How to Reverse Applique a Tote Bag

comments (31) November 1st, 2013     

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Sister_Diane Diane Gilleland, contributor
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Make a multi-colored design on a tote with reverse-applique. Its easy!
Heres a close-up of the appliqued design.
The key to successful reverse-applique is in clipping the edges of your fabric enough to create smooth curves.
Make a multi-colored design on a tote with reverse-applique. Its easy!

Make a multi-colored design on a tote with reverse-applique. It's easy!

Photo: All photos by Diane Gilleland
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Next, baste all three layers together by hand with doubled thread. I like a large hand stitch for this step because it's so easy to remove at the end of the project. Baste your way around all edges of this stack of fabrics.

  Draw the large details of your design on the fabric.

Draw a design for applique onto the right side of the topmost layer of fabric. You can use a fabric pencil or a water-soluble fabric marker. Start with just the largest details of your design, and make note of where you want each color to be.

  Pinch up just the topmost layer of fabric.

Let's begin our reverse-applique by making the leaf shapes in this design, which I've decided will be pale green. The pale green fabric is the second layer of this stack of fabrics, so we'll need to cut away some of the top layer to reveal this green layer. Carefully pinch up just the top layer with your fingers.

  Snip into the top layer to begin cutting.

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Did you make this?
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery

posted in: bag, totebag

Comments (31)

clothingeng writes: Nice tutorial...great looking work! Thanks for sharing :)
Posted: 12:25 pm on August 4th
ladybugltd writes: Love the technique.... have not heard of it prior. The link to the molas/Kuna women from Panama was fabulous. Will have to try this on a bag or perhaps a pinafore for my granddaughter. I think a little puff in the under layer would add so much detail, too. Thanks so much.
Posted: 3:58 pm on July 26th
gettegorge writes: Love tne bag, hope to try it with some silk ,I have laying around, wow what great detail, thanks Diane.
Posted: 1:18 pm on July 25th
CdGautreaux writes: What a great project! Love this!
Posted: 1:44 pm on July 24th
bubblebear writes: This is actually cute and neat.
Posted: 3:05 pm on April 21st
lwagner53 writes: This is a cute idea, I have to try it!
Posted: 12:08 pm on April 21st
mama50 writes: Hi Diane,
beauty bag, and I thank for the course bag ,

my blog;

Posted: 6:41 am on November 3rd
kaleylaine writes: I'm so excited to finally learn how to do this! A traditional art of Panama are "Molas" and I've always wondered how they made their intricate and colorful designs! Thank you for explaining it in an easy way!
Posted: 1:38 am on June 18th
Love_it writes: Dear Diane Gilleland,

This is the simplest and best explanation of reverse applique I have ever seen. Thank you. Finally, the mud has cleared away.
Posted: 4:55 pm on April 12th
ChildfreeTrophyWife writes: Wow. Great instructions and love all the detailed pictures. I'm definitely going to try this. The hardest part will be the stitches.
Posted: 9:14 pm on August 26th
Sister_Diane writes: denese - You know, you certainly could machine-stitch the edges of the applique. The look would be different, of course, but it would definitely be quicker to do that way. I suppose then you'd need to press the edges of the applique first, so they wouldn't move while you sewed them. The nice thing about the hand-stitching is that you can make lots of tiny adjustments to the shape of the applique as you sew.

If you try this way, I hope you'll post a picture to the Gallery so we can all see!
Posted: 3:22 pm on August 19th
denese writes: Also as i an hoping to use this method on my granddauthers pinafore what about putting some batting inbetween the layers to give it bulk.
has any one use this method on childrens clothes or patchwork
Posted: 2:56 am on August 15th
denese writes: I am wondering why one cannot machine stitch where you have and sewn love to know the pros and cons.
Posted: 2:52 am on August 15th
EyePopArt writes: That is so pretty! Well done, Diane!
Posted: 3:54 pm on July 12th
Learnernc writes: Your tutotials are the best!! What a lovely bag.
Posted: 2:57 pm on July 3rd
creativegrrl writes: Pretty sweet bag, I like all the possibilities. I think this technique is also used in Hmong pieces of art, right?
Posted: 3:12 pm on June 24th
Rickimoo writes: Great idea, I want to try this, you make it sound so simple.
Posted: 8:44 am on June 23rd
keyka writes: Very nice! I had never heard of reverse applique until your tutorial. It has a lot of creative possibilities. Thanks for sharing.
Posted: 6:35 pm on June 20th
mini_vampire writes: this is so cool i was totally inspired thanx
Posted: 9:58 am on June 16th
katg23 writes: Wow! That looks fantastic.
Posted: 11:40 pm on June 12th
cinderellen writes: So pretty! Thanks (I think) for link to this site. I so needed another fun time suck!!!
Posted: 8:16 pm on June 12th
Siwi writes: Very inspiring. Thanks so much Diane!
Posted: 9:46 am on June 10th
ShiningStar writes: I really like this. I seen the technique before but this has given me new motivation. I must learn to sew!
Posted: 6:56 pm on June 7th
paperrain writes: Finally figured out I have to join in order to comment!
I have never seen the reverse applique process, and this tutorial really makes it seem possible for me to make that really pretty tote bag. I like the reverse applique look! Thanks, Diane.
Posted: 2:20 am on June 7th
MichaelaMurphy writes: Diane--fabulous! I am going to make one and post it. CAn't wait for your next one...
Posted: 12:13 am on June 7th
QueenPuffPuff writes: I love this! Fabulous tutorial!
Posted: 4:15 pm on June 6th
meggiecat writes: Beautiful project! Those teeny little stitches look great. Trying to sew the teeny, hidden stitches is a meditation exercise for me. Is it that way for you?
Posted: 11:47 am on June 6th
susanstars writes: beautiful as always, Diane!!
Posted: 1:24 pm on June 4th
LindaPermann writes: very well done Diane! this is one of those techniques i keep meaning to day!
Posted: 8:32 pm on June 3rd
AmberE writes: One of the best! Go, Diane G!
Posted: 6:41 pm on June 3rd
Average_Jane_Crafter writes: What a fantastic tutorial! I love the clearly written instructions and the great pictures. And I love that in that last picture there, you can see the different between clipping a lot and not so much - that's a great visual.

And this design is beautiful! Thanks, Diane! :)
Posted: 9:57 am on May 30th
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