Raw Edge Appliqué- Don’t Fear the Fray

Raw Edge Appliqué, is a fun technique I keep coming back to because I love it so much. It’s a simple, quick and easy-to-grasp technique that gives amazing results. Raw edge appliqué is simply the process of making patterns or pictures with fabric.

Fabric shapes are layered on top of a background/base fabric to create a picture or design using fusible web. An amazing product that is used to bond two pieces of fabric together using glue. In raw edge appliqué, each shape is then stitched down with a straight stitch and the very edges of the shapes are left raw or exposed. Something that often strikes fear in the hearts of many and deters them from even trying the technique in the first place.

But I’m here to put your fears at ease because even after a lot of washing the fraying that comes with raw edge appliqué is very minimal, if at all. As you can see with the doughnut that’s on a bib, I made my daughter.

This bib is used at least 1-2 times a week and is washed very often. It has seen everything from, curry to bolognese sauce and has withstood plenty of soaking, and heavy detergents as well as long and hot wash cycles and is still holding up well and looks great with very minimal fraying. So, what your seeing is the worst-case scenario.

Here is also a Windmill or Mill off a pillow I made for my son, which also gets lots of wear. it’s one that he sleeps on every night that gets cycled with others. It’s also seen plenty of washing and wear but there is very minimal fraying and it’s only noticeable if you really gawk at it up close.

Not all projects (like the sweet pouch below) will have to withstand this much washing, soaking or use, but if they do it’s good to know that they are safe from plenty of wear and tear and will still look great after much love.

Why haven’t these projects frayed that much? This is because the fusible web used is permanent and does not wash out and actually helps prevent fraying of the fabric edges. This is why using a good quality fusible web is so important to your appliqué and why I choose Heat and Bond Lite. It’s my go-to fusible web for all my raw edge appliqué. The glue distribution is perfectly even and holds up time and time again as you can see.

What else can you do to prevent fraying?

  1. When choosing fabrics for your appliqué, pick good quality ones that have a high thread count and tight weave, like quilting cotton or batik and there will be less chance of fraying.
  2. Stitch close to the edge of the appliqué shape. You want to stitch pretty close to the edge of your appliqué shape, around 1/16” (or 1mm) but remember, not too close. That way if there is any fraying at all, it will only be to your line of stitching.
  3. Use sharp scissors when cutting out your appliqué shapes. You want to get crisp, clean and smooth edges around your shapes, not rough uneven ones.
  4. Don’t use a needle that’s too large. I use a size 75-80 needle max; you want it big enough that it will stitch through all your layers without skipping stitches, but not so big it leaves visible holes in the fabric that will contribute towards the fraying of the edges.
  5. Don’t treat your project like I do and wash them on long hot cycles with heavy detergents and hours of soaking. Rest assured if you do, there’s still nothing to worry about besides slightly fluffy edges here and there.

Most of all don’t fear, your appliqué will be fine and hold up to plenty of use. If the slightly frayed looked isn’t something you like, then you can always secure your edges with a satin (zig-zag) stitch or blanket stitch. Personally, the straight stitch is my favourite and I hope you put your fears aside and give it a go.

If you want more raw edge appliqué tips, all my patterns now come with instructions as well as two pages of BONUS tips including the usual placement guide and your pieces in reverse ready for tracing. You can find them here on Etsy

Any questions or comments please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

Happy sewing, Kellie. X.

© Copyright 2022, Ma & Me Designs


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