9 steps to quick and easy fusible applique, the right way

Yesterday on QUILTsocial we talked about the differences between ironing and pressing and we made the background for a small fusible applique project we’ll be working on today. We also talked about how great Mary Ellen’s Best Press works for both ironing and pressing.

Mary Ellen’s Best Press and the Spray and Misting bottle

Today we’re working on a small spring-themed fusible applique project. It’s a Spring Thing is a pattern I designed in 2012, along with three other seasonal wall hangings. Although all four of these wall hangings were designed with batik fabrics, I always love seeing my patterns done in different fabric selections.

It’s a Spring Thing pattern by Christine Baker, Fairfield Road Designs

Today we’ll use just the birdhouse and bird appliques from this pattern to make a small spring wall hanging. Yesterday we made the background for our applique project. Here’s a PDF with the applique designs:

Spring wall hanging applique designs

Fusible applique is one of my favorite quilting techniques, and between my partner, Nellie Holmes and I have many, many fusible applique patterns. It’s an easy and forgiving technique and although I always hand blanket-stitch my projects, you could easily do all of the applique stitching on your sewing machine.

I’m using HeatnBond Lite Iron-On Adhesive Sheets to fuse the applique shapes to the background. HeatnBond Lite is specially formulated for securing light to medium weight fabric pieces onto other fabric surfaces so they may be machine or hand sewn. It’s ideal for attaching fabric appliques, and because it’s activated at a low temperature, it’s the ideal adhesive for most fabrics. I’ll also be using a pair of OLFA 5″ Stainless Steel Serrated Edge Scissors, the Oliso M2Pro Mini Project Iron and the Heirloom non-stick Teflon Applique Mat to make the process so much easier.

HeatnBond Lite Iron-On Adhesive Sheets

Step 1 – Trace the applique shapes

The first step in fusible applique is to trace your applique shapes to the paper side of the HeatnBond Lite. Trace each shape separately, leaving about ½” between each one. Dotted lines on the pattern shapes show where the top fabric overlaps a fabric beneath it, so trace each of those shapes individually, following the dotted line for the bottom shape.

Tracing the applique shapes on to the paper side of the HeatnBond Lite

Step 2 – Cut apart the shapes

Next, use a pair of scissors to cut each of the applique shapes, about ¼” away from the drawn line.

Step 3 – Iron to fabrics

Iron each of the applique shapes to the back of your chosen fabrics – I’m using Northcott Colorworks Solids. To save space on the fabric you can overlap your HeatnBond like I did below, as long as you don’t overlap the drawn lines.

Iron HeatnBond shapes to the back of your applique fabrics.

Step 4 – Cut along drawn lines

Use a pair of sharp scissors like these OLFA 5″ Stainless Steel Serrated Edge Scissors to cut each of the shapes along the drawn lines.

Cut along the drawn lines

Step 5 – Peel off the paper backing

Peel the paper backing off of the applique shapes. As you can see, the back of the fabric is now shiny. That’s the adhesive fused to the fabric.

Peel off the paper backing

Now I’ll show you the magic of the Heirloom Non-Stick Teflon Applique Mat. This mat can be used for a variety of crafts involving adhesives since it provides a multi-purpose, non-stick surface were any substance from glue to paint wipes away easily.

The Heirloom Non-Stick Teflon Applique Mat

Step 6 – Arrange applique shapes on the Teflon mat

Arrange the applique shapes into groups on the Heirloom Non-Stick Teflon Applique Mat. All the pieces of the birdhouse can be arranged as they would look on the finished quilt. Place the body of the birdhouse down first and then arrange the roof, the hole, the base and the pole, tucking under fabrics as shown by the dotted lines on the pattern pieces.

Arrange the fabric shapes on the Teflon mat.

Step 7 – Press

Follow package instructions, and press the applique shapes so the adhesive on the backs of the fabrics sticks the different shapes together. They will temporarily stick to the Teflon applique mat but can easily be peeled off once they are cool. It’s important at this stage to press (move side to side), not iron, because you don’t want to shift any of the pieces or catch their sides on the edge of the iron. Just press in place, lift and move to another spot and press again.

Press the applique shapes.

Step 8 – Peel the shapes off the Teflon sheet

Once cooled, the shapes can easily be peeled off of the Teflon applique mat. As you can see, the entire shapes of the birdhouse and bird are now complete and can be moved around easily.

The fused bird and birdhouse shapes

Step 9 – Arrange and press in place

Now you can easily place applique shapes on your background fabric. Use the background we made yesterday and place the birdhouse and bird on the fabric. Move them around until they look good to you. Now that we’ve grouped the shapes together using the Teflon applique mat, it’s so easy to arrange and rearrange things on the background. Imagine if you had a complex applique design with lots of small sections – this applique mat would make a world of difference!

Place the shapes on the background fabric.

Now I’ll use my Oliso M2Pro Mini Project Iron to fuse the shapes to the background fabric. Same as before, press, don’t iron!

Press the shapes to fuse them in place.

Now all that’s left to do is stitch the pieces to the background! You can do this by hand or machine, or you can simply layer the top with batting and backing and quilt along all the raw edges to secure and quilt at the same time.

The OLFA 5″ Stainless Steel Serrated Edge Scissors and the Oliso M2Pro Mini Project Iron make light work of fusible applique projects. I love fusible applique and I’ve designed lots of patterns using this technique. HeatnBond Lite Iron-On Adhesive Sheets and the Heirloom Non-Stick Teflon Applique Mat are great products to use for this quilting method, but HeatnBond also makes other fusible products for crafting. If you’re unsure of which one to pick for your project, check out this handy HeatnBond Flowchart that walks you through the selection. One thing about fusible applique though is that sometimes, despite being super careful, I get adhesive stuck on my iron, so tomorrow we’ll talk about how to clean your iron the easy way!

UNIQUE home Iron Sole-Plate Cleaner, UNIQUE sewing Self-Gripping Fastener Strip, Oliso M2Pro Mini Project Iron, Clover Hot Hemmer, Clover Hold It Precision Stiletto, UNIQUE Wool Pressing Mat, Misting Spray Bottle, Gütermann Thread

This is part 3 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 2: Ironing vs Pressing – do YOU know the difference?

Go to part 4: 4 steps to clean your iron the absolute easiest way

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