Monday, July 27, 2020

Tips and Tricks for Fusible Applique

Applique, by definition, is to decorate a large piece of fabric with other pieces of fabric to form pictures or patterns. It allows quilters to create intricate designs, whimsical creatures, and even modern art - that's how wonderful applique is. By far, the easiest and fastest method is fusible applique, and with the following tips and tricks, it's even easier! 
Click on the picture to see the video

black and white check deer head on grey background for tips and tricks for fusible applique tutorial by QuiltFabrication

Tips and Tricks for Fusible Applique Tutorial

Trace the reverse of the pattern

Before tracing any design onto paper backed fusible web, be sure it is the reverse of the design.
Fusible web is always applied to the wrong side of the fabric, which means when the piece is turned to the right side, it reads in the correct orientation. This is especially important for lettering!! Below, the deer pattern looks to the right, and is traced the same, but on the finished piece, he will look to the left.

fusible web with deer head drawn on paper side by QuiltFabrication

Rough cut a 1/4" on the outside and inside of the tracing

Cut out the fusible tracing, 1/4" away from the line, on both the outside and the inside. It doesn't have to be perfect - just leave enough to secure the line when fused.

rough cutting around the drawn deer tracing on fusible web  by QuiltFabrication

Why cut out the inside?  It reduces the stiffness associated with fused fabric, and allows for the background to be cut away.
Tip: when cutting multiples of the same shape, staple them together - see the fusible applique video for more!

Add alignment marks for fussy cutting

I'm placing several deer on a plaid fabric and want them to look the same. By adding alignment marks to the fusible tracing, I can successfully achieve that. Check out this tutorial, Creating Identical Fussy Cut Fusible Pieces, for more detailed instructions.

fussy cutting alignment marks made on fusible web deer head drawing  by QuiltFabrication

Follow Manufacturer's directions for fusing

I can't say this enough - follow the manufacturer's directions for both fusing onto the wrong side of fabric, and for the final fusing. Each is different! The fusible I use requires 5-8 seconds with a hot, dry iron for fusing to the fabric wrong side. Too little, and it won't fuse; too much and the glue melts, leaving nothing behind. The final fusing requires a damp press cloth, a iron set at wool, and 10-15 seconds. Quite different, so be sure to follow the directions!

line up aligning marks on wrong side of fabric before fusing  by QuiltFabrication

Cut out applique on the line

Once the first fuse is done, carefully cut out the applique piece on the drawn line. This is the final shape that goes on the background.

fusible applique deer head is cut out on the drawn line  by QuiltFabrication

Prepare the background

It should be noted that applique stitching tends to shrink the background. I recommend cutting the background 1/2" bigger all around, completing the stitching, then trimming the background to the final size.

background quilt block made half inch larger before applique is fused  by QuiltFabrication

Several methods can be used for placement on the background:  a light box with the pattern underneath the background; folding the background in half in each direction and making light creases to mark the center; or using a ruler to measure from the background edge to the applique. View the Tips and Tricks for Fusible Applique video to see these in action for the deer applique.

Final Applique Fusing

Once the applique is placed on the background, it's time to fuse it down! Follow those manufacturer's directions for successful fusing. 

black and white checked deer head on grey background  by QuiltFabrication

Applique Stitching

There are numerous stitches available for finishing applique pieces. The most popular are a blanket or buttonhole stitch, zigzag, or a straight stitch. It's completely up to you, as is the choice of thread, both in weight, material, and color. I recommend testing threads, stitches, and tension settings on scrap fabric before starting the stitching on the final project.

Final Trimming

The very last step in applique is to trim not only the background to the proper size, but to also trim out the excess background fabric behind the applique. Remember the section of his head and neck that was trimmed out of the fusible web? Now it's time to remove the non-fused fabric in that same area, to reduce fabric bulk.

If you're lucky enough to have an applique with an open edge at the background edge, it's easy to cut out the excess. In the deer's case, the bottom edge is fused, meaning I need to cut a slit in the area to remove. By just pulling the applique and background fabrics apart in that spot, I can clip the fold enough to get a scissor in to trim along the line of fusible.

background fabric behind deer head applique being cut out  by QuiltFabrication

He's finished and so are the tips and tricks for fusible applique

tips and tricks for fusible applique with a black and white checked deer head by QuiltFabrication

Until next time, 
Happy Quilting!

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  1. Susan, you share so much information and knowledge here. I usually look here first when I am searching for something. Thanks for continuing to blog.
    xx, Carol

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your tips! Pretty soon I will be working to complete a quilt that is mainly applique, so your blog post will be of great help! Thank you!

  3. Nice, clear instructions! Thanks!

  4. Great tips and I am so pleased you linked up again this month!

  5. Hi Susan! Great tips for applique AND I really like your deer. You've laid out the steps very succinctly and the photos help as well. Thanks so much for linking up this week. ~smile~ Roseanne


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