What Is Sew and Turn Applique?
Sew and turn applique allows you to prepare shapes for applique while avoiding the fuss of folding under seam allowances as you work.
To create sew and turn applique, cut two patches for each shape, align the pair right sides together, sew a seam around the finished shape, and then turn the pair inside-out and applique it to your quilt. Final applique stitches can be either invisible or decorative and sewn to the background by hand or with your sewing machine.
The Two Layers of a Sew and Turn Pair
The top layer of the pair is cut from the fabric you want to be visible in the design.
The bottom layer can be cut from fabric but a less bulky alternative is to use nonwoven interfacing. Used fabric softener sheets work, too.
Make the Sew and Turn Applique Shapes
- Make a rigid template for each motif in your design.
- Position a template right side down on the reverse side of the front fabric -- the fabric that will be visible in the quilt. Trace around its edges.
- Position the material chosen for the bottom layer underneath a single traced shape or group of shapes, right sides together (interfacing doesn't have a right side). Secure with straight pins.
- Machine sew a straight stitch along the marked lines, extending the stitches just slightly past the spot where you started sewing. Repeat for remaining shapes if working with a group.
- Cut out each 2-layer pair, leaving about 3/16" seam allowance past the seam line.
- Clip into inside corners if necessary and trim fabric from points to reduce bulk.
- Using scissors with sharp tips (or a sharp seam ripper), carefully make a slit in the back side of the sewn pair of fabrics.
- Turn the fabrics right side out and use a slightly pointed (but dull) tool to push into and smooth the seam allowance. Try the pointed cap that comes with some ballpoint pens, or push gently with a hera marker or other similar tool.
- Turn the pair wrong side out again if you find that seam allowances are too bulky. Trim, and then turn right side out again and recheck.
- Press the unit lightly. It's ready to use in any applique project.
How to Use Sew and Turn with Fusible Web
The same method can be used with fusible web. The 'sticky' side of the fusible web must face the right side of applique shapes when sewing around their edges. When the fusible web is clipped and the pair is turned right side out, the sticky side will be on the back of the piece, which can then be pressed into place.
Don't depend on the fusible web to hold your applique in place forever -- stitch around the edges to keep them secure.
Best Shapes for This Easy Applique Method
Sew and turn applique is usually most helpful for simple shapes that don't have lots of intricate bends.
My easy Dresden Plate quilt block pattern is a good choice if you'd like to practice the technique.
You can use another technique to create fusible web applique without turning under the edges of the fabric.
Take a look at our applique quilts photo gallery to see quilts made with a variety of methods.