How to Needle Turn Applique

There is no risk in trying new techniques for applique, needle-turn applique being among them. It may be one technique that gives you the chills to even try. But imagine trying, and your patterns turn out perfect! Will that not be great?

Well, needle-turn applique is one simple and easy way for quilting. Like the regular applique, you will stitch a design at the top of the fabric, such as a shirt.

For needle turn applique, you need to sew the raw edges of the pattern underneath the fabric. At the same time, you hand-stitch the shape at the top. In this informative article, you learn more about how to needle-turn an applique. Read on!

How to Needle Turn Applique?

Start by tracing the shape you want to sew on the fabric that you will be using. At a 3/16 to 1/4 seam allowance, cut around the fabric with the shape still in position. Secure the patch in place using pins. Start stitching.

Ensure you turn the seam allowance as you sew. Once you finish, the stitches on the applique may or may not be visible. Ensure you are careful to create a neat stitch.

Procedure for Needle Turn Applique by Hand

First, you need to organize the material you will need. It includes:

  • Stencils- They are the patterns or cloth shapes that you will applique.
  • Fabric that you will be using.
  • Pencils- For marking the pattern
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Needles
  • Threads


For the pins, the 1/2 inch to 3/4 inches will be easy to work in this work. For the threads also, ensure that you choose a lightweight thread. Also, ensure that its quality is excellent for a neat-looking finish.

Steps to Needle Turn Applique by Hand

Step 1: Draw the Design You Want

If you have a specific pattern you are following, then the stencils will have it. However, if not, you need to make a good sketch of the fabric you will cut.

Step 2: Cut the Fabric to the Pattern You Require

Once you have the design, you can trace it on the fabric. Cut the background of the fabric where the pattern fits. Ensure you do a neat job on this. You can now start appliqueing.

Step 3: Place the Shape of the Stencil on the Fabric

How you place, it will depend on whether you can see through the fabric. If your fabric is light, place the fabric on the stencil. Then on the right place of the fabric, trail the outline.

When dealing with a dark fabric, cut the stencil. Secure it on top of the fabric. Then, trace it on the right side of the fabric.

If you are tracing many pieces all at once, be sure to leave an allowance of 1/4″ on each piece’s outer part. The allowance will direct you when cutting the pieces.

Also, if you find it hard to see through your fabric, a lightbox will help you through this. If you lack a lightbox, secure the fabric and the stencil and move closer to a window.

Step 4: Cut the Pieces

Your pieces are now stenciled. You can then move ahead and cut them. Ensure your cuts are 1/4″ beyond the stencil line. Ensure you are accurate with this, and if you are finding it hard, create another line beyond the 1/4″ one and cut through it.

Step 5: Turn the Edges Under

At this step, you need to consider the kind of curve that your piece has. If the curve is an inward one, attach it to the stencil line more often. This way, it can be easy for you to turn the edge beneath.

Also, the tightness of the curve will determine the number of times you will clip it. A tight curve will require more clips. If your curve is outward, you need not do any clipping.

Step 6: Place the Pieces on the Right Side of the Fabric

Once you have your pieces ready, place them on the right side of the fabric. If your pieces are overlapping, place the lower ones first.

Step 7: Secure Them in Place

Use pins to secure the pieces in place. You can also baste them but ensure that you are basting more than ?” inside the stencil line. It will be much more comfortable to turn the edge under without necessarily placing them in another position.

Step 8: Start Sewing

Where you start depends on the shape of the fabric and the pattern you are sewing. Thus, tuck in the piece below the stencil line. Hold one edge and drive in the threaded needle. You should insert it beneath the background fabric. Drive it back to the top under the folded edge.

For the remaining stitches, you will be inserting the needle down the fabric below the folded edge. Then, bring it back up at 1/4″ from the previous stitch. For a tight curve, you can make the range from one stitch to the other to be 1/8″ or 1/16 “.

Repeat this process all around the fabric. The endpoint is where you will tie the thread to the wrong side.

How to Needle Turn Applique by Machine?

The process is more or less the same as needle turn applique by hand. But this time you will be using a machine. Here you will follow the hand appliqueing process.

But when it comes to actual stitching, you need to secure your patches in place well and run them over using a machine.

You can use a satin stitch or the zigzag stitch for this process. Be sure to follow your pattern closely so that you don’t mess up the design. If you don’t have a machine, an overlocker will also do a good job.

Tips for Needle Turn Applique

1. Use Your Hand for Needle Turn Applique

It is hard to navigate through the machine for this kind of applique. You can easily use your hand, especially when dealing with finely woven cotton. Ensure you do enough practice to get the groove of things.

2. Straw or Milliners Needle Will Give You the Best Results

They will come in handy when tucking in the fabric under the stitches.

3. Deal With the Edge of a Curve if Possible

A curved edge will turn out smoother. For example, if you are cutting out the shapes on the bias grain.

4. Make Your Stitches Closer

When the stitches are close together, the fabric will hardly travel. Also, the after-end look for close stitches is always great.

5. Deal With Large Pieces of Fabric

Of course, if you are new to applique, you may find it hard to turn a tiny fabric.

6. Change the Pattern to Fit Your Skills

If turning a point seems complicated, you only need to adjust it in a way that you can turn it. For instance, if you cannot turn sharp ends, create a round pattern to turn them.

7. Use a Short Thread

A long thread may confuse you, and you may not be able to achieve a neat finishing. Also, incorporate a thread that matches your applique.

What Stitches Can You Use for Needle Turn Applique?

A blanket works well for almost all types of applique, including this one. Typically, to form a blanket stitch, you start with a straight stitch at your fabric outer edge. Then go ahead to make a perpendicular stitch.

Some machines come with the blanket stitch option. However, if you are appliqueing by hand, you can apply a straight or running stitch.

What Kind of Curve Is Easy to Apply the Needle Turn Applique Method?

A concave curve is much easier for appliqueing. It usually bends inwards, and as such, you can quickly turn it under the edge. You have to make a perpendicular cut towards the seam allowance.

A convex curve is more brutal to turn below. However, the good thing with it is you need not make clips.


Hello, I am Jessica Flores, and you are welcome to my website. I am a professional fashion designer and a seamstress. I always carried a passion for craftwork. My love for craft grew along with time. I have spent years researching and practicing in this field to gather colossal experience.

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