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Using Fusible Web
If you are a new quilter, I recommend using 100%
cotton fabric in your quilts. In my experience, cotton is the easiest
fabric to work with throughout the quilt making process.
As you begin quilting, it is important that you understand a little bit
about the direction of the threads that comprise the fabric. There are
three terms that refer to the thread direction: straight of grain,
width of fabric, and bias. Cotton fabric is normally sold off a bolt in
42 - 44" widths which is folded down the middle. The edges of the
fabric are finished in a special way so that they do not ravel and this
edge is called the selvage.
The fabric threads that run parallel to the selvage are said to be
straight of grain, and there is no give to the fabric if you pull on it
from the ends. The fabric threads that run from selvage to selvage are
called cross grain, cross width, or width of fabric. If you pull from
either side there is a little stretch to the fabric. Fabric that runs
at a 45 degree angle from the selvages is said to be on the bias and
these threads have a tremendous amount of stretch. It is possible to
totally distort your fabric if you pull your fabric on the bias.
In quilt construction you do not want bias edges to be on the outside
of your blocks because bias threads are so easily distorted. When
cutting blocks, make sure your outside edges are straight of grain or
Appliqué is the process of
sewing fabric shapes to a background fabric, enabling the quilter to
create designs that are not possible with traditional piecing. There
are many techniques that can be used when creating appliqué quilts,
some that have been around for hundreds of years and some that are
relatively recent. There are many good books available that teach these
various methods and because of space limitations, I am only going to
address one method-fusible web appliqué. It is the technique that I use
I recommend fusible web appliqué for children's quilts for several
reasons. First of all it is fast, enabling you to get the quilt
completed in a short amount of time. Secondly, children's quilts that
are used and loved require numerous washings and receive lots of wear.
To spend hundreds of hours laboring on a beautiful, needle turned
heirloom quilt, only to have it dragged around the backyard or left for
the dog to sleep on is painful. If you are making a quilt for a child,
use the quick and easy method.
Fusible web requires non-symmetrical designs to be reversed. I like to
use a master pattern when assembling my appliqué pieces on the
background block so I like to have two copies of my designs-one
reversed and one as it should appear on the quilt.
Reversing a Design
When using fusible web, you
must reverse asymmetrical designs if you want them to face the correct
direction on the finished quilt. This is because fusible web goes on
the back of fabric, causing the motif on the right side of the fabric
to be reversed
To reverse a design, trace the pattern design on to lightweight paper
using a pencil. Parchment paper is excellent for this, but standard
computer paper can be used, as well. If you have difficulty seeing the
pattern beneath the paper, place the design and the tracing paper up to
a window. You can also use a light box if you have access to one.
Once you are satisfied with your tracing, go over each line with a fine
or ultra fine point black permanent pen. Write "finished version" at
the top. Remove the pattern and turn the traced drawing over. Your
lines should be easily seen if you used a permanent marker. Retrace the
design on this side of the paper using the permanent pen. Write
"reversed" at the top. You now have a reversed pattern you can use for
tracing on to fusible web and a finished version of the pattern to use
for appliqué placement on the block.
Using Fusible Web
1. Fusible web is a glue type product that bonds fabric together and
usually comes with a paper backing on it. The paper backing makes it
easier to work with. The glue portion of the web is activated by the
heat from an iron, but you never, never want to place the iron directly
onto the glue side of the product. Always iron on the paper side.
There are a number of types of fusible web on the market. I recommend a
lightweight product. Be aware that a lightweight web must be stitched
down eventually, however. It is not intended to be a permanent bond.
2. Using the reversed designs you have created, trace your design onto
the paper backing with a pencil. Be sure to label each piece.
3. After the shapes are traced, cut out each piece around the drawn
line, but not on the line. Leave at least a 1/4" border past the drawn
4. To reduce stiffness in the quilt, cut out the center portion of the
design if it is a medium or large-sized appliqué. Leave at least a 1/4"
of paper inside the drawn line.
5. Following manufacturer's directions, fuse the pieces to the back
side of your fabric. Cut out the pieces on the drawn line. Leave the
backing paper on the piece until you are ready to fuse it to the block.
6. When assembling the appliqué, use your "finished" pattern version
that to help in placing the pieces. If you have a light colored
background fabric, you can do this by putting the template underneath
the background fabric and placing pieces on top. You can also lay the
template on top of the block and slide the appliqué pieces underneath
the template. Some people do not like the paper templates and use clear
template plastic instead. In either case, if you are using the template
on top method, remove the template before fusing the pieces in place.
7. Appliqué patterns are usually numbered to show you the order of
placement. If your pattern is not, be sure to note which items are on
top of other items. The pieces that are the farthest from the top are
fused first. Fuse the appliqué pieces to the background blocks,
following the manufacturer's directions. Each brand of fusible web has
slightly different directions.
8. Be sure to sew a zigzag, blanket, or satin stitch around every raw
edge to prevent your pieces from fraying or lifting. This is especially
important for children's quilts which frequently require repeated
You may find it helpful to
use a Teflon sheet to fully assemble some appliqués before fusing them
to the background block. It is possible to assemble your pieces
directly on the background block without the aid of a Teflon sheet, but
preassembling makes the final fusing easier.
When preassembling, remember to remove the paper backing only in the
area that needs to be fused on top of another appliqué pieces. It is
possible to tear away small portions of the paper. Do not remove all of
the paper until you are ready to fuse the entire piece to the