I've long had friends who swore by fusing, but I've always associated it with the stiff, cardboard-like appliques of ducks and chicks on baby quilts (even though they didn't make those kinds of quilts). I even had the same association with satin stitching, but more on that later.
I've been a hand appliquer most of my quilting life. I love the rhythmic stitching of needle-turning which I learned from master Hawaiian quilter, Wailani Johansen, when I moved to Maui almost 15 years ago. I've needle-turned my way through a queen size Hawaiian quilt, several wall hangings, and tons of pillows. Fusing seemed like cheating.
But as my work moves away from the traditional Hawaiian designs to a more contemporary look, I'm finding that needle-turning is taking a back seat to other faster techniques. Although I've dabbled with fused pieces here and there, it really didn't hit me until I wanted to make "Kona Sunrise" (see previous posts) for a contest at the last minute.
Knowing that it would be impossible to hand applique the tree and all the leaves AND finish the quilt in a week, I pulled out my Wonder Under and got to work. And I LIKED IT. But did I have enough WU to finish the quilt? NOOO. When I needed to fuse the coffee berries, which are hand dyed silk, I discovered I was out of WU and had to resort to my back up: a piece of Steam-A-Seam. UGH. I don't like it. It didn't stick well to the silk and made cutting the 287 coffee berries cumbersome. It also gummed up the needle when I threaded the quilt.
So, now I am on a quest to find the perfect fusible to have on hand when I want to use it. I know there are many different types, and WU is a good start, but it will be fun playing with the different types on smaller projects until I find the one that works best for me.
I will still hand applique, but as we quilters know, there is more than one way to get a quilt made.