Appliqué Embroidery: The Secret to Sweet Unicorn Eyes

I really get a kick out of crocheting amigurumi. It is so fun to take some string and give it a unique personality! Adding the features at the end can really bring your creature to life, but if you are having trouble getting the look you want, it can cause so much frustration. Try this technique for appliqué embroidery to add the perfect finishing touch! I’ll walk you through the steps.

Often, the features are embroidered onto your crocheted piece. This can be really tricky to do—it’s difficult to embroider a surface that is covered with bumps and holes! Despite your best efforts, your stitches can look uneven, lopsided, or asymmetrical. To make things worse, once you start the embroidery, if you’re not happy with the placement or how it looks, it can be challenging to remove your stitches and start over in a better location.

Crocheting tiny appliqué pieces and stitching them onto your project allows you to make perfectly symmetrical features (you can flip them over for mirror images) without hassle. Moving the eyes closer together or farther apart or even tilting the eyes one way or the other just a fraction of an inch can dramatically change your creature’s personality or expression, so it’s a bonus to be able to play with the feature placement before you sew the pieces on.

For the Unicorn Wall Décor from Interweave Crochet Fall 2018, I wanted to give the unicorn a serene expression. I wanted the eyes to be closed and beautiful, and I didn’t want them to distract from the piece. This was the perfect situation to use the appliquéd embroidery technique.

I designed a small appliqué piece to look like eyelashes on a closed eye. This is the general process: After you make the foundation chain, you work across the bottom of the chain by making a slip stitch, chaining a few stitches to create an eyelash (Figure A), and working your way back along the bottom of the eyelash chain and continuing to slip stitch across a couple of the original chains. Then, chain to make another eyelash (Figure B), and repeat the process of making eyelashes and slip stitching between them all the way across to the end of your original chain (Figure C). Fasten off, leaving a long enough tail to sew the eyelashes onto the head. Finally, simply pin and stitch the appliqué to the face (Figure D).

Figure A | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure A | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure B | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure B | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure C | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure C | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure D | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure D | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

This technique can be used for many other shapes, too. You can make an open eye by crocheting a flat circle and chaining a few stitches (Figure E). I turn the piece and work back along the chain and then back across about half of the stitches around the eye circle. Make another chain (Figure F), turn the piece again, work a slip stitch, chain and make an eyelash, work another slip stitch and an additional eyelash (Figure G), make a couple more slip stitches, and fasten off.

Figure E | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure E | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure F | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure F | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure G | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure G | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

It doesn’t need to be complicated. A crochet chain makes a great line for a nose, mouth, whiskers, or closed eye. You can make it as long as you like and sew it to your project in any kind of curve, straight line, or circular shape. I made a small chain and stitched it to this face in a circular shape (Figure H). Later, I decided I wanted a different expression, so I removed it and stitched it on in a curve (Figure I). It was so easy to make this change, and I didn’t need to worry that I would ruin my project by trying to fix it!

Figure H | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure H | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure I | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Figure I | Photo Credit: Brenda K. B. Anderson

Are you excited to try this appliqué embroidery technique on your Unicorn Wall Décor? Let us know in the comments below!

(Featured Image: Unicorn Wall Décor from Interweave Crochet Fall 2018. | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography)


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