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Charlotte's Fusible Web pt. One

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Charlotte's Fusible Web
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Heather:
This is the segment where you're going to learn about fusible thread. When I first heard about fusible thread, I thought why would anybody want to use a thread that fuses?

Annie:
Or that melts.

Heather:
And I couldn't come up with any ideas in my head. And then I was at a quilt show, and Charlotte Warr Anderson came up to me, and she said, "I need a great fusible thread. There's one on the market, but it doesn't stick very well. Can you come up with something that is better?" And I thought, sure, I'll find out. I'll go to my sources. We'll see what we can do.

Annie:
I did not know that.

Heather:
So we developed this thread right here, and it's called Charlotte's Fusible Web . . .

Annie:
Which is I think is great.

Heather:
. . . named after Charlotte Warr Anderson, because she uses this in a lot of the designs and in a lot of the work that she does. When you go to a store, you're going to see it like this, hanging on a peg most likely, and it's easy to take out of the packet. And there we have it, 110 yards, because you must remember now, we're not quilting with this. We're going to go around the edge of shapes with this, so instead of using yards, we're going to use feet or inches, so you don't need as much. This spool will last you quite a while.

Annie:
Yes, you can get a number of projects out of one spool of thread.

Heather:
And we're going to have Annie show us, and demonstrate to us, how fusible thread works.

Annie:
Fusible thread is one of my favorite Superior products. It's almost the first product that I used of Superior Threads, and it's what got me going to shows with them, because I got to demonstrate it, so I feel like an expert with this one. First of all, we need to get our thread started, because I want to show you what it looks like. I always tell people it looks kind of like dental floss. It's a thick thread, and what makes it unique is it's a nylon thread. So you know how we talk about when you're using an invisible thread, you want to make sure you pick a polyester thread, because it won't melt? Well, this is why you don't want to use an invisible thread that's a nylon, because since it is nylon, it melts, and it melts really easy. You don't even have to have a really high temperature to get it to melt. The secret to using it is basically you're using your needle like a glue stick, and you're applying the glue, which is the fusible thread, using your needle.

So I'm going to show you the steps, and what we're going to show you is just a little part that we're going to appliqué onto a background. We've made a template out of template plastic for the heart shape that we want to appliqué, and you will take the fabric that you want to appliqué that heart onto, align your template on it, trace around it, and I just use a mechanical pencil. I normally trace it on the front of the fabric, and when I'm done showing you this, I'll give you some hints about doing it other ways, too, but normally I just trace it right on the front of that piece of fabric. After I have it traced, then I'm going to stitch. I usually start stitching off my design, I go all the way around my design, and I finish stitching off my design. Leave some tails on your thread. That won't hurt. You'll cut those off later, but you can see it easier on the back, because the fusible thread shows up really nicely. On the top, I want to put a slick thread, because when this lower thread melts, it releases the upper piece, and you're left with your design fused in place, but there's no thread holding it in place. So if you pick a slick thread, like a MonoPoly...

Heather:
Yes.

Annie:
You don't have to worry about it getting caught in there. You don't want to pick a cotton thread that has little fibers on it, because it might get caught in those stitches. I've also tried So Fine, I've tried Bottom Line, and those work really well, too.

Heather:
Yeah, the cotton has fibers, so it melts in with the fusible thread, and then it won't release.

Annie:
So if you want to your top thread to come out, use something that's slick, and I usually pick the smoke MonoPoly, because it's easier to see when it comes time to take it out. You can use the clear MonoPoly, but it's sometimes hard to see that seam. And there's no reason you have to pull the top thread out, but if you want to, the smoke works really well. After you have it stitched, then you're going to cut it out, and you want to cut it as close to that stitching line as you can get without cutting it away, so Heather's actually started cutting this. I'll just finish it up here, and I love these little scissors like this for it. I can get right next to that stitching line. I'm going to get just as close as I can get to that again without cutting it away, and I'll cut my whole shape out all the way around.

All right. Now you're ready to fuse, so you're going to take the fabric that you want to applique your shape to, so this is your background fabric, position it, and then take your applique shape and position it where you want it on there. Make sure that you have the fusible side of the fabric down. You don't want to accidentally have that up, because it will fuse to your iron. So we're going to position that in place. Then we've set our iron on cotton, if we're using cotton fabric, and we're just going to set our iron on there for a about ten seconds in each spot. So I'm going to hold it there for about ten seconds. I'll move to the next side for about ten. I'll move over here. I want to make sure I'm not missing any parts, and usually I wiggle it a little bit. What happens when I wiggle it is as that base thread melts, the upper thread is released, and I can use a little pin to grab a hold of it. That invisible thread is hard to see, and it should just pull right out. If it doesn't pull right out, I want to warm it up a little bit more, and it will come right out. You can see how easy that pulls away, and now you've got your design fused in place. The beauty is it's only fused on that outside stitching edge.

Heather:
Now, most people use fusible, like ‘Steam a Seam™’ or other fusible webbing, shall we say. What's the difference right at this very moment against that and fusible thread?

Annie:
It's not flat. It's not stiff and flat.

Heather:
It's not stiff, plus now you have two pieces that are independent.

Annie:
So if I want to cut away the background, it's completely free, and I can cut it away. But, to me, the best thing about the fusible thread is what I'm going to show you next when we get ready to stitch it down. Because it's fused in place all the way around, when I go to stitch this, I don't have to have any pins holding it in. It doesn't shift and slide on me, and, best of all, when I get to the end, I don't have a pucker because one of the layers moved faster than the other. So it really, really makes it nice when you get ready to stitch, and we'll show you that next.

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