Appliqué (or sewing something on in a different fabric) is a great way to personalise your children’s clothes (and other items). The secret behind good appliqué is to buy some appliqué paper which bonds two pieces of fabric together (from craft shops or haberdashery suppliers), so holds everything in place while you sew and helps prevent unwanted fraying.
Start by making your appliqué pattern by choosing the correct size of letters or shape you want to use from your computer fonts/online images and print it onto paper. Then, lay your appliqué paper over the top of your pattern, (paper side up), and trace the outline of your pattern onto the appliqué paper, (remember though that for non-symmetrical items you will end up with a reverse appliqué image of the pattern you trace). Rough cut out the shape and put the appliqué paper shiny side down onto the wrong-side of your chosen fabric, (I recommend a non-stretchy cotton). Apply your iron at the recommended temperature, for the recommended amount of time to the paper side of the appliqué paper (this will melt the glue on the shiny side of the paper onto the wrong-side of your fabric). When it has cooled down, cut out the appliqué shape following the outline you have on the appliqué paper. Then, remove the appliqué paper from the fabric shape, position the fabric shape on your garment (glue or shiny side down) and iron it to bond it to your garment. When it has all cooled down, your appliqué shape will be fixed to the garment and you can then hand stitch or machine sew round the edge. Many sewing machines have decorative stitches, but a simple running stitch is easiest and looks lovely! If you want to try your hand at embroidery, a chain stitch works well and there are lots of tutorials on YouTube to help if you are new to embroidery.
If you are new to appliqué, start first with a couple of initials or a simple shape until you get the hang of it as it can be a bit fiddly. I brightened up my boys shirts with rockets on the front, and a little star on the back!
Joanna is founder of Homespun Joes, a hand crafting shop which she has successfully expanded into sewing and crafting classes. Joanna comes from a family of makers and has been creating and sewing since the tender age of 11 when she decided to re-stitched her faux leather knickerbockers into a pencil skirt. She shares her love for making things with her two young boys and wants to spread the her love for crafts.
Find Joanna on facebook
If you are short of time, the Half-Pint Mummies have a few suggestions of companies that offer great personalised gifts:-
Scarlett Willow - Offer personalised homewares including children's placemats and children's aprons. They can also personalise a tray with a variety of photographs - could be a good present for mummy and given to her with breakfast in bed - wishful thinking from us perhaps!
Milly Green - Sells gorgeous cushions, stationery and pictures plus another great place for personalised placemats but these are also beautifully illustrated so you could capture the essence of your child - choose from a selection including Noah's Ark, The Zoo, A Fairy, Ballerinas or this London Bus which is one of our favourites.#
Mongrammed Linen Shop - Our number one place for personalised dressing gowns. Soft white towelling with beautiful pale pink or blue embroidery on the back - a truly special present and once they grow out of them they will still look lovely hanging on a hook in their bedroom.
Rocket and Rose - Adorable hoodies, T-shirts, bedding and accessories which can be created from a choice of thousands of designs and personalised just for you. Our favourite is the Dino-RAR Hoodie - every little one in the playground will want one and you will have lots of fun coming up with a 'dinosaur' name and your special design.
Dragons of Walton Street - having been around for over 30 years, this is the number one stop for beautifully hand painted furniture and accessories. The furniture is simply stunning, but we love the little chairs and hairbrushes which make fantastic presents and will last a lifetime.
Ella and Oscar - Pretty sewn-on applique in a variety of fabrics; we especially love their range of aprons and bags which would be great presents and their pin boards would add a special touch to any nursery.
Great Little Trading Company - A good place to start when looking for personalised gifts. Offer a range of stationery, labels, ruck sacks etc, but we especially loved the personalised snuggle sacs. Great solution for sleepovers and for taking on trips away - we wished they did them for adults!