Fusible interfacing and quiltsAugust 22, 2012
Fusible interfacing has transitioned from a staple in sewing rooms to a valuable tool for many quilters. Interfacing is often confused with "stabilizer" when quilters talk about special techniques such as thread play. However, stabilizer is meant to be removed from most quilting applications (unlike some embroidery applications, where the stabilizer remains in a garment). Fusible interfacing does stabilize the fabric to which it is applied, but it remains attached even when the project is finished.
Lamé fabrics and silk fabrics are often backed with lightweight fusible interfacing to give them body and prevent excessive raveling.
Appliqué can be accomplished more quickly using interfacing as well. To appliqué with fusible interfacing, cut out the shape from both the main fabric and fusible interfacing, adding a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Place the right side of the fabric and the fusible side of the interfacing together. Pin and sew around the shape, using a 1/4-inch seam allowance and leaving an opening for turning. Clip curves and trim corners as necessary to reduce bulk on the finished design. Turn the appliqué right side out, then finger press the unsewn seam allowances inside. Don't iron the appliqué yet or you'll activate the fusible material and have a patch stuck to your ironing board! If needed, use a point turner or stiletto to carefully push out corners or small areas that aren't quite flat.
Position the appliqué in place with the interfacing side down on your background. Lightly press, holding the iron in each spot only 3-4 seconds. Finally, Stitch the appliqué in place by hand or machine.
When quilting through interfacing, some residue may build up on your needle. As you quilt, your needle gets hot from the friction of entering all the quilt layers, and can sometimes get hot enough to melt the adhesive on the fusible interfacing. This clings to the needle and can make it feel "gummy" or can transfer unwanted glue to other areas of your quilt. Clean the needle with rubbing alcohol to cut through any residue. Slow down to keep the needle cool, and try adding a bit of liquid silicone to your thread to keep it cool (Sewer's Aid is one brand available in the notions department).
T-shirt quilts are usually backed with interfacing to stabilize the knit fabric. Use the same advice to prevent sticky build up on your needle, and be aware that needle heat can also "melt" some of the vinyl lettering on T-shirts and transfer it to other areas of the shirt. For example, you might quilt across a dark green vinyl name on a shirt, and carry some of that green color as little dots to other areas of the shirt. Either quilt around these areas, or move slowly through them and wipe your needle before moving to another area of the quilt.
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