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Needle Turn Applique

Needle Turn Applique is an applique technique in which the raw edge of applique pieces are turned under as the piece is being appliqued to the fabric base. The edge of the applique needle is used to turn the seam allowance under during the stitching process. Using a long Milliners Needle aids with the turning.  The seam allowance is often smaller than 1/4" and some techniques use an insert of thin batting or another piece of fabric and turn the seam allowance under the insert.  This ensures the seam is not seen through the top piece.

Benefits of Needle Turn Applique

  • Preparation time for Needle Turn Applique can be significantly less than for applique where the edges are all turned under in advance.
  • Sometimes the shape is drawn on the top side of the applique and the needle is used to turn the seam allownance under, up to the drawn line, during the applique stitching to ensure placement and fit. Sometimes no lines are drawn, the edge of the needle is used to turn under the seam allowance by eye during the sewing. In either case, the process of cutting out the appliques in preparation to start stitching is much faster than if each piece had to be completely turned under before beginning to stitch.
  • Needle Turn Applique is very portable and a great take along project.

Supplies and Tools - Needle Turn Applique

There are a myriad of supplies for Needle Turn Applique.

  • Templates - for creating shapes to trace around on the applique can be made from plastic or cardboard.
  • Markers - Many different types of markers are available depending on whether marking light or dark fabrics. Some quilters like to draw the design on the background before starting to Applique--a lightbox is helpful for this step.
  • Needle and Thread - A variety of threads can be used for Needle Turn Applique, like silk and  60 to 80 weight cotton. The thread color does not need to match the applique, just make sure you don't see the stitches. Many different needles are available and quilters tend to have their favorite--from Straw or Milliner's needles which are long and thin, to Betweens which are short and strong.
  • Pins - Applique or Sequin pins are helpful to hold the pieces on the background--they are about 1/2"long so they don't get tangled with the thread while sewing. You can also place your pins on the back of the project to avoid the tangles.
  • Fingertip Stiletto - once the needle has been used to tuck the seam allowance under, a fingertip stiletto will help keep it in place while stitching.
  • Thimble - protect your fingers with a thimble that works well for you.
What I Wish I Knew When I Started - Needle Turn Applique

NEEDLE TURN APPLIQUE is relaxing to stitch and creates a beautiful project for many quilts. While not as fast as machine applique, the beauty and rhythm of hand needle turn applique makes it a satisfying process.



Needle Turn Applique Resources