What is Applique With Fusible Web?
Appliques are shapes cut out from fabric which are then stitched to a base fabric. The fusible web technique is one that I love and use quite frequently. There are many brands of fusible web such as Stitch Witchery and my personal favorite, HeatnBond. The way it works is pretty simple. The web melts to adhere the fabrics together. After the fabrics are fused, you stitch around the edges to secure your applique motifs and protect the fabric edges.
For my applique sewing projects, I always use HeatnBond lite. I think the heavy fusible web just makes the project too stiff and hard to sew through. Always follow the instructions that come with your fusible web product and don’t forget to wash and dry your fabrics before you start.
How To Applique Using Fusible Web
Choose a design. There are lots of resources in books, magazines and on the web to find a design suitable for applique. The hard part is not going to be finding something, rather deciding on something! Once you have your design, trace it onto the paper side of your fusible web. Important Note: Flop your image so that it is the mirror image of how you want it to look when it is finished. If you are printing out from your computer, your printer software should let you choose to flop it when you print.
Iron the meltable side of fusible web to the wrong side of the fabric you have chosen for your applique motifs. Make sure your fabric is a bit larger than your fusible web so it won’t get icky melted web on your ironing surface. (Believe me, you don’t want this!)
Trace the applique design placement lines onto your base fabric using a washaway or disappearing fabric marker so you know where your shapes should go or refer to a printed placement guide if you have one.
Place your applique motifs on your base fabric. When you are satisfied with the arrangement, place a press cloth over the design and fuse into place with your iron. (I strongly recommend using a pressing cloth to keep from scorching your applique and the fabric you are fusing it to.) Turn the fabric over and press from the wrong side too.
Now that your applique fabric pieces are fused, you are ready to finish the edges. You can machine stitch around the motif edges using a satin stitch or you can hand embroider using the popular Blanket Stitch (one of my favorites). For links to several really good hand embroidery tutorials, check out My Favorite Hand Embroidery Tutorials.
When machine stitching, it is helpful to cut a piece of stabilizer a couple of inches larger than your design, and place it on the wrong side of your fabric lined directly up with your applique design. This is especially important when stitching appliques to stretch fabric such a t shirts. It is also helpful to reduce your upper thread tension a bit and use a clear foot so you can see better. Remember, the more you practice, the better you will get!