How to Back Baste/ Template Free Applique

As promised, here is a picture tutorial for the Back Basting applique method!

Back Basting Tutorial

1. Cut your background a little larger than you need. After you applique you will trim your background to the exact size.

2. Trace the pattern onto the back side of your background fabric. Use a mechanical pencil or a black pigma pen .5. Trace as accurately as possible. You don’t need your lines to be really dark – trace lightly. Lay your pattern on a light box, the lay the fabric (right side down) on top of the pattern. Adjust the layout so the pattern is centered well. Trace the entire pattern except the outside square that designates the size of the finished block.

If you need to have your pattern going the same direction as the original drawing then lay the pattern right side down. If you can’t see well enough to trace then retrace the pattern onto the backside of the paper, or if it doesn’t matter about the direction of the pattern then trace the pattern with the pattern right side up. Your applique will be reversed from the original pattern.

3. Thread your larger needle with hand quilting thread. Tie a knot in the end.

4. You will now baste the applique piece onto the right side of your background fabric. You might need to hold up the background to the light and look through it to make sure that you have a seam allowance around all the edges of the shape.

5. Pin the fabric in place from the back side.

6. Baste the applique fabric in place by stitching directly over the traced lines. use small stitches. Try to make your stitches so they are longer on the front side of your project and smaller on the back. Leave your knot when you begin on the front side. You don’t need to tie a knot to end – just leave a short tail hanging out on the front side.

7. Trim your applique piece Leave a seam allowance of a little larger than 1/8″. Be careful to not cut your background. Use small scissors.

8. With tiny pointed pair of scissors clip every other basting stitch.

9. Thread your smaller (size 11) straw needle with a thread that matches your applique piece. tie a knot in the end.

10. Take out a few of the stitches. with your needle, turn under the seam allowance.

11. coming up from the back side start appliqueing along the edge of your piece. Ever few stitches you will need to take out the basting threads and use your needle to turn under the seam allowance. Try to always use your needle as a “tool.” You can really manipulate the seam allowance with your needle.

You will want to make your applique stitches tiny. You will only clip the inside corners or curves as you come to them. You will find that the seam allowance will turn under where you stitched with the basting thread.

Amy prefers this method because it is a real grab and go technique. Give it a try!

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13 Responses to How to Back Baste/ Template Free Applique

  1. Bonnie Hoen says:

    I must be a visual learner, because I really missed seeing instructions for #2 through
    #6. This is my first experience with appliqueing, so I am learning a lot, but I do need more help understanding the back basting method. Generally, your blog really does help a lot though. TX Bonnie

  2. Bonnie Hoen says:

    Hey, also, if you don’t have a light box, is this method still possibe to do? Bonnie

    • admin says:

      Yes! You can just hold it up on a window or any source of light. A light box just makes it easier, but not necessary.

  3. Thanks very useful tutorial, I do a lot of needle turn and have never come across this technique, thanks for sharing it.

  4. Vicki Crabb says:

    This is the only way I know how to applique and I love it. I don’t want to learn any other method because back basting is so easy. Thanks for sharing this as I learned a couple of things by reading your instructions.

  5. Amber Cox says:

    I am confused on how to trace the back ground fabric first. What are the measurements that I should draw on my background fabric first before beginning?

    • admin says:

      I don’t have it in front of me, but I know that Amy put the finished measurements of the block on the instructions with the fabric so check there. You should draw that rectangle on first and then place the trick-or-treaters where you want (or just the trace them straight from the pattern). Hope that helps! You can always call or go to the store for help, too.

  6. Kristin says:

    Thanks so much. This is such a help when one is not quite sure what to do or how to do it!

  7. Bess says:

    Points 4, 5, & 6 fail to mention which way to “face” your bkgrd and applique fabric. It may have, I was working hard to understand a new method andran over the words. I apologize deeply if I missed it. Don’t you place your applique fabric RIGHT side up on top of the right side of your background? Right side of background and wrong side of applique fabric should be facing each other, then do the outline stitch, trim 1/4, etc. Correct?

    • admin says:

      Yes, you are right. You baste it on just like you will applique it on – - with the applique fabric’s right side facing out. Sorry if that was confusing!!

  8. Karen B. says:

    Love this method!!! but I am new at appliqueing. When stitching a curve I am having trouble getting them to look smooth, (not pointy where I have clipped the fabric).
    Do I need to make more clippings or trim the fabric to less than 1/8″?

    • admin says:

      Good question! You shouldn’t cut it closer than 1/8″ and you don’t want to make TOO many clippings otherwise the fabric will fray, making it hard to turn your seam under. It can be a tricky process. Maybe I will try and shoot a video of one of the experienced template-free appliquer’s in the process for you!

  9. Cherie says:

    It looks like needle turn applique to me

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