Raw Edge Applique {Sewing Tutorial}

Today we’re talking raw edge appliqué, and I’m sharing a step-by-step tutorial for my super simple technique that I use for almost all of my appliqué projects. (If you missed the first part of this post, where I shared my how-to for creating your own appliqué designs without drawing a thing by hand, you can find it here!)

And we’re just going to jump right in, because I know many of you are excited to get to the fun of actually turning your drawings into fabric!

Note: Our little ice cream cone that we’ve been playing with would make the cutest quilt! Just make a bunch, all with different “flavored” ice cream, on 12″ x 12″ blocks, and then sew the blocks together. Couldn’t be easier…or more yummy to look at!

As always, if there are any questions, just comment here or drop me an email!



Nikki, In Stitches


  • Steam-A-Seam 2 (This is my personal favorite double sided fusible to use, but you can use whatever brand you like. I like Steam-A-Seam because it’s easily found in almost all craft stores. There, you’ll typically find it sold in 5 packs of 9″ x 12″ sheets. You can sometimes even find it at our your local quilt shop sold on a roll, where you can pay by the inch, just like you do for fabric, but again any double sided fusible will work!)
  • Background fabric
  • Fabric scraps for your appliqué pieces (Fabric choice for appliqué is important! Let your fabric print do a lot of the work for you! You’re design will have more dimension, and you won’t have as much detail embroidery work to do afterwards.)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine and basic sewing supplies


  •  Trace the mirror image of your individual applique shapes onto the paper liner of your fusible webbing. A few important notes here:
    1. Some people like to create templates from mylar sheets. I do that only when I’m planning on making a lot of the same design. In this case, since I was just making one appliqué, I just put my design on a lightbox and traced it right there on to the webbing.
    2. Be sure you’re tracing the mirror image! The fusible gets ironed to the back of your fabric, so you need to draw your designs in reverse. If you’re using mylar templates, just simply flip them over before tracing! If you’re using a lightbox like I did, just flip your whole design over before you trace! It’s not hard to do, just easy to forget to do it!
    3. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on your fusible if you have any questions. Most come with step-by-step instructions for transferring your designs to the product!
  • Cut out the appliqué pieces from the webbing, leaving a generous 1/2′ all the way around. DO NOT cut out the exact pieces!
  • Iron the fusible webbing to the back of your fabric.
  • Now cut out the exact appliqué shapes!
  • Remove the paper liner and iron your first appliqué shape in place. (Note: Since our pieces overlap some, I press one at a time, then sew that piece down, before moving on to pressing the next piece!)
  • Sewing very close to the edge, stitch all the way around your first piece. You do not need to sew where the piece will be overlapped by the next piece. (Slow down! You’ll be happier with your appliqué if the curve of your stitches matches the curve of the piece as closely as you can get it. Be sure both your needle and presser foot are both down. Stop your machine. Lift your presser foot and adjust your fabric accordingly. Sew the next stitch. Repeat as many times as necessary to get a nice smooth curve!)
  • Move on to your next piece by pressing it in place, and then again, stitching very close to the edge, all the way around. (If you need help with the placement of your pieces, you can put your drawn design on a lightbox and place your fabric overtop!)

  • After all of your individual shapes have been pressed to the background fabric and sewn into place, add any embroidery details that you’d like! (That’s how I added the stem to my cherry! It’s just a simple back stitch. After all the machine sewing was complete, I again put my design on a lightbox, with the appliqué overtop. I very lightly traced the stem with a pencil, then just stitched right over it!)
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15 Responses to Raw Edge Applique {Sewing Tutorial}

  1. Jo says:

    Hi Nikki,
    I’m not a person who sews but this looks interesting LOL
    As you know, i’m more of a papercrafter. This tutorial was pretty interesting to say the least. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!…

    • Nikki says:

      You could totally do this out of paper! How cute would an “appliqué” shape be on the front of a card?
      Cut the shapes from paper, and stitch right around the edges with a sewing machine!
      PS…I had a great weekend and I hope you did, too!!

  2. Joy2Journey says:

    I love this idea for a little ones T shirt! Thank you for sharing!!!

  3. BECKY HATTON says:

    I noticed you straight stitched around the edge. I usually zig-zag because I’m afraid the edges will ravel. Does the edges ravel if you straight stitch? The straight stitch looks neater.

    • Nikki says:

      Hi Becky!
      I do the straight stitch rather than the zig zag for a few reasons.
      1. I agree. It looks neater. Especially since I DO NOT have an embroidery machine. If I did, I’d probably go with a zig zag or satin type stitch, but since I’m doing this freehand, the straight stitch looks a lot nicer.
      2. The fusible will keep those raw edges in place for awhile, and since this is a big for a little one on their first birthday, I’m thinking it will be hang in there long enough.
      I hope this helps!!

  4. Fran says:

    I recently purchased the Seasonal Silhouettes applique book by Edyta Sitar and discovered all the patterns are raw edge applique, which I have never done.
    I use no melt template for my patterns.
    I do not want to machine stitch around the pieces.
    Is it possible to follow all the steps for raw edge applique and hand stitch around the pieces? I don’t like the blanket stitch.
    thank you, Fran

    • Nikki says:

      I guess, theoretically, you could just do a straight stitch by hand around the pieces. I don’t really see a reason why that wouldn’t work.
      It might be a little tricky to get your stitch length even, especially around curves, but give it a try!
      And definitely keep me posted. I’m VERY interested to hear how it goes…I’ve got my eye on a raw edge applique quilt myself!

  5. Amy says:

    I have an embroidery design that uses raw edge applique. They do it the traditional way by doing the place stitch, fabric, stay stitch (I assume there is a stay stitch), cut edges and then I believe the final stitch is a double straight stitch. They do not use cotton woven because it will ravel and they suggest, felt, suede, wool and other non-raveling fabrics. Is there a way to get a pattern without opening every file and do a place stitch for every piece on paper? Do you have an easier suggestion for adding the double stick on the fabric without a pattern? I suppose I could cut the fabric to fit the place stitch, add the steam a seam, remove the paper, do the stay stitch (I assume there is a stay stitch) and cut off the excess before fusing to the backing. Will doing this be sufficient to keep the edges from raveling? I cannot change the final stitch to zig zag or satin stitch, as the designer has programmed in the straight stitch because he is using non-woven fabrics.

    • Nikki says:

      Amy, it sounds like you are using an actual embroidery machine and software, correct?
      I guess the difference here is that I don’t have an embroidery machine. I’m using just a regular sewing machine for these, so I fuse them in place with the double sided fusible, and then sew around the edges. I’ve used a zig zag in the past, but I never get a nice uniform curve, so for the most part now I use a regular straight stitch. I do get a little bit of fraying, not very much…and it usually stops at my straight stitches so I try to place them as close to the edge of the shape as I can!

  6. Melissa says:

    What presser foot do you use on your sewing machine for this? I would think the universal foot would have the most uniform stitch length but curves are difficult so I’d lean towards a free motion foot to better manage the curves however stitch length is uneven.

    • Nikki says:

      Melissa, I just use my regular presser foot with the largest opening in the front so I get the best view of what’s happening. Since this is a straight stitch, I just go REALLY slow around the curves, sometimes literally one stitch at a time, stopping with my needle down, lifting my presser foot, and twisting my fabric, so that the stitches match up with the curve of my fabric!

  7. Pingback: Raw Edge Applique – Annika's Sewing Corner

  8. Sandy says:

    I have just completed the back of a flannel quilt (different cottons on the other side) and have the roads in an H form with little cars, in different colours/fabrics fused on them. Now I am worried about the raw edges, after all, it is to be a quilt for our future grandson and know it will be washed and not just kept on display. Straight stitching will only see fraying and I wonder what I should do next. Thank you very much for any guidance you can offer.

    • Nikki says:

      Sandy, erre your pieces fused to your background before you stitched them in place? If yes, they may hold up better than you think. If you haven’t sandwiched all your layers together yet, could you satin stitch around the edges?

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