Monday, July 24, 2017

Reverse Applique Tutorial - Using Cork Fabric

I love adding fun details to my bags.  One technique that I use often is adding reverse applique to my bags.  With traditional applique, the design is cut out and sewn to the top of the fabric.  With reverse applique, holes are cut in the main fabric (cork in this instance), and the decorative fabrics are placed behind the openings.

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Today, I'm going to share with you the technique I use on my bags, and a FREE PDF template for the design shown on the bag above.  As always, I'm sure there are several different ways to do this, and some ways might be better than mine.  This is just the method I came up with, through trial and error, that works well for me.

Here are some examples of bags I have made using the reverse applique technique:

Blue Calla Clover Convertible Bag

Sew Sweetness Coalition Bag

Swoon Patterns Sandra Saddle Bag

Blue Calla Speedwell Sling Bag

All of the cork fabric and glitter vinyl fabric used for these bags was purchased from Sew Sweetness.

Now, lets get started with this tutorial!!  First, you need to download and print this free template - make sure you print using Adobe Reader at full size or 100%.

Carefully cut out the templates with scissors, then using an exacto knife, carefully cut out the design.  Don't cut it on your sewing cutting mat!! I use plastic cutting boards from the dollar store for this.

After choosing your fabrics (quilting cotton weight) use the templates to cut 8 of the diamond shapes and one of the star shapes.  Also, use the outer square of your design stencil as a pattern to cut a square of fusible woven interfacing (Pellon Shapeflex SF101).  

Here I have cut the main exterior flap for the Swoon Patterns Sandra Saddle Bag from Cork Fabric.  Decide where you want your template placed, and tape it down (onto the right side of the cork).  I like to use washi tape since it peels back off easily - and its pretty ;)  Then I carefully trace inside each of the shapes using a marker that will show.  You'll be cutting along the outside of the lines, so even though they are on the front of the bag, you will be cutting them off.  You can trace on the back if you'd prefer.

I used this pretty glitter Sharpie so that it would show up well for the pictures.


I align my ruler with each of the straight edges, on the outside edge of the lines that I traced.  I use my smallest rotary cutter and cut along the lines.  I try to get close to each corner, but I don't cut all the way to the corners because if you accidentally go too far, you'll have to start over!

Once I've cut all of the straight edges, I grab a pair of small sharp scissors and go in to clip into the corners.  Really take your time cutting this out.  Since it will be showcased on the front of your bag, you really want nice crisp lines.  This is also why I prefer to use designs with straight edges rather than curves - it is easier to get nice clean cuts.

Remove the tape from your design template.  Place it on your ironing board and place the woven fusible interfacing over the template, with the fusible (bumpy) side facing up.

Place each of the fabric pieces on the interfacing, making sure that you are evenly covering the shapes on the template.  I carefully iron them in place with the tip of my iron.  Be careful not to touch the fusible surface of the interfacing to your iron.

Continue until all fabric pieces have been adhered to the interfacing.  At this point, I flip the interfacing over onto a scrap of cotton fabric and press the whole thing from the backside of the interfacing to fully fuse the fabric pieces in place.  While it is still hot, I peel the interfacing off of the scrap fabric.  The fabric shapes will stay on the interfacing.

Place the fabric and interfacing square behind the cut out design on the cork.  Look at the right side of your flap to make sure the fabric is properly aligned within the design.  Now I press from the back to fuse the interfacing to the back of the cork.  Disclaimer:  I'm not sure if the cork should be ironed at all.  This is what I have done and I haven't had issues (I don't iron the right side at all).  Make sure you read about the cork you purchase and if it is ok.  If you choose not to use the iron, I would add a thin line of fabric glue along the back of the cork around the design to attach the interfacing square.

Now I top-stitch around the design using a 1/8" seam allowance.  I stitch all the way around the outside edge (as the arrows are showing) and then stitch all the way around the inside.  I stitch around the star separately.  I don't back-stitch at the start or stop as you normally would, but rather pull the tails of thread through to the back when I am finished and tie knots in the tails.

(See my knots??)  I then apply Dritz Fray Check along each of the stitching lines, making sure to cover the edges of each of the fabric pieces.  I like to do this extra step to ensure that everything is going to hold up nicely!

That's it!!  After this, I followed the Sandra Saddle Bag Pattern according to the pattern directions. (The only change I made was to fuse the fusible fleece flap piece to the lining rather than the exterior since my exterior flap is cork.)

To finish my bag, I made a leather tassel using hardware from Emmaline Bags and this free tassel tutorial, also from Emmaline Bags.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful!  I can't wait to see what you create!!