How to hand appliqué fabric that frays easily

Posted by on May 12, 2014, in quilting & sewing, ,

Applique heart from Tea in the Garden
Picture this. You’ve chosen a wonderful new appliqué pattern, gathered the perfect fabrics, and cut out the first shapes.

You’ve started hand stitching an appliqué piece onto the background. And then you see them. Pesky threads unraveling at the edges of your appliqué shape. A shape cut from special fabric you’re sure will make or break your quilt.

What can you do when your appliqué motifs start dissolving at the edges? Do you have to abandon that otherwise ideal fabric? Not so, says appliqué expert Cynthia Tomaszewski. She’s got a simple tip for dealing with unstable fabric edges.


What to do when your appliqué fabric frays

From Garden Party: Appliqué Quilts That Bloom by Cynthia Tomaszewski

If you’re working with fabric that frays easily, leave a larger-than-normal seam allowance when cutting around the template. Then trim the seam allowance to the required ⅛" to ¼" as you stitch the appliqué piece in place.

how to hand applique fabric that frays easily - Quilts from Paradise


So, just start with a generous seam allowance and cut away the fraying bits as you stitch around your shape. Thanks for helping us tame those raveling edges, Cynthia!

If you’re an appliqué fan, you won’t want to miss Cynthia’s books of stunning quilt patterns. Along with offering inventive appliqué designs, you’ll find Cynthia is passionate about sharing the tips and tricks that make fusible, freezer-paper, and needle-turn appliqué fun and easy.

Now let’s take a look at the lovely appliqué quilts you can make!

From Garden Party: Appliqué Quilts That Bloom

Quilts from Garden Party - Applique Quilts That Bloom
Go here to see more patterns from Garden Party

From Quilts from Paradise

Applique quilts from Quilts from Paradise by Cynthia Tomaszewski
Go here to see more patterns from Quilts from Paradise

From Tea in the Garden: Quilts for a Summer Afternoon

Applique quilts from Tea in the Garden by Cynthia Tomaszewski
Go here to see more patterns from Tea in the Garden


How do you appliqué: by machine or by hand? Let us know in the comments!


12 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I love to needle turn applique. The fraying edges hint is a very good hint. I will try it. I think a little or a lot of applique on a quilt just finishes it. I don’t machine applique yet, I really like the looks of it though. For me it is easier to sit and stitch by hand and I really like the results.

    —Diane on May 12, 2014
  • Mostly hand appliqué. I find it to be a relaxing break from machine sewing. Plus, I’m more precise when doing it by hand which pleases this perfectionist to no end. However, I’m polishing my machine appliqué skills so that I will have a choice between the two techniques.

    —Jean Jones on May 12, 2014
  • I do both hand and machine applique. I enjoy hand applique more but sometimes time issues lead me to machine applique. Hand applique is more relaxing and more portable. The sense of accomplishment is greater with hand applique as more of yourself is put into your work.

    —Audrey on May 12, 2014
  • Needlepoint applique is my favorite technique as well as the method I find most beautiful due to the wonderful dimension it exhibits. The rhythm of the applique hand stitching is relaxing and enjoyable. I have done machine applique, and admit it is a quicker method, but it results in a finished piece that is flat and often allows "see through" of underlying fabrics.

    —Ann Williamson on May 12, 2014
  • Good tip, thanks. I prefer the look of hand applique to machine. And like others said, I find hand work relaxing.

    —Quilting Jeannie Z on May 12, 2014
  • Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give
    a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading through your posts.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics?
    Thank you!

    o-filmach.pl on May 12, 2014
  • Fantastic tip — thanks so much. I have written a multi-part tutorial for a needle turn applique on my blog. I invite readers to review it: http://karensquiltscrowscardinals.blogspot.com/p/teardrops-of-love-needle.html

    Karen Miller on May 12, 2014
  • I am recently loving needle-turn applique. I am not so good with the machine just yet, and I find needle-turn or button hole stitching by hand very relaxing and leaves a beautiful look.

    Jodi Connors on May 13, 2014
  • That’s a really great tip for working with dupioni! Thanks!

    Cathy Perlmutter on May 13, 2014
  • I applique by hand and machine. Both give an added plus to my quilts. Thanks for the tip on raveling edges!

    —Donna Myers on May 16, 2014
  • I can applique both ways. Now days I almost always machine applique. The Doctor says handwork is to hard on my hands. I am thankful that the machine allows me to still do the things I love to do.

    —Louise Buker on May 17, 2014
  • I use both machine and hand applique’ methods.

    When I have a fraying problem, I spray starch my fabrics, let dry, and continue hand sewing. IF I know, the fabric is prone to fray to begin with, I use a heavier starch, which holds everything down while I’m machine or hand sewing.

    Keep smiling,

    Lynnita Shipman on May 18, 2014

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