Fusing Sheers, Metallics, and Thin Silk Fabrics

Always test a small sample first! Fabrics and fusibles vary, and some irons get hotter than others.

Preparing the fabric: If the fabric is wrinkled, you can usually spritz it with water and iron on a low (silk or wool) setting until it’s dry. Test a small area first!  If the fabric “crinkles” and shrinks up, the iron may be too hot. (It may help to put muslin or a press cloth over the fabric when ironing.)

Ironing fusible to the fabric: Place muslin or an old sheet on the ironing board to protect it from the fusible. Then, working on one half of a Teflon pressing sheet, place a piece of fabric right side down on the Teflon and then place a piece of fusible web on top of the fabric (prefer Wonder Under or Heavy-Duty Wonder Under, with the paper backing removed). Fusible should be slightly larger than the fabric being fused. Fold the other half of the Teflon over the top, forming a “sandwich”. With a dry iron on the silk or wool setting, iron for 5 to 7 seconds. (Your time & heat may vary.)

Then pick up the sandwich (careful, it’s hot!) and fan it in the air to cool it off a bit. Open the sandwich and pull up one corner of the fabric, carefully pulling across till you have one entire edge of fabric loose. Then grab that edge and pull the fabric completely off the Teflon. Voilá! Cut out the fabric shapes you want and iron with steam to fuse them to other fabrics, fusible side down. (It may help to put muslin or a press cloth over the fabric when ironing.)

Be sure to wipe the excess fusible off your Teflon pressing sheet before using it again!

Tips: If the fusible isn’t sticking to the fabric, maybe it wasn’t ironed long enough; re-iron if necessary. Or, if your fused fabric has “bubbles”, pull it off the Teflon sheet, wipe the Teflon sheet clean, then re-iron the fabric between layers of Teflon as before. Use Hot Iron Cleaner if needed to clean fusible off the iron.

Note: If you plan to machine stitch your fused fabric, be sure it won’t damage your machine!  Debbie Jones is neither responsible nor liable for any sewing machine problems caused by stitching through fused fabrics. Check with your sewing machine dealer before stitching through fusibles if you have any questions. Debbie has had no problems on her machine, nor have her students, but always makes sure the fusible is completely melted on fabric before stitching.

Laundering: Most metallic fabrics and sheer fabrics that are made of nylon can only be dry cleaned or hand washed, so keep this in mind if you want to use these fabrics in wearable projects. Most polyester sheers can be machine washed in cold water and laid flat to dry. Silk fabrics can often be hand washed; check the manufacturer’s directions for the silks. Debbie has had success gently hand-washing projects (without agitation) that include sheer and metallic fabrics that have been properly ironed to a woven fusible interfacing made of cotton, but she does not wring them out and always lets them air dry. Use a warm iron if needed, with a press cloth between the iron and the metallic or sheer fabric.

It’s always best to test a sample before using any fabric in a project that will be washed.

Debbie Jones            505-362-2675            www.debbiejones.com

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Metallic edges around fabric motifs: Iron fusible web to the back side of a fabric motif and cut it out on the printed edges of the motif. Place the fused motif (fusible side down) on top of a piece of fused metallic fabric (also fusible side down), then place them both between layers of Teflon pressing sheet to form a sandwich. Iron for about 5 to 7 seconds. Cool and then peel it off the Teflon sheet. Use scissors to trim the edges of the metallic, outlining the cut-out motif.
Fusing metallic and sheer fabrics for use in quilts:  
To stabilize metallic and other thin fabrics for use in quilts, iron woven fusible interfacing (100% cotton) to the wrong side of the fabric (if there is a wrong side) following the interfacing manufacturer’s directions. Other kinds of fusible interfacings, such as the "paper-like" ones, may not work as well with sheers or metallics. Either use a warm (not hot) iron, or preferably use a press cloth or piece of muslin between a hot iron and the metallic or sheer fabric. Test first on a small scrap! 

There are a couple of quilts ("Rose Concerto" and "Sea Dreams") on the Quilts Page at www.debbiejones.com that have narrow inner borders of metallic fabrics that have been stabilized with cotton fusible interfacing. The "Sea Dreams" quilt also features kelp made with sheer and metallic fabrics fused directly onto the quilt top without interfacing, and then the edges of the kelp were stitched down. It was not necessary to stabilize the kelp fabric with interfacing, since this fabric was not going to be stitched into a seam.