How-to Machine Sew a Reverse Applique Knit Wrap

Bianca Springer | August 10, 2017

Bianca's idea of a creating a reverse appliqué with knits got us so excited, we had to make one of our own! See how Terial Magic takes the stretch out of knits to make this unbelievable wrap a believable reality!

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I have made many hand-sewn reverse appliqué garments. Although they are beautiful and enjoyable to make, they are also very time consuming and difficult. One reverse applique dress I made took 10 months to complete! When I discovered Terial Magic and its ability to make knits behave like woven fabric, I was excited by the possibilities. 

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Step 1: Meausre and Treat Your Fabric

To begin cut 2 rectangles 74”x 32” of different color cotton jersey with a horizontal straight of grain. Treat both layers of the cotton jersey with Terial Magic. Once it's treated, there is a crisp, firm hand to the treated jersey and it acts more like a woven! This textural change makes machine sewing the jersey with a straight stitch such a breeze. Next, cut the treated fabric into 72” x 30” rectangles; one rectangle will be for the upper layer and the other for the exposed under layer. Cut with a rotary cutter to give a clean edge to this unhemmed wrap.

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Step 2: Prepare Your Stencil

For the art designs, you can make a stencil using firm felt as I did, or purchase stencil of your choosing. Apply a light layer of fabric spray adhesive to the back of the stencil and adhere to the upper fabric before painting. This helps reduce the chance of paint slipping under the stencil distorting the design. The Terial Magic also helps stop any paint bleed which was a nice surprise! Beginning at one end of the upper fabric, position the stencil on the fabric taking care to smooth the fabric so there are no wrinkles. Use craft paper to cover the exposed fabric (outside of the stencil template area) that is not being painted. 

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Step 3: Paint Your Fabric

Spray the stencil cut out areas using a light coat of fabric paint concentrating the paint to the edge of the cut outs. The center of the shapes will be removed (cut away). Use a spray fabric paint (I used Tulip brand), which is readily available in craft stores. I used the colors mint and neon blue and sprayed in a graduated effect from one end to the other. 

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Step 4: Align Your Layers

Once artwork painting is dry, press flat. Layer the right side of the upper layer on top the right side of the under layer. Secure with pins on the unpainted areas, keeping with raw edges even. This keeps the painted areas free to be stitched without the need to remove the pins until completion. 

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Step 5: Getting Started

I used a silver metallic thread to stitch the layers together around the stenciled shapes. Metallic thread has a reputation for being tricky to work with, breaking and/or twisting. Because the fabric was treated and stabilized with Terial Magic the metallic thread sewed beautifully! Because the backside of under layer is visible, I used a coordinating thread in the bobbin. The two colors of paint used, plus the silver thread, and two different fabric colors all added a lot of visual interest.

Then I chose a light blue thread for the bobbin thread so it disappears when seen underneath. another color would have been too busy. If I were to use a single color of paint on top, I would use a bold contrasting bobbin thread for more interest. This would give a visible “quilted” appearance to the underside making it possible for the wrap to be reversible. Sew the larger shapes first then move on to the smaller, more intricate shapes. I left the smallest of the stenciled shapes unstitched to add more contrast against the reverse appliqué.

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Step 6: Finish the Reverse Applique Process

After all the shapes were stitched I finished the reverse appliqué process. I carefully separated the upper layer from the under layer and carefully cut away the centers,  leaving approximately ¼ inch of the painted edge. You may wish to cut away more or less, depending on the look you like best; just try and keep the edges as even as possible for a more finished look.

The final step was to hand wash and dry the wrap to remove the Terial Magic and return the fabric to its original soft knit jersey state. This step also allows the cut edge to curl slightly finishing the look.  Take a look at another wrap made with different colors below.

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Topics: Fabric Art, DIY, Terial

Bianca Springer
Bianca Springer on August 10, 2017

Bianca is the owner of "Thanks! I Made Them. Sew Can You" a small sewing school in Pearland Texas. She teachers others to create fun and interesting things.