Reverse applique


You can find directions for this small reverse appliqué sampler
(by Beryl Taylor) that can be left as is, further embellished,
or perhaps even inspire a series of work.
From Quilting Arts Magazine Dec 2010/Jan 2011

Most everyone is familiar with raw-edge or needle-turn appliqué, but unlike these more conventional types, reverse appliqué can offer unexpected results and possibilities, not to mention it's a great process for creating a base to embellish.

Reverse appliqué is an embroidery technique that involves layering fabrics, and then cutting away the top layer(s), in shapes or patterns, to reveal the layer(s) underneath. At first the idea of cutting away fabrics may seem a bit daunting, but it's a very freeing exercise that can yield surprising, colorful results.

Here's a quick overview of this technique from quilter Deana Hartman.

  • Choose that fabric which will be on top. On the fabric, create a design using the writing instrument you prefer. You might try a grid, curves, spirals or other simple shapes.
  • Layer the fabrics and baste with straight pins. Be sure to leave the fabric on which you've drawn your design on the top.
  • Straight stitch your design with a walking foot, free motion or regular machine quarter-inch foot, depending on the complexity and shapes of your design.
  • Remove the straight pins.
  • From the front of the fabric, begin cutting out layers to reveal other fabrics below. When cutting out the layers, cut up to about 1/16 of an inch or so to the straight stitching line.
  • When you are satisfied with the design effect, select a yarn for  couching. 
  • Cover the straight stitching by couching down yarn. It is the artist's choice whether the yarn completely covers the raw edge or not.
  • To couch yarn, use a couching foot to zigzag stitch over the yarn, covering the straight stitching. I use one hand to guide the yarn while
    the other hand guides the fabrics.
  • Once couching is complete, cut out any extra layers of fabric from the back of the piece so that only one layer of fabric remains. Save all the cut out shapes for other appliqué projects.
  • Continue with your design process to complete your piece.


Check out our machine embroidery freebie for this beautiful
reverse appliqué project design by Yvonne Brown).

Machine Reverse Appliqué Tips:

If your scissors slip and cut a layer you want to keep, create a fabric bandage by fusing a strip of fusible web between the layers of fabric to seal the slit. You may need to fuse the web on the back of your work if you accidentally cut through all the layers.

Before beginning, practice couching on a few layers of scrap fabrics to determine the width and length of the zigzag as well as the proper tension.

Excerpt from "Reverse Appliqué Method" from Quilting Arts Magazine Fall 2001


Filed under:

Related Posts