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All quilts are essentially a quilt sandwich: you have the top, which is where the patterns are, the batting, which is what gives the quilt warmth and weight, and the bottom, which is usually plain fabric. Working with batting and trying to keep 3 layers of fabric in place can be a pain, so enter fusible batting.
Batting, as you know, is the inner filling of the quilt. It can be made of a variety of materials, from pure cotton, to cotton-polyester blends, to wool, and others. Fusible batting is batting with an adhesive like substance incorporated into it.
When you sew with regular batting, you may have a hard time keeping all the layers of fabric in line. It can be very frustrating to start your stitch only to have everything move out of place and end up sewing in a wrinkle!
Normally, quilters use methods like pin basting to keep everything aligned. Others may even use glue or or adhesive sprays. Fusible batting on the other hand is not as loose as a pin, and not as permanent as white glue. It’s a great alternative that adapts the advantages of pinning and gluing into one neat package.
There’s actually surprisingly little information online on how to actually use fusible batting, even in product descriptions! One of the most popular fusible batting brands is Hobbs, and they make an 80/20 cotton-polyster blend fusible batting that we’re going to use as an example here.
Note: Since this batting is 80/20 cotton-polyester, it will shrink when you first wash it. As your quilt fabric will also most likely shrink, don’t wash the batting separately, as the glue will wash out and you’ll be left with regular batting instead of fusible batting! It’s better to wash the whole quilt once it’s done as the shrinkage will also be more even.
The whole advantage of fusible batting is that you can temporarily attach the batting to the bottom and top of your quilt so you can easily sew it together.
To attach, simply make your sandwich, and iron the quilt on the “cotton” setting. Start from the center of the area you’re working on, and iron out towards the edges.
It may be easier to only iron the area you’re currently working on. If you’re making a large quilt, you may find it difficult to manage such a large area at once. The fusible material is far from permanent, so you’ll still find that it may lose it’s potency in some time.
If that happens, you don’t need to fret – you can just iron it again and it’ll fuse together like it was before.
You’ll also notice that the batting is quite wrinkly out of the packaging. You don’t need to fret about that, as ironing will smooth out any wrinkles. If you feel the batting is too thin, you can even double it to make a thicker layer.
Is fusible batting the best thing since sliced bread? Not quite. The adhesion is far from strong and you can just peel away the top of the quilt from the batting even after ironing.
Of course, some would argue that’s actually an advantage, because it makes re-adjusting easier. I suppose that is true to an extent.
Another problem you may run into is trying to iron both sides. After ironing one side and getting it to stick, if you flip it around and try to iron the bottom, the top may come loose.
Instead, it’s easier to just iron from one side, and manage two pieces of fabric as you sew them together. This will still be easier than managing 3 different fabrics.
It’s also hard to work with large quilts. As most of us don’t have enough space to spread the entire quilt out while we’re sewing, you’ll probably end up rolling or folding parts of the quilt as you sew the part you’re working on.
This may cause the adhesion to come loose. A fix for this is to only iron the patch you’re working on. As it is, you may not end up sewing the entire quilt sandwich in one day, so this will be easier to do. Ironing won’t take too long, so that’s okay.
Along with fusible batting itself, another really life-saving quilting innovation is fusible batting tape. Fusible batting tape is an adhesive tape that you can use to piece together scraps of batting into one large piece.
This is great for reusing scraps that you would have otherwise thrown out, and also for fixing any holes or tears.
You use fusible batting tape the same way you use fusible batting: align the pieces of batting, place the tape over them, and iron it together.
Once you incorporate the batting into a quilt, you won’t even realize that the tape was there.
To join two pieces of batting together, simply cut the two scraps in a wavy, curvy shape so the peaks and troughs can fit into one another. The curvy, wavy shape is more forgiving if the batting moves a little during ironing or stitching.
Place the tape over the joint area(textured side down) and holding the fabric together with one hand, iron over the tape. The heat and steam from the iron will activate the adhesive and “fuse” the two batting pieces together.
Fusible fleece is not the same thing as fusible batting. While fusible batting has the adhesive on both sides and you can use it for batting in quilts, fusible fleece actually has dotted adhesive on only one side and the bond is more permanent.
It’s good for using in applications where the fleece must completely stick to the fabric, as in a purse or pillow sham. I would not use it in a quilt, though.
As you can see, fusible batting is a great, frustration-free way to use batting in your quilt without pulling your hair out! It’s far from perfect and some old-school quilters may not want to use the stuff, but for most quilters, it’s definitely a time-saver.
We're a husband and wife team of craft enthusiasts! Mostly we love working with different kinds of fabrics - in fact, you'll be hard pressed to find a store-bought piece of clothing in our home. Most of the stuff we enjoy making by hand!