Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Reverse Applique: The Ricochet Method...

From A Glossary of Quilting Terms I found online:

applique --a piecing process using small cutouts of fabric which are then sewn onto a background fabric in a decorative design. Typically intricate and curved floral and animal motifs are used.

reverse applique --designs made by sewing on a patch to the underside of the block and then cutting away and turning under the edge of the top fabric.

From Ricochet's Glossary of Sewing Techniquies:

Ricochet's method of reverse applique--designs achieved by stitching toether 2 or more layers of fabric and cutting off portions of the top layer(s) to reveal the fabric underneath.  No turning under of raw edges!  Leave 'em rough and tough!  See Ricochet's Reverse Applique Gallery for examples.

Basically, "applique" is attaching small shapes of fabric to a larger background.  So, you cut your shape first, then sew in on.  In "reverse applique" you stitch your shape first and cut last.  Kind of hard to type out.  However, once you see it, you'll totally "get" it.

Check out this little demonstration I cooked up today:

I took 3 layers of fabric and pinned them together.

I drew a simple design on one side. Note: I drew on the "top" side with a gel pen for the sake of the tutorial. You should draw on the back with chalk or your pattern-marking pencil.

Using my shortest stitch length, I stitch over all the lines of my flower. I used red thread so you all could easily see the stitching.

I pull all my threads to the back side and this is what it looks like so far.

I use a seam ripper to make a hole in the center of the flower. I'm careful to ONLY CUT THROUGH THE TOP LAYER. I use little scissors (from a beard-trimming set, I think) to cut out the center of the flower. I leave a raw edge about 3mm wide from the stitching. Note: if you cut through your stitching, or you cut through extra layers, all is lost! :-( You must start over again. Do not pass go. Do not collect your $200.

Then, I cut out the outside of the flower, leaving a raw edge of about 3mm from the stitching.

You know what I have now? I have what looks like an applique white flower (with a reverse applique center) on a blue background. But did I carefully cut out a white flower, carefully pin it to my blue background, and carefully stitch around all the edges? No, I didn't. I think the technique I used was far simpler.

Next, I cut through the center of the flower again, revealing the green fabric in the very back.   

Now look at what I have here. 3 layers of fabric. All 3 layers are playing their roles in creating a simple flower design.  Maybe all those raw edges are driving you crazy (you neat-freak, you!). You can trim them down a bit more closer to the stitching and then cover them up with a satin stitch. Once you satin stitch all the edges, no one will ever know if you used reverse applique or not. It'll be our little secret! Shhhh!

Just for fun, I got out my super-special fabric marker, er pink highlighter, I mean. I did a little coloring for beautification purposes. 

I added a corduroy button for a finishing touch. Now wouldn't that make a great pocket for a little girl's dress? The possibilities with this technique are endless. And unlike normal applique, you didn't need any expensive adhesives or fusible web or spray-on basting...

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  I've been looking, but haven't seen a tute that approaches reverse applique like I do.  Let me know if you have, please. 

I made this tute as a reference tool for The Retro Pillow Challenge:

 Are you up for a challenge?

Happy crafting and big hugs from Montana,


  1. Hi Rikka! thanks for the follow and post on my blog. This is a great post, I like that you included a glossary of quilting terms. Plus the flower looks so intricately done, awesome job!

  2. Hi Cat!
    Thanks for stopping by. You can get pretty intricate with this technique, but with very little effort. I hope you're inspired to try it!
    Rikka J.

  3. Hi Rikka!

    I love this tutorial! NOW I get why you said that your Brenda Bag is all reverse appliqued!!! I laughed when I read your warning "Do not pass go. Do not collect your $200." :-D And I also love the glossary of terms. I need to look up what a satin stitch is, though. Is it done by machine or by hand? I'm going to give this technique a shot today!

    - Keren

  4. This blog has become one of my favorites. You're endlessly creative and I'm endlessly fascinated by your process!

  5. Thanks Ricochet for stopping by. Glad that you love to try nuno felt. I addicted with it since recently learnt from Holland the skills. I couldn't find many YouTube about it but here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eHUn9QxphE&feature=related
    and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTv_Aktac9g&feature=related
    You may find some more about it on the sidebar of those video. I only tried myself for making dresses. Your posts are so detail I love to learn sewing bags. Will keep following your inspiring blog.
    Have a nice weekend.

  6. Nice tute. will surely try this one as iam hooked onto applique ever since i finished Dice Floor cushion where i appliqued 22 circles!

    Dice Floor Cushion Tutorial will surely be a hit among kids. My Darling Daughter loves hers!

    Adithi's Amma from Adithis Amma Sews

  7. I love all the patterns and designs you done using reverse applique! So cool! I am featuring this at somedaycrafts.blogspot.com. Grab my "featured" button.

  8. Thanks so much for the feature, Michelle! Prouldy sporting your button on my sidebar. :-)

  9. That is just totally cute, and yes it would make a great pocket for a girly. Your tutorial is so very easy to follow, thanks for being so clear about the steps you used to do something that is new to me. I'll have to give it a try!


  10. Thanks Mary! I found a lot of great info on your blog as well! Thanks for stopping by today!

  11. Great tut on this. Thanks for sharing at my newbie party.

  12. This is a neat tutorial. I have never heard of reverse applique.

  13. Great tutorial! I've never tried reverse applique before - you make it look so easy! I'll add it to my list of things to try!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  14. great tutorial and a fantastic idea! thank you for sharing. I will be trying it.

  15. Great tutorial! Thank you so much for linking up at Savvy HomeMade Monday. I hope you will party again tomorrow!

  16. Using your instructions I made a pillow last night. I liked back to you in my post... http://jandrzoo.blogspot.com/2011/08/retro-pillow-reverse-applique.html
    thanks for sharing the instructions!

  17. A good tutorial - make this applique a lot less stressful

    Reminds me of the molas of Panama, but more carefree.
    I think you're on to something.

  18. Fabulous tutorial, Rikka. You make it look so easy. I don't know why, but I've baulked at trying reverse appliqué. I know it can't be too much harder than ordinary appliqué, but it just seems more fiddly.


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