In the Japanese kimono that I made, I used a technique in fabric manipulation called appliqué. The word “appliqué” came from “appliquér,” a French term which literally means “applied, fastened to” (Carter), and is a stitching technique in which pieces of fabric embroidery and/or other materials are stitched or fastened to other pieces of fabric to create patterns and designs (The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 1992). In the case of my kimono, I used three fabrics with different colors and patterns and stitched it in very small pieces on the base shirt and also printed faces of Japanese women.
Appliqué is widely known in the whole world and is used in daily life for 2,500 years, as is evident on the oldest surviving patchwork in an Egyptian canopy quilt from 930 B.C., further dismissing the notion that it is Napoleon who brought appliqué in Egypt where long standing customs include putting appliqué designs on tents (http://www.historyofquilts.com). Meanwhile, William the Conqueror brought appliqué to England in 1066. In addition, during the early days, appliqué is used on leather and canvas and used in important symbols like family crests and protections (Carter).
However, appliqué and quilting originated from and is widely-used in Asia. It spread to Europe through the European crusades that pass through the Silk Road, as appliqué in Asia is used as an integral part of battle gears, because it is found that it deflected arrows (Liddell and Watanabe, 1985). Appliqué as we know it today came about when immigrants from European countries like Ireland, England, Scotland and France brought their arts and crafts designs from their homeland and into the United States of America as a means to make a picture of their new home. From then on, clothes also started to have appliqué designs.
Usually, a stable knit fabric is used in doing appliqué, but there are also other suitable fabrics in doing appliqué. These fabrics include organza, organdy, Polarfleece, interlock knit, satin, and denim among many others (Twigg, 2001), although on the onset, it is first used on clothes when cotton became readily available. As appliqué became part of clothing, it is now a fashion staple as top designers and brands carry appliqué designs on runways as it not only adds texture and life to clothing but is also a way to give more fun and creativity to an otherwise plain fabric.
For example, Dianne Von Furstenberg’s 2009 Spring Collection, as well as Anna Sui’s 2009 Spring Collection boasts of chic and contemporary designs that use appliqué. Because of their use of appliqué in their collections, elegant, sophisticated silhouettes are energized for the spring weather. Even high-end brands like Dolce and Gabbana and Marchesa’s 2009 Spring Collection have some designs using appliqué. This goes to show appliqué’s influence not only in plain clothing but also in high fashion.
Definitely, clothing using appliqué is marketable, simply because it is chic and elegant, and at the same time fun and fashion forward. It removes the word “boring” as new and original patterns are created through appliqué that cannot be compared to simple fabric prints. As shown in the collections mentioned, it also boasts of functionality as appliqué designs range from everyday wear, swimwear, formal wear and even gowns and dresses.
Appliqué’s major selling point is the unique designs and patterns. People of today is all about personal style. People want to stand out. Appliqué is an answer to the originality and sense of personal style that people seek. In itself appliqué can become a form of self-expression in a fashion setting.
31 May 2009.
Carter, Millie. “The Applique Society.” http://www.theappliquesociety.org. 31 May 2009 ;http://www.theappliquesociety.org/just-applique/art-of-applique/#A_Brief_History_of_Appliqué;.
The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework.” Reader’s Digest (1992): 192-206.
Twigg, Jeanine. Embroidery Machine Essentials: How to Stabilize, Hoop and Stitch Decorative Designs. KP Craft, 2001.
Watanabe, Jill Liddell & Yuko. Japanese Quilts . 1985.
Examples from Anna Sui’s 2009 Spring Collection:
Examples from Dianne von Furstenberg’s 2009 Spring Collection:
Examples from Dolce & Gabbana’s 2009 Spring Collection:
Examples from Marchesa’s 2009 Spring Collection: