The Many Uses Of Reverse Applique


Reverse applique gives a layered look to your project. We discuss the minimum of two layers of fabric and the techniques of reverse applique. Read and share!

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The Many Uses Of Reverse Applique

Part I

Reverse Applique gives a layered look to your project. There are always at least two layers of fabric and the techniques of reverse applique allow the fabric on the bottom to show through the top layers. Hence, it is the reverse of regular applique, which adds layers on top of each other. In reverse applique, the fabric on top is cut to allow the one below to show through. The technique of reverse applique sews the featured fabric underneath the top layer.

The Many Uses Of Reverse Applique


The history of reverse applique is a little vague. In Panama, indigenous people used reverse applique in their molas. The Hmong in Southeast Asia also used it with embroidery.


There are at least four variations of reverse applique techniques that I know of, so there are probably more! The turtle and butterfly pictured here simply have a net of black fabric placed over the fabric underneath and stitched in place.



In this method, the black was cut from a pattern that I created before it was stitched in place. The butterfly was done with wool.



Another method that cuts before layering was used to make this stained glass window design with vintage fabrics. I laid the vintage piece on top of the black background and drew around it with chalk. I then measured one inch and created another chalk line for cutting a hole in the background. I snipped about 3/8 of an inch with scissors and rolled the background fabric back.



I glued the black fabric and used clips until it dried. After the glue was dry, I placed the vintage piece and pinned it in place. I topstitched with black thread.



This block, based on a pattern from Judy Gauthier, cuts blocks of different sizes. A cardboard pattern shows where to draw lines and cut the larger block to allow the small one to show through. It was Judy's guidance that advised not to square the opening, but to leave them wonky. It is too hard to square each block and get it perfect.



These scrappy blocks almost always look fabulous when made into a quilt.



The same technique is used by this reverse applique Dresden plate window.



If you have never tried reverse applique, I suggest beginning with these techniques before moving to Part II.


Part II

Part II covers the reverse applique technique where the layers are sewn together BEFORE the cutting. You must make sure that the feature layer – the one on the bottom – is larger than the pattern to be used.


Here is a sweatshirt with butterflies which are reverse applique.



To make each of these, layer the butterfly paper pattern over the area of the sweatshirt, placing the featured fabric underneath. Carefully stitch along the lines of the paper pattern. You should use a smaller stitch than normal, so that the paper will be punched as you stitch.



Once you have stitched around the whole pattern, rip the paper along the lines that have been sewn (and thus, punched). After the paper is removed, you can see the stitches. Carefully cut out the fabric in the center of these stitches. You must be careful to cut only the top layer, represented by the black, leaving the featured fabric underneath without any holes. When complete, the featured fabric will "shine" through the background.



As shown by the reverse applique Dresden plate window, you shouldn't hesitate to create your own version of reverse applique. It might be truly eye-catching!


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Attaching individual pieces of fabric to a background to form a design.

Same As: Appliqué

See Also: Freezer Paper Applique, Needleturn Applique, Machine Applique, Reverse Applique, Shadow Applique
Background Fabric
The fabric used as the background when placing Applique pieces.
The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
A folk art of the Cuna Indians of the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama. These rectangular panels are the front and back of the women's blouses and done in vividly solid colors of cotton in a Reverse Applique technique.
Reverse Applique
Designs made by sewing on a patch to the underside of a Block and then cutting away and turning under the edge of the top fabric.

See Also: Freezer Paper Applique, Needleturn Applique, Machine Applique, Shadow Applique, Applique
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