In the post I wrote about the Cardinal and Red Berries quilt I have made, I mentioned that I prepared my appliqués with fusible fabric. I always prepare my appliqués using this method, except when I use fabric that does not fray or is thick enough to keep its shape by itself. Karen asked if I would make a tutorial explaining this method… and here it is!
Before starting with the tutorial, I would like to explain what is fusible fabric. In fact, the exact term for this kind of fabric is fusible interfacing. Interfacing is a fabric used in sewing to give rigidity to an other fabric. It is added, for example, in the collar and the cuffs of a shirt. It is sewn to the wrong side of the fabric. Thankfully, we now have fusible interfacing, which can be applied with a hot iron. Much faster! The fusible kind has tiny dots of adhesive on the wrong side that melt with heat. The glue is to be melt unto the fabric, not on the iron. Believe me, I only made this error once. Now I always double check before I place the iron on the fusible interfacing. If by mistake it happens to you too, unplugged the iron and let it cool down completely before attempting to remove the mess. When the surface is completely cool, you can scrape the glue off.
There are different colors and thicknesses on the market. For appliqués, I stick to the white and the thinner interfacing. I wish to make the appliqué a little bit more rigid so it will keep its shape and keep the edges from fraying, but not too rigid. If I use a thick interfacing, it would be harder to manipulate the appliqué, it would be difficult to pass the needle through the layers if I stitch it by hand and there will be a greater difference of thickness/rigidity between the appliqué and the fabric unto which it will be sewn.
I hope it will be useful to you and if you have questions, do not hesitate to contact me. Pdf versions of this tutorial can be found on my web site, in French and in English. Also, you can see examples of appliqués I have made by clicking on the category Hand-stitched appliqués.
How to prepare appliqués with fusible interfacing
1. Cut the pattern. If you do not want to cut the sheet of paper unto which the pattern was printed, you may transfer the motif unto an other sheet of paper using tracing paper and a pencil. You can even transfer it to a piece of cardboard, which would make a sturdier pattern. This is a good choice if you have to make many appliqués with the same pattern.
2. Trace the outline of the pattern with a pencil on the right side of the fusible interfacing. The right side is smooth to the touch while the wrong side has bumps made of glue.
3. Cut the fusible interfacing with scissors directly on the line drawn at the previous step.
4. Apply the fusible interfacing cut at the previous step on the wrong side of your regular fabric with a hot iron. Do not use steam. Make sure the side of the interfacing WITH the glue is next to the fabric. If by mistake you melt the glue on your iron, unplug the iron and let it cool down completely before attempting to remove the glue. When the surface is completely cool, you can scrape the glue off.
Note: If your motif is smaller than your iron, it could be tempting to apply the iron over all the motif at once. I do not suggest that because most often than not this action will distort the interfacing. I suggest you apply the tip of your iron on a small portion of the motif and, after, slowly move the iron to cover the rest of the motif. Do not use steam.
5. Cut around the fusible interfacing at a distance of 1/4” from it. This “extra” fabric will be turned under the appliqué.
6. Now you have to choose between two methods: turning the edges with your needle while you stitch it or ironing the edges of your appliqués toward the interfacing. If you choose to iron the edges, do not burn your fingertips. Whether you iron or needle turn the appliqué, you have to make indentations with scissors in every nooks (cut until you reach the interfacing) and cut off the excess of fabric at the tips (leave 1/4” of fabric). If you iron the edges, you may also have to make indentations around the curving lines to be able to maintain a beautiful curve. Do not cut all the way to the interfacing. Stop cutting at approximately 1/16”.
Your appliqué is now ready to be sewn.