I use a lot of raw edge applique in my art quilts. Which means, I spend a lot of time fusing fabric. Often I used a paper-backed fusible from Pellon for my projects, but every time I buy new fusible, I wonder, is there a better option? I am curious.
Lots of people have different opinions about fusible products. But I find that many of those opinions have to do with applying the fusible. Some people love double stick fusible web – so they can re-position everything before fusing. Others love paper-backed fusible for its ease of use. But which fusible gives the best end results? In raw edge applique, you want a fused piece to have crisp edges, stay fused to the fabric well, keeping the feel of the fabric as supple as possible.
Well, I decided it was time to answer these question once and for all. I purchased 10 different fusible webs from Joann Fabrics, Hobby Lobby and a local quilting store and decided to put them to the test. For my experiment, I wanted to answer the following questions in my search for the best fusible:
- How doe the fusible affect the feel of the fabric?
- How well do the fused fabrics adhere to the background fabric under wear and tear?
- Do the edges of the fused fabric all fray the same, or do some products keep the edges extra crisp longer?
What is Fusible, really?
Fusible adhesive is an iron-on adhesive made from a mesh of fibers that melt when heated to join two layers of fabric together. It comes in three different forms: web, paper-backed, and double stick.
- Fusible web: This is a thin spidery web of glue filaments. The most basic of fusible products, this one does not have the extra stabilizers that paper backed and double stick fusible do.
- Paper-backed fusible: Probably the most widely available fusible and the one I reach for the most. The web of glue is attached to paper backing. It is slightly stiffer than fusible web, but not enough to substantially change the hand of the fabric in most cases.
- Double-stick fusible: Double stick fusible are sticky on both sides, making them able to be re-positioned and adhesive before ironing.
For this experiment, I tested the following fusible products that were readily available in my local stores (links only for more details about products):
Paper-backed fusible webs:
- Pellon 805- Wonder-Under
- Pellon 725 – Heavy Duty Wonder-Under
- Dritz Fusible Bond Web (Medium)
- Heat n Bond Lite
Double-stick fusible webs:
- Pellon Lite EZ Steam II
- Pellon Lite Steam a Seam II (apparently, no longer manufactured, but still available on-line and in some stores)
I applied each of the fusible to my fabric, cut out a heart shape, and fused it to background fabric according to each manufacturer’s directions. I let the fused fabric set for a couple of days just to make sure everything had a full chance to cool and adhere.
Next step, the “stress test.”The goal of the stress test is to see how well the fusible performs under extreme wear and tear conditions. My concerns with raw edge applique are that the edges will fray or peel away from the background fabric. So, I tried to do just that:
I picked at the edges of the fusible on the top curve of the heart and at the point for about 30 sec with each piece.
I crumpled the fabric into a tight ball and rolled it around for 20 seconds.Lastly, I washed and dried the fabric on normal cycle.
How does the fusible affect the feel of the fabric?
There was one clear winner in this category. Misty Fuse had the lightest and softest feel by far. It barely felt like there was any fusible product being used as all. Pellon 805 and Pellon Lite EZ Steam II both did a decent job keeping the fabric supple. Both Heat N Bond and the Dritz Fusible brought up the rear. Both felt pretty stiff. Here is how I rated them on a totally subjective 5 point scale (5 = the best, 1 = the worst):
Pellon 807 – 3, Misty Fuse – 5, Pellon 805 – 4, Pellon 725 – 3, Dritz – 1, Heat n Bond – 2, Pellon Lite EZ Steam II – 4, Pellon Lite Steam a Seam II – 3
Do the edges of the fused fabric all fray the same, or do some products keep the edges extra crisp longer?
As one may expect, the thicker and more heavy duty the fusible, the less fraying was present. So fusible that greatly stiffened the fabric, like Heat N Bond, had the least fraying and Misty Fuse, which left the fabric feeling the softest, had the most fraying. Left in the middle/upper middle were most of the Pellon products. Here are my subjective 5 point ratings:
Pellon 807 – 4, Misty Fuse – 2, Pellon 805 – 4, Pellon 725 – 5, Dritz – 5, Heat n Bond – 5, Pellon Lite EZ Steam II – 3, Pellon Lite Steam a Seam II – 4
How well do the fused fabrics adhere to the background fabric under wear and tear?
There was only one products that had major issues in this category. Pellon Lite EZ Steam II did fine while I was picking at the edges, but peeled right off after washing. I could not get it to re-adhere with ironing. One edge of the Misty Fuse piece peels up a bit after washing as well, but it was easily re-ironed to the fabric. None of the other products came up significantly at the edges during the “stress test.” Here’s my ratings:
Pellon 807 – 5, Misty Fuse – 3, Pellon 805 – 5, Pellon 725 – 5, Dritz – 5, Heat n Bond – 5, Pellon Lite EZ Steam II – 1, Pellon Lite Steam a Seam II – 5
(and a gratuitous cat picture)
What does all of this mean? It means that the best fusible depends on the project.
I plan on continuing to use Pellon 805 (it did pretty well in all categories!) for most art quilts, and Misty Fuse when the edges of my applique will be encased by stitching. I really wanted to like the Misty Fuse best! I loved how soft it left the fabric, but it really did fray a lot more than I expected.
I would use Pellon Lite Steam A Seam II when I need to be able to re-arrange a lot of small pieces before fusing, but I probably won’t be using Pellon Lite EZ Steam II very much. I have also read a lot of pretty negative reviews about the product.
And for projects like structured bags or zip pouches, I might use Pellon 725 if the edges are going to remain exposed. The fused fabric may not be supple, but it would have the least fraying.
So, now that I have put so many fusible products to the test, it is time to go forth and applique with confidence! Don’t you agree?