So I’ve been thinking a great deal about how I want to grow–as a quilter, as a sewer, as a professional. One of the things that I want to do is try new things, and maybe find something new that will work for me for other projects.
Right now, I am working on a commission for a friend that will be a queen-size “tree of life” quilt. I will be using raw-edged applique and quilting it down on my longarm at the same time (which will obviously take a few practice rounds to make sure I get it right). One of the things I wanted to test out before I got going, was how to keep the various fabrics in place as I loaded them up for quilting. All that fussy cutting of fusible was time consuming and would be cost-prohibitive for making a custom quilt.
Yet I still wanted something that would be able to tack down the fabric and be strong enough to withstand rolling onto the bars. Glue sticks were an option, but after thinking about it, I wasn’t sure how much I could reapply before things got too stiff and thick for the needles to go through. Then a few months ago, my friend Nikki told me how she uses fusible thread to help during binding. When I went to go read about it on Superior’s website, it seemed like a decent solution. I collected my materials and ran a few tests:
With fabric and thread in hand, I wound a bobbin with the fusible thread. It has the texture of dental floss, and is kinda floppy. You DON’T want this as your top thread because it will melt to you iron. I tried out a trilobal poly thread (SewFine) and the mono poly you see in the previous picture.
The trick, I found, is that you have to remove the top thread while the nylon thread is melted enough to not pull through. I pressed my iron on the top and let it hang out for a few seconds, then would pull the top threads as the nylon beneath was all melty. If I waited too long, it would start to come out of the needle holes. At that point, you have to be careful not to get it on your iron (ask me how I know). A teflon sheet is handy, if you’re in that situation. Or parchment paper. I found that the mono poly released very quickly and easily, and that the trilobal SewFine was less easy to remove, probably because the fibers from the poly were “shaggy” compared to the mono poly. I would never use cotton for this reason, I think.
So here’s what it looks like after I removed both threads:
And it was a pretty strong bond:
A good sharp tug did release the bind between the thread and the backing fabric, but *unlike* using a glue stick, I was able to press with with my iron and it re-fused easily.
But, for my quilt,is this the most time- (and therefore cost-) effective way to fuse what may be a tree trunk and ground, and something like a thousand leaves by the time I’m done? So here’s the cheap-@$$ lazy way:
This had the added benefit of removing 2 steps: sewing the fusible thread to the applique piece, and then removing the thread afterward. Oh, and solved the problem of dealing with possibly getting that nylon melted onto your iron. It had a nice firm hold after, too, but still did not feel bulky. (Make really sure your thread is completely under your fabric!) I’ll get around to trying it out for applique on my longarm later. Did I miss anything?