Appliqué and embroidery have been used throughout the ages across categories, including apparel, soft goods, linens, and tabletop. Both appliqué and embroidery have starring roles at Matouk throughout our bed and bath linen collections, as we take a contemporary approach to these time-honored techniques.
[Edited version - originally posted in 2014]
How It’s Done:
Appliqué is a sewing technique in which smaller pieces of fabric are attached to a larger piece, often of a contrasting color or texture, to create a pattern or motif. Even with the simplest styles, appliqués are almost always sewn (vs. automated) onto sheets, towels and table linens. You may see an appliqué ribbon put through a sewing machine, but that is as automated as it gets.
Appliqué at Matouk
Bias is an open, starchy fabric that we cut into ribbons, called bias tape, with the grain going diagonally so it is stretchy and easy to sew. We sew bias tape onto our poly cotton sheeting for an appliqué look that is casual and elegant, as in our Meridian style.
We can also produce appliqué monograms out of sheets of bias fabric or from Nocturne sateen fabric. Whether on towels or in the middle of a duvet, an appliqué monogram makes a bold and usually classically preppy statement.
Overall, appliqué tends to be bold and graphic—less intricate than embroidery because of the cut-and-sew technique. The scale is bigger, thicker, and wider. Often times, the customer that chooses an appliqué style has a vibrant, decorative aesthetic.
When you wash and dry an appliqué item, there will be some wrinkling or puckering of the fabric. Press out the wrinkles by ironing directly over the appliqué. That being said, there is something really beautiful and lived in about a fabric appliqué when it’s washed and dried without ironing.
How It’s Done:
Embroidery is a decorative sewing technique that incorporates thread or yarn. Automatic embroidery machines can be used to create some embroidered pieces, while others are done with a hand-guided embroidery machine.
Embroidery at Matouk
All of our stocked embroidered styles—the ones on our Matouk website or available for purchase from our Retail Partners—are made with an automatic embroidery machine. These include Classic Chain, Bel Tempo, Gordian Knot, among others.
On the other hand, any of our Bespoke products (or otherwise custom) are produced using a hand-guided embroidery machine.
While some monograms can be digitized (programmed into an automatic embroidery machine), others are done by hand using a highly specialized technique that involves applying the outline of the monogram with glow-in-the-dark paste that can only be seen by a monogram specialist working under blacklight.
Even at its most understated, embroidery brings richness to a bed. And even at its most intricate, embroidery has an elegance and a lightness. Embroidery can set a sheet or towel apart, adding uniqueness and a personal quality. Our embroideries add detailed finishing touches to each product.
Embroidered fabric puckers less with washing than appliqué fabric does. However, when wrinkling does happen, it is harder to iron out an embroidered piece than it is to iron out an appliqué.