Turned-Edge Applique: Challenge #1

Needleturn AppliqueAppliqué evokes strong reactions. While it is almost universally admired and appreciated on the one hand, it is either love-it-or-hate-it on the other hand. There seems to be a lot of fear or uncertainty or doubt about turned-edge appliqué and many people find it challenging. Are you one of them?

In this new series for the new year, we will break it down – challenge by challenge. I have identified eight challenges so far and over the coming weeks, I will address each one and show you some ways to overcome the obstacles. I also hope to launch my first-ever online class, so we will be able to practice our appliqué skills together.

But for now, let’s jump in to our first challenge: marking the lines. How do we know where to turn under the edge and where to stitch? How do we get the outline of the appliqué shape onto the fabric? What if we can’t see the lines? Here are three different approaches.

Needle-turn Appliqué

For needle-turn appliqué, trace the shape onto the fabric – using a lightbox, if necessary – or mark it from the top using a template. To make templates from freezer paper, trace the shape onto the dull side of the paper, cut it out on the marked lines, then iron it shiny side down onto the right side of the fabric. Trace around the outside edges of the freezer paper using a removable marker then carefully remove the freezer paper. Freezer-paper templates can be reused, so only one template needs to be made for each shape.

Place sandpaper under the fabric to prevent shifting and pulling while you are tracing around the freezer paper.

Place sandpaper under the fabric to prevent shifting and pulling while you are tracing around the freezer paper.

When it comes to removable markers, here are my top-three choices (soon to be available in my online store!):

  1. The Fine Line by Collins – makes a fine blue line, washes out
  2. White Marking Pen by Clover – goes on white (after a few seconds), irons or washes out
  3. Bohin mechanical chalk pencil – refillable inserts in a variety of colors, makes a fine line, washes out or rubs out over time

Most of the time, this approach works perfectly well. But every now and then, I run into a fabric where I just can’t see the lines. Usually it’s a multicolor print, where a blue line might be visible in some places and not others and the same thing happens with a white line or a yellow line. In these situations, I have been known to use multiple markers – placing each color in the location where I can see it best.

Mark a multicolor print with different color markers

Mark a multicolor print with different color markers

Freezer Paper Appliqué

With freezer-paper appliqué, the shape isn’t marked on the fabric. Instead, the freezer-paper is ironed onto the wrong side of the fabric and the seam allowance is basted to the freezer paper. Trace the shape onto the dull side of the paper, remembering that images will be reversed when placed on the back side of the fabric, and cut on the marked lines. These templates cannot be reused, so make one for every copy of every shape.

Freezer-paper applique

Freezer paper applique

Bring the seam allowance over the edge of the freezer paper and secure with a basting stitch, water-soluble glue, or spray starch and a hot iron. On the plus side, this approach will work with all fabrics – even multicolor prints. On the minus side, the freezer paper makes the fabric stiff to work with and it must be removed once the appliqué is completed. This is typically done by cutting away a portion of the background fabric.

Cut away background fabric to remove freezer paper

Cut away background fabric to remove freezer paper


The Apliquick method for turned-edge appliqué has the same advantages as the freezer-paper approach – no marking – without the disadvantages. With this method, the shape is traced onto light-weight fusible interfacing and cut out on the marked lines. Once again, images will be reversed when the interfacing is ironed onto the back side of the fabric and the templates cannot be reused.

Trace shape onto fusible interfacing

Trace shape onto fusible interfacing

Bring the seam allowance over the edge of the interfacing and secure with water-soluble glue. The Apliquick rods make this task easy and precise. The interfacing works as a template and a stabilizer, yet it is soft and light-weight so there’s no need to remove it.

Apliquick method

Apliquick method

There you have three approaches to the challenge of marking the lines for turned-edge appliqué. That wasn’t so hard, was it? Stay tuned for our next challenge: turning under that seam allowance! In the meantime, let me know what you find challenging about appliqué so I can be sure to get it on the list. And don’t give up! Where there’s a will – and a few little tricks of the trade – there’s a way.

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  1. You’re welcome, Darlene! And smooth curves ARE a challenge with turned-edge applique. I have added that one to my list and will cover it in a future post.

  2. Val sent this question via email:
    Hi Kathy, do you always leave the stabilizer in when you use the Appliquick method? If so, what stabilizer do you use? I thought the stabilizer had to be washed out. Thanks for this challenge!

    My reply:
    Hi Val,
    The light-weight fusible Apliquick interfacing does stay in – no need to wash it out. I sell the interfacing for $9.99/m https://kathykwylie.com/product/apliquick-interfacing/. (The link was broken when the post first went out.)

    I do plan to test the Apliquick method using Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy to see how it works. That stabilizer washes out, but I suspect it will be more expensive. I will keep you posted on the blog!
    All the best,

  3. .Thank you very much for the applique lessons. I am going to follow along to further my skills. I’m working on curved flower petals and having a bugger of a time. I get little points no matter how hard I try to smooth it out. I’m doing the freezer paper on the back side. Practice, practice, practice!!!

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