Turning the appliqué edges with interfacing is fast, simple and accurate. It is by far my most favorite technique for turned edge machine appliqué.
To make an appliqué using this method, one traces the appliqué outline onto the interfacing and stitches it to the front of the appliqué fabric.
Then, one makes a slit in the interfacing and turns the shape inside out hiding all the raw edges inside.
Finally, one stitches the prepared shape to the background fabric.
When stitched down, such appliqué shape looks very neat, has smooth curves and no sticking out threads.
Yet, not all the shapes can be appliqued using this method. It works best for large shapes with shallow to moderate curves and small simple shapes such as circles, leaves and hearts.
Shapes that have an inside hole, are extremely curvy or very narrow cannot be appliqued using interfacing. For these shapes, refer to an alternative technique to turn fabric edges, that uses fusible web.
If you are looking for a simpler appliqué method without fabric edge turning, see my raw edge machine applique tutorial.
All the essential steps of turned edge machine applique with interfacing are summarised in this infographic. Download it, print it and have it on hand whenever you need it!
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The Method step by step...
The time spent was totally worth it. You can proudly admire those nicely turned edges! And as with all things in life - practice makes perfect. Next time it will go quicker and the end result will look even nicer. The nice thing about appliques - once you master them, so many opportunities open! You can customize and embellish your quilt, bag, dress or any other sewing project. Possibilities are endless.
Rugile from Magic Little Dreams
OUR APPLIQUE PATTERNS to use with this method
OUR QUILT PATTERNS
A SLIT WITH SCISSORS
For large shapes, like the butterfly silhouette, carefully cut out a small opening in the interfacing with scissors. Be careful not to cut into the fabric. Widen the opening to be sufficiently large to turn the shape inside out.
HOW TO MACHINE APPLIQUE WITH TURNED EDGES
The first step in making the appliqué is to transfer the desired appliqué outline onto the interfacing. Use a disappearing fabric pen to avoid stains on the appliqué fabric.
Once the appliqué outline is transferred onto the interfacing, sandwich it with the fabric and stitch the two together.
To successfully hide the appliqué edge, one needs to cut out a sufficient seam allowance and prepare it in a way that makes it lay nice and flat when turned under.
To hide the seam allowance, turn the shape inside out. To do that, first make a slit in the interfacing, then turn the shape inside out and finally push out the seam fully.
In this tutorial we will appliqué a 6” (15 cm) butterfly from "Butterflies in the Meadow" appliqué pattern. The butterfly appliqué shape is perfect for the particular turned edge technique and as it contains large curvy shapes (the silhouette) and small shapes (second layer wings) you will see how to handle different shaped and sized appliques with the technique.
I will take you through the process to get these shapes perfect every time and give you plenty of tips and tricks to make things easier and faster. For your convenience, you can either watch a video version of this tutorial or follow a detailed photo-guide further down.
And now the butterfly appliqué is indeed complete!
You will need...
After the appliqué shape is prepared meaning all the raw edges are well hidden and the outline nicely straightened, it is time to attach the shape to the background fabric.
Sandwich all the appliqué shapes. Make sure interfacing for the asymmetric shapes is not inverted. Otherwise, you will end up with two left wings.
The stitch line defines the edges of the applique shape. Thus, if needed reduce the stitch length for small shapes in order to be able to follow the curves and the corners nicely!
Step 3. Stitch
Stitch on the traced line to attach the interfacing to the fabric.
Step 1. Trace
After making all the cuts into the seam allowance, check if the seam thread remained intact. Fix any thread cuts if any. To do that, simply stitch a few stitches around the cut to seal it. No thread hiding or securing is needed, as this seam has to hold only until the shape is turned inside out.
When turning the shapes inside out, do not waste time to get nice edges just yet. This will be done in the next step with proper tools.
Step 5. Prep the seam allowance
Cuts into the seam allowance make the shape lay flat once it is turned inside out. The type of the cut depends on the curvature of the appliqué shape.
Step 4. Cut out
Cut 1/8"-1/4" (4 - 6 mm) away from the seam line to get the appliqué shape with the seam allowance.
TIP: There is a certain limit, how deep the deep inner points can be. When they get too deep, there is little to no seam allowance left between the two seams. This will result in loose threads at the deep point in the final appliqué piece.
So do not always go all the way down to the deep points. Leave at least 3-4 treads of seam allowance on both sides. Also, make a wider angle (at least 60 degree) between the two last stitches at the point.
TIP: To prevent color bleed from the darker background fabric to the lighter appliqué fabric, add an extra layer of non-soluble interfacing to the back side of the appliqué fabric. I do that for the light colored small wings that will be appliqued on to the dark red butterfly silhouette.
Trace all the appliqué shapes. In this example I trace the silhouette of the butterfly and all four second layer wing shapes.
When tracing on the same piece of interfacing, leave sufficient space between different shapes for the seam allowance.
For non-symmetrical shapes, mark the orientation to avoid confusion latter.
Step 2. Sandwich
Put the interfacing on the right side of the appliqué fabric. Leave sufficient space for the seam allowance both on the fabric and on the interfacing.
Once there is an opening in the interfacing, you can pull the fabric out through that opening. This will expose the right side of the appliqué fabric and leave the raw edges inside the shape. For large shapes it is relatively easy and quick to do with your hands. Yet, the smaller shapes are hard to handle with hands alone. For small shapes use a cocktail straw and some narrow tool that fits inside the straw to pull the fabric out.
Step 6. Make a slit
The smaller the slit in the interfacing the better. This helps to better maintain the appliqué shape and to keep the edges turned under. Yet, the opening has to be large enough to pull the fabric inside out. Therefore, cut a larger opening in the bigger appliqué shapes, but never cut closer than 1/3" (9 mm) to the seam line.
After turning the shape inside out, the edge of the appliqué shape remains inaccurate. This is because the seam defining the outline of the appliqué shape is not fully pulled out. To fully do that, you need to push onto the seam from the inside of the shape. IMPORTANT: always push on to the fabric and not the interfacing, as the later can easily tear.
You can recognize the fully pushed out seam by seeing the thread connecting the fabric and the interfacing at the appliqué edge.
Many different tools can be used to push out the seam. As long as the tool is pointy but not too sharp to pitch holes into the fabric or interfacing, you can use it. It can be a cocktail stick, a crochet hook or even a spoon handle - any tool you find handy.
My favorite set of tools is a round edge of a larger dressmakers scissor blade, a flat round cuticle pusher form my manicure tool box and a needle.
Step 7. Turn the shape inside out.
Step 8. Push out the seam
Hi, I am Rugile!
Wellcome to my blog. Here I reveal my quilting tips and tricks and share my quilt stories.
1. Printed pattern
2. Your favorite fabric
3. Interfacing (any of the options below)
- Lightweight fabric/woven interlining
- Soluble embroidery stabiliser
4. Matching thread.
1. Sewing machine
2. Fabric scissors
HANDY TOOLS (Not essential, but nice to have to easier handle tricky shapes):
2. Wide cocktail straw
3. Pointy yet blunt tool, such as a cuticle pusher from your manicure tool box or a crochet hook - whatever shape & tool works for you.
4. Seam ripper
6. Iron (optional, for fusible interfacing only).
EXTRA FOR EMBROIDERY
YOU WILL NEED
SHARP OUTER POINTS
For outer points, trim the excess seam allowance. The remaining seam allowance fabric will have to fit inside a narrow gap between the two seams. Cut mimicking the shape of the seams. At the very tip, leave a couple of millimeters of the seam allowance (at least 4-5 threads wide).
INWARD CURVES (CONCAVE)
At concave curves, make multiple cuts into the seam allowance to permit edge stretching after turning them inside out. There are four such curves in the butterfly silhouette and two on each of the upper wing shapes.
TURN INSIDE OUT
TIP: Use pinking shears to reduce fabric bulk. If you do not have pinking shears, make small slits into the seam allowance throughout the perimeter of the shape.
PREPARE THE SEAM ALLOWANCE
Stitch using a straight line stitch and a matching thread as it will be slightly visible at the edge of the final appliqué shape.
TRANSFER THE PATTERN
Trace the appliqué pattern onto the interfacing using disappearing fabric pen. When using fusible interfacing, trace on non-coted side.
When using fusible interfacing, make sure the side coated with glue is facing the fabric.
STITCH THE INTERFACING
Congratulations! The butterfly appliqué is complete!
Well, sort of...
Stitch the butterfly to the background fabric. Use either matching or contrasting thread.
To pull out the tip of the sharp outer point, as those at the tips of the butterfly wings, put the needle inside the tip, grab the fabric and gently pull. DO NOT USE FORCE. The seam allowance at the tip is very narrow and it is thus easy to pull out some individual threads or even the entire seam allowance.
Position the appliqué shape in place and pin it down to the base before stitching. For very large shapes, pin many times around the perimeter of the shape to avoid appliqué and background fabric misalignment.
ATTACH THE APPLIQUÉ
A SLIT WITH SEAM RIPPER
For small shapes use a seam ripper to make an opening. Only then if needed widen it with scissors. Using a seam ripper for making a slit in small shapes is easier and there is less danger to damage the front fabric.
PUSH WITH SCISSORS
For most appliqué shapes that are relatively large and have only minor curves, I use the round edge of a larger dressmakers scissor blade to push out the seam. The edge of the narrow blade is too sharp and can thus easily damage the fabric.
Put the scissor blade inside the shape and press onto the fabric. Be gentle not to brake the fabric, but push firmly until you see the seam from the outside. Continue to do this around the perimeter of the shape.
PUSH WITH A FINE TOOL
Some small shapes or delicate curvatures may require a finer tool than the scissor blade. In those cases, I like to use a flat round cuticle pusher I have found in my manicure toolbox.
DEEP INNER POINTS
At the deep inner points, make a single cut into the seam allowance all the way to the seam. There are four such points in the butterfly silhouette. Cut precisely in the middle between the two seams at the deep point. This makes the seam allowance as big as possible on both sides.
Attach one layer at a time.
In the case of the butterfly appliqué, attach the top layer wings to the bottom butterfly silhouette first. Only then, pin the complete butterfly appliqué to the background fabric.
STRAIGHTEN WITH A NEEDLE
The very sharp outer points are hard to push out from the inside. The bulk of fabric in such narrow parts gets stuck easily.
For that I use a needle to carefully pull out the very tip of the outer point from the outside
The quickest option is to use a straight line stitch. In that case, stitch around 1 mm away from the edge. Stitch very close to the outer points to properly attach the appliqué.
If you like, you may use a narrow blind hem stitch to imitate hand stitching.
TURN USING FINGERS
Large shapes are easiest to turn using your own fingers. Simply put your fingers inside the shape, grab the fabric and pull it out through the opening. Help with the other fingers to push from the outside.
Do not worry about getting all the neat curves and corners out just yet.
TURN WITH A COCKTAIL STRAW
It is hard to handle small shapes with fingers alone. Therefore, use a cocktail straw and a narrow tool, such as a crochet hook, to turn out tiny shapes.
Insert the straw into the shape, aimed at an outer point, through the opening in the interfacing. Then, use a narrow tool to push the fabric at the outer point to the inside of the straw.
CAUTION: Be careful when buying soluble embroidery stabilizer, as some brands feel like a piece of plastic and are not desirable for appliqués.
Once all the seams are completely pushed out, the appliqué shapes become nice and round. You can recognize the fully pushed out seam by its nice curvature and from the visible thread connecting the fabric and the interfacing at the appliqué edge.
Step 9. Pin down the appliqué
In my experience, pinning is the easiest way to attach the appliqué shapes to the background before stitching.
In theory, when using fusible interfacing, it is also possible to iron fuse the appliqué to the base. Yet, I never got it to work reliably even with different interfacings I have tried.
There are multiple reasons - first, I cannot iron-fuse the top layer of appliqué shape to the bottom appliqué layer, as I would stick my appliqué to the ironing surface. And I do not want to make all of that in no go as to avoid misplacement.
Second, the heat transfer through multiple layers of fabric is not very efficient. This frequently results in loosely attached appliqué shape and causes problems when stitching.
Finally, if the appliqué does get attached to the background properly, the melted glue hardens the fabric, which I do not like. That is why I pin my appliqués.
Let me know, if you prefer ironing it to the surface and how it works for you!
By gently helping the fabric out with a needle and patience, it is possible to get the sharp outer points really pointy.
Then pull out the straw - the shape is turned out. Repeat the same for the other outer points until the shape is completely turned inside out.
I in total used 3 layers of fuse and tear embroidery stabilizer. I ironed one layer at a time.
There is a little detail missing to call the butterfly appliqué really complete. A butterfly is no butterfly without antennas! Continue reading to see, how to quickly embroider such little details on your appliqué with a domestic sewing machine.
Step 10. Stitch down the appliqué
Stitch down the appliqué shape using your favorite stitch.
EMBROIDER THE ANTENNAS
Step 11. Use embroidery stabilizer
To embroider the antennas on a domestic sewing machine, back the appliqué block with embroidery stabilizer, draw the antennas and embroider by stitching on the line.
To provide sufficient thickness and rigidity to the fabric, fuse it with embroidery stabilizer.
Gently peel off the embroidery stabilizer one layer at a time.
Draw the antennas. You can draw them either on the front of the appliqué with a disappearing fabric pen, or on the back of the embroidery stabilizer.
Step 12. Embroider
Embroider the antennas by stitching on the drawn line.
To make the antennas more prominent, stitch using a triple straight line stitch also known as a triple stretch stitch. Alternatively, use a thicker thread or stitch multiple times on the same line.
Alternatively, you can use a lightweight woven interfacing made out of cotton (synthetic or blend versions are usually stretchy). Such cotton interfacing is like quilting fabric, just 2-3 times lighter. It is strong, thin, soft and easy to work with.
Woven interfacings may also be fusible. This feature can be conveniently used to attach the prepared appliqué shape to the background fabric before stitching.
Sew-in non-woven lightweight interfacing
Non-woven interfacings are made out of a blend of synthetic fibers that are pressed together. This means that it is stronger in one direction than in the other. Thus, one needs to be more delicate when working with non-woven interfacings.
The primary purpose of sew-in non-woven interfacing is to stabilize delicate fabrics that cannot be ironed. For appliqué, consider different brands that have different stiffness: some are more stiff, others are more fluffy, while some may be too hard to applique with.
Sew in non-woven interfacings cannot be fused to the background fabric. The appliqué shape has to be pinned in place before stitching.
Fusible non-woven lightweight interfacing
This is the most readily available type of interfacing. It is also a non-woven interfacing, same as the sew-in version above. This means it is stronger in one direction than in the other and requires gentle handling when using for appliqué edge turning.
Fusible non-woven interfacing differs from the sew-in version by the tiny glue droplets contained on one side. Thus, the prepared applique shape can be iron-fused to the background fabric before stitching and no or little pinning is needed.
To turn appliqué edges, use a lightweight fusible non-woven interfacing.
Soluble embroidery stabilizer - my fav option!
Soluble embroidery stabilizer is made out of synthetic fiber, that completely washes away in cold water. This is my favorite type of interfacing to use for making appliqués. It is soft, non-stretching, robust and disappears after the first wash leaving no signs of any interfacing ever used. Note: this interfacing dissolves in water. This means, it will significantly shrink when ironed in humid conditions or change shape when in touch with water.
A little extra... Embroidery
There are many different types of interfacing that can be used to turn the appliqué edges. For this technique to work, the interfacing has to be non-stretchy and lightweight yet relatively strong. This way the interfacing can be sewn to the fabric without hardening or thickening it too much. The interfacing has to maintain the appliqué shape well and to provide sufficient rigidity to turn the shape inside out without breaking.
Here I summarize some of the most common types of interfacing to use for appliqué edge turning.
Lightweight woven interfacing \ fabric
A piece of scrap fabric can be used to turn appliqué edges. Yet, it is suboptimal. The fabric is thick, which is undesirable in quilting. Also, it frequently is more expensive than interfacing.