Thoughts on Fusible Applique

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Fusible web is a man-made fiber that melts when it is heated. Many quilters – especially art quilters – have used a fusible product when creating quilts that require appliqué. When placed between two pieces of fabric, the melting action of the web when in contact with a hot iron causes it to fuse the fabrics together. As a result of this process, it is a wonderful way to avoid turning under fabric to appliqué by hand or machine, and is very secure.

There is a wonderful chart that I found at Stitch em Up that lists a number of fusible products with information about each.
Please check it out!

Over the past year or two, I have frequently used fusible products for appliqué on items that will see little to no washing. I view fusible as tool and option for items such as wallhangings, purses, accessories, journals, and anything that will not be tossed in a washing machine. I have made my grandchildren a quilted calendar wallhanging that hangs in their kitchen. These 18 inch square blocks are a perfect use for fusible appliqué.

November Calendar Block in Progress:
               A fused turkeyiron

I have a concern about the use of fusible appliqué on quilts that are meant to be  saved and used by the owner on a daily basis. As I have attended quilt shows recently and viewed newly-made quilts online, I am noticing more and more appliqué quilts being made using fusible as the method of appliqué. It worries me for several reasons, but here are the two I worry about the most:

Worry 1: On the historical timeline of quilting, fusible products are babies. This is a brand new product, and we have no guarantee what it will do over the long-term in a quilt. It is an ADHESIVE. The edges are raw and exposed. It is basically glue holding two layers (or more) of fabric together. What will years of regular washing do to a fused quilt? Even without a lot of washing, will these quilts be around 50-100 years from now? And if they are still around, how frayed will those raw edges be?

I thought about this a few weeks ago as I was cleaning the basement. I came across my scrapbook from when I was a teenager. You know the kind… where we kept pictures, newspaper articles and programs from shows we attended. We held them in place with tape. I was a teenager in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. (Yes, I’m that old.) Now, a few decades later when I open my scrapbook, most of the adhesive tape has turned brownish in color and no longer adheres to the paper. My precious memories fall out of the scrapbook, and I have to tuck them back into place and close the book quickly so I don’t lose them. Will this happen to our quilts?

Worry 2: As a quilting instructor, I worry about newer quilters who learn how to do fusible appliqué and view it as THE way to appliqué. Please note that this is a two-fold issue for me.

Example: Amy takes a quilting class and learns how to do fusible appliqué. It’s an easier method than what she has seen other more experienced quilters do when they appliqué, so she makes it her method of choice. She sees a beautiful Baltimore quilt pattern and creates a lovely quilt top that is heavily appliquéd (as they all are), only hers is done using fusible products. She delivers or ships her quilt top to a long arm quilter, and a few months later has produced a stunning quilt.  (She meaning Amy.)

Here’s question number one:


What if this is how we teach young ladies how to quilt from now on? Will the techniques of quilting from the last 150-200 years eventually be lost? Will they ever learn how to do a fine needle-turn or invisible appliqué stitch? Or will they stick to fusing? Will they ever learn how to do a rocking (quilting) stitch, or will all quilts be machine quilted by someone else? (I said it was a two-fold issue).


Before my readers chime in with comments, let me assure you that I treasure modern technologies. I am a computer addict. Just ask my husband.  Give me a gadget and I go ga ga. Seriously!
In 1987 I wrote a book called
 “Contemporary Quilts
From Traditional Designs.”  

I like contemporary quilts, and I like traditional quilts. And remember in the beginning of this post I said I use fusible?      I fully understand that not everyone will want to be a full-fledged quilter and make quilt after quilt. Fusing and paying someone to do the quilting for you may be the only way some people get a quilt done. I get that.

Here’s question number two:

How do we perpetuate the tradition of quilting that our great grandmothers taught us?

Ok, one, two, three DISCUSS!
There is plenty of comment space here for everybody.