Applique Tutorial: Curves

August 11, 2011

One of the most asked questions on my blog is about how I applique curves. So when I was making the baby blocks I snapped a few pictures of how I do the curves. I hope this helps those who were wondering!

My first tutorial on applique. This font can be found here.

First, there are 2 kinds of curves, inside and outside.



And for a tip: when I do all applique, I put my hands right on top of the project and use my fingers to maintain full control over it while I stitch. And go slowly while you sew!!

To do OUTSIDE curves I leave the needle down in the applique and lift my presser foot and make tiny adjustments. I make them every stitch or two, depending on how big of a curve I’m sewing. Go slow!

Leave the needle down in the applique,

make tiny adjustment

then sew one stitch and do it again.

Leave the needle down in the applique,

and make the tiny adjustment.

It’s the exact same principle for INSIDE curves, except this time you leave the needle down in the fabric and make the adjustments.

Leave the needle down,

and make the little adjustment to straighten your stitch.

Sew one zigzag stitch, leave the needle down in the fabric,

and lift the presser foot and make the little adjustment.

If you look closely you can see what I’m talking about. See how the stitches are farther apart on this side:

and closer together on this side:

from the little adjustments you made?

It comes out neat and clean and even.

I hope that helps! Please ask questions if it still doesn’t make sense!

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81 Responses to “Applique Tutorial: Curves”

  1. chari said:

    thank you! I was going to do an applique today and this helps. now my item will look more ‘professional’ 😉

  2. Shay said:

    Thank you!! I think this will definitely help me on a quilt i’m working on! Thanks for the great photos…definitely a visual learner here.

  3. Cheryl said:

    Maybe you have answered this question before, but how do you cut out your letters? They look so nice.

  4. Joella said:

    Thank you! I was wondering how to do this!

  5. April said:

    Thanks for this! I think my mistake was not adjusting every stitch…I would sometimes wait 3 or 4 and it was just off. BUT, I also used a closer zigzag.

  6. Elizabeth said:

    Thank You! I started a project for my nephew a few weeks back that required appliqued letters, and I gave up on it after the first letter came out looking awful! After reading this I realize I was trying to go too fast and not adjusting often enough. Thanks!!

  7. Melissa said:

    Cheryl, I cut them out by hand. I use small pointy scissors to make it easier to get in the little spaces (like inside and “e” or “a”).

  8. Julie said:

    Thank you! You’ve save me and my seam ripper a lot of work. I’m always having to re-do the tricky parts.

  9. Angie said:

    When the item is washed does it fray? I am so worried about giving a gift and it fraying when they wash it.

  10. Kathryn said:

    I love all your tutorials! What font do you use to create your letters? I’ve noticed you traced them off your computer and I am always looking for a font that will be bold enough once it is cut out. Thanks!

  11. Lori said:

    Thank you so much! I was going way too fast apparently and not adjusting after each stitch. I need to be more patient. :)

    Angie, it won’t fray after you wash, as long as you’ve got it down good with your heat & bond light. I’ve washed things several times and they still look good. Check out her applique tutorial if you haven’t! It’s great.

  12. Lea said:

    I have attempted a couple of applique projects on my own….wish I would have seen them a couple of weeks earlier. That being said I love them. You make it seem so easy. I was wondering if you had a favorite font that seems to work well? Thanks again!

  13. MadeByMeg said:

    Wow you are so good at that!

  14. Strawberry Shortcake | Sew Like My Mom said:

    […] (for more information, see my applique tutorial, and the one on appliqueing curves) […]

  15. Vicky said:

    Wonderful new technique to learn and fabulous instructions and pictures. Thank you!

  16. Baby Girl’s Turkey Shirt | Thankfully Thrifty said:

    […] should also tell you that I used this applique tutorial to sew on the turkey. There’s a reason I didn’t show a close up of the shirt. But […]

  17. Tracey Quenon said:

    Great tutorial. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  18. Tracey Quenon said:

    Great tutorial. Thank you so much for sharing!!! I hope it’s as easy as you made it look. :-)

  19. Kristina said:

    That’s really helpful, thank you! Came here via Pinterest and I’ll be looking around your site! (I’m esp excited about DIY maternity clothes since I’m 21 weeks.)

  20. Katie said:

    Perfection! I have been wanting to do some appliques for a long time but always get too intimidated. I might just have to give this a try this week! 😀 Thanks so much for sharing!!

  21. Joy said:

    This is a great tutorial. I guess I am in just a big hurry. It always pays to take your time and these wonderful instructions sure proves that to be true. I do a lot of zig-zag stitching and sure will remember these great tips. TFS

  22. Nike@ChooseToThrive said:

    Glory and hallelujah. This has been the driving me nuts for longer than i care to think about. Bless you.

  23. mona said:

    you have such beautifully stitched applique…what a good job you do here….just found your blog through Pinterest so i will come back later for more looking…

  24. LaTrelle said:

    Funny that I find this now~~~~~a week after I figured it out doing applique for a great-great niece, lol!!!

  25. katie said:

    I have tried to fnd this font everywhere to do my applique can you please tel me where you found it or what is it called?! Thanks!

  26. Tana Steward said:

    I would like to see answers to ‘does it fray’ and ‘how do you cut you letters’ and ‘where did you get the font’ if you have time. The tutorial was great.
    Thank you, Tana Steward

  27. Handmade Christmas 2012 – January project | Sew Like My Mom said:

    […] tips and information see my Applique and Applique Curves […]

  28. Eleanor said:

    You’re so much more patient than I am and the difference is vast!

    What do you do to start and finish your stitching so the threads are secure?

  29. Melissa said:

    Eleanor, check out my other applique tutorial for that kind of information!

  30. Beth said:

    THIS WAS THE BEST TUTORIAL EVER!!! Sorry to be obnoxious with the all caps but I’m SO excited! thank you, thank you!!!

  31. Angela said:

    Thank you SO SO much! I’ve always wanted to do applique. Your tutorials are very helpful.

  32. Birthday Banner « sewrite said:

    […] starting to sew the letters on, I read through Melissa’s (of the blog Sew Like My Mom) applique tutorial on curves.  She stresses that you must go slowly.  I sometimes have a hard time going slow and suddenly […]

  33. abby @ thingsforboys said:

    Great tip for the curves. I always struggle with curves!

  34. Jennifer said:

    Thank you.
    I can’t believe how simple the instruction is yet I hadn’t been able to find directions for this.

  35. Karli said:

    Your explanation sounds so easy to follow but I’m now very sure that I don’t have the patience to go that slowly.

  36. twirly tshirt dress | Sew Like My Mom said:

    […] I mean it! I started by appliqueing Hello Kitty onto a shirt. See my applique tutorials here and here for more […]

  37. When’s the last time you dusted off your sewing machine? | My Family Blog said:

    […] you feel a little more confident you can move onto sewing appliques, corners and even […]

  38. maurize said:

    dica simples que ajuda muito!valeu!!

  39. Joanna said:

    Thank you for this! I’ve been trying to find a tutorial on how to do this and all I could find were no-sew versions. Maybe I’m picky, but I wanted to sew the applique on!

  40. Charlotte said:

    Thanks for this, I always struggle on really small sections!

  41. Mrs. Crumba said:

    Great, simple tut! Outside, in. Inside, out. Awesome & easy to remember. Thanks!

  42. gladys said:

    what font is this? gladysmueller@ hotmail .com

  43. Sabrina said:

    Thank you for taking the time to share this. Much appreciated! Blessings…S

  44. Yana said:

    Nicely photographed!

  45. First craft of the year!! | A Crafty Bunny's Tale said:

    […] […]

  46. katie Skiff said:

    Thank you – I’ve been working on this this week, and knew there had to be a trick.

  47. Robyn said:

    what kind of thread do u use ?? Any heavier than general all purpose thread ??

  48. Melissa said:

    No, I use regular thread in a matching color. There’s nothing special about the fabric, thread, or needles I use to applique. It’s all just the regular, basic stuff everyone has on hand!

  49. Mimi said:

    Thank you for this tip. I just started appliqueing have been sewing for 45 yrs and knew about the first step with the outside curves did not know the tip on the inside curves!!!

  50. Nola Lovitz said:

    I love, love, love this tutorial, and will be trying to applique again, since the first time (before tut) didn’t come out good. do you ever need to use stabilizer? thanks

  51. Melissa said:

    I’ve never used stabilizer and haven’t had any problems!

  52. Van said:

    What a great tutorial! Thank you. I’m definitely pinning this for future reference.

  53. Mayven’s Pink Rainbow & More | Pretty Lady Baby said:

    […] the current quilt I am working on!  Let me first say thank you to Stitching Grandma for suggesting this tutorial to help me with my appliqué.  Let me just say it worked!  Here are the […]

  54. Rajyalaxmi said:


    I loved your detailed tutorial on how to applique curved edges. I have one doubt though.

    I am planning to make a bunting with “happy birthday” sign on them. Can I applique over the raw edges or do I have to make a small fold over the edges of the letters?

    Thank you.

  55. Nerissa said:

    Can you explain the difference between IN THE APPLIQUE and IN THE FABRIC, it sort of means the same thing to me (the novice). Thanks!

  56. Melissa said:

    No, leave the raw edges. You’ll sew over them and they won’t fray.

  57. Melissa said:

    It means just that–either you’re leaving your needle in the down position in the applique you’re sewing on, or in the fabric of your project.

  58. Applique basics | Sewn Studio said:

    […] out this tutorial for sewing around the curves of your […]

  59. Handmade Christmas 2012 - April Project: Superhero Capes - Sew Like My Mom | Sew Like My Mom said:

    […] For more information on applique see my applique tutorial and tutorial on appliqueing curves. […]

  60. How To: Sew Your Own Greek Letter Shirt- A Step By Step Tutorial (Part II&III) | Pretty Little Letters said:

    […] […]

  61. Applique Tutorial - Sew Like My Mom | Sew Like My Mom said:

    […] More information on how to applique curves. […]

  62. Pinned it/Tried it/Loved it | Applique with Sewing Machine | All Glorious said:

    […] for my Sewing Tips board on sewing an applique with a standard sewing machine (found here and here). The first is a basic how-to on stitching an applique onto a shirt and the second is a how-to on […]

  63. Kiihele West said:

    Occasionally I do applique on bags or blanket tops, etc. but just wing it and, of course, it looks like that. I was so pleased to accidentally find someone that repinned this tutorial. It was so clear and so concise and makes such sense. Mahalo.

  64. Kristine said:

    Where do you find the alphabet letters that you show? I love them and can’t seem to find them. If you could share, I would appreciate the help! Thanks again!

  65. Melissa said: Check out for more info!

  66. Zarin said:

    I dont have zigzag sewing machine how can i appliqe

  67. Dansie said:

    will this technique also work with an applique stitch? I’m using that instead of the zigzag stitch.

  68. Christine Trebendis said:


  69. Quiet Name Book » said:

    […]   […]

  70. Chase said:

    Any advice for getting around corners?

  71. Scrap Fabric pt. 3 | todiyitry said:

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  72. Duncan said:

    What are your stitch settings?

  73. Melissa said:

    I have a vintage machine so they probably won’t be the same as yours. In the first tutorial I say they’re about 16 stitches per inch, but you should play around with what looks best to you.

  74. Dani said:

    Ah ha!!!! 😀

  75. SJ said:

    Ive been sewing for years and I just started dabbling in appliques. Your blog is absolutely amazing. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!! This is SUCH a HUGE HELP!!!!! My curves on my first one look super messy, but hey, we all have to start start somehwere, and i am confident that this tutorial will help my technique immensely. Thank you thank you thank you!

  76. Maria said:

    Is that a regular sewing machine with a zigzag stitch?

  77. Melissa said:


  78. DIY Turkey Applique Shirts | Full Tutorial! said:

    […] a hard enough time sewing–I couldn’t bear to pause to take photos.  That said, I found this fabulous tutorial on how to sew on appliqué {since I had never done it before} and recommend that you check it out if you need sewing tips for […]

  79. Debe said:

    Do you lift the presser foot every time you make a tiny adjustment? TY

  80. Christine Danneels said:

    What a nice tutorial ! Thank you so much.

  81. Kathleen Crawford said:

    So helpful. Thank you for sharing!

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