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What Is Reverse Applique in Textiles

To embroider a pattern on a cloth, you can use different methods. You can opt to place the design you are about to knit on the fabric or at the fabric back. If you are a big fan of applique, you may end up sticking to the same technique over and over. It won’t do any harm to learn a different way to deal with the applique.

However, it can take some time to grasp the gist of things. In this post today, we will learn more about reverse appliques. And who knows! It may end up being your best applique technique.

What Is Reverse Applique in Textiles?

It is a technique applicable in both the embroidery and textile industry. It involves sewing a pattern on a piece of fabric.

Typically you will place the material you are about to sew inside the garment, such as a t-shirt.

You will then join the two fabrics together, depending on your design.

Then you will cut the top fabric to expose the second fabric.

Steps for Reverse Applique Using Hand Stitch

To stitch things by hand, you need skill and accuracy so that your clothes come out perfect. Also, you can use an embroidery hoop to help secure the fabric and avoid puckering. Below is the process for hand sewing reverse applique.

Step 1: Place the Applique Under the Fabric

With reverse applique, you will be sewing the fabric from below. Therefore the applique needs to be below the primary material. You will use the applique when sketching the design you want on the top fabric.

Step 2: Draw the Design You Want

It will help if you come up with a perfect shape since it is the one that will be guiding you as you sew. The pattern can be a heart shape or maybe abbreviations of a name. Ensure your sketch around the top fabric, which is the main fabric. Once you make the design, make an allowance of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch around it.

Step 3: Secure the Second Line in Place

Place the pins around the second design you have made at a range of 1/2 inches. It will help you when cutting the design. Ensure the pins still hold the applique in place.

Step 4: Hand Stitch the Applique in Place

Ensure you are careful with this step. It would be best if you had your stitches come out looking neat. Let the needle pass through the design edges and come out at the lower part of the fabric as you stitch finger press the stitches to keep them intact.

Step 5: Cut Away the Excess Fabric

After finishing making the stitches, trim off the excess fabric. Ensure you are only cutting the unwanted parts without spoiling the design.

Steps for Reverse Applique Using a Machine

It is much easier to use a machine than a hand when applying a reverse applique. One thing you need to ensure you have is the zig-zag stitch. Unlike the hand sewing method, where you place the applique underneath the fabric, you will place it on top and the material below it.

Here is how you do it:

Step 1: Design the Pattern of the Applique on the Fabric

To achieve a fair and accurate design, have the applique below the fabric. You can pin it to secure it in place.

Step 2: Make Satin Stitches

Still, with the applique underneath, sew on satin stitches on the design. Satin stitches closely resemble the zigzag stitches on the sewing machine.

Step 3: Cut the Design of the Fabric

Here you will be cutting the main fabric to reveal the applique. Be cautious about not cutting the back fabric. The only unwanted part is the top one. Also, cut through the inside of the satin stitching line. There you have your applique revealing.

Steps for Reverse Applique on Folded Edges

Applying a reverse applique on folded edges will give the fabric a better look. However, for it to work well, the edges need not have many corners. Double-sided interfacing will work better when using reverse applique on folded edges. Below is the process for achieving it.

Step 1: Cut the Interfacing

Ensure that the cut is 1 inch larger than the layout. Then cut the underneath layer you will be using, still at the same size as the template.

Step 2: Interface

Trace your template on the layer that you will place underneath. Connect the interface with the back of the fabric and trace around it a seam allowance of about ? inch

Step 3: Cut Along With the Design

The trace you have made cut out the design from the top fabric without interfering with the applique. Hook the corners on the template. Then press on the seam allowance. Ensure they tuck into the seam allowance line.

Step 4: Place the Main Fabric on Top

Once you have cut out the design, place the main fabric on top of it. Center it to where you want the format to appear. Place the underneath fabric below the applique. Ensure that you catch all the edges.

Step 5: Start Stitching

Make a top stitch around the edges of the applique. You can use your hand to do so or go for a machine.

Whether you are stitching using your hand or by machine, you can apply different types of stitches. The machine stitches you can use for applique stitches include:

  1. Straight Topstitch

When using this technique on raw edges may lead to some fraying. Ensure that you are stitching near the border slowly to come up with a neat stitch.

  1. Zig-Zag Stitch

Most machines come with a zigzag stitch, and it is easy to use on appliques. Depending on how you want the finishing on your fabric to look, you can either space it out or make it stable.

  1. Blanket Stitch (Machine)

Some machines have a blanket stitch, which is a stylish way when making reverse appliques. It is easy to navigate through and will make the edges of the applique cute.

Some hand stitches you can use include:

  1. Running Stitch

It is easy to sew using a running stitch on your applique. Typically you will be going up and down through the edges of the design all around it. You can create large running stitches or smaller ones depending on how you want the applique to turn out.

  1. Back Stitching

A backstitch will hold the pattern and the fabric more securely. Also, the finish on the reverse fabric will be neat, especially when you make tiny stitches. Though the backstitching process will consume a little more time, be sure that it will get comfortable with time.

  1. Blanket Stitch (Hand)

When sewing appliques on the raw edges, this method will work out better. It will prevent your edges from fraying too.

Which Fabrics Work Well for Reverse Appliques?

For a reverse applique to work well in your cloth, then it needs to be tightly woven. Materials with the cotton fabric as such will bring out a good pattern when applying reverse applique. Reverse applique also works well for stretchy fabric.

To achieve a good finish, ensure you have a woven fabric behind it. Also, for stretchy fabric, hand sewing is the best option.

What Is the Main Difference Between Applique and Reverse Applique?

Applique and reverse applique have a close relationship in that you cut the designs from fabric. Here is where the difference lies. With reverse applique, you cut from the top layer of the material. You then add other layers below the cut.

As such, your fabric will look like it has a coating on it. For the regular applique, you stitch the design on top of the material. Besides, you need to cut out the shape you need from your garment and place the applique on top and sew.


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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