Fusible Appliqué

Appliqué is such an incredibly versatile technique. Quilters of all levels can successfully incorporate it into their work whether they prefer traditional, modern, art, or innovative styles. We’ve frequently featured artists who use fusible appliqué since it’s fast, easy, and precise.

In our January/February 2017 issue Jane Zillmer shared some great information on how she uses raw edge fused appliqué in her work. Here’s a beautiful example of one of her appliquéd quilts, Happy.

Happy ©Jane Zillmer, quilted by Ann Becker
Happy ©Jane Zillmer, quilted by Ann Becker

Once you’ve drawn your design here are the basic steps Jane follows to prepare the appliqué pieces (motifs):

  1. Each drawn piece or template is traced onto the paper side of fusible web. Jane’s favorite brand is HeatnBond Lite™ but there are many brands from which to choose. Note that any piece that is not symmetrical will need to be reversed when tracing it to the fusible web since it will be fused to the wrong side of fabric.
  1. Next, cut a ‘donut hole’ in the fusible web to avoid a flat fused motif. To accomplish this, cut out each piece you have traced to the fusible web outside the drawn line, leaving about ¼” margin around the outer edges. Now cut out the inner portion of the fusible web, inside the traced lines, leaving about ⅛” inner margin. Cut a donut hole on all pieces except for the tiniest circles, leaves or stems. 
  1. Following the fusible web manufacturer’s instructions, iron each piece web side down and paper side up to the wrong side of the fabric. 
  1. Cut out the pieces (now fused to fabric) on the traced lines. Do not peel the paper backing off individual pieces until you are ready to fuse them to the background.

Now you’re ready to fuse following the manufacturer’s directions. It helps to pin the pieces to your background fabric  to be sure of your placement before ironing the pieces down. Some quilters leave their appliqué with raw edges and no stitching. If you’d like to stitch the edges, here are more tips from Jane:

  • Set your machine at a narrow short zigzag stitch. On her BERNINA, it is 1.3 stitch width and 1.0 stitch length.
  • The needle position should be at the center.
  • Thread your bobbin thread through the ‘eye’ on your bobbin casing, if yours has this feature. This will aid in achieving perfect tension.
  • Before starting to stitch, bring your bobbin thread to the top and pull the top and bottom threads aside.
  • Start by using a locking stitch if you have one, and then cut off your top and bottom threads before proceeding.
  • As you stitch, the needle should take one stitch into the appliqué motif and one stitch into the background just beyond the motif. Do not let the needle hit the motif edge because this will cause fraying.
  • Stitch slowly and carefully, especially around curves.
  • When you reach a point such as a leaf tip, stop with the needle in the down position at the tip (in the background fabric), take a stitch straight down onto the motif, pivot your work, and then continue.
  • Use a locking stitch when you are finished and clip top and bottom threads.

Beautifully detailed appliqués can be created using this technique. Look at how precise this little hummingbird is.

Detail from Happy ©Jane Zillmer Machine Quilting Unlimited January February 2017
Detail from Happy ©Jane Zillmer

Try adding some fusible appliqué to your next quilt and I bet you’ll be hooked on this fun technique!


One Response to Fusible Appliqué

Leave a reply