Skip to Content

Sewing Tutorial: Reverse Applique

Posted on Last updated: /

The process of sewing a reverse applique is very easy. Let’s familiarize ourselves with the technique by following the step-by-step instructions in the detailed guide below. It can be used to add decoration to sewing projects as well as patch a torn-open garment.

Reverse Applique 1

Although we typically demonstrate how to sew this reverse applique using hand sewing, a sewing machine can also be used.

Reverse Applique Sewing Supplies

The materials required to sew a reverse applique are minimal. Fabrics, pins, needles, thread (or embroidery floss), an erasable marker, a pair of sharp scissors, and a template of your chosen design are the main supplies and tools.

Reverse Applique 3

How To Sew Reverse Applique

Trace Artwork

On the fabric surface, draw or trace the pattern you want to use for a reverse applique motif. We traced with an erasable fabric marker, which will be washed away with water once the sewing is completed.

Keep in mind that the artwork needs to be large enough to be reverse appliqued, with a minimum space of 1/4″ required between the outline of the artwork.

Arrange Fabrics

Place a piece of contrasting fabric at the bottom of your design and pin both layers together. Make sure you have enough farbic to cover the entire artwork, with at least a 1/4″ margin on each side.

Reverse Applique 4

Sew both layers together with thread/embroidery floss and needle using your preferred hand-sewing stitches you prefer; in this case, I used a running stitch.

If your design is large and has fewer curvy outlines, you might want to consider using a sewing machine to complete the project faster. For sewing machine reverse applique, either a straight line or a zigzag stitch is recommended.

Reverse Applique 5

After you’ve finished sewing, cut out ONLY the top fabric with a sharp point scissor. This must be done carefully and precisely, about 1mm-2mm from the stitching line’s edge.

I used my favorite DMC scissor for this job because I didn’t want to jeopardize my work by accidentally cutting the stitches or the bottom fabric. As always, I emphasized the importance of using the right tool for the right job in order to have a nice piece of handmade.

Reverse Applique 6

A reverse applique appears like this after the top fabric has been taken off.

Extra Tips

In reverse applique, you are not limited to using only two layers of fabric; you can add as many layers as you like depending on your design, but use caution to avoid making your project too thick.

Reverse Applique 2

Take note of the differences between the top and bottom images of the two “P”s I created. Take a close look at the alphabet’s cavity in the middle!

This is an example of a three-layer reverse applique, where the cavity is a layer of white fabric underneath a layer of brown fabric.

This is an example of a three-layer reverse applique, where the cavity is a layer of white fabric underneath a layer of brown fabric.

Reverse Applique 7
Reverse Applique 8

As you are aware, the edges of woven fabric will fray slightly. Back-stitching (hand sewing) or zig-zagging (machine sewing) will make your work last longer if you are making it for a project that will be used frequently, such as a garment or bag that will need to be washed.


Follow Craft Passion's Network:

Angela Maria Agostinho Pereira

Thursday 16th of May 2013

Olá !! Quero lhe agradecer muito por compartilhar... Fiquei super feliz em aprender essa técnica nem imaginava como era feita!!! Voce é muito especial...grande abraço Saudações de Curitiba ,Paraná - Brasil

Translation (by Google): Hello! I want to thank you very much for sharing ... I was super happy to learn this technique no idea how it was made!! You are very special big hug ... Greetings from Curitiba, Paraná - Brazil


Sunday 2nd of December 2012

Thank you for tutorial. I like the first one, it is easy to read.

Shannon Margaret Brott

Wednesday 15th of December 2010

I prefer the first one but would love to have seen them close together or next to each other for a cute header.....Greatjob! :)


Tuesday 10th of August 2010

the first one :) the second one is hard to read. but they are so cute..

loves from Türkiye...

Monika Schappert

Sunday 20th of September 2009

Wow, nice effect. I'm going to use it for the kid's t-shirts. Too bad they are still too young to read it. I'd take the first because of the contrast.