Exploring The Raw Edge Of Appliqué

By Angela Mitchell

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To appliqué with fabric is to sew one piece of fabric onto another, creating different designs and pictures. There is an exciting variety of ways to do this, so let's take a look at raw edge appliqué.

raw edge pez baby quilt

Via Canoe Ridge Creations

This technique is very different from the needle turn appliqué that most quilters are familiar with. Instead of tucking under the raw edges of the fabric, they are left exposed and the edges become frayed. Not only is it a quick way to appliqué, it is a lot of fun! To begin, cut out your fabric shapes and background fabric. Lay the shapes on top of the background and sew inside the raw edge of the appliqué at approximately 1/8" - 1/4". Always backstitch or lock stitch at the beginning and end of each appliqué to keep it all together.

A variety of stitches can be used to appliqué, and it can be done by either hand or machine. For example you can use a straight stitch on a machine, with black thread to make the outline pop! Straight line stitching allows the entire raw edge to remain exposed so that it can fray nicely. The zigzag is a second popular choice. When using this stitch, be sure to make it wide enough to allow the raw edge to be seen! A blanket stitch is another great way to attach an appliqué. If you are in the mood to hand sew, blanket stitching looks particularly nice.

little christmas raw edge applique example

Via fussy cut

The big question in raw edge stitching is how to attach your appliqué to the background before you begin stitching. Some quilters use nothing, but many prefer to adhere their appliqués in place prior to sewing. Here are a few tools to help you do that:

  1. Double sided iron-on fusible web with paper backing (Heat n Bond, Lite Steam-A-Seam 2): This is a great product that allows you to draw or trace templates right onto the paper before cutting. If you want the raw edge of the applique to be neater, cut just inside the template. If you want a more frayed look, cut a 1/4" inside of the template, or just inside of your sewing line.
  2. Fabric glue and glue sticks: Fabric glue is very easy to use, and the applicator effectively applies it right where you want it. But be careful when sewing around glue; it can gunk up your needle! Glue sticks will attach the appliqué to the background as well, but it is hard to be very precise that way.
  3. Basting spray or spray adhesive: This is a quick and easy way to prepare multiple appliqué pieces at once. A couple precautions: protect your work area from overspray with paper and open a window! Those fumes are strong.

If you are looking for some great raw edge appliqués, Craftsy has a ton! Browse through them here.

Do you love the circle quilt or pez quilt shown above? Click on the picture sources to check out the tutorials!

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