How to Quilt: 5 Tips for Better Fusing

18 Jun 2013

One of the easiest ways to make a quilt top is to fuse the fabric pieces in place to create the design. Fabric fusing is the perfect method for contemporary quilt artists who like to improvise in their quilt making.

how to quilt with fused fabrics by frieda anderson
Learn how to quilt pieces like this one by
Frieda Anderson, using fused fabrics and
improvisational design.
To make fused quilt projects even easier, experienced artists fuse a stash of fabrics ahead of time so they can just cut and place their fabrics when they make a quilt. Once they have an arrangement they like, they fuse the pieces into place with an iron. No seam ripping involved!

There are many types and brands of fusible, and every quilt artist has preferences. When fusing fabric, you should always read the manufacturer's instructions before beginning to help insure success.

But there are a few general tricks for fusing and using fused fabrics for quilt making, and Laura Wasilowski and Frieda Anderson, members of The Chicago School of Fusing, know pretty much all of them.

Here is some of their best advice:

1. If you're using a paper-backed fusible, the rough side is the side with the glue. Lay the rough side onto the back of your fabric.

2. Use a hot, dry iron (the cotton setting) and cover the fusible with a piece of the release paper that comes with your fusible, or, use a piece of baking parchment. This will protect your iron from the glue.

3. Don't over-fuse; the excessive heat will cause the glue to harden and make the fabric stiff.

4. After the fusible has cooled, use a rotary cutter to trim off any excess fabric that hasn't been covered with fusible. This way, you won't end up with any partially fused piece of fabric.

5. To separate the backing sheet from the fused fabric, use what Laura calls the squirrel and swipe method. With your hand flat, burrow your fingertips forward between the fabric and the backing sheet (this is the squirrel part). Go a little way in, then swipe your hand side to side once each way quickly to release the outer edges of the paper. Squirrel in a little more, then swipe again. This will help release the paper whole, so you can use it again for protecting your iron, transferring motif shapes, etc.

Once you have your fabric fused and ready to go, you're ready to cut, play, and design. In our new limited edition Contemporary Quiltmaking Made Easy Premium Collection, Laura and Frieda join quilting experts Jane LaFazio and Rayna Gillman to teach you how to make a quilt using fusing and improvisational methods. With their expertise and your fabric stash, you'll be creating beautiful quilt projects using improvisation, fusing, appliqué, and more in no time.

P.S. Do you fuse a stack of fabric in advance, or fuse as you go? Reveal your method and tell me why you prefer it in the comments section below.

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lisam0724 wrote
on 18 Jun 2013 7:29 AM

If I know for sure I will be using certain fabrics, I fuse a stack. But often I wait so that I can choose just the right part of a particular fabric, utilizing the direction of the print or the shading of the colors. This can make the difference between something "flat" and something with depth.

on 18 Jun 2013 9:54 AM

I usually don't fuse fabric in advance.  I tend to use many different fabrics in my art quilts, and often tiny bits, so pre-fusing doesn't work.  As lisam says, often you want to use a very specific part of a piece of fabric - in my case, that might be 2 square inches out of a fat quarter - so I only fuse what I want to use, when I decide to use it.  I may want to use the rest of the fat quarter for piecing.

I do keep any extra little bits of fused fabrics, separate from my unfused scraps.  Someday, I may even use them in a project.

rasz wrote
on 18 Jun 2013 10:13 AM

I usually fuse the fabrics I am going to use in large pieces prior to cutting, otherwise I fuse as needed.

Several years ago, when I was doing a lot of satin aplique, I noticed that the fusing material was not fusing very well. I had the fabric fusing for a while. When I went to the local fabric store for more (I hadn't bought it there) I was told when buying fusing to make sure you purchase it at a store that sells a lot. Old fusing, whether left on the stores rack or in your closet for a long period of time, will loose it's fusing ability.

So now if I can't remember when I bought it, I try the fabric fusing on a piece of old material to make sure it's still holds well.

GREAT article!!!

artforjanis wrote
on 18 Jun 2013 11:19 AM

I pick out my project fabrics and fuse them first. Everything moves along much faster for me that way.  I used to hate the fusing process because I would get the fusing goo on everything but I have since purchased Goddess sheets and Mistyfuse and I am finding it almost relaxing.  

Wish I would have had those tips last year.  I totally overcooked my fusing and it made my fabric too tough to get a needle through.  Live and learn.

I love all your helpful articles.  It makes the process enjoyable and there is always something new to learn. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  I am 64 and learning new things every day.

on 18 Jun 2013 12:12 PM

Make sure to pre-wash the fabric you want to fuse .  The stabilizers and preservatives frequently prevent the fusible material from sticking.

cvcool wrote
on 18 Jun 2013 12:15 PM

I am already the Queen of Leftovers and really don't need more, so I try to fuse-as-I-go.  Anything left over goes into its own leftovers-of-already-fused-stuff bag, so that's where I start for those little bits of something-else -- THAT's what I love about fusing -- variety is quick and easy! Otherwise, I'm less of a fan. . . .

annfrank wrote
on 18 Jun 2013 12:25 PM

Great article.  If I've over fused I lightly score the paper with a pin which allows an opening for me to remove it.