Perfect applique tutorial


I have sooo many fabric pieces. Most of them are wool and wool blends. Now that cold winter steps in, I want to make wool stuff. One of the projects on my mind is a quilted wool blanket. Since most of the wool fabrics are dark and grayish, a good idea is to use applique to lighten it a bit. So I was wondering how to do it without the applique making a bulk in the already bulky wool and came up with this idea. I’m sure I’m not discovering the wheel, and probably someone already came up with this idea, but since I searched the web and didn’t find it, decided to share it with you as a tutorial for the perfect applique.

As much as I LOVE the raw edge kind of applique, there are cases, when classic applique with folded edge is better or required. I think a play mat , that will be heavily used needs just that, or I’ll have to constantly make repairs.

The difficulty I find in applique is the time consuming shaping of the curves and the often teared inner angles. I choose to show you exactly this kind of shape – curves and angles, that will be hard and time consuming to shape with the regular cardboard and iron, or paper  and glue  method…

The whole trick is in a material I use on my embroidery machine – water soluble fabric. This is a non-woven fabric, that can be stitched and then rinsed leaving no traces. It’s a magic material I fell in love with, since it is helpful in so many things!

There are two kinds of water soluble stuff used in embroidery – the non-woven fabric, which you can sew a garment from if you wish (don’t go out if it’s cloudy! lol) and the water soluble foil, that is used to keep the embroidery on top of the fabric when terry cloth or velvet is the embroidery base. I’m using here the non-woven fabric, since the foil is too thin and flexible – like an ultra thin rubber sheet.  The fabric kind looks and behaves like some of the non-woven fusible interfacing.

Here is the tutorial:


Here are the materials you’ll need: water erasable marker, applique fabric, sketch of the shape, water soluble fabric


Trace your drawing to the water soluble fabric


Pin it to your applique fabric. The applique fabric right side should be facing the water soluble fabric


Using tiny stitches, go over the line of the shape and close it fully


Cut around the stitches, leaving only around 1/8 in and cut deeper into the corners, only don’t touch the stitching.

Clip crosswise a tiny opening, just enough to turn the piece around through it.


Use blunt pencil to help push the fabric all the way to the seam.


Here it is turned around.  If you wish, press without steam.


Place your applique on the desired place and pin.


Again, using tiny stitches go around it, very close to the edge. Decorative stitches can also be used here.


When you finish, pull the bobbin thread from the back side and it will pull a loop from the top thread.

You can tie a knot from the two threads and there will be no visible start or end of stitching on the face of your applique.


Here’s your perfect applique :-)

20 thoughts on “Perfect applique tutorial

  1. Ute

    Hey, that sounds interesting! :-)

    But what happens once you’ve washed the whole lot? If the soluble fabric disappears from underneath the motif, don’t the edges of the applique subsequently fray out then?

  2. lena

    Hi Ute! The edges are folded belneath the top stitching, so actually they are fixed to the fabric and have nowhere to go :-)
    That’s why it’s a perfect applique – you get the perfect curves and it’s all with no fraying and no tedious ironong to prepare the applique piece. Try it out and let me know. Greetings!!!

  3. Ute

    Oh, OK, I see… Once I stitch the applique to the fabric, I also catch the edges with my needle. So they can’t slip out anymore, once the soluble fabric is gone. Sounds ingenious to me. :-)

  4. Ute

    BTW: I’ve been experimenting with this over the weekend. For lack of soluble fabric, I used so-called “Vlieseline” – very thin material and similar in appearance, but it can bei ironed onto other fabric. That, in the end, gives you an applique you can iron onto the garment – which in turn makes it even easier to stitch around the edges.

  5. lena

    This sounds great! I have some lightweight Vlieseline and will give it a try. The point with the water soluble fabric is to wash it away and that’s what I like about it – no bulk on the lightweight fabrics. Is your Vlieseline with glue on both sides or only on one?

  6. Ute

    It’s with glue on one side only. The kind I used is so thin that there’s no bulk at all. You just need to be a bit careful while turning the applique inside-out, but that’s all.

  7. Amie

    I’ve never tried applique before because I don’t like the idea of frayed edges, so this looks like such a great idea! I’m thinking I may try this with one of those flushable cloth diaper liners I have a million of and never use. :)

  8. Holly

    Thanks for the great tutorial! That seems a lot easier than the methods I’ve tried in the past. I’d basically given up on applique, but I’ll give it a try your way!

  9. lena

    Hey Holly, Thanks for stopping by! For me this is the easiest, when we talk folded edge. Hope to post soon some new pictures to show other shapes and fabrics

  10. Monica

    I’ve always been SO intimidated by applique. This is the first true instructional guide that I actually felt like I should finally give it a try. Thanks for the great instructions.

  11. lena

    Awww, thank you so much! I just don’t have the time to make hand applique and turn all the edges when I need this kind of finish.
    Hope it works for you too!

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