Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fusible Applique

OK. You'll all have to bear with me- I've never done an official tutorial before. But I figure how hard can it be!? All I have to do is walk you through step-by-step, right!? And remember, most of the advice I share has been learned from experience. Lots of mistakes make yous kind of an expert! :o)

Well, let's get to it.

To start you need 2 pieces of fabric. Contrasting prints work best to see the design of the applique. I'm going to use the pink lattice from Sweetwater as my applique fabric and the floral from Momo as the background.

You will also need enough Steam-a-Seam for your applique shape(s). I just had a scrap layinga round so that's what I used. Also, you'll need a pencil, and iron, and some SHARP scissors.

Below I've shown a picture of the 2 paper backing pieces with the fusible product between. Figure out which side peels off the easiest. This is going to be facing down (against the template) when you're tracing. You want the side that stays on the fusible product to be the one that you trace onto. Does that make sense? If you mess up, no biggie. I've done that before. It still will work just fine- but it's EASIER if you do it the way I described.

Place your Steam-A-Seam (easy peel away side DOWN) on top of you template.

REMEMBER: your template needs to be reversed. So if you're appliqueing letters remember that so you don't cut a ton of backwards print for your quilt! :o) (been there, done that too!)

The Steam-a-Seam is transparent enough to see your image through. I use a regular pencil to trace. I've used many different writing utensils and I like that best.

NOTE: If using light colored fabrics make sure you wipe your hands off because sometimes pencils smudges can get on your fingers and transfer to fabric. No one likes grey smudges on their Kona snow.

After you've traced your image, roughly cut out around it. If I'm tracing and cutting out lots of images I will try and get them as close to eachother as possible on the Steam-a-Seam so there's less waste.

Next, peel away the EASY side from the back of the traced image. See, the traced part is still attached to the fusible product. YIPEE!

Now, lay it fusible side down on the WRONG side of your applique fabric. Again, I usually place it as close to the fabric edge as possible so I'm not wasting fabric. Oh yeah, and don't forget to press this fabric first so it's nice and flat. Again, just speaking from (lazy) experience here.

Here's the cool part- you can finger press it on here and cut it out right away. But to be honest, I usually run my iron over it really quick. I'm talking "One, one thousand" good! Really quick. I don't want to melt all that steam-a-seam goodness right now- just enough to give a slightly better bond than finger pressing.

The reason I do this is to eliminate finger smudges :o) and I get a very crisp edge when I cut it out.
Next you cut. Now I'm not kidding when I say SHARP scissors. None of this borrowing from the kids' craft bucket. I mean, if we wanted raggy edge applique there's a whole other technique. You want VERY SHARP scissors. I like smaller blades because they're easier to handle. Just cut on the lines kindergarten style and you're set to go.
To peel the backing off, I usually fold a tiny edge onto itself so I get a little crease in the paper and it starts coming away from the fusible stuff. Then gently peel the rest away.

Place the applique image onto your background. Do you like it? If not, move it. I have a design wall and I LOVE Steam-a-Seam for this reason. I can put all my pieces on the wall and see how they look before fusing them. They stay in place and I can move them around until I like where they are.

Once you're pleased with the placement- FUSE! Yes, with the iron. Ok, not I actually iron (verb) and have learned to PRESS. Up and down, not side to side. You want a good bond here but it's not necessary to scorch your fabric to get it. A few second and I'm good. I also turn my background fabric over and press the wrong side where the applique is, just to ensure a good bond.

Um, that's it! See, not so bad. Now who's going to try? I hope everyone will. Once you do it, you'll love it. It's fast and easy.
I updated my 'PATTERNS' on the right with an 'Applique' section so you can see all the different quilts I've designed using fusible applique.

In all of my patterns I mention techniques for "ensuring permanancy" for your applique pieces because let's face it, these pieces won't stay forever just fused on. Especially through laundering. So let's talk about that for a moment.

Below if my FAVORITE- blanket stitching. I used to do all mine by machine until my beloved machine sewed it's last stitch. This is what a machine blanket-stitch looks like.

Another technique I enjoy for certain projects is a simple top-stitch. I usually do this while I'm quilting but you can do it before. I use my free-motion foot to go around just inside the applique piece. We're talking 1/8" or less here. After it's washed there is a very slight fraying (not raggy) of the edge- just enought to soften the edges.

Just recently I started zig-zagging the edges of some applique. Not all machines have a blanket-stitch but they all should have a zig-zag. I'm actually becoming very fond of this method. On side of the stitch zigs just at the edge of the applique and zags further inside the piece. You want a rather small sig zag and slightly close together to do this. However, a satin stitch (very close zig-zag) is beautiful too.

Just a couple more thoughts:

I have NEVER used a stabilizer with quilting (1oo% cotton) fabric. The Steam-a-Seam gives enough stability to my fabric that when adding the finish stitching I don't get any puckering. You're machine or fabric may be different so you'll want to adjust accordingly.
Also, I was afraid of the "stiffness" of fusible applique for a long time too. However, I don't find Steam-a-Seam too stiff to snuggle with. Steam-a-Seam makes a 'lite' product also, but it doesn't have both paper backings. It's still works great for fuse-ability, but I like the ease of the regular best.

I hope I've helped a few of you feel a little more confident with your applique and would LOVE to hear your feedback.

Thanks! :o)


Shannon said...

I'm following you!

Gill said...

Great tutorial - thanks!
Is Bondaweb the same as Steam-a Seam??

Yvonne said...

This looks great! I am into aplique!

Jan Hatchett said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I have done a wallhanging in fusible applique, but I didn't sew the edges down because I knew that it wouldn't be laundered.

I have always been scared to machine sew the edges down for fear that it wouldn't look nice. But, I like the look of your zig zagged one, so I might be brave and try that!

Mama Spark said...

I use the Steam a Seam lite 2 all the time and it has paper on both sides. Works great too!

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

I love steam a seam............I have rolls and rolls of it. Great job on your tutorial too!

Vicki B said...

Great job on the tutorial! First visit to your site and I love it! Your patterns are very appealing and I see several I like. Right now I'm trying to find instructions for Heart Attack which my 28 year old daughter would love!

Susanne said...

I do my appliques the same way :) Works great!

I searched but did not find the momo fabric with this cute toads. Do you have the complete name? I would love to check out this collection.