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Background fabric shows through my fusible applique shapes

by Elaine

My pattern calls for a white applique on a black background. I use fusible web on all my appliques and then stitch around the edge. How can I avoid the black background showing through to the white applique?

Elaine Clark


This can be a problem for dark, as well as, heavily patterned fabrics. You've got two options that I can think of.

Line the applique shape

If it wouldn't make the shape too heavy and stiff in that area, I would use a second layer of the white fabric...kind of like an underlining (in garments) to prevent the black fabric from showing. Or you could...

Window your fusible web

Another alternative is to cutaway part of the fusible web before it is fused to the white fabric. I've seen this called both 'windowing' and 'window paning' your applique.

This technique is normally used to reduce the bulk and the stiffness in fusible applique, but it may help with your situation.

Here's how you do it...

  1. Trace your circle shape onto the fusible webbing as directed, but before applying it to the back of your fabric.

    NOTE: I've used a bright blue Sharpie in the picture below just so that it's easy to see in the photo. I normally use a pencil and a light touch in my own work.

  2. Cut away the center of the fusible leaving about a scant 1/4" of it inside the drawn circle. Fusible web does two things for the quilter. First it seals the edges of the applique to minimize fraying. Then it adheres the shape to the background (or other shapes) without the use of pins. Trimming away most of the web doesn't effect either of those two benefits.

  3. Shapes with their centers cut out are more flimsy, so carefully press the web to the back of your white fabric. The picture below shows a sample at this stage.

    Cutting away the fusible web behind the applique shape

  4. When the piece is cool, cut out the shape on the line.

  5. Remove the paper backing and fuse to your black background.

  6. Now here's the tricky part. You're going to clip away your black fabric from behind the white circle a scant 1/4" inside from the stitching line. Just be careful not to pierce or accidentally cut the white circle. Depending on how wide the stitch is that you use for applique, this will minimize the amount of black fabric that can show.

    I urge you to make a sample and practice this once before going to your quilt so:

    • You know if you are comfortable with this technique. At a certain point, the shapes are too small to use it on. Remember, you can always go back and add that second layer of fabric instead.

    • That enough of the black has been removed and the result is what you want.

Elaine, I humbly apologize for the lateness of this reply. There was a problem with my hosting company and a whole slew of questions (old questions) appeared in my dashboard and I'm doing my best to catch up.

Readers, how do you solve this problem? Do share your secrets with the 'comments' link below. Thank you!


Julie Baird

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