Some quilters love patchwork and think appliqué is the “A” word. Other quilters choose appliqué over patchwork. For me, a bit of patchwork combined with a sprinkle of appliqué is the best of both worlds. My favorite appliqué method is fusible appliqué, which is fast and easy. There are many brands of fusible web on the market. Some brands have smooth paper on one side and adhesive on the reverse, and some have paper on both sides and adhesive in the middle. There are also paperless fusible webs. Today, I’m going to share with you my method for using paper-backed fusible web.
Whenever I need to trace the same shape multiple times, I start by making a plastic template. Since many appliqué shapes are asymmetrical, I mark the right side of the template with painter’s tape. Then I use a pencil to trace the shape the number of times required, leaving about 1/4″ between shapes. To draw circles, I use a circle template. Because I’m going to cut out the center of the fusible-web leaf shape, I drew circles in the center of the leaves to make the best use of the fusible web.
Then, I roughly cut out the fusible-web shapes, leaving a margin of about 1/8″ all around the marked line. You can cut out the individual shapes or leave the shapes in groups like I did. Next, cut out the center of the fusible-web shapes, leaving at least 1/4″ inside the line. This trimming is called “windowing” and it allows the shape to adhere to the background while eliminating the stiffness within the shape.
Place the shape, fusible-web side down, on the wrong side of the appropriate appliqué fabric. Fuse the shape to the fabric and let cool. Cut out the shapes on the drawn line and remove the paper backing.
Position the appliqué shapes, adhesive side down, on the right side of the background fabric and press. Then using a decorative stitch (such as a blanket stitch) or a straight stitch, sew very close to the appliqué edge to secure the appliqués in place. Watch this video to learn more about Windowing Fusible Appliqué.
Now, let’s take a look at a few quilts. For “Garden Time” from Love of Quilting, July/August 2012, I appliquéd a watering can filled with flowers in the center of the wall hanging. Then I added a pieced border and two plain borders. A narrow flange (or flat piping) between the plain borders was added as an accent color. (Editor’s Note: This quilt pattern is available as a free download here.)
I love how appliqué looks on top of a pieced background. For “Stars of my Heart” from Love of Quilting, January/February 2009, I appliquéd heart motifs on top of patchwork blocks to create a unique look.
When I only want a little bit of appliqué, I add appliqué motifs to the border. In “Rock Candy” from Love of Quilting, May/June 2011, I appliquéd a vine and flowers in the border. By placing the motifs in opposite corners, I didn’t have to worry about adjusting the appliqués to fit the corners.
For “Nuances” from Easy Quilts, Winter 2010, I used leftover scraps to appliqué a vine, leaves, and flowers in one corner of the border. Adding appliqué to the border softens the look of a very linear quilt.
I used different-size circles to make “Color Wave” for Love of Quilting, May/June 2011. I cut circles from a variety of tone-on-tone fabrics and appliquéd them on a single piece of black background. Although I only used one basic shape, using different sizes and a wide range of colors gives this wall hanging lots of pizzazz.
I hope I’ve inspired you to add a little appliqué to your next quilt. To learn more about my fusible appliqué method be sure to take a look at my online class, Secrets to Quilting Success.