Fusible raw edge applique is the easiest and fastest quilting technique!
If you are a beginner quilter, grow your skills (and boost your confidence!) while practice this technique. The advanced quilters already know that this technique is pure delight.
Let’s learn some tips to make your fusible raw edge applique quilts a big success!
This technique requires fusible web and water soluble pens.
The fusible web is an iron-on adhesive. You add it to the back of the applique pieces then the pieces are permanently fused to the background fabric with the iron.
Some brands of fusible web: Wonder Under, Steam a Seam, Vliesoflix, Heat and Bond.
How to make fusible raw edge applique quilts
- Print your design on paper
- Transfer it to the background fabric (using a light box or the window), using the washable marker.
- Reverse the pattern and transfer all the pieces to the paper side of the fusible web, leaving some space between the pieces.
(the vice-versa works too – the reverse of pattern on fabric and the pattern on fusible web- it depends on how your design comes on paper).
- Cut the fusible web out roughly; place the fusible web templates, rough side down, to the wrong side of the corresponding fabric. Press following manufacturer’s instructions.
- Cut precisely on the lines.
- Remove the paper backing from all the pieces.
- Place each fabric piece in the corresponding place, on the background fabric, coated side down.
- Press well to fuse the pieces to the background fabric.
The top is ready for the next step- securing the edges of the applique pieces.
- Pictures from my pattern “Angle Delights”
Why is this technique so easy?
The applique design should be the focal point of the quilt, so make sure there is a contrast between the background fabric and the fabrics for appliques.
As a general rule, for my applique quilts, I like to use solid fabric or tone-on-tone fabrics or fabric with small prints. I avoid using prints with big designs and bold colors as background.
I use a light color fabric as background often in my quilts. This fabric has the advantage that you can easily see through it, making transferring the design from paper to it easier. It also contrasts nicely with fabrics in any color.
Bold, dark colors for background – like black – offers even a more dramatic look.
How to transfer the design on black (or difficult) fabric without a marker- with stitching!
The very dark color fabric has a problem- it’s difficult to see the design through it and you need a good marker to transfer and keep visible the design. The good new is that there is a technique that doesn’t require marking at all!
Here is the process: instead of a marking pen, you will use thread- you will mark the edges of the applique with stitches. For a simple design, you could stitch with the walking foot, but for a complex design, it’s easier to use the darning foot and free motion stitching.
Lay the paper design on the background fabric (right side up) and pin it to fabric; stitch 1/8” inside the applique design. In this way, you don’t need to remove the stitching, it will be covered by the applique pieces.
The color of the thread depends on the color of each applique piece. Because the stitching will remain there, it has to be invisible under the applique piece. If the applique fabric is white (and sheer), maybe it’s not a good idea to stitch with red thread.
If you plan to wash the piece, you could use water soluble thread.
How to do applique without marking the fabric – AT ALL!
This technique works best on light color fabric. Here is what you have to do.
- If you can see the pattern through the fabric
Place the paper pattern on the pressing board and add the background fabric on top of it. Place the applique pieces in the corresponding places and press to fuse them.
- If you can’t see the pattern through the fabric
It is better to use glue instead of fusible web.
Use a light box or just tape the paper pattern onto a window and then tape the fabric on top of it.
Glue the applique pieces in the corresponding places.
Securing the edges of the appliques – type of stitching
I use a bold stitching (like a satin stitch or a stitch in a color that contrasts with the applique) only if it is part of the design: if I want to draw attention to the edges of the appliques, like in the photos below.
The invisible (monofilament) thread is a great choice too and it is especially useful when the design has appliques in many colors.
Stitch 1/8” (or even 1/4”) away from the edge with a straight stitch- eyeball it, you don’t need a guide. The edges will fray, especially if you use glue instead of fusible web.
How to start and stop the applique stitching
You will end the stitch in the same way (with zig zag and the last stitches should be the micro straight stitches).
If the stitching must stop at the beginning point (as an example, on a circle), sew the zig zag until it meets the starting zig zag and end the stitching with the micro straight stitches ( see diagram b, the red stitching).
Color of thread for securing the edges
The color of your thread depends on your design idea.
A color that matches the color of the applique fabric will not draw attention to the stitching.
A contrasting thread color gives the applique a different look.
Type of thread
The sky is the limit! Cotton, silk, polyester, invisible thread, in the desired weight; a thick thread will make the stitching more visible while a fine thread makes is almost invisible.
What about frying?
A zig zag stitch and the fusible web adhesive minimize the fraying; the fraying will be minimal even if you wash the quilt.
The batik is the best fabric for raw edge applique, because of the higher thread count and tight weave; it frays less than the regular cotton fabric.
Unless it’s a baby quilt, I heavily quilt over the appliques; sometimes I have trouble in achieving a nice stitching over the appliques, and those needles are the biggest help.
Do not use a blunt needle!
What’s next? The quilting!
Once all the edges are secured in place, it’s time to make the quilt sandwich and quilt as desired.
Usually, we want the applique pieces to pop. So we leave the applique pieces unquilted and quilt around them. This is a great technique BUT…
If the applique piece is big and you have to wash the quilt (and I wash ALL my quilts), after washing, that appliques will look wrinkled and you may need to press them. To avoid this, just quilt over the applique pieces – it’s up to you how densely you quilt. Here are two examples:
Applique while free motion quilting – with straight stitching or with zig zag stitching.
Fuse the design to the background fabric, make the quilt sandwich then secure the edges of the applique pieces while stitching/quilting through all the layers!
You will have to rotate the quilt under the needle the same way you do when sewing with a walking foot (so that the zig zag touches the edge at the correct angle).
You could sew a loose zig zag or a dense zig zag (like a satin stitch), depending on how fast you move the quilt sandwich under the needle.
If the lines of your design are smooth, this option is great.
If you have an intricate design, then quilt with a straight stitch . And take advantage of what free motion quilting offers: sew in any direction without rotating the quilt.
Stitch inside the pieces, as close to the edge as you want.
Reduce the stiffness of the applique pieces
You will have now a “border” that will be fused to the background; the rest of the piece will remain soft.
Background color showing through the appliques?
The above technique is great to apply when you use light color fabric for your appliques and a dark color background shows through the appliques.
Fusible raw edge applique+trapunto – big NO NO!!
We want trapunto be fluffy but fusible web is stiff. That’s why it is better to use glue instead of fusible web to keep the applique pieces in place. Or you could use the technique described above (with fusible web cut away from the center of the piece).
When to use fusible web applique?
– if you are a beginner quilter; the applique process is so easy!
– when you need a quick and easy project;
– when another technique is too difficult for a specific design or it requires too much time (see below 2 examples).
As an example, turned-edge applique or English paper piecing might be difficult when working with tiny pieces or odd shapes. And they require so much time. Here is where the fusible raw edge applique technique comes to the rescue!
See my quilts below.
To the left: English paper pieced quilts
To the right: fusible raw edge applique quilts
First I made the English paper versions. Then I realized that not all the quilters have the time and patience for this technique. That’s why I started to design the raw edge applique quilts and patterns.
So hooray for an extremely easy technique that works great for difficult designs and requires a fraction of the time needed by other techniques.
Would you like to practice this technique?
Do you want a printable version of this guide? Click below.
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