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DIY Insignia: Stitch Original Emblems from Wool and Fancy Trims

Create lavish appliqués from wool and trim
Threads #215, Fall 2021
Wool felt and tulle provide a firm base for a dimensional appliqué with touches of metallic trim. Pattern: Simplicity Threads 8844. Fabric: Polyester tartan, Etsy.com.

Take a cue from traditional school uniforms or medieval heraldry and try this fun and creative appliqué technique. It is an easy-to-learn way to add panache to your clothes without the hassle of folded-edge appliqué or hours of intricate stitching. Just use boiled wool as a base and ready-made metallic and crystal embellishments.

I’ll explain the process and some methods to assemble layered motifs with readily available trims. In no time, you’ll have a rich crest that reflects your personal style.


  • Bright check purl (flexible coil that can be cut into short lengths and looped)
  • Broad plate (narrow metallic ribbon) or 1/8-inch-wide stiff ribbon
  • Chain rhinestones
  • Chalk pencil
  • Closed-tip thimble
  • Embroidery floss or pearl cotton
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Hand-sewing needle, milliner’s size 9 or 10
  • Hand-sewing thread, matching or contrasting
  • Silamide thread
  • Tulle Wool felt or non-raveling fabric
  • Optional: Assorted trims such as buttons, sequins, beads
sketch for DIY insignia
Sample sketch

Design an emblem

  • Look at vintage school crests, emblems, and coats of arms for shapes, or feel free to design your own meaningful or whimsical insignia.
  • Keep the size of the appliqué smaller than the area of the garment to which you are sewing it.
  • If the appliqué is symmetrical, fold a piece of paper in half and draw half the design’s outer shape. Cut the shape from the folded paper, and use it as a template for the whole design.
  • Draw layers and embroidery motifs within the outer shape.

Prepare the appliqué

1. Pin all appliqué pattern pieces to wool and cut out. Then prepare the hoop: Place two layers of tulle in the embroidery hoop and stretch taut. Keep the tulle taut to prevent the finished appliqué from warping when removed from the hoop.

2. Place the base appliqué layer. Center the base fabric on the stretched tulle. Pin…

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