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Fusible Interfacing: A Cautionary Tale (and a Stitch Comparison)

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Last week I talked about turned edge applique using interfacing which is my favorite way to add appliques. This week I want to share a method for applique that had disastrous results.

It’s called fusible applique. Ever heard of this stuff? There’s several types and brands, but it’s basically a layer between your backing and applique which claims after ironing it’s “permanent and machine washable and dryable,” no sewing required! Sounds great, right?

I meticulously followed the directions. I even carefully stitched it down just in case. And it held…at first. But over time holes started to form. “Maybe it’s just me,” I thought. “Maybe I messed it up.”

Except a short time later the same thing happened with a quilt I had been gifted.

Maybe it wasn’t just me after all.

So I set up an experiment. I fused down a scrap patch and sewed a few different stitches on each side in a contrasting color. Then I washed and dried it over and over (and over) until it started showing some wear. I didn’t keep meticulous track how many times I laundered it, but it had to be about a couple dozen times.

The results:

Satin StitchSatin stitch applique

After having a couple quilts using this stitch falling apart, I was shocked this stitch held up in my test. The only difference is that both quilts have holes forming along curves, so maybe it holds up better on straight lines.

Zigzag StitchZigzag stitch applique

It’s holding the patch down, but, I mean… It’s pretty ugly. There’s fraying along the edge and the stitching is actually holding the strands in so it’s looking pretty harried. I did both a wider and narrower zigzag but there isn’t much difference between the two.

Blanket Stitch

Blanket stitch applique

Much like the zigzag, it’s holding down the fabric but there’s still fraying.

Straight Stitch (for a Raw Edge)Straight stitch ragged edge applique

This is a method meant for those times you want that frayed look and it did what it was supposed to do – it’s slightly fuzzy though I kind of expected it to fray more than it did.

Overall I can’t recommend using fusible interfacing. I just make too many things that are meant to be used heavily and there’s better ways to attach appliques to the top (and honestly I’m faster with turned edge appliques than I am with this stuff). I could see using it maybe for a wall hanging, but fusible interfacing, I just can’t trust you anymore. I don’t think we should see each other anymore. (Yes, I’m breaking up with you. It’s you, not me.)

To the people I’ve gifted quilts – oh my gosh I’m so sorry and I sincerely hope they’re holding up! It’s terribly embarrassing to think something I wanted to be a special gift could be falling apart.

So in summary – I’ll just say no to fusible interfacing. It’s too much of a risk to take on a special project.

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