Hey Friends … I’m embarrassed to admit it, but at the beginning of 2017, I had this grand idea to do a Toolbox Tuesday each week on the blog and since the first post … well it’s kind been a big fail on my part. 🙁 I got caught up in late nights writing patterns for Dolly, followed with boatloads of edits, pattern testing, a trip to Utah for more edits, tight deadlines and then the grand finale of Quilt Market and all the prep that went into building a life-size pink dollhouse and driving my first booth across four state lines to St. Louis! Phew … 2017 has been one heck of a wild ride so far. One that fills my heart with so much gratitude, but I’m glad the summer has brought a slower pace, for sure. Needless to say – my Toolbox Tuesday ideas were derailed for a while.
I’m hoping to breath life back into the idea and see if I can post at least a handful of my favorite tools and tips before 2018 arrives! x Starting today (Happy Tuesday!) with my favorite way to machine cut fabric appliqués.
After many, many months of trial and error, I’ve discovered a favorite way to get those perfect, clean edges (I obsess over) each and every time cutting fabric from my cutting machine. A sweet quilty friend that stopped by my facebook page, Sam Morris, was kind enough to share her secret sauce with me back in January and it’s now one of my absolute favorites!! This trick along with a paper-backed fusible web my friend Jeannie shared with me – is a winning combination for me!
Sam Morris shared with me her essential weapon, Terial Magic, when prepping to cut appliqués from a cutting machine. Terial Magic – where have you been my whole life!! It makes your fabric stiff and gives it some extra weight with a huge fray-resistant bonus. I picked up a bottle from Amazon and tried it several times before I got the swing of it. And it’s true (I learned the hard way) … you really do …. just as the instructions say … have to saturate your fabric with this stuff. Then you let it line dry until damp and press with an iron to finish drying. Your fabric will be almost paper-like (until you wash it and then it’s soft as normal). So that’s numero uno in prepping my appliqué fabrics. Terial Magic.
The second step is adhering the paper-backed fusible web to the wrong side of my appliqué fabric. And one would think it would be easy to mosey into a supply shop and get any paper-backed fusible for fabric to do the trick, but it wasn’t that easy for me. I tried many. Not all fusibles are created equal, especially for machine cutting. If the product is not strong enough or comes with a flimsy, light or loose paper-backing – it can cause your fabric to shift while cutting ruining your fabric (sigh. guess how I know?! :). I also tried cutting with Terial Magic applied only and no paper-backed fusible web and the results were not optimal. You can get a clean cut using the Terial Magic by itself, however when you peel up your appliqué shapes from the sticky-mat that comes with most cutting machines, the pull up starts to distorts the fabric shapes (especially those tiny appliqué pieces) and the edges start to fray from the peel. I find a little more body to the fabric is helpful and I’ve discovered a solution I love.
During an appliqué quilt project at my friend Jeannie’s house, she tossed me a bag of Pellon EZ-Steam II. This wasn’t a fusible web I was familiar with, but it’s now my essential for machine cutting appliqués. Pellon has so many fusible products, be sure to look for style EZ25S in the upper right hand corner of the orange package, if you want to give this product a try. There is also a “light” version in an orange package, which isn’t the right one. There is also EZ-Steam I, but isn’t the same either. Pellon EZ-Steam II, two-sided fusbile web (style # EZ25S) is awesome – love, love, love this stuff for machine cutting fabric! To prep your fabric after it’s dried with Terial Magic, remove one side of the paper from the fusible sheet (the sheet sizes are 12×9″double-sided with paper (fusible sandwiched in the middle of the two paper sides). Cut a piece to the size of your appliqué fabric first before removing one side of the paper, and place it on the wrong side of your fabric (sticky-side to the wrong side of fabric).
The bonus with this product is that when you peel off one side of the paper, it’s sticky and you can place it right onto your fabric and finger press it into place. I also love that this fusible web has a heavier hand than others I’ve tried. For machine cutting, I also press the fusible with my iron too prior to cutting, to make sure it’s permanently fused to the fabric. Important to note: I leave the 2nd paper-backing (that is now on the backside of your fabric) in place. I love the results of cutting the appliqués from my machine with the paper-backing still attached to the fabric. You’re ready to cut!
Place your fabric onto your cutting mat, paper side down (fabric right side up). Leaving the paper-backing on while cutting is essential to me so that my fabric won’t lose its shape when peeling up the appliqués after cutting. I think it also helps getting those perfect, clean edges. Cut the appliqués out according to your machine manufacturer’s instructions. I have a Silhouette Cameo machine and set my software to cut for “fabric,” increasing my ratchet blade to 8 (both on the cut settings and blade) since we are also cutting through paper. The speed is set to 4 and thickness is 33 on my settings. I might suggest running a few setting tests if you have a different machine, such as the Cricut, Brother, etc. I also keep a dedicated blade for my fabric cutting, which helps, too. You can see in the photo above how clean the fabric cuts!
This is a a close-up photo after peeling the fabric from the cutting mat. The appliqués are cut cleanly from the fabric and because the paper-backing is still attached to the wrong side of my fabric, the appliqués lift off my sticky-mat like butter.
Another close-up of the clean edges. And that’s it – your appliqués are ready for your project! When you’re ready to adhere the appliqués to your quilt block, peel off the paper-backing and place the appliqués on your fabric (sticky side down). Again, I love that this particular fusible web is already sticky when you remove the paper. It’s a tremendous help to me when I lay out the appliqués on my fabric and they won’t shift on me. To fuse the appliqués in place, set your iron to the cotton setting with steam. Cover the appliqués with a pressing cloth and press for 10-15 seconds.
I hope you’ll find these tips helpful! P.S. These photos are part of a fun Little Dolly project I’m working on to share soon!
If you get a chance to try these tips and products on your next appliqué project, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Or if you have a favorite method, I’d love to hear from you, too. Thanks so much, friends. Happy cutting and sewing! xx Elea