A needle turn applique technique is a very easy and simple hand sewing method of attaching an applique (simple cut out of fabric) on a foundation fabric. Just cut the design pieces, use your hand sewing needle to stitch the design to the foundation fabric. Nothing complicated. The technique is so named because you will be using the tip of your needle to turn the edges of the cut pieces to the inside so that they are not visible.
The turning of the edges inside with the needle ensure that the edges do not fray and the whole work looks unattractive because of the unkempt edges; And to top it, the stitching is invisible.
When to use the needle turn applique method
It is best used when you do not have much overlapping pieces. And also if you do not have a lot of area to applique. Hand sewing applique can be tedious if there are lots of applique pieces to attach. (I hope hand applique lovers do not read this – they may consider it blasphemy) I prefer appliqueing with a sewing machine for large designs. But if you have time on your hands, nothing more beautiful than needle turned applique.
How to do the Needle turn applique technique
Decide on your applique design first. Decide where each piece will go. Map it all out.
Step 1. Cut the designs with extra 1/4 inches all around. Mark the fold line with a removable marker – chalk is fine, you can also use washable fabric marking pens.
Step 2. Clip the extra seam allowance every 1/2 inches or so. Make the distance 1/4 inches apart if there is a curve. If you need smooth turning you will need to be generous with the clipping.
Pin the design in place in the middle, if the design is big.
Step 3. Start the applique stitching – tiny slip stitches are used here.
Insert the needle into the fabric and applique piece from behind, just along the edge.
Step 4. Now insert the needle along the applique edge, on the fabric. Take a 1/8 inch stitch (2 or 3 threads of the fabric), down. Come up. Refer picture below. Come up.
Step 5. Now insert the needle through the fold in the applique piece.
Come out 1/8 inch from where you got into the fold.(or 2-3 threads)
As you go along stitching, you will be turning under the seam allowance with the tip of the needle.
Step 6. Repeat the above steps ; ie. Take a tiny stitch on the fabric and then on the applique fabric fold.
Finish the applique stitches in this way.