How to Applique using Fusible Web
Applique is the technique of applying motifs (simple cut outs) to fabric. Traditional applique sews down the edges of the motifs using needle and thread. Fusible applique attaches an applique motif using a type of glue which can be a fusible web or a fusible thread. If you have never done it before, don't stress! It's easy, fun, and a bit addictive. Read through our directions below and try it yourself or follow some of the video links at the bottom of this page. Be sure to see some of the really great examples at the bottom of the page, too.
Fusible web is a tissue-like product of heat sensitive glue backed with paper. The sticky side of the product is ironed to the wrong side of a piece of fabric, which transfers the glue to the receiving fabric. Peel off the paper and you have a piece of fabric which can be cut to any shape and adhered to another piece of fabric using the heat of an iron.
Fusible ThreadTo make the appliqué permanent on fabric so washings don't cause it to peel off, the edges must be sewn down. The is usually done with a zigzag or other decorative stitch. YLI invisible thread allows you to secure the edges without blurring the edge of the motif. Practice on a scrap first. You may need to adjust your tension, or add light interfacing as a stabilizer. Other methods of fixing the edges of the applique can be used for effect. Consider other embroidery stitches, metallic threads, bias tape or even paint.
The fusible web of Heat n Bond Lite has the pressure sensitive adhesive on one side which allows for a temporary hold to the appliqué material. It shifts easily on the second material allowing you to quickly reposition your appliqué pieces until pressed with an iron for a permanent bond.
Susan Cook from Larkspur Designs shared this picture with us.Gather Pillow by Debbie GrifkaSusan Cook of Larkspur Lane Designs shared this photo with us. The quilt is pieced but the letters are appliqued. The satin stitch edging serves both to secure the applique and as an accent. Be sure to visit her site for more pieced and paper pieced patterns.
Debbie Grifka of Esch House Quilts used this same technique in the pillow to the right. Reeze L. Hanson of Morning Glory Designs chose a ladder stitch to add interest to her Sunflower Tablerunner design (close up shown below.)
Spinning Sunflower Table Runner
Red, Red WineOther fusible webs are Heat 'n Bond and Misty Fuse. Read and follow the directions of the fusible product you are using, including temperature guidelines. Misty Fuse should be used with fabrics that will melt under high heat. Misty Fuse is a light weight fusible web which does not add stiffness or bulk to the layers of fabric joined making it ideal for sheer fabrics such as tulle or organza. You should use an Applique Pressing Sheet over the top of the applique motif when using Misty Fuse. Ruth Blanchet used organza in her Red Red Wine quilt pattern, right. Her book Layered Applique is available by download.
Print-N-FuseIf you have an ink jet printer, we recommend Print-n-fuse. Print-N-Fuse is designed to used in the printer so you can print out the designs you need directly onto the paper side of the fusible. It is a paper-backed adhesive that can be run through a standard inkjet printer. Save time by copying the images needed from the book or pattern directly onto the paper side of the adhesive sheets. FOR INK JET COPIERS AND PRINTERS ONLY. NOT FOR LASER PRINTERS.
An Applique Pressing Sheet is a semi-transparent Teflon sheet that helps you assemble designs that have several layered pieces. Your iron won't melt it - and if you use it over your applique to fuse the pieces to the background, no sticky residue will accumulate on the bottom of your iron.
The Applique Pressing SheetWhen you have your motifs ready with fusible web on the back of them, place the appliqué pressing sheet over the placement guide from the pattern. Peel the paper backing off of each appliqué piece and start arranging them right on the Teflon sheet, following the placement guide on the pattern below your pressing sheet. If you have a lightbox, you can use it for the placement of each piece.
After each piece is placed, tap them gently with the iron to fuse the pieces together. Don't stress over exact placement of your motifs! No one is going to look at the pattern and your quilt at the same time.
Arrange the whole composition over the placement guide. The pieces will stick to each other, but not to the sheet. When you are finished, just lift off the complete image as one piece and iron it onto your background. If you are not using a pattern, remember to reverse the motifs before adhering the fusible web.
Using Fusible Interfacing
As an alternative, you can draw a motif on piece of lightweight interfacing. Using an 1/8 seam, sew the interfacing right sides together with the piece of fabric you have chosen as a motif. It will be a pillow with no way to get to the center.
Slit the interfacing in the center, then turn the pillow inside out through the slit. Gently push out the seams on the inside using a Purple Thang. This applique motif is now ready to be fused to a quilt top or background. It will have a little more body than the motifs fused using the method above, and look more like a traditional applique motif. Kat Scriber shows us this same technique in a paper pieced fusible version here.Tips
- Prewash and press your fabrics. Do not use fabric softener or spray starch.
- Use sharp scissors to cut your motifs. Remove any stray threads.
- If your motif is very large, you might want to remove the center before ironing the fusible to the back of the motif.
- If you are not using 100% cotton, test on a small scrap of fabric first. Some fabrics melt under high heat. Misty Fuse can be used under low temperatures.
- Don't waste your test samples! Use them to make potholders.
- Never iron directly on the fusible web. It will melt onto your iron.
- Watch the video from McCalls Quilting here.
- There is a longer version here from Superior Threads and Bernina that has more finishing information.