The Dear Jane quilt techniques: the magic reverse applique quilting trick

Have you ever looked at a pattern and be stumped of how to make it into fabric? Well, I’ve had that feeling multiple times during the Dear Jane quilt. But fear not! I have discovered a trick to work around it I’ll share with you all. You can make a lot of the tricky blocks easy with reverse applique. Although, it won’t turn sewing into a walk in the park, because we’re still talking about the Dear Jane quilt here. But then again, lots of fiddling and swearing is all part of the fun and progress of this quilt.

By now, I’m starting to get the hang of the reverse applique technique and it is becoming one of my favourite quilting techniques. Applique as a whole is not too bad once you get to know it. Which is ironic because the last applique post I wrote had the following title:

In this post, I will show you the possibilities of reverse applique and the applications of the technique I’ve found so far.

What is reverse applique?

With this quilting technique, you sew your pieces behind the background fabric instead of on top of it. In this way, you are working with much bigger seam allowances because there is more room at the back of the piece as underneath the pieces of a block. In the photo below, you can see how narrow some pieces can get and that it is much easier to have the seam allowance on the back.

Dear Jane quilt block B-12 Starflower detail

Dear Jane block B-1: Bachelor Buttons

Let’s start with the basics to show you how reverse applique looks. Each of these buttonholes is made with this technique. For this block, I used reverse applique instead of a different applique technique because I prefer it. My needlepoint applique skills are not very good yet. Round shapes are always tricky to sew and below you see the result of the best I can do. Not too bad I think.

Dear Jane quilt block B-1: Bachelor buttons

This is just a simple block that can be finished quickly. I really love the purple fabric.

Dear Jane block J-12: Rebecca’s basket

This block’s decision to go for reverse applique was laziness. Curved piecing is a technique I am not comfortable with yet, although I have been exploring it in the Dear Jane about which you can read in this post:

For this block, I decided to opt out of curved piecing and to go for my new best friend: reverse applique. The block consists of three layers of which the top one is reverse appliqued. One thing I did to allow reverse applique to be used was not cutting all the fabric away in the seam allowance so the pieces of the block stayed together. This will keep the block stable and neat.

Dear Jane quilt block J-12: Rebecca's basket

I’ve seen this block around many times, even in a very cute tiny version but I have to say that it’s not my favourite. The shape is too oafish and I don’t like designs that are so obvious.

Dear Jane block D-4: Crystal star

First, I did all the patchwork of this block to create the basic shape. Then I appliqued the oval shapes. This was fiddly work because the seams made it tricky to place the pieces correctly. However, I think it turned out alright. I first tried to sew the pieces with curved patchwork, but that didn’t work at all.

Dear Jane quilt block D-4: Crystal star

I love the look of this block. It reminds me of mediaeval armouries and noble men. Also, the fabrics match very well. The muted blue and red give this block a good calm look.

Dear Jane block J-13: Pam’s bells

In this block, it is very visible not all fabric is ideal to work with. The white and brown are stretchy, which makes it a challenge to sew a neat block. This one wobbles in every direction. It’s a good thing I generally like the wonky home-made look that makes it look like an actual person sewed it.

For this block, I first sewed the separate pieces before I put the block together.

Dear Jane quilt block J-13: Pam's bells

This block is also not one of my favourites. There’s nothing wrong with it, I just don’t like it.


So that’s it for me this week! I hope you learned something reading this post. If you want to read more about applique you can click on the links below. Some questions for you all to end this post:

  • Do you use reverse applique yourself? I would love you all to share some tips and examples.
  • What is your favourite applique technique?
  • Do you like the blocks? Which one is your favourite?
  • Would you have used the reverse applique as well or another technique?

Would you like to know more?

See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blogpost every Sunday or Monday.


  1. My favorite applique trick is “oh please will this work”? I’ve taken several classes with different techniques but I think I like needle turn the best. I do think reverse applique is awesome and would like to do something with that technique someday! Your little Dear Jane blocks are amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Applique is a technique that manages to get fear in soo many people including me. It’s good to hear you like needle turn after some classes cause that gives me hope I’ll get the hang of it with more practice.

      It really is an awesome technique and very curious to see what you’ll do with it.

      I would love to make a piece combining many different applique techniques myself ☺. I’m curious how the different looks will work together

      Liked by 1 person

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