From improv quilts to practicing your appliqué, there are lots of ways to apply fabric and other fun embellishments to your quilt that last. There’s a wide variety of fusible adhesives for fabric out there and they all can serve a different purpose. I’ve done a little homework for you so you can choose the right fusible adhesive for your quilting project.
This is not a complete list, but it is a good start if you are wanting to try something new or are just feeling confused and overwhelmed by how many there are. These are the ones that I use most in my quilts.
Tried-and-True Fusible Adhesives for Fabric:
- Steam a Seam 2 (lite and regular)-
Cost: $5.25-$7/ yard online
You can find this at any fabric store and Walmart online. You can buy in small packages or a box with 40m yards! This has been my go-to fusible adhesive for a decade or more. It’s sticky on both sides with paper backing on both. One side is even grided which is wonderful for cutting straight lines or lining up for blocks.
Pros: Place it on your fabric cut out your shape and iron. Then remove the backing paper. You can place it on your quilt and reposition it if you need to. Once it is just right, iron to set permanently. It’s great for design walls. You can buy in it bulk–since I applique a lot this is huge. It is also popular and easy to find. A great choice for fusible adhesive.
Cons: When quilting it tends to leave gunk on my needle. If there are several layers it will leave the needle hole. Some people complain about the gumminess causing the thread to break. This doesn’t happen on my long arm, but sometimes it does on my domestic machine. It only comes 12” wide which is sometimes a bummer if you are doing bigger pieces. However, you can easily just line up another row or piece to make it wider on your fabric when pressing. Contains solvents.
- Floriani Appli-kay Wonder Fusible
You can’t find this fusible adhesive as widely but it’s typically at stores that sell embroidery supplies, fabric, and things like Kimberbell. It is sticky on just one side & has paper on one side so you have to press it to your fabric first and then take the paper off then it is repositional like Steam a Seam.
Pros: 18” wide so it’s a better size for my style. It is not as sticky so it doesn’t leave holes like the Steam a Seam when quilted.
Cons: Price and availability. So far I can’t find it in bulk. My roll came in 3 yards which does last a while unless you are doing a large quilt. No grid lines.
- Misty Fuse
I found this on their website. It describes it best.
“Mistyfuse® is the environmentally-friendly fusible appliqué web —acid-free and made in a green industrial park here in the USA, without solvents or harsh chemicals, and without body modifiers or blow additives or sticky adhesives. It’s been extruded to an ultra-fine web for a stay-soft, strong bond without adding bulk. It will never gum-up needles. Mistyfuse is suitable for a wide variety of fabrics. Mistyfuse comes in white, black, and Mistyfuse Ultraviolet and is available in packages and also various Bolt options.”
You can find it at most fabric stores or online. Found this great video explaining how to use it.
Pros: Price! Buy bigger bolts get it cheaper. Comes in wide widths up to 56” wide! It’s super lightweight so it drapes nicely. No gumming of needles or holes left in the fabric. Works great with sheer fabrics. Can trace your design in the right direction and not flip it.
Cons: Not sticky (so no repositioning). You just pin it which isn’t as easy on a design board. You don’t draw on the paper side so it’s hard to trace your shapes; although there are ways to press it onto parchment then draw.
- Wonder Under
This fusible adhesive is a lot like Steam a Seam, but not repositionable. I haven’t used it in a decade because the paper was really hard to remove. Although sticking it in the freezer for 10 minutes did help a lot. Found at Joann Stores.
- Bo Nash 007 Bonding Agent
Cost: $8/2 oz
This is a powder-like salt. Because of the price, I only use this for embellishing. It’s great for things like Angelina Fibers (which stick to themselves when heat is applied but not your fabric so you use this to attach them to your quilt) or foil. Sprinkle on the fabric and place the foil paper (found at art supply stores) on top with a pressing sheet and apply heat. Pull the foil off and it sticks wherever the powder is and leaves a sprinkle of sparkle! I’ve also used it to fix holes in quilts.
- Gem-Tac from Beacon
This is my go-to glue when attaching beads, shells, bolts, etc on a quilt. It is so strong and dries clear. Nice small tip for precision. Lasts forever because you don’t use very much.
- Glue Sticks
Very cost effective! It’s fun to do improv quilts with a glue stick. It’s fast but I often find it doesn’t hold entirely (at least the edges do tend to come up). If you are going to do some heavy quilting and not move the project too much, it works. Definitely not repositionable.
- Quilt Basting Spray
Cost: $7-11/can–lots of different brands
A newer fusible adhesive technique for me. You spray it onto the back of your fabric and it is repositionable just not as strong as the iron-on fusible adhesives. Some say you should spray outside because of the harmful fumes. You also need to protect your surfaces from overspray. I use a piece of cardboard. Here is a link I found to make your own to save money and smell better. https://youtu.be/mVRrFGFXXfc
Bonus: No bulkiness or gummy needles.
Now go try a new fusible adhesive!
From here you should be able to find a fusible adhesive for fabric that you can use for your traditional and art quilting projects. As I always say, quilting is about experimenting and having fun. Sometimes projects work great, other times you learn a lesson that you pray you never have to repeat! I hope you find opportunities to unleash your creative side and create something beautiful–or at least have fun along the way.
Do you have another fusible adhesive that you love to use? Share it with us in the comments below!