Raw edge appliqué is a method where elements that will be appliquéd are cut at the finished size, no seam allowance. The raw edge is then is either fused, covered with a machine or hand stitch or left to ravel a bit. The edge of the design element is not turned to the back as in other appliqué methods.
This technique is generally quicker and perfect for beginners to experiment with appliqué or collage design, but also used by some highly notable fiber artists creating amazing results.
What are the raw edge appliqué techniques?
There are four (4) basic methods placing raw edge appliqué pieces to a base fabric:
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- Using fusible web to attach the design element
- Using removable fabric glue
- Using wallpaper paste
- Using pins before stitching
To secure the design element to the base, there are four (4) basic methods:
- Press the appliqué with fusible web already applied to the background fabric using the manufacturer’s instructions for your fusible product
- Machine finish with a decorative, satin or zigzag stitch that covers the edge of the appliqué
- Scribble stitch to enhance the design element using either a straight stitch or free motion stitching, stitching close to the edge for a smooth finish or in from the edge for a frayed finish
- Hand embroidery
Does raw edge appliqué fray?
It depends on which method you use to secure your appliqué to your base.
If you leave the raw edge completely free of stitching, you will get some fraying. If you want more fraying for a design element, you can stitch about 1/8-inch inside the cut edge of the design element and then clip the fabric edges to encourage fraying.
How do you stop the raw edges from fraying?
Generally the edges of quilting cottons won’t fray once you hand or machine stitch the edge to the base fabric. If you attach the design element using fusible web, the fusible keeps the fabric edge intact.
Some fabrics are very loosely woven and fray very easily. With those types of fabrics, either use fusible web, or run a line of fray check along the outside edge of the design element.
What stitch is best for machine stitch appliqué?
Oh, gosh – no stitch is better than another! It’s your choice!
The most common machine stitches used for appliqué are the common zigzag, satin (zigzag with a very short stitch length) and buttonhole (also referred to as blanket) stitch.
This is your opportunity to have fun with all of those built in stitches on your sewing machine you’ve never tried! The key to picking a stitch is one that goes side-to-side that will cover the edge of the design element. Have some fun trying out the stitches on a scrap of fabric first.
And then, if you want the thread work look, just stitch a straight stitch about 1/8-inch inside from the edge. Make it random for a whimsical design look.
Can I appliqué with a straight stitch?
Yes! You can use a straight stitch to add some interesting design elements to your piece. The straight stitch can be just that, straight. Or sew multiple rows of wonky free motion sketch stitching for a whimsical look to your piece.
Can I appliqué with a regular sewing machine?
Of course! As long as your machine can sew a straight stitch, you can machine appliqué! Bonus if you have a zig zag stitch or other internal stitches.
What stitch is best for hand embroidery appliqué?
The most common embroidery stitches used for appliqué are the blanket (buttonhole) stitch or the feather stitch. Again, any stitch that works right to left will work for hand embroidery appliqué. You could even use a short running stitch, back stitch or chain stitch if you want to give the appliqué edges the freedom to fray.
What kind of designs can I do with raw edge appliqué?
Anything! Seriously, anything. If you can imagine a shape, you can add it to a textile piece with raw edge appliqué!
How do I start raw edge appliqué?
First, determine your design. You can find inspiration in a drawing, illustration or even a coloring book page!
Next, look at the design. How would you break it down into unique elements? What types of fabrics and colors would you use for each element? Maybe even take the time to trace the elements to paper, making sure that each one is its own shape.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to decide which techniques you’d like to use to apply your design elements to your base fabric.
Then, have fun watching your creation come alive!
Check out these raw edge appliqué projects that describe many of the techniques mentioned above.
Where is raw edge appliqué used?
Anything made from textiles! Raw edge appliqué is perfect for making throw pillows, decorating clothing, making a quilt for a bed or an art quilt for the wall. Decorate your kitchen with fun kitchen towels, send someone a fiber art postcard that has been appliquéd! The ideas are endless!
Tips for raw edge appliqué
- Use really sharp scissors for cutting out your pieces. I like the Fiskars Micro-Tip Each Action Shears or the Karen Buckley Perfect scissors.
- When you apply your favorite fusible web to some fabric, always do a little bit extra. This way you will have a stash of small pieces of fabric with fusible on the back ready to have some fun making a quick and easy collage!
- If you are working with light weight fabrics, use a tear-away stabilizer under your base fabric when you are machine stitching to prevent puckers.
Browse through more appliqué projects and inspirations on Create Whimsy.