I love using fusible web for applique. It’s so fun and easy and adds such a different dimension to projects that often couldn’t be done any other way. I don’t know about you, but whenever I have to refill my personal fusible web supply, I find myself in front of the interfacing rack at a fabric store with my eyes glazing over all the options. What do they all mean? What’s the difference between EZ-Steam and EZ-Steam II? Why are some purchased by the bolt and others only available in little packets over in the notions section? I never paid much attention to which I chose, so then I’d be very frustrated when I’d make a project and the shapes wouldn’t adhere easily, or would fray after the first wash.
I finally broke down a few weeks back and bought a little of each on available at my local JoAnn Fabrics. I was going to figure out which of these was the best and which ones to stay away from! Here’s what I did-
I appliqued three stars with each type of fusible web I had on hand. One large, one medium and one small, so I could see if size made a difference in how well the web worked. I also tried to use various fabrics- some were the super nice, $12/yard designer quilting cottons, some was the cheap stuff from JoAnn’s, because I wanted to see how big of a difference the fabric quality made when it came to fraying.
I sewed each applique piece with a straight stitch, well away from the edges so we could get a good view of how much the fabric would fray with each web. (the picture above is of the piece before washing) When it was all sewn, I washed the whole thing on medium heat and dried it in my dryer. And then I washed it again on high heat, and dried it in our dryer just for good measure. 🙂 Here’s what I learned- first the random facts, then I’ll do a run down of each fusible web.
1. The quality of the fabric didn’t seem to change the amount of fraying very much. If anything, the cheaper, thinner fabrics ended up with less fraying (which really surprised me!). Maybe because they are thinner they stick to the fusible web better? I’d have to do more testing on just this subject to be sure. For now I’m just happy to know that the cheaper stuff still works ok.
2. The smallest stars (about 1 inch wide) did fray a lot more than the others, though I was able to get a few that turned out ok, with the better fusible webs.
3. The performance of each web seemed about the same on both medium and high heat washings. (The ones that didn’t stick well or frayed did so on both settings. The ones that stayed nice did so through both settings)
Fusible Webs Compared
|Product Name||Ease of Use||Amount of Fraying (1 is no fraying, 10 is a lot of fraying)||Texture Change (1 is not stiff, 10 very stiff)*|
|EZ-Steam II||Frustrating to get the paper off before the final fuse||8||6|
|Heavy Duty Wonder Under||Web fell off of the paper before I ironed||4||6|
|Heat n Bond Lite||Good||2||5|
|Heat n Bond Ultra Hold||Good||1||7|
|Lite Steam-a-Seam II||Good||8||6|
*Please note- I wanted to really be able to feel the texture, so I backed the entire applique piece with the fusible web instead of cutting out the center (see what I mean in this post) which would greatly reduce the stiffness of the piece.
I think in the end, Heat’n Bond won for me. I was blown away at how little the Heat’n Bond Ultra Hold frayed. (I admit, the fraying is my biggest pet peeve when it comes to raw edge applique.) It was also the stiffest, but none of them are so thick that I couldn’t sew through them to quilt. And I think if I cut out the center of the web before fusing the shape onto the fabric, I’d really love the results.
I went ahead and added an enormous visual so you could see each one up close. These photos were taken after the applique was washed and dried twice.
What do you think? Is there one I’ve left out that would out perform some of these better ones? Do you feel like these results are consistent with how a certain product typically performs? I certainly don’t pretend to be an expert- I’m just sharing what I learned. I’d love to hear what you’ve learned along the way, too!