Raw-Edge Appliqué, an easy guide

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Picture of Ingrid Alteneder

Ingrid Alteneder

Hey there, I love fabric, sewing, quilting and most of all Foundation Paper Piecing. Welcome to my blog!

raw-edge-appliqué fall napkins

Raw-Edge Appliqué tutorial

In this article we will be walking through the best practices for the Raw-Edge Appliqué, along with a design for the prettiest fall napkins ever. Raw-edge-appliqué is a quilting technique in which you sew a motif or design to a background fabric. The reason it’s called ‘raw-edge-appliqué’ is, because the edges of your motif or design are kept raw (open), not turned under with a seam allowance to the back.

My history with this technique

When I first learned about appliqué, I learned ‘Needle-turn appliqué‘, which is a bit more complicated than raw-edge-appliqué’. Quite frankly I didn’t like it all that much, because it was (for me at least) a lot of work, I have to admit, I like to see fairly quick result in my sewing.

Then I saw ‘Raw-edge-appliqué’ and I was like, what? That’s it? I can totally do that…… or can I?

Well, let’s put it this way, my first attempts weren’t very pretty, I just didn’t know the essential tips for ‘raw-edge-appliqué.

raw-edge-appliqué napkins with fall leaves

Here is my easy Raw-Edge-Appliqué guide for you, (so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I made) and a step by step tutorial for these adorable fall napkins, using my fall/ autumn leaves shapes.

The best tools and supplies for ‘raw-edge-appliqué:

  • fabric, thread and sewing machine I used an old linen table cloth for my napkins- cut into 16″x 16″ squares and some ‘fall/ autum-colored’ fabrics for my leaves. You can do raw-edge appliqué also by hand. We’re going to cover machine appliqué here today.
  • fabric and paper scissors You do not want to use fabric scissors to cut the templates or the fusible web
  • fusible web! This is often called ‘optional’, but trust me, it might technically be optional, but in real life it’s NOT. This is THE most important tool to make your ‘raw-edge-appliqué’ journey a very pleasant one. You will find there are several different fusible webbing, they all work very similar, so choose the one you can get the easiest. A few brands are: – Vlieseline Vliesofix (Bondaweb) Pellon Wonder Under Fusible Web 805Heat’n Bond Lite ( purple package)
  • pencil
  • iron
materials needed for raw-edge-appliqué
materials and some of the tools needed for ‘raw-edge-appliqué

Short run through the quick steps of Raw-Edge Appliqué :

  1. Cut out the paper templates. You will find the leaves here.
  2. Trace the outline of your cut out template onto the paper side of the fusible web.
  3. Cut out the fusible web roughly around the traced shape and place onto the wrong side of the fabric that you want your appliqué design to be.(with the ‘textured’ side of the fusible web towards the wrong side of the fabric)
  4. Press the appliqué piece to the fabric and cut out the shape precisely.
  5. Peel off the paper and place your appliqué shape with the ‘sticky’ side onto your background fabric and press in place.( this will fuse the appliqué shape onto your background fabric)
  6. Now you can stitch around the edges of the appliqué shape using your desired stitch. A straight stitch, if you want the edges to fray a little with wear, zigzag or blanket stitch for a ‘non-fraying’ look. Or if you want to be real adventurous and your sewing machine has that feature, you can use any fancy stitch to embellish the edge of your appliqué shape.

Step by step tutorial to Raw-Edge-Appliqué and the prettiest fall napkins:

  1. Tracing
cut out shape template for raw-edge-appliqué
trace the outline of your appliqué template onto the paper side of the fusible web

Cut out the paper templates of the fall leaves along the black line, do not add any seam allowance. And place onto the paper side of the fusible web.

2.Transfer

fusible web pressed against wrong side of fabric for raw-edge-appliqué
traced shape of appliqué

Cut out the fusible web roughly around the traced shape and place onto the wrong side of the appliqué design fabric (with the ‘textured’ side of the fusible web towards the wrong side of the fabric). Press in place (read and follow the instructions of your fusible web), this will fuse the webbing to the fabric.

3. Fusing

cut out the shape precisely and peel off the paper
peel off the paper

For the napkins I cut my linen fabric into 16″x 16″ squares. Peel off the paper of your appliqué shape and place it with the ‘sticky’ side onto your background fabric and press in place. (this will fuse the appliqué shape onto your background fabric)

4.Stitching

stitching around the edge  with raw edge appliqué
stitching around the edge

Now that your leaf is securely fused to your background fabric, you can stich along the edge.

As you can see I used a blanket stitch, this way my edges do not fray with wear. For a frayed ‘look’, use a straight stitch about 1/8″ away from the edge on your appliqué shape. This will give you nice ragged edges after a few washes.

The cutest fall napkins with perfect mitered corners:

fold over the napkin edges twice
fold over and press the edges twice

1. Finish the edges of the napkin with perfect mitered corners.

Fold over the edges twice about 1/4″ and press firmly, then clip in place. Leaving the edges open.

mitered corners for appliqué napkins
seam from napkin edge to pressing line

2. For perfect mitered corners, fold your napkin corner diagonally. Now sew a short seam in a right angle from the edge of your napkin down to the pressing line. Here is a short video from my Instagram on how to do this.

This method is also called mitered corners for self binding, you can apply this method to any sewing project, where you want to have perfect mitered corners.

mitered corners for appliqué napkins
cut off excess fabric

3. Cut off the excess fabric and turn the seam inside.

4. After you turn your seam inside, you will push out the corner carefully, either using some scissors (be careful not to poke through the fabric) or a pencil. Fold under the seam allowance on your pressed fold. And here we are, perfect mitered corners.

raw edge appliqué napkins with fall leaves
raw-edge-appliqué napkins

Now who will join me for lunch on the patio?

I can’t wait to see what your versions of these napkins will look like.

Happy sewing,

Ingrid x

What is Raw-Edge Appliqué?

Raw-edge-appliqué is a quilting technique in which you sew a motif or design to a background fabric. The reason it’s called ‘raw-edge-appliqué’ is, because the edges of your motif or design are kept raw (open), not turned under with a seam allowance to the back.

What supplies are needed Raw-Edge Appliqué?

For this technique, you will need some fabric, thread, sewing machine, paper scissors, fusible web, pencil, and an iron.

What are the steps for Raw-Edge Appliqué?

1. Cut out the paper templates. You will find the leaves here.
2. Trace the outline of your cut out template onto the paper side of the fusible web.
3. Cut out the fusible web roughly around the traced shape and place onto the wrong side of the fabric that you want your appliqué design to be.(with the ‘textured’ side of the fusible web towards the wrong side of the fabric)
4. Press onto the fabric and then cut out the shape precisely.
5. Peel off the paper and place your appliqué shape with the ‘sticky’ side onto your background fabric and press in place.( this will fuse the appliqué shape onto your background fabric)
6. Now you can stitch around the edges of the appliqué shape using your desired stitch. Either a straight stitch, if you want the edges to fray a little white wear, zigzag or blanket stitch for a ‘non-fraying’ look. Or if you want to be real adventurous and your sewing machine has that feature, you can use any fancy stitch to embellish the edge of your appliqué shape.

How do you secure Raw-Edge Appliqué?

The best way to secure your appliqué piece is with fusible webbing. There are several different brands to choose from, and they all work essentially the same. You arrange your appliqué piece onto another piece of fabric and follow the fusible web instructions. Most likely it will mean you iron on the appliqué piece onto the other piece of fabric, the way I described it in my tutorial.
This way, the appliqué piece will be fused to the other fabric and will stay nicely in place.
Once this is done, you can stitch along the edges of your appliqué piece. You can use a straight stitch, zigzag or any other fancy stitch.

Do the edges fray?

That totally depends on how you secure and how you stitch your appliqué pieces. If you use fusible webbing to secure your appliqué piece and use a zigzag or blanket stitch along the edges, you will get minimal fraying.
If you do a straight line stitch along the edges your appliqué pieces will fray, but that usually is the desired ‘look’.

Can you hand stitch Raw-Edge Appliqué?

Absolutely, you can either hand stitch or machine stitch your appliqué pieces to your desired fabric.

Does fusible webbing stop the edges from fraying?

All of the fusible webbing will keep raw-edge appliqué from fraying to a certain extend. Especially when combined with zigzag or blanket stitch.
With a straight line stitch you will see still some fraying over time.

What stitch is best for Raw-Edge Appliqué?

The most popular stitches for raw-edge appliqué are the zigzag stitch (or sometimes called satin stitch) and the blanket stitch (sometimes called buttonhole stitch).
The blanket stitch is also the most common stitch used for raw-edge appliqué when done by hand.

4 Responses
  1. Hi there! Thank you for this tutorial. One question – how does washing work? Did you pre-wash your fabric? And what about washing after use? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hey Megan,
      I happen to have washed the background fabric before. Not the fabric that I used for the appliqué though. But you can wash it without issues. since I used the fusible web, it keeps the edges from fraying ( not 100%, but almost 🙂 and with the additional blanket stitch, the wear is really nice.
      hope this helps
      Ingrid

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