Fusible machine applique is a fast, and fun way to add interest to your project!
There are a few rules that you need to apply when preparing shapes for fusible applique.
For machine applique, you will need a lite fusible adhesive product. The adhesive needs to be “lite” or it may gum up your needle. Do not use a fusible adhesive labeled as “ultra hold” or “maximum hold”.
If a shape is symmetrical, you can trace the image exactly as it appears in your pattern.
In the sample below, I’ve stretched a gold cord through the shapes that make up this flower. The cord represents an imaginary line which shows that the parts of the shapes on either side of the line are exactly the same. The yellow circles, the red flower, and the stem are all exactly the same on both sides of the cord. They are symmetrical shapes.
The leaves are symmetrical, as well.
In the next photo, I stretched the cord down the center of the mushroom house. Although each side is very similar, they are not symmetrical. The left side of the roof has a slight inward curve. The right side has a slight outward curve. The right lower edge of the roof is slightly higher than the left side. A reversed image of the roof would need to be traced onto the fusible paper in order for the finished applique to be right.
Also, I stretched the cord across the two undersides of the roof. They are clearly not symmetrical. These pattern pieces would, also, need to be reversed before tracing onto the fusible paper. A reversed chimney is required as well.
With this information in mind, trace the pattern pieces onto the paper side of the fusible adhesive product of your choice.
Notice that I traced some of the pattern pieces inside the larger flower piece. I do not need for the entire flower to have fusible adhesive on it. Just the edges to hold them in place until I can machine stitch them down. It is a more efficient use of the fusible adhesive and lets the body of the flower remain soft.
Do not cut out the pieces on the drawn lines. I cut out the pieces leaving about 1/8″ around the outside and about 1/4″ around the inside of the flower pattern.
Turn the pattern pieces adhesive-side down onto the wrong side of your fabrics. With your iron, follow the manufacturer’s directions and adhere the pieces to the fabric.
Now it is time to cut out the pieces on the drawn lines. Cutting on the drawn lines after the pieces have been ironed to the fabric, makes sure that all edges have some glue on them. This helps keep edges crisp, neat, and in place during stitching.
When all of the pieces have been cut out, remove the paper backing and position them, adhesive side down, in place on your background fabric.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions and fuse the applique pieces in place.
I like to use a temporary, iron-on, tear-away stabilizer to give the background fabric some body. Simply iron the tear-away stabilizer on the wrong side of the background fabric. This eliminates puckering or bunching of the fabric as you stitch the pieces down. It is only necessary to stabilize behind the applique pieces.
On my sample applique, I used the three most commonly used stitches to adhere the pieces to the background fabric. The Satin Stitch, the Blanket Stitch, and the Zig-Zag Stitch.
The Satin Stitch on the stem covers the edges completely and makes a nice, even edge.
A Blanket Stitch, with a small width and short length, covers the edges of the leaves and gives them an appearance of having texture. Most machine applique stitches are usually done with the needle just off the edge of the applique piece.
A wider width Blanket Stitch is usually used on larger pieces. But, play around with both width and length to see which way you like it best.
Here, I used a simple Zig-Zag Stitch around the yellow circles in the flower’s center top. I purposely kept the edges of these applique pieces in the middle of the Zig-Zag Stitch to make them look fuzzy.
When all of the applique pieces have been stitched in place, carefully tear away the stabilizer from the back.
Option: Some people like to hand-stitch their fusible applique using pearl cotton or embroidery floss and the Blanket Stitch. If you choose to hand-stitch them, a tear-away stabilizer is not needed.