There are a few different reasons you may not want to use the sewing machine to bond fabric together, whether you don't want the stitches to show or you are not that handy with a needle and thread. Luckily, there are a few options for fusing fabrics without sewing, from tape to adhesive paper to glue.
Before you begin the fusing process, however, you do need to prep the fabric. Fabric used with a fusible of any form should be pre-washed; finishes in the fabric may prevent the fusible from adhering to the fabric. You should also press the fabric and any detail (such as a hem) with an iron into place before using a fusible.
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Fusible tape is available in a variety of widths and weights. The tape melts when heated by an iron, causing a glue-like action between two pieces of fabric. Fusible tape is the perfect answer to a quick hem, to make a small repair, or hold fabric in place.
Perhaps there is an item of clothing that you would like for the hem not to show. Some fabrics, however, are impossible to have a completely invisible hem when sewn because the stitching will show. Fusible tape is an alternative to stitching, making the connection invisible. It also can be used to create a small patch to repair a little tear in the fabric that is not on a seam. A narrow fusible tape is a great way to hold a turned edge (that wants to twist) in place when you are trying to sew decorative embellishments or topstitching.
The weight of the fabric you are fusing will determine the weight of the fusible you want to use. A lightweight fabric such as a sheer fabric would use ultra-lightweight fusible tape. Do not use a heavyweight fusible; it may seep through the fabric, be visible, and look very messy.
When using fusible tape, you need to follow a few steps. First, place the tape between the layers of fabric and press until the fusible tape melts, adhering the layers of fabric. Allow it to cool before moving the fabric so that the fusing sets up, rather than sliding while the fusible is still melting. It is important that you do not place your iron directly on the fusible tape. It will melt to the iron and leave a mess. If you want to fuse the tape to one layer of fabric at a time, use parchment paper on the non-fabric side of the tape.
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Fusible web is available by the yard in the interfacing section of fabric stores or in packaged quantities in the notions department. There are many types and weights available. Most fusible web by the yard is backed with a paper that is suitable for ironing one layer of fabric at a time.
Fusible web is available by the yard or in sheets. Buying fusible web by the yard allows you to create a tape the width you want or fuse large pieces of fabric, such as when adhering an applique. Sheets of paper-backed fusible web can be traced or drawn on to create a shape. This allows you to fuse a larger piece of fabric and then cut out the desired shape (as with an applique).
You can also mend a large tear using fusible webbing by creating a patch. Apply fusible web to the correct side of a piece of fabric that matches the fabric with the hole. Then place the webbed patch on the wrong side of the ripped fabric and iron to secure.
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Fusible adhesive is a two-sided bond that adheres two pieces of fabric together. It is sold as "sewable" and "non-sewable"—the non-sewable is not intended to be used (after it has connected the fabrics) with a sewing machine as the adhesive will stick onto the needle. There is paper on one side—where the iron should go—and glue on the other, so make sure you look closely to see which side is matte and which isn't before you begin ironing; the adhesive side will stick to your iron.
Fusible adhesive is ideal for attaching appliques, lettering and designs to fabric.
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What could be easier than simply gluing the fabric together? Sold in squeeze bottles (similar to craft glue), fabric glue is a quick way to fuse fabric or repair a small tear—no iron needed. Most are quick-drying and safe on several types of fabrics including lace and leather. The glue is washable, won't leave wet marks or stain the fabric, and creates a permanent bond. Fabric glue is ideal for mending a hole but can also be used to create hems and apply appliques.