Quilts Made Using Fusible Web
I use a combination of methods to create my quilts. The quilts above use fusible web for significant portions of the construction.
Click on the photo for larger photos and more information about the quilts

Fusible Web Products and How to Use Them

One of the easiest way to applique is to use fusible web products. Fusible web is an iron-on adhesive made from a mesh of fibers with adhesive properties. The fibers melt when heated to join two layers of fabric together. There are quite a number of fusible products with different properties but the common element is that they join layers of other fabric together when heated, without sewing.

Paper-backed fusibles include Wonder-Under, Trans-web, Heat and Bond and others. The basic directions for using fusible web in this class were written with these standard paper backed fusible web products in mind. Even though the general procedure is the same, you must still pay attention to the specific heat requirements for the product you are using. If your heat is too high or too low, you will not get the best performance from the product.

The procedure for using paper backed fusible web:
1. Reverse the design in order to avoid a mirror image.
2. Trace the reversed design onto the paper backing of the fusible web.
3. Roughly cut out the fusible web object, leaving the paper attached.
4. Iron the cut out piece of paper-backed fusible web to the wrong side of your applique fabric and allow to cool.
5. Cut the applique to size, using the outlines drawn on the paper. When cutting “to size” remember to include under or overlaps if using.
6. Peel off the paper backing.
7. Iron the fused fabric into position.

Alternatives to Standard Paper-backed Fusibles

Steam a Seam2 and Lite Steam a Seam2 are also paper backed fusibles, however, the directions for using these products are different. The first difference you will notice with Steam a Seam products is that they have two pieces of release paper, one on each side of the web. The real difference in the Steam a Seam products is how they work. They are called “double stick”.  Steam-a-Seam will stick to the fabric in a temporary bond which allows one to reposition the applique before sewing.

This first link describes the product
http://www.warmcompany.com/saspage.html
This second link tells you how to use Steam a Seam:
http://www.warmcompany.com/sasdir.html

My Directions for using Lite Steam a Seam2:
1. Remove one piece of the paper backing. One should be easier to remove than the other.
2. Draw your (reversed) design onto the remaining paper backing.
3. Finger press (no iron, no heat) the Steam a Seam to the wrong side of your applique fabric.
4. Cut out the applique on the drawn lines.
5. Position the applique on the background. It can be moved until it is ironed.
6. Fuse the applique to the surface with iron on cotton setting for 10-15 seconds.
 

Things to remember about Steam a Seam products:
•    For most quilting applications you should use Lite Steam a Seam. The regular product is heavy-duty and is very difficult to sew through.
•    Do not iron Steam a Seam until you are ready to position it permanently.  

The paper backed fusibles can make your work feel stiff. Also, high temperature fusibles can be a problem when using non-cotton fabrics that melt, such as tulle and many sheers. To avoid fusible web altogether, I use a method I call Upside-Down Applique.

Misty Fuse is another fusible web product that adheres two layers of fabric together. Misty Fuse performs the same function as other fusible web products but is very sheer, light weight and does not add stiffness or bulk to the layers of fabric joined. Misty Fuse does not have a paper backing. Misty Fuse can be used with very sheer fabrics and lower temperatures.

The absence of a paper backing on Misty Fuse means that you cannot draw your design onto the paper and must therefore use templates when cutting specific shapes from Misty Fuse. Another necessity when using Misty Fuse is a non-stick pressing sheet or parchment paper in order to prevent the Misty Fuse from sticking to your iron or ironing board.

1. Draw your design or applique shape onto freezer paper. Do not reverse.
2. Fuse Misty Fuse to the wrong side of your applique fabric.

•    Use parchment paper or a non-stick pressing sheet to cover your ironing surface
•    Place Misty Fuse on the non-stick sheet
•    Place the applique fabric right side up (wrong side against the fusible) to cover the Misty Fuse completely
•    Press briefly using medium-low heat setting.
•    Fuse a larger piece of fabric than your planned applique piece. Often, people who like using misty Fuse will pre-fuse larger pieces of fabric so they are ready to cut out for future projects.

3. Press the freezer paper template to the right side of the pre-fused fabric and cut it out. Keep the non-stick sheet under the fusible side of the Misty Fuse.
4. Position the applique and press with medium-high heat to permanently fuse.

Things to remember when using Misty Fuse:
•    It has no paper backing so you MUST use a Non-stick pressing sheet (Teflon sheet or parchment paper)
•    It can be used with sheers
•    You will need to make templates if you are making specific shapes
•    You do not need to reverse your design when you draw the design onto freezer paper because the freezer paper will be attached to the right side of the fabric (not flipped).


Stitch Witchery was one of the first fusible web products to appear on the market. It is a fusible web without a paper backing. It can be used in a manner similar to Misty Fuse, but is heavier in weight.

General tips that apply to all fusible products:

•    Use them with pre-washed fabrics. The finish on fabrics straight from the bolt can interfere with adhesion.
•    Fusible web should be attached to the WRONG side of the fabric, the side you do NOT want to show on the finished applique.
•    Read and follow the directions of the fusible product you are using, including temperature guidelines. They are not all the same.
•    Never iron directly on the fusible web. It will melt onto your iron.
•    Use a press cloth to cover your ironing board.

 

The entire tree is covered with tulle to darken it.
You can see the large layers of tulle
placed over the entire tree and parts of the sky.
The limbs on the top left have been trimmed after stitching.

Fusing Tulle and Sheers (or Not)
Many people want to know how to fuse sheers. One of the difficulties in using sheers is that the edges are hard to cut to size and to control after cutting.
The key is that you DO NOT cut the sheer to size before sewing it down. Sew first, cut second.
Tulle is usually made of nylon so it melts under the heat of an iron. Many other sheer fabrics are made from synthetic fibers that can melt, buckle or loose their shine when heat is applied. this can make fusing a problem. Tulle and laces also have holes in the fabric that can let the fusible web peek through.
Misty Fuse is a low temperature fusible. Many people use Misty Fuse to fuse sheers of all types.
I do not use any sort of fusible web product when working with sheers. I use sheers, but I do not fuse them. I prefer to applique the sheers directly to the surface. It is not difficult.

  1. Decide where you want to add a layer of sheer. Place a generously sized piece of the sheer fabric over the area to be covered.
  2. Pin the fabric to the surface. ***Do not stretch the sheer fabric*** Smooth it down but do not stretch.
  3. Set up your sewing machine for free-motion sewing, a zigzag stitch and invisible thread in the needle, bobbin thread in the bobbin. Test your tension.
  4. Stitch the sheer fabric to the surface. Let your stitching lines follow EXACTLY the outline of the space you are covering.
  5. Trim away the excess sheer fabric outside the stitching line.
Example: You wish to add a layer of sheer fabric to darken the tree in a landscape.
Stitch along the outline of the tree, exactly along the edge. The stitching will fall entirely on the tree.
Stitching will not cross over into the sky or the mountains.
After stitching, trim all the excess fabric away outside the stitching lines.

Tips:

  • Always cut your sheer fabric larger than the space you wish to cover.
  • Sew first, cut after sewing.
  • It is necessary to use a zigzag stitch to hold the edges of the sheer fabric. Even tulle, which does not ravel, needs the zigzag stitch. Tulle will pull away from a single line of straight stitch.
  • Did I mention, never, ever stretch the sheer fabric when you are placing or pinning.
  • If you feel more comfortable with free motion straight stitch, you can anchor the fabric with in initial round of straight stitch, followed by a round of zigzag.

We use a lot of different products in our sewing and it can be helpful to know the difference between them.

Interfacing is a product that when fused to the fabric, adds body. It remains permanently attached. Most often it is used to add body (slight stiffness)  to cuffs, collars and facings in garments. Interfacing may be fusible. There are also non-fusible sew-in interfacings.

We might occasionally use interfacing in quilting and applique. I use interfacing to line light colored fabrics when those fabrics will be placed on top of darker fabrics in applique. The interfacing helps prevent the darker colors from showing through and creating shadows. My interfacing of choice for this use is a lightweight woven fusible interfacing. The procedure is to first interface the light colored fabric, with fusible interfacing, then use the interfaced fabric as normal for applique.
Lightweight Fusible Interfacing is also sometimes used when working with silk for patchwork or applique.

Stabilizer is used to improve stitching and should be used with most decorative stitching. It is a separate layer that is placed under the work to prevent tunneling and puckers. Some form of stabilizer is always used when doing machine embroidery and I almost always use it for applique and dense decorative stitching. There are different kinds of stabilizer which are categorized by the method used to remove them: Tear-Away, Wash-away or Water Soluble, Heat-away and Cut-Away. Some stabilizers are fusible, usually adhering to the fabric with a temporary bond so they can be removed later. The kind of stabilizer I use most often for applique is Tear-away.

Copyright 2010 Susan Brittingham

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Created on : 02/07/10
Last Updated : 04/15/12