How To Create Your Own Appliqué Designs Without Drawing A Thing By Hand

Last week’s appliqué baby bib sent my inbox into quite a tizzy!

There were lots of questions regarding my tips for finding appliqué designs online, requests for a more detailed tutorial on how to sew them, and even a few inquiries about making your own bias tape.

So I thought I’d take some time over the next few weeks to cover all of that, and more.

We’ll start with a two-part post on creating and sewing appliqués.

I’m going to go more into depth as to how I find shapes to work with online (I may be a seamstress, knitter, and paper lover, but I am by no means an artist!). Then, later in the week, I’ll give a step-by-step how-to for sewing raw edge appliqués, and all of this will be from scratch…no cutting system required!

Up first, creating your own appliqués….

As I said above, I am surely no artist. Drawing with a pencil by hand is probably one of my weakest crafty skills. So, I turn to basic shapes that can be found online, for free, to help me create my own appliqué designs.

I thought I’d walk you through my process today, with a basic shape…an ice cream cone!

So, the first thing I did to create the appliqué shown above was a google search of the phrase “ice cream cone coloring page.” Of course, tons of images came up, none of which I loved 100%. That’s what’s great about this technique! I’m going to show you how I pick and choose which parts of each I like, and how I put them all together.

Back to that ice cream cone…

These two images caught my eye (Take a peek at my notes on each as to what I liked, and what I didn’t! You can click on the image to make it larger!):

So I kept the pieces I liked (and took away what I didn’t!) by simply printing these images out, and tracing the parts I wanted to keep! You can use a lightbox, or even just tape the print out to a window, then put a blank piece of paper overtop. Super simple!

Plus, I googled “free cupcake clipart images” to find that missing cherry! Here’s what I was left with, and again, take a peek at my notes!

To resize the individual pieces, I just ran them through my printer, and either reduced or enlarged them accordingly.

Put all the pieces together by tracing them one more time….

And that’s it! You’ve got an adorable appliqué ice cream design, ready to be cut out and stitched (again, we’ll cover that part in the next post!) and, as promised, it was created without drawing a thing by hand! Super simple, right?

I’d love see what designs all of you can come up with using this technique. Please feel free to experiment, and then send your creations my way! Just email them to


Nikki, In Stitches

PS…The make your own bias tape tutorial is in the works, too! No worries! Look for that coming soon!

NOTE: This appliqué is made by combining individual parts of free images found online. It is for personal use only. If you’re going to sell your finished product, or benefit financially from its creation, you should contact the individual websites where the images are found, and review their copyright policies.

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6 Responses to How To Create Your Own Appliqué Designs Without Drawing A Thing By Hand

  1. Anna says:

    Great idea! I literally just discovered something similar yesterday with using photographs printed out on 8×11 size. I go over the front of the photo, outlining the “pieces” that I can cut out with a sharpie, then it comes through the back. On the back there is no photo to confuse me, and I retrace my black lines, then I have the reverse image at the same time. Then I trace that onto my fusible web paper. I’m pretty tickled by the results. I like your tutorial with the straight stitch, I think I’ll use that for a couple of my blocks as my zig zag stitch doesn’t want to work correctly.

  2. kileigh says:

    once you do this how would you get your sewing maching to read it as a applique file or how would you turn it into a applique file

    • Nikki says:

      I cut my appliqué’s either by hand or with an electronic die cutting system (I have a Silhouette CAMEO!), and then I raw edge appliqué around the edges with my traditional sewing machine!

  3. Amy says:

    Hi Nikki,
    I find it interesting that you’re saying you’re a seamstress, knitter, paper crafter but not an artist. I assume you me you can’t draw. My mom was that way…she was a tailor and could sew anything, including cutting her own patterns, crocheter, etc., but she could not draw or pick colors very well. I, on the other hand, cannot sew a straight line or make garments, but I can draw and pick colors. I have an embroidery machine and an accu-quilt machine. I need to perfect raw edge applique because I don ‘t have embroideries for all my shapes. I do have an ice cream cone die and a roll of steam a seam 2 so can practice. I have a major questtion on your other blog…on the part 2.

    • Nikki says:

      That’s exactly me, Amy!
      I can make anything…sew a garment, build my own furniture, you name it…but ask me to actually DRAW something and you’ll see very quickly why I don’t consider myself an artist!

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