A Shortcut for Sewing Appliques With Turned Edges

Appliques are simple cutouts that are applied to a base fabric. There are various methods to create an applique.

Turned edges on small applique pieces prevent the edges of the applique from fraying. Turning the edges allows you to almost invisibly hand sew the applique to the base fabric.

In the example shown in the photo, the entire edge of the napkin is hand turned and cross-stitched with green embroidery thread. The applique is embellished with hand embroidery and sewn in place with tiny slip stitches. The combination of embroidery and hand stitching on the applique is beautiful.

The edges of the applique shown were meticulously hand turned. The following steps will show you a short cut that saves time and makes perfect edges.

Choose a simple design for your first applique. Preschool and early education coloring books provide great simple designs. For this example, we are going to use the tulip from a coloring book page.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Fabric-marking tool
  • Sewing machine or needle
  • Iron
  • Pins
  • wooden seam pressing bar


  • Fabric
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing
  • Thread


  1. Trace the Design

    Use a fabric-marking tool to trace the design onto the non-fusible side of the interfacing. This is the side that does not have the dots or shiny fusible material on it.

  2. Stitch the Fabric

    Lay the fusible side of the interfacing down on the right side of the fabric for the parts of the applique. Pin in place and then stitch, using shortened stitch length machine stitches, on the traced lines on the interfacing. This will require you to put the needle down and raising the presser foot to turn corners. It will also require you to sew slowly.

    Stitch the Fabric and Interfacing
    Stitch the Fabric & Interfacing Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

  3. Trim and Clip

    Trim the edges of the design leaving a 1/8-inch seam allowance. Clip at intersections and curves. Cut a slit in the interfacing near the center of the design.

    Trim and clip
    Trim & Clip Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com
  4. Turn and Finger Press

    Turn the pieces through the cut slit in the interfacing. Work the edges with your fingers and crease the edges with your fingers to have the edges turned under and the interfacing to the backside of the design. A wooden seam pressing bar will assist in making sharp accurate edges before you use the iron.

    Turn & Finger Press
    Turn & Finger Press Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com
  5. Place the Applique and Press

    Place the applique where you want it on the base fabric. Be sure you have the edges set and exactly where you want it to be and press the applique in place. The interfacing fusible properties will help hold the applique in place.


    If you are placing an applique on a garment, you may want to try on the garment to make sure the placement is appropriate and it has not been placed in an inappropriate location on the garment.

    Press in Place
    Press in Place Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com
  6. Sew the Edges

    Hand-sew or use your sewing machine to sew the edges of the applique and any details you want on the applique. In this example, a machine blanket stitch was used, but a hand-sewn blanket stitch could also be used or any decorative stitch, as long as the edges of the applique are secured to the base fabric. Even though it appears to be placed once you have used the iron to fuse the base, the edges are still loose and the applique will pull loose after many trips through the laundry if you do not stitch the edges in place.

    Machine Sewn Applique
    Machine Sewn Applique Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com