The Free Motion Quilting Project: How to Quilt Sharp Stippling Over Fusible Applique

Sunday, May 14, 2017

How to Quilt Sharp Stippling Over Fusible Applique

Happy Mother's Day! I hope you're having a wonderful day with your family. I'm enjoying a typical Sunday with my guys - making pancakes kicking back for a few hours until we're ready to start the day.

I'm planning to relax and take it easy today, but also fit in time to turn some wood on the lathe in the wood shop and finally clean up my flower mask mess in the laundry room downstairs. Think plastic flower explosion. It's scary messy!

This week I've been continuing my progress on the Peaceful Goddess quilt blocks and shot a quilting tutorial on how I fill the spaces in this quilt with one of my favorite machine quilting designs: Sharp Stippling.

Curious about the machine I'm using? Learn more about the Grace Qnique 14+ in this video.

Sharp Stippling is one of my favorite quilting designs because it's so easy to quilt and creates a beautiful flame-like texture on your quilts. If you're feeling bored with regular Stippling, this design is kind of like it's younger, hotter brother. Spicy!

Quilting over fusible applique might not seem like a big deal, but it can feel different under your hands. I find fused quilts to feel stiffer and flatter than pieced quilts.

Surprisingly enough, this makes fusible quilts easier to machine quilt because the quilt is easier to move over the table. Something about that added stiffness makes the quilt less "sticky" to the machine bed and easier to move with less pressure and effort from your hands.

All this makes quilting over fusible applique easier...or does it?

I find I always need a small practice sandwich to stitch on to adjust to the feeling of quilting over the fusible applique. Because I can move the quilt faster, my stitches tend to become longer and less controlled.

So I always practice a bit to remind myself of how the quilt will feel. If I jump straight on the block, I'm bound to make mistakes I'll have to rip out.

And that's another really don't want to rip stitches out of fusible web.

I made a mistake with my feathers in one Peaceful Goddess face and had to rip out a lot of stitches around her eye. Then I messed up again and had to rip again. See the holes left over from the stitches? It got a bit mangled in that area.

Fusible web stops the fabric from sealing up after it's been stitched. These holes will close slightly after washing, but they will likely never go away completely.

So you don't want to make mistakes as you quilt over fusible applique. Isn't that a recipe for making all sorts of mistakes? It's like trying not to think about donuts after I've just mentioned donuts. Now you really want a donut don't you?

It's best to test and remind yourself what a fused quilt feels to machine quilt before jumping on the real thing. Take some time to make a small practice sandwich and quilt a bit on it and you'll be a very happy quilter.

Speaking of happy quilters, James and Josh gave me an awesome present for Mother's Day - permission to do whatever I want, play with anything I want, or do nothing at all. I'm off to dig out my crafty supplies and have fun making a big mess!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. You definitely have a point with the holes that won't close up entirely. Coincidentally, I FMQ'd an applique backed with fusible on my quilt today, and ended up with an additional issue...gumming up the needle and hence repeatedly breaking my top thread. The only fusible I've used yet that doesn't do that is Misty Fuse, but I needed paper-backed fusible for this project. I won't mention any brands (so far 2 of the most popular have done this), but a little alcohol and a fine-point pin cleared the gummy stuff out of the needle. Good to go now, until I hit the next fusible-backed applique! LOL

    1. I struggled with the same issue on these blocks Linda. That's good to know that alcohol clears it up. I'll grab a pack of alcohol wipes to keep near the machine. I just kept changing needles, but it was adding up. I've tried Misty Fuse, but the lack of paper is a deal breaker for me. It's just too hard to work with without it getting all over everything and I depend on the paper backing to line up my pieces exactly. Oh well, a gummy needle is better than having to applique it all by hand!

    2. Those little individually-wrapped alcohol pads sold in boxes in the pharmacy department are a godsend for gummy needles. They also work great for removing permanent marker from my vinyl overlays if I do it soon enough.

  2. Good information about fuse and ripping stitches. Would a good clean stiff brush coax the fibers to close a little? Maybe a slight spray mist used with a brush.

    1. I was thinking a good wetting-down might "plump" the fibers.

      On sharp stippling: I find it nearly impossible to avoid sharp points in stippling, and want to try this. (I better start a list).

    2. I use the tip of a needle to poke at the holes which does close them up a bit. I'm sure after a good soak this will look better!

  3. I found a reference to Bernina's blog about stitching on fusible applique: One (experienced) woman's opinion, which makes a couple points I didn't realize!

    1. Thank you for sharing Rebecca! That was a great tip from Laura Wasilowski!


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