What I love most about applique is that it's so versatile. You can applique on almost anything and you can applique almost any shape. You don't need to buy special books in order to find the shapes - you can find applique shapes just by googling.
What you're looking for are clip art designs that have pieces that you can dissect into an applique shape. If you look closely at the animal faces on this quilt, you'll see that I started with the largest piece on the bottom, and then added the smaller pieces layer by later to form the animal. On the blue zebra, for example, I started with the "body" piece, which is the medium blue, Then, the light blue nose piece was added, and finally, the dark blue hair (?) part and the nostrils. I embroidered the eyes last.
To find applique shapes:
- Search for clip art images that relate to the shape you want to applique.
- Choose a design that is SIMPLE and has parts that you can easily trace.
- Mirror the image before you print it!!
- Follow your normal applique technique steps.
When I made the peace sign onesie, I just searched for "peace sign clip art" in Google Images. I found this:
Some of those will make great applique shapes - some won't. Remember, you always want the most basic shape. The first shape is good, but the lines are pretty thin. Ultimately, I ended up using this one.
You can choose whichever one makes the most sense for your project, but the thicker the lines, the easier it will be.
You can do this with more complicated shapes, too. Say you want to applique a puppy.
You have a lot of options here, and almost all of them will work. Remember that you want to look at the shape like layers. On any of these, you'd first applique what is at the back (like the ears), and then layer the face and nose on top.
Does that help make sense of choosing applique designs? I'm not an expert, but hopefully this clarifies the process a bit and makes you want to tackle some applique designs yourself!