Bake Shop Basics: Turned-Edge Machine Applique

Welcome to Bake Shop Basics on turned edge applique!

I count myself among those who’d like to give a big hug, and maybe even a NOBEL PRIZE, to the person who invented fusible webbing! Fusible webbing has given us the ability to quickly embellish quilts, clothing, and innumerable other objects. In her Sept. 16th Bake Shop post, Angela Yosten explained the basics of machine applique using fusible webbing.

But some projects simply beg for turned-edge applique, which creates a smooth edge, and doesn’t reveal the underlying seams that you see with fused applique.

So. . .if you’re not in a hurry, and you prefer the tidier look of turned-edge applique, try the technique that follows. It’s the method I prefer (when it’s feasible) for turning the edges under and then macine appliqueing. The size and complexity of the applique element are what determine whether this technique is feasible or not.

I’m currently working on a pattern for party goods, using Moda’s “Honeysweet” fabric by Fig Tree. The placemats have a circle appliqued to the center. Here are the simple steps for preparing it for applique.

Trace the design–in this case an 8″ circle–onto lightweight SEW-IN (not fusible) interfacing. Use an air-erase marker or trace lightly with a pencil. As you see in the picture, I found a lid that is 8″ in diameter and used it as a template. Cut the interfacing about 1/2″ from the traced line. Pin the interfacing, marked side up, to the right (top) side of your fabric, pointing the pins toward the outside of the circle. This will cause it to lay flatter than if you pin it from the outside edge toward the center.

Sew on the drawn line with thread that matches the circle fabric, with the stitch length set where you usually have it set for piecing (2.5 on my machine). Sew all the way around the drawn line.

If you have pinking shears, use them to trim the seam allowance to about 1/8″. I LOVE using pinking shears to “clip” curves in this way. If you don’t have access to pinks,  carefully clip it every 1/4″ almost to the seam line.

Make a clip in the middle of the interfacing, being careful not to cut the circle fabric. Gently–so as not to tear the interfacing–turn the circle right side out. Use a Purple Thang or a plasticware knife to push the seam to the edges of the circle. Iron the edges using a pressing sheet to protect your iron and to prevent the interfacing from distorting.

With the fabric side up, press the circle flat, being sure the interfacing isn’t showing at the edges. Pin it in place on the background fabric, pinning toward the outside edge. 

In Angela’s blog post, she showed a variety of fund and pretty decorative stitches that can be used with fused OR turned-edge applique. For invisible machine applique there are a couple different types of stitches usually recommended. They’re shown in the picture below. One is a narrow, long zizag stitch and the other a blind stitch. The zigzag is my personal favorite, but I encourage you to experiment with each of them. With either, you should use clear polyester or lightweight thread that matches your applique fabric. 

The inside point of the zigzag stitch should pierce the applique piece and the background, with the outer point piercing only the background fabric. The blind stitch is made up of a few straight stitches followed by a single zigzag. The straight stitches pierce only the background.

Here’s a close-up of the circle appliqued to the placemat with a narrow, long zigzag stitch.
Perhaps you’re wondering if this method is limited to extremely simple shapes, and, happily, the answer is no. Here’s a little bird that’s going to be part of the party goods pattern.

 After turning the edges under using the method described above, I simply (and I DO MEAN simply!) straight-stitched near her edge with the same thread I planned to use for quilting. 
The example shown uses Moda’s “Daydream” fabric by Kate Spain.

Here are a few more things to consider for turned-edge applique:
  • You’re free to cut away the extra fabric and interfacing under the appliqued piece.
  • Substitute FabriSolvy for the interfacing, and rinse it away after appliqueing your design to the background. The art quilt in the top photo was done this way.
  • Decorative stitches may be used instead of hidden ones.
  • If the applique design has a direction (as with the little bird), the way it points as you look at the interfacing is the direction it will point after sewing. So if desired, you can reverse the direction by simply flipping the interfacing before sewing, since the drawn line will be visible on either side of the interfacing.
  • The applique piece doesn’t have to be closed on all sides. In fact, this technique is even easier if at least one edge of the design is open (where it will be overlapped by another piece or where it lays at the quilt edge), as was the case with the quilt in the top photo.
  • If you’re having trouble getting the edge to press nicely, cut a piece of heat-resistant template plastic a “hair” smaller than the shape, insert it through the slit in the interfacing and press. Remove the template and press again.
  • Forgive me for stating the obvious, but this method works nicely for hand-applique projects, too!

May your projects be many and your frustrations few,

Kara Peterson

Retro Table Topper (Unlined)

22 light/medium Layer Cake squares (10″ x 10″)
7 dark Layer Cake squares

10 or more 10″ lengths of rickrack in a variety of widths; 5 3/8 yards of jumbo rickrack for outer edge

For my sample, I used pinking shears to finish all the seams. If you own a serger, this would be a great serger project. Seams are 1/4″. Press between steps.

From the 7 dark squares cut a total of 40 strips that measure 1 1/2″ x 10″. Cut 4 of the light/medium squares to measure 5 1/4″ x 10″. You may want to lay out all the squares on your design wall to determine which 4 to cut.

On your design wall or work table, lay out all the squares and strips as shown, with the  5 1/4″ pieces at the top and bottom of Columns 2 and 4. The 1 1/2″ strips are placed at the upper and lower edge of each square and at only one edge of the 5 1/4″ pieces, as shown in the photo.

Sew the squares and strips together to create the 5 columns. Pink the edges of the seam allowances and press. Don’t sew the columns together yet.

If you’ve opted for adding rickrack, topstitch 10″ pieces to the top of the seams where the 1 1/2″ strips join. I didn’t sew rickrack between EVERY pair of strips, but it would be cute that way. I was using whatever scraps I had that matched!

After adding the rickrack, sew the 5 columns together. After sewing, pink the seams and press.

Fold under 1/4″ around the outer edge of the Table Topper and press. Topstitch a scant 1/8″ from the pressed edge. The raw edge will be hidden by the jumbo rickrack.

Beginning several inches from one corner of the Table Topper, lay the jumbo rickrack UNDER the stitched edge of the Topper, leaving a 2″ tail where you begin sewing. Topstitch through all layers 1/8″ from the first stitching.

At the corners, fold the rickrack diagonally to make it “turn” the corner. When you’re a few inches from where you began adding rickrack, take the Topper out of the machine (clipping threads), and determine where you need to make a seam in the rickrack so that it fits the remaining un-sewn edge. After sewing this seam, trim away the extra rickrack and press the seam open. I applied Fray Block® to the rickrack seam. Finish topstitching the rickrack to the Table Topper edge.

This pattern is a variation of a crib quilt in my new pattern “Baby Days”, available at quilt shops or from

Rather than hemming the Table Topper as explained above, cut a backing piece a little larger than your Topper–this may require sewing 2 pieces of fabric together. Place it right sides together with the Topper and sew around the edge (Table Topper edge as a guide), leaving a 6-8″ gap for turning. Trim the backing to match the top, clip the corners on the diagonal, and turn the Topper right side out. Press. Add rickrack around the edge as directed above.

46″ x 47 1/2″

Happy sewing!

Kara Schorstein

Little Church Purse

Designed by Other free patterns at

6 layer cake (10″) squares–my sample was made from “Terrain.”
(2) 10″ squares of cotton batting
3/4-yard of 1-1 1/2″ ribbon
(2) 3/4″-wide pieces of hook and loop tape {cut 1″ in length}

buttons, yoyos, other embellishments or trims

All seams are ¼”. Press between each step. RSO=right side out. Use strong thread. (Test it by seeing if it breaks easily.)

For the center of the front and back of the purse, cut (2) 7 ¼” squares. For a fun touch {if possible}, fussy-cut the squares with a motif in the center, such as a flower.

For the triangles that frame the center square cut (4) 5 5/8” squares in half diagonally, yielding 8 triangles total. Sew 2 matching triangles to opposite sides of a center square.  Sew 2 matching triangles to the remaining sides. Or, if you prefer, use 4 different triangles around the center.

Cut (2) 10” squares of cotton batting. The 2 remaining layer cake squares will serve as the purse lining. Lay the batting on your sewing table. Place a lining square on top of it right side up. On top of that, place a pieced block right side down. Pin the stack so the edges are even. If the pieced block is slightly smaller than the batting and lining squares, trim them to match.
Beginning near the center of the lower edge, sew around the block through all layers. Leave a 5” opening for turning it right side out. Backstitch as you begin and end so that the stitching will hold when you’re turning the block.
Trim the corners almost to the seam line and turn the piece RSO. Press it, folding the opening to the inside ¼”. You don’t need to sew the opening closed yet. You’ve created one side of the purse. Now, repeat the above steps to create the other side. 

Sew a little square of hook and loop tape at the top center of the lining side of each.

Once the 2 pieces are complete, match the edges and pin them together RSO, with the gaps that you pressed under on the bottom edge. Topstitch a SCANT ¼” from the sides and lower edge of the purse through all layers. Backstitch as you begin and end. The lower edge gap should be caught (and closed) in this stitching.
Cut a piece of ribbon to measure 24” in length. Fold under ¼” at each end and topstitch. Place one end of the ribbon at a top corner of the purse, 1” down from the top, RSO, with the ribbon folded around the purse seam allowances. Sew through all layers from the lower edge of the ribbon to the top of the purse, and then sew it again or backstitch to make it secure. Repeat for the other corner of the purse with the other end of the ribbon, and your Little Church Purse is finished. (But who could resist adding an embellishment here or there?!)

Kara Schorstein