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How to do a Fell Stitch

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Also called an “appliqué stitch,” a fell (or “felling”) stitch is used to appliqué one layer of fabric (generally a folded or selvage edge) to another. It’s quick, strong, and flexible-the piece sewn on with a fell stitch can move somewhat like a hinge, and that makes it good for installing linings. It is also used to sew lace-either as appliqués or appliqué seams. The fell stitch is seen in millinery work as well as clothing; it is used to attach hat bodies to brims and to attach hatbands to hats. The stitches themselves typically sit 90 degrees to the edge, or they can be angled slightly.

1. Emerge on the folded edge. The stitch should be about 1mm away from the fold.

2. Insert the needle directly into the fabric next to the fold. Run it diagonally so that it emerges beyond the first stitch.

3. Pull the stitch closed. See how the stitch sits 90 degrees to the fold? Sew the stitches between 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 inch apart.

Except from Threads, Issue 135, p. 65.

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  1. Love_it | | #1

    Dear Kenneth,

    Don't stop give us more. I love the subjects you demo.

  2. User avater
    MaddyGranma | | #2

    Such beautiful work, and very useful tutorial!

  3. purpleque | | #3


    This is the best and simpliest explanation of the stitch. I love your tips. Keep them coming!

  4. Izzy1974 | | #4

    Keep the tips and tutorials coming!!!! They're fantastic!!!

  5. sewingpuzzle | | #5

    Cool! My grandma and great-grandmother were professional quilt makers for upscale families in Louisville, KY, many years ago. Some of their personal quilts have lovely applique, but I never knew how it was done. Thanks to your illustration, now I do!

  6. Gladtobehere | | #6

    This is a very simply way to explain applique stitch.

    Love the way you present the stitch. Have use this
    stitch many times.

  7. SusanJensen | | #7

    Thanks, Kenneth King! I needed this to apply the lining to my Chanel Jacket! Love your work with Threads!

  8. handsthatsew | | #8

    this was very helpful in sewing a purse lining!

  9. User avater
    user-2088651 | | #9

    Thank you SO much - just found this - and in the nick of time. Your tutorials are amazing!

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