returned from my first two years in Japan, so a kawaii octopus (taco, in Japanese!) somehow seemed an obvious choice! 

#2: Appliqued T-Shirt

Appliqueing everything!

I think this was one of the first appliqued items I made during my second time living in Japan. I cut these leaf shapes out to apply onto a gauze-y scarf…but the scarf was a disaster, so I put them on a shirt instead!

Appliqueing everything!

Quick and dirty – They are just loosely zigzagged on. The fraying is *cough* a design detail!  The arrangement of leaves makes me think of a Roman crown of laurels, for some reason. 

#3:Hoodie, Part Deux

Appliqueing everything!

Apparently, before I started sewing, I wore a lot of hoodies! This is a bog-standard basic hoodie from Uniqlo (one of the ONLY stores in Japan that sold clothes big enough for me… and even then, they were often too small!)

Japan fueled my undying love for Echino fabric, so clearly, this hoodie needed some cute birds! (Cute + Animal + Applique = Good, in my books!)

Appliqueing everything!

For this hoodie, I appliqued with a tight zigzag stitch, which has lasted really well. I’m actually a little sad to see how faded this hoodie is looking – I’ve loved wearing it! 

#4: More Echino,  More better!

Appliqueing everything!

Japan loves set-price things, like all-you-can-eat restaurants  or  all-you-can-drink bars. They LOVE 100yen stores ($1), but my favourite were the 300 or 500 yen accessory stores. Most of my necklaces, earrings and purses come from those magical cheap places, including this basic shoulder bag. 

Appliqueing everything!

The design was perfect for bike-riding, but the plain khaki was just too dull! I pulled the Echino out again, with a few extra graphic scraps thrown in. It’s all zigzagged on, with some bias tape around the edge.

#5: The Blazer 

Appliqueing everything!

My final appliqued item is decorated with a scrap of fabric you just might recognise from my Me-Made May pictures. (For example, scroll down to the second photo here!)

It’s part of the motif from a long roll of vintage yukata fabric (traditional cotton kimono fabric) which I bought in Japan. We had three stripes of it hanging in our living room in Japan, and now it’s in our bedroom in Canada. Here I am a few years ago, just after finishing the applique! 

I LOVE this fabric… I lie in bed looking at it every day, thinking how much I love it! The colours are so bright, and exactly match my dream wardrobe. 

Appliqueing everything!

So why not stick it on my clothes, and wear it?! I’m sad to say I don’t wear this jacket as much as I should… but it’s not stretchy, so sometimes it just feels awkward!


So there you have it, my adventures in applique. I have to say, digging these out from the back of my closet made me sad at first: They are all looking a bit old and shabby. I don’t really wear them anymore, and that seems sad too.

On the other hand, maybe it’s time to celebrate them and move on. These clothes helped me feel unique and personalised before I made whole garments myself, but maybe I don’t really need to rely on the any more! I love my Me-Made wardrobe, and I hope it continues to evolve. 

What did you sew before you began with garments? How did you show your own personality in your wardrobe? I’d love to know! 

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