Dear Quilt Doctor,
I’m in too much of a hurry to do needle-turned appliqué so often I make my shapes using fusible web. Some of the fusible products make my project really stiff and hard to stitch through. What can I do to make things easier?
Elk Horn Lake, WI
I use fusible products much more often than I needle-turn … and I hate having my projects really stiff, too!
First, experiment to find the lightest-weight fusible product your quilting fabric can handle. Everyone has their favorite and you’ll find yours. Ask your friends or the local quilt shop what they prefer.
I recommend using a lightweight, paper-backed fusible web that can be stitched through unless you plan to leave the appliqué edges unfinished. In that case, use heavyweight, no-sew fusible web. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adhering the fusible web because factors like iron temperature, whether or not to use steam, and length of pressing time can vary by brand.
If you’re working with several layers of appliqué shapes, the easiest way to eliminate bulk is to cut away the center part of the design. For instance, if I was doing a flower shape, I’d trace my flower … adhesive side down, paper side up … then I’d rough cut around the shape. Before I press it to my fabric, I’d cut away the fusible inside the shape about 1/4" or so from the line. Then I’d press it to the wrong side of my fabric, wait for it to cool and cut on the traced line.
What’s nice about this is that part in the center that doesn’t have fusing behind it looks a little more like a needle-turned shape when you’re done. You still have enough of an edge adhered to the fabric to stitch down easily. Plus it’s not so hard on your hands if you’re hand-stitching around the appliqués.
One more thing … I’m cheap. I reuse the parts I cut out to trace smaller shapes in my design. Penny saved is a penny earned, you know. More $$$ for fabric!
Stitch on …
Figure A: After cutting out the fusible-web shape, and before you press it to your fabric, cut 1/4" inside the traced line and discard the part you cut out.
Figure B: Press to the wrong side of your fabric.
Figure C: Cut the fabric shapes on the drawn line.
More to check out: