How to Start Your Own Applique Business – Lessons from Applique Café’s Rosemary Gulledge

How to Start Your Own Applique Business 


How to Applique T-Shirts

How to Applique T-Shirts

In 2007 I quit my full time job to become a stay at home mom.  The transition of going from a full time working woman to a full time mom was challenging.  It made me realize, really quickly, how much I needed a hobby.  So I decided to find a hobby just to help me keep my sanity.  Although I’d only taken one sewing class in my entire life (not counting the pillow I made in Home Economics back in ninth grade), I’d always adored seeing or wearing anything that was monogrammed.   So that was it…I decided to make embroidery my new hobby.

 After deciding to learn embroidery I did some research and proposed an embroidery machine to my husband.  He agreed and we bought one on E-bay on that same day!   As soon as it arrived, I read the manual.  That’s how I taught myself about applique and embroidery.  Fast forward to several years later, and things are still going strong.  As a matter of fact the thing that began as my hobby is now my full time home business.

Not only that, but I’ve learned so much from embroidering and have made so many new friends in the process!  As a stay at home mom, I sometimes pinch myself and ask ‘is this really my job??’

Applique as a Hobby

Learning Embroidery – Where Do I Start?

People often ask me, “I want to learn embroidery, where do I start?” I usually refer them to my blog and suggest an easy single needle embroidery machine to get them started. I started with a Brother Brand PE machine. It’s affordable and easy to learn.

Applique Embroidery Machine

Applique Embroidery Machine

There are many facets to embroidery ~ some people want to learn embroidery so that they can monogram or applique for their kids or grandkids.  Others may branch out and take orders from close friends and family, and some want to turn this “hobby” into a full time business. Whichever direction you go in, there are lots of things to consider and lots of things that you’ll need to get started.

For example, you’ll need stabilizers, embroidery thread and fabric if you plan to do applique (warning: fabric is addictive).  Oh and don’t forget all of the cute little applique and embroidery designs (which can also be very addictive). There is also the embroidery software that you need to consider as well as the time that you spend away from your family. Although I believe the pros outweigh any cons, you’ll need to consider these things for yourself before getting started!

As soon as you’ve made up your mind to move forward you’ll need to do your research! Afterwards you can get your machine and the other items that we mentioned above to get started! Play around with it and practice! Never mind if you don’t know everything when you start because if you’re like me, you’ll learn the most from your mistakes anyway.

Finding Blank Clothing

Now to blanks… if you have kids, grandkids, or if you happen to pass by the children’s department at your favorite store; then you have probably already noticed that plain blank clothing can be difficult to find.  Even on the occasional chance that you do find some plain blank clothing there’s usually either something out of the ordinary screen printed onto the front, a random bow attached, artificial rhinestones or a tiny pocket sewn on the front.  These types of things have occasionally prompted me to ask myself “WHY??”.

As an embroiderer not being able to find plain solid colored blank clothing can be frustrating!  So on the occasional chance that I do see shelves of blank t-shirts, I usually just go ahead and buy as many as I can- whether I need them or not!  And rightfully so because blanks are an embroiderer’s canvas-this is why almost every embroiderer has a bin, somewhere in their home, full of blank tees and bibs.

If you plan on doing embroidery or applique often, then you’ll definitely want to have a place where you can find good affordable blank clothing such as Rock Bottom T-Shirts.  As a matter of fact you may want to just go ahead and save them into your browser’s bookmarks now!

Since I have three kids I tend to focus on the toddler and youth items that are available on the Rock Bottom T-Shirts website, but they also carry adult tees, dog hoodies, zip up jackets and all sorts of other blank garments to choose from. The possibilities are endless! Have fun!!

About Author

Rosemary Gulledge is a stay at home mom (SAHM) of three children.  She runs Applique Cafe, a home based embroidery company, with her husband Jeff.  Their primary focus is on applique, but they also do ribbon, crochet appliques, initials, an embroidery design, iron on designs, and etc.!

When she’s not spending time with her family or designing embroidery work Rosemary also blogs at where she shares pictures, resource guides and other helpful embroidery tips.


Filed under Clothing Craft Business Series, Crafts/Projects

5 responses to “How to Start Your Own Applique Business – Lessons from Applique Café’s Rosemary Gulledge

  1. We ❤ Applique Cafe & Rock Bottom!!

  2. Pingback: Four Factors to Consider Before Customizing Your Hoodie | Rock Bottom T-Shirts Blog

  3. Pingback: Boutique Clothing Craft Series – Baby Love Customs | Rock Bottom T-Shirts Blog

  4. Erin

    Thanks for the informative article! Can the Brother machin you have pictured do the applique designs you have shown?

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