Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fusible Applique Tutorial UPDATED

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.

Suggested Supplies

You can find the paper backed fusibles and appliqué pressing sheet at Fabric.com

affiliate link
Orders of $35 & up Ships Free.

  • Iron and Ironing Board
  • Iron Off Hot Iron Cleaner This is my favorite hot iron cleaner that I use frequently while doing applique projects. (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.
  • Applique Pressing Sheet - This will protect your ironing board from gunk. The fuse web will not stick to it. It can also be used to prefuse appliques with lots of little pieces.
  • Paper backed fusible - There are several fusible web products on the market. You want to make sure you purchase a "light" version of whichever fusible you pick. They come in packages and by the yard on bolts.
  • Pre-washed Fabrics - It's recommended that you use pre-washed fabrics. The products will stick better if you do.

    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.

    Wipe the hot iron to clean it. After all the goo is removed run your iron over a clean section of the towel to remove any left over cleaner. Amazing what comes off the iron.

    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.

    HeatNBond LightOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Wonder Under LightP2100234

    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.

    Template pattern sheet

    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.

    If your fusible has two layers of paper, slowly peel the backing (side without the design on it) off.

    Again, this is what the fusible looks like. Be careful to keep the fusible web with the design paper.

    Iron all the wrinkles out of the fabric. Then place the appliques onto the wrong side of the fabrics. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your product to fuse in place.

    Note: I’m showing one applique with the center cut out and one done solid so you can see what both look like.

    Cut out the applique designs on the lines.

    Carefully peel off the remaining paper. This time be sure to keep the fusible web with the fabric.


    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 Technique

    When 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.

    Information About Thread
    The color thread you choose all depends on your design idea. Matching the thread color and contrasting the thread color give two very different looks (see below).
    I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and maybe even learned something new.
    See the tutorial about working with applique pressing sheets next.

    Lori said...

    I have yet to applique by machine. Thank you for all the wonderful information
    quilting lady 2 at Comcast dot net

    Anonymous said...

    you have done a great job of the space you have available. I am anticipating a move in a few months, so I am looking for any tips that might help me in my new home. happy quilting. Mary E