Fleece is a little bit fuzzy. It's got a short plush pile with little fiber nubs that make it really soft and cuddly and perfect for toys. You might think that the fuzzy pile would make it difficult to applique on fleece, but it's not hard at all once you know a few tricks.
For my dinosaur pattern you'll applique five spots on each of the body pieces before sewing it all together. The spots are made from felt. I chose felt because it's easy to cut and sew accurately (it can be hard to cut small shapes accurately from fleece). The felt provides a nice change in texture on the toy and you'll use it to make the spikes that run along the dinosaur's back, too.
Typically with applique you'd use fusible web to adhere the spots in place before stitching them down, but because fleece can't be ironed at a high temperature (it'll melt!) fusible web isn't all that practical here. My easy solution? A washable glue stick.
Here I have my fleece dinosaur body, a spot cut from wool-blend felt, thread that coordinates with the spot (I find that thread in a shade lighter blends nicely), and a glue stick.
Just a quick note about color choices. I chose purple fleece and yellow spots for this dinosaur because purple and yellow are complementary colors on the color wheel. For the spikes on the dinosaur I chose felt that matches the body fabric just in a lighter shade. The spikes blend whereas the spots stand out and I think that difference is really pleasing.
Rub some glue on one side of a spot and put it on the dinosaur. The glue will hold the spot right where you want it while you zigzag stitch around the outer edge of the spot to applique it in place.
The nice thing with glue, besides the fact that you're not melting the fleece with the iron, is it eliminates the need to use pins. Pin heads would really get in the way when appliqueing such a small shape.
Set your machine to a small, tight zigzag. My stitch length here is 1.5 and the width is 3.5. Put your needle down right on the edge of the spot and slowly begin to zigzag.
As you work your way around you want to keep your eye on the edge of the spot. Push and pull the fabric with your fingertips to help guide the needle around the circle. Going slowly will help you maintain accuracy. There's definitely a fair bit of pushing going on here. My fingers are really helping to guide the needle around the circumference of the circle.
A few swipes with the glue stick makes these little circles much easier to sew. The glue leaves no residue behind and if you wash the dinosaur it'll wash right out.
Don't just stop at dinosaur spots! Use this technique to applique felt initials on a fleece bear's belly, diamonds on a snake, a face on a plush jack-o-lantern…the sky's the limit!
Thanks for all the dino name suggestions at the end of last week! Gigi, Daphne, Denise, Dinny, Dina…so many cute ones! In the end I busted out and decided to go with Sam because it's cute and gender ambiguous and there isn't already some sort of famous Sam the Dinosaur out there.