Today I’d like to pass along a few little tips about how to wrangle your fusible web… the kind that comes on a bolt.
My web of choice for raw-edge fusible machine appliqué is Pellon’s Wonder-Under, regular weight. Your mileage may vary. I’ve kind-of got it down now, but it was not always so. When it comes to paper-backed fusible web, I suffer from separation anxiety. As in, the web separates from the paper backing before I get a chance to use it. Arggh!
In the past, I’ve tried passing an iron over it on top of a teflon appliqué pressing sheet in an attempt to stick it back to the paper… what a mess. Now I just chuck it when I find that’s it separated.
Here’s what I do now to alleviate the separation issue.
First of all, don’t let the clerks in the store roll it up for you. You know what happens, say, if you place one towel on top of another and roll them up together? The top one ooches along and ends up sticking out farther than the bottom one by the time you get there. I don’t know which law of physics makes this so, but the same thing happens with fusible web and its paper backing. Rolling the product encourages separation. Just ask them to fold it loosely for you.
Then, as soon as you get home, cut it into squares. This is information that I got from my pal Pam Crooks, who got it from the estimable Sue Nickels, machine appliquér extraordinaire. I keep a separate rotary cutter for cutting paper and this purpose. The width of the product is 17″, so if you cut it into 8 1/2″ squares that’s just right, and the squares fit perfectly into a gallon-size zippy bag.
Not only are they flat and happy and much easier to work with than a big floppy hunk, keeping the squares in a bag prevents them from drying out, another culprit in the separation issue.
I keep scraps in an old box lid that fits into the zippy bag when not in use.
As I work on a pattern I start with the smaller pieces and only start a new square when there’s a motif that’s bigger than my biggest scrap of fusible. It’s soooo nice to reach into that bag and pull out a nice fresh, flat sheet in such a manageable size.
Here’s another tip for working with paper-backed fusible web: trace the smaller pieces inside the larger pieces. I learned from Sue Nickels in her book Machine Applique: A Sampler of Techniques to cut out the center of the fusible-web templates. This strategy reduces stiffness in the quilt, and it can save product too if you use that cut-out area to make another template.
Let’s say we’re starting with a pattern like this.
The leaves will fit inside the basket with enough room to spare to cut everything out roughly.
While you’re at it, go ahead and trace the flower center inside the flower.
Use a circle template tool to trace nice round circles. Use a size that is a little bit bigger than the circle. (When you trace, the circle shrinks.)
The arrow is my attempt at telestration in Photoshop.
Last tip for working with fusible web: the smallest, itty-bitty pieces like flower centers are too small to cut the center out of. Then it can be hard to get the paper backing started to peel it off when you’re ready to fuse. I tried the ‘scratch it with a pin’ technique but somehow was never skilled enough to do it without fraying a thread or two. My new favorite strategy is that, once the motif is rough-cut, I peel up one side of the paper, going into the motif area a little bit.
Then I lay the paper back down and cut out the motif on the drawn line. When I’m ready to take the backing off, part of it has already been started. In this case, separation is good.
Okay, that is my most sage advice for fusible web management. I hope it proves to be of use to you.
Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs