Topstitch Applique & Add Brad Embellishments

Brads are so much more than scrapbooking and paper crafting embellishments…have you ever tried them on a stick horse?  They may make a hobby horse, other ride-on toys, faux taxidermy or a stuffie extra fun and give the steampunk feel.  However, they do make the project no longer suitable for small children…but who says stick horses are limited to small children!?  I’ll show you the techniques I used to accomplish this look so you may apply it to whatever project you’re working on.


What You Will Need:

  • -Brads of various sizes and colors (I used mini, square and tiny brads in copper, antiqued copper, gold and silver)
  • Awl 
  • -Fabric, thread, scissors and sewing machine
  • -Hot glue

First I’ll start with showing you how to applique with a basic topstitch.  I like the look of the brad embellishments best on this type of applique, but that is a personal preference.

Step 1: Trace the shape of the applique marking for your horse (or other project) onto the wrong side of the fabric.  Place that piece of fabric right sides together with another piece of the same fabric.

Step 2:  Sew directly on the drawn line.  I left the bottom curve open on this one since it will be placed under the muzzle applique.  However, if you’re not placing any part of this marking under another piece of fabric you’ll want to sew all the way around and follow the instructions below for the nostril to cut and turn this piece.

Step 3: Trim the excess fabric away from the seams and turn right side out.  If your fabric is iron friendly, you may iron it.  Otherwise, just press the seams with your fingertips. 

Step 4: Place the decorative piece on the piece of the project it will be sewn to and pin in place.  Topstitch with a scant 1/8 inch seam allowance.

Topstitch:  a row of continuous stitches on the top of a piece of fabric to create a decorative feature.

For the muzzle I’m going to show you my ‘facing’ method.  The only edge that will be topstitched is the top curved edge so that is the only edge that needs to be sewn.  The other three edges will align with the raw edges on the project and be sewn into the seam so there is no reason to do a full double layer on this piece.

Step 5: On the muzzle applique piece, draw the curved line of the muzzle to be sewn on (do the same on the side muzzle pieces in the Mustang Stick Horse pattern).  Place a smaller piece of fabric right sides together with the muzzle piece.  This piece of fabric only needs to align with the top of the muzzle and extend an inch or two beyond what will be the seam (currently the drawn line).

Step 6: Trim the excess fabric away and flip the facing fabric (the smaller piece of fabric) over so it is wrong sides together with the muzzle piece.  You may press this with an iron or your fingertips…and help it hold down with some straight pins.

Step 7:  Place the muzzle piece on the head gusset (and head sides with the side muzzle pieces for the Mustang) and topstitch all the way around the muzzle piece with a scant 1/8 inch seam allowance.

Real quick I want to show you another application for this muzzle applique method.  I used it on my Highland Cow’s muzzle.  I just laid it over top of the fur fabric and topstitched it like shown above.  This is my Rodeo Bull design.  Ok…moving on…

Step 8: To make nostrils (or any other shape that needs a seam all the way around its edges) trace the shape onto the wrong side of one piece of fabric.  Place another piece of fabric right sides together against the one you just drew on.  As done in step 1 and step 5, sew directly on the drawn line.  Sew all the way around your drawn shape.

Step 9: Trim the excess fabric away from the seam.  Pull the two fabric panels apart from each other on one nostril and cut a slit in only one panel of fabric (make sure if you’re pieces are mirrored to each other that you cut a slit in the opposite panel on your second piece).  Turn it right side out and press with an iron or your fingertips.

Step 10: Place the nostril (or other shape) on your project, secure with straight pins or spray adhesive, and topstitch around the edges with a scant 1/8 inch seam allowance.

Now I’ve shown you three different methods for creating a decorative piece to applique: one with an open end, one with facing and one with seams on all the edges…so let’s move on to adding some steampunk flair (or other similar embellishments of choice).

Step 11: Plot out where you’d like your brads based on their size and how much space you’d like between them.  Then, as you’ll see in the photo below, make a template with a piece of paper with the evenly spaced lines marked.  Use the template to mark dots on the fabric where each brad will be placed.

This is how it looks before and after…dresses it up nicely doesn’t it.

Step 12: To place the brads, use an awl to poke a hole one of the dots.  Then place the stems of the brad through the hole and press them open on the other side to hold.  Continue doing this on all the marked dots.  

Step 13: To help hold the brads in place and minimize the chance that they will be pulled out later, place some hot glue in the center of the brad on the wrong side of the fabric where the two stems meet.  Even though this minimizes the likelihood of the brads being pulled out…it still isn’t a good idea to give this item to a small child.

Continue placing brads on the other areas where you’d like them.  I also placed them along the muzzle line and placed tiny ones along the nostrils.  For the steampunk look I like to use brads on any applique piece to make it look like the brads are rivets holding the pieces in place (you could use small rivets in place of brads if you’d like).

Here are two horses I used brads on, my goal was a steampunk look.  Get creative…you can have lots of fun with this!  This project was demonstrated on my Mustang Stick Horse design.

Here is another sample of what I have used brads on.  The applique work is all done by sewing machine with a satin stitch.  See the red dots?  Those are all brads…applied in the same manner as above.  Get creative!

Here is a great image for Pinterest!  Pin now and save this project for later.