What Is the Difference Between Embroidery & Appliques?

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Embroidery is the art of creating patterns and designs on a cloth using different color threads. It is done by hand or using a sewing machine. Applique, literally meaning "application," is a patchwork technique, created by sewing one piece of cloth on to another to add dimension and texture to an existing cloth.


The art of embroidery dates back to the Middle Ages, when embroidered clothes and garments signified wealth and richness. Europe, America and the Middle East exhibit embroidery fabrics throughout their histories. Applique, common in Eastern Europe and parts of Central Asia, is a French term. This sewing technique uses pieces of fabric to embellish other fabrics.


Personal projects and commercial projects, such as uniforms and corporate advertisements, use embroidery application. Applique technique creates patterns and textures and breaks the monotony of the cloth. Almost all types of textiles support embroidery, whereas applique is not adaptable to all fabrics and techniques, such as sewing on letters.

Procedure and Technique

Applique often entails manual work, since it requires the patch to be sewn on after separation from another cloth. Even when the fabric goes through a machine, the machine needs manual guidance and supervision. Fill stitching gives embroidery designs a completed look with no extra fabric required. The applique design is a combination of both fabric use and stitching.


Creating an applique design offers flexibility in the use of fabric types and shapes. Embroidery requires understanding of stitching methods and predetermining the design to be produced on the cloth.



About the Author

Arthur Joseph been a writer and editor for more than 20 years, including articles, essays, biographies, business reports and interview transcriptions. His work has appeared in Pan Macmillan's gardening, entertainment, politics and nonfiction publications. Joseph holds a B.A. in English literature from University College London and an M.A. in journalism City University London.

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