Skip to Content

Easy reverse applique tutorial

Sharing is caring!

Follow this easy reverse applique tutorial and cut a stain or hole right out of the middle!

Easy reverse applique tutorial

I love patching over stains but sometimes the print or location doesn’t look right – reverse applique is actually even faster! What is the difference between applique and reverse applique? Applique puts a design/layer on top and reverse applique cuts off the top layer to reveal a bottom layer. This technique is often used in quilting but this tutorial is for raw edge reverse applique with knit fabrics. It’s also a perfect way to use up scraps from other projects!

cover a stain reverse applique

I thrifted this super soft, high quality cotton dress back when my daughter was maybe 2 or 3. She’s finally old enough to wear it so I figured I’d better fix it! My original intention was to just chop off the bottom and add binding so it was a hoodie but she’s actually really into sweatshirt dresses so I needed a plan B.

mending ebook

If you want more mending ideas & patterns check out my e-book, Make It Last!

reverse applique over a hole

Here’s another example!

reverse applique tshirt refashion

Here is a larger refashion where I cut around a bunch of old holes!

If you like this post, check these out while you’re here!

mended kid sweatshirt with reverse applique

You could also use this reverse applique tutorial just to add style – I’m wondering if I should make more random stars all over so it looks more intentional, what do you think!

reverse applique refashion old band tshirt

Pin this reverse applique tutorial post with this link or image:

how to mend a stain

Ready to make your own?

Reverse applique t-shirt tutorial


  • Freezer paper
  • Ballpoint needles (you always want to use these when you’re sewing with knit (read: stretchy) fabric!)
  • Thread
  • 2 tshirts – one for the fabric peeking through, one for the top
  • Pins
  • Iron


reverse applique layer

Step 1- Layer the scrap you want peeking through underneath the stain and pin around the edges. Make sure not to catch the bottom layer and that it covers the entire stain area, as well as smoothing it out nice and flat.

freezer paper reverse applique

Step 2- Draw or trace the shape on to the freezer paper and cut it out, making sure it is big enough to cover the stain. Iron it on to where you want cut out, shiny side down.

sewing reverse applique

Step 3- Time to sew  Use your ballpoint needles and sew right along the edge of the shape. I used a walking foot, which has little feed dogs that move the layers along at the same pace. Don’t forget to take a few stitches back & forth at the beginning and end – peel off the pattern to see the shape and make sure there aren’t any bumps in the bottom layer.

cutting through applique layer

Step 4- Time to cut! Very carefully, use your sharp scissors to cut through the top layer, and trim slowly around the edges. You don’t want to cut through the stitching but just along it works best. You can always cut off more but you can’t add it back on! .

back of reverse applique

Step 5- Optionally turn it inside out and trim the threads & excess bottom layer, and you’re done!

Sharing is caring!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Tuesday 25th of October 2022

I followed this tutorial and the explanations and photos were helpful. Thank you.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Friday 2nd of December 2022

Yay!! Love to hear that, thanks for taking the time to come back and say so, you made my day 🙂

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!