I love fusible raw edge applique. It's fast and easy to do. Don't get me wrong, I've done hand applique and I greatly admire those that take the time to hand applique. My quilts are not made to be show quilts. I make my quilts to be used, loved and worn out. The following is the way I do my appliqués.
You can find the paper backed fusibles and appliqué pressing sheet at Fabric.com
Information About Ironing Appliques
No matter how careful you work your iron will collect sticky fusible and pencil goo. (see photo below). You will need to clean your iron after working with the fusible or it will leave marks on the right side of your fabrics. My personal preference is Iron Off Hot Iron Cleaner.
You only need a small amount on a towel.
What is a Paper Backed Fusible?
This is what some of the paper backed fusibles look like. Keep the fusible attached to the paper. Others also have paper on both sides of the fusible.
Let's Create an Applique
When working with fusible applique you will be tracing the design in reverse without a seam allowance. If your pattern is not reversed you will need to turn the pattern paper over and trace over the design to reverse it yourself. You may need to use a light source like a window or light box to see the lines.
Draw your design as an outline drawing. Think of it as a coloring book but instead of crayons you’re going to use fabric to color between the lines. For this example we’ll use hearts. This a a good practice shape because it has straight as well as curved edges.
Here is the design taped to a window. Since the heart is a symmetrical design I added the letter “C” so you could see that the image was reversed. Next you will place the paper backed fusible over the design and trace it.
Rough cut around the appliques to remove them from the sheet. Don’t cut on the lines yet.
It’s not necessary but if you have several layers to your design you can trim around the inside of the pieces leaving about 3/8”. It helps to keep the designs from getting too stiff but it does increase the difficulty of working with the fusibles. Keep the pieces you remove to trace smaller designs on later. Store them in a Ziploc baggie.
Note: I’m showing one applique with the center cut out and one done solid so you can see what both look like.
Place the appliqués onto the right side of your background fabric. The appliqués can be repositioned until they are pressed with an iron. When you are happy with their position follow the manufacturer’s directions for your product to fuse them in place permanently. As with all quilting, press straight up and down. Do not iron side to side. You don’t want to warp the block or create puckers in the appliqué.
Stitch around the appliqués (see stitching details below). Even though you are using a fusible web you will need to stitch the edges to keep them from coming loose with washing and handling. After you finish stitching give it a good pressing to set the stitches.
Information About Stitches
There are a number of ways that you can stitch the edges of your designs depending on your preference and how the quilt will be used.
(from left to right)
1. Satin Stitch - This is a zigzag stitch sewn with a length set close to 0. It's a solid looking outline. Great if you want a bold outline.
2. Zigzag stitch - A small zigzag stitch along the edge.
3. Straight Stitch - A straight stitch close to the edge. I would only use this on wall hangings or things that would not get washed. If sewn with matching thread it would almost "hide" from the eye.
4. Blanket Stitch - This stitch has 5 strikes (forward, reverse, forward, side, side). It's visually similar to using a zigzag stitch. It's my personal favorite. I think it has a hand made crafted look to it.
Important Stitching TechniqueWhen sewing around the applique do not pull the fabric and try to "steer" around curves. This will cause the fabric to pull in and pucker. Instead stitch until the fabric begins to head into a curve.
Stop with the needle down and pivot your fabric to bring it straight in front of the needle again. Do this as needed to get around a curve. This may need to be done every 2 or 3 stitches if you are on a small curve. But trust me, the results will be worth the effort.