(Note: To see the stitching close up on any of the mug rugs pictured just click on the mug rug - this will take you through to my Craftsy shop where you can scroll over the picture to bring it more into focus.)
What is quick fuse applique? It is a method of fusing fabric to fabric using a fusible webbing. You may know fusible webbing as ‘bondaweb’, ‘wonder under’, ‘steam-a-seam’, ‘Vilene Vleisofix’ - it is all generally the same format - paper with double sided fusible webbing attached. It allows you to fix shapes of fabric onto a background as shown in the Mum mug rug below.
How is it used? One side of the fusible webbing is paper and the other side is an adhesive webbing. You trace a design onto the paper side, cut it out roughly then fuse it onto the WRONG SIDE of your chosen fabric according to the manufacturer’s instructions (normally with a warm iron). This will fuse the webbing to the fabric. You then cut out the shape accurately, peel off the tracing paper and position the shape onto the RIGHT SIDE of your mug rug before fusing it in place. Details of how to applique via this method are included with every Patchsmith pattern.
Storage of fusible webbing. Some people like to cut sheets of fusible webbing (10"-12” square is a good size) and store the fusible webbing flat, in a bag. Others like to store it on a roll which is how I store mine. Whatever you do you should try not to fold it as this may make the webbing separate from the paper. Whichever method you use it is also a good idea to pop a little silicone sachet (the type that come in handbags or shoes) into the drawer or bag in which it is stored because any moisture in the air can make the webbing separate.
Positioning applique shapes. Take your time when positioning your applique shapes onto your mug rug prior to fusing. I always have the applique sheet on the ironing board as I fuse the pieces onto the mug rug - this is how I constructed the Two Owls mug rug and the Honey Bee mug rug.
If you do make a mistake it is sometimes possible to gently pull the webbing shape off and reapply it but this will depend very much of the fabric used. You will only be able to do this once though as the webbing will lose its adhesiveness. Also when laying your shapes out on the mug rug remember to take into account the ¼” border and ensure all shapes are at least ¼” from all edges of the mug rug (unless the pattern states otherwise). For example, with the Winter Birdhouse, when you apply the birdhouse you will want to position it slightly closer to the central seam to allow for the ¼” border on the right-hand side. In reality this does not normally detract from the look of a mug rug – it is just more pleasing to the eye.Stitching the applique shapes in place. With quick fuse applique the fabric is fused in place so the purpose of your stitching should be to secure the fabric to enable it to be laundered without separating. You can stitch by hand or machine – both give differing looks to the shapes as mentioned previously in the hints and tips for the quilting gallery mug rug swap. The choice is totally up to you. I use both methods – sometimes in the same mug rug as in Russian Nesting Dolls mug rug shown below (the faces and hair were hand stitched whilst the bodies and tummy circles were machine stitched). I find machine stitching subtle but I also like the rustic look of hand stitching.
When hand stitching the most common stitch used is the blanket stitch but you could also use a straight stitch, cross stitch or a simple running stitch. The main thing is that you stitch close to the edge to stop the fabric fraying and to hold it in place. You should be aware however, of the impact the stitching will have on your mug rug.
Tip: When stitching small pieces or felt pieces use only one strand of cotton rather than the usual two strands. This will minimise the impact of the stitching. In Russian Nesting Dolls it was important to minimise the stitching around the white felt of the face therefore, only one strand of cotton was used. In Black and White Cats I did not want the stitching on the mouse or the fish to stand out too much so only one strand was used.The size of stitch you use will also impact the overall look. A small stitch appears neat and modern whilst a larger stitch can appear rustic and country. In all honesty you most probably have a natural stitch length which will become evident once you start appliqueing.
Finally the colour of the thread you use can be influential. Nowhere is this more evident than in Valentine Hearts where the gingham heart has contrasting stitching whilst the stitching blends in perfectly on the solid red heart. Many embroidery cottons come in a matt or sheen look and you will have to decide if you want your stitching to co-ordinate and blend or contrast and become a stitching feature. Both have their appeal. On the Flower Patch mug rug below I have co-ordinated the thread with the petals on the flower but contrasted the thread on the leaves. This has given definition to the leaves whilst the petals need no such enhancement.
Tip: If you do not have access to embroidery cotton you can get away with using two strands of sewing cotton. This will secure the applique in place and in many cases you will not be able to tell the difference.
This all sounds like a lot of decision making but once you start stitching you will find you make these choices naturally and you will discover your quick fuse applique style. Remember that sewing, quilting and embroidery should be fun, productive and satisfying so do not worry if your stitching isn’t always even or the cotton doesn't blend perfectly. Do the best you can, learn along the way and have as much fun as possible.
That's it for this week’s hints and tips. Next week I will cover the etiquette of participating in a mug rug swap.
Sew until next time ......
Sew until next time ......