This tutorial of reverse appliqué is how I do it and it’s needle turn/hand sewing. Hope it’s any help to you. Here is my tutorial for the needle turn appliqué which I do as back basting if you are interested.
I made a drawing of butterfly wing with a rough idea of how I wanted to insert appliqué parts but I made last decisions as I went.
Anyway, first I traced outline of wing shape on the wrong side of the base fabric and stitched on it so I can see the line from the right side. The reason I didn’t draw it on the right side was I can change it if I wanted later and it’s easier to remove a piece of thread than erase the line. In the photo below I am sure you can see fainted another line which I drew before and changed my mind. Things happens…
I didn’t cut out the shape until I finished all the appliqué. That way the fabric could avoid getting distorted during the process.
Next I drew the first appliqué line on the right side. I wanted any appliqué to be at least a half inch away from other lines to give enough space for seam allowances to sit nicely underneath. I am sure it can be a bit narrower when I get better at it.
Place the appliqué fabric on the back and baste. I basted 1/4″ away from appliqué line to give some space for turned seam allowance.
Cut out the base fabric 1/4″ away from appliqué line. The seam allowance on the curves need to be clipped up to appliqué line for smooth turning of seam allowance. I didn’t cut sharp point at this time yet.
I normally start stitching somewhere on a gentle curve. Turn and smooth the fabric with a needle as you go.
At the sharp point, you need to cut the fabric just before you start sewing in order to avoid fraying the edge by handling. Just gently turn the fabric as you stitch. Make stitches shorter than usual. The seam allowances will be narrower than 1/4″ and they get really narrow as you go to none. You need tiny stitch to cover the raw edge of fabric at the point. Do have a sharp and thin needle for stitching this.
Once I filled the wing with appliqué, I cut out the shape about a half inch bigger than original intention and then it was appliqué on other fabric roughly in that shape.