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How Durable is Applique with Fusible Adhesive?

How Durable Is Straight Stitching for Fusible Appliqué? Don't I need to use a zigzag?

How durable is applique with fusible adhesive? I get that question a LOT. People really want to know if it’s really ok to just straight stitch around the edges of the pieces in applique with fusible adhesive. People worry that they have to zigzag to make everything durable.

The best way to answer that is with a picture!

This is a close up of one of the cats on the quilt I made for my daughter almost two years ago. She uses it all the time – usually on her bed, but also dragged to sleepovers and occasional stints in the yard. I have no idea how many times it’s been through the washer and dryer – but it’s definitely been washed a LOT.

How Durable is Straight Stitching on Appliqué?

Look how great it still looks! There’s just a tiny bit of fraying on the edges. A very tiny bit.

This is mostly because the quality of the fabric is excellent. The fabrics that you buy in independently owned quilt shops are better quality than just about anything you can get at a Joann’s or a Hancocks, which is itself higher quality than what you get at a discount store like Walmart. A higher thread count and tighter weave makes for less fraying – and a more durable quilt overall.

If you’re using good quality fabric, you can definitely use a simple straight stitch around the edges with no worries.

One note – if you’re using flannel – even an excellent quality flannel – the small amount of fraying will be more visible because it will be white, so you might want to zigzag those edges as an artistic choice. But as far as durability goes – you’re good.

In 2022 I started using my own fabric designs from Spoonflower for all my quilts.

(It’s so much fun using fabrics I designed especially for applique – and knowing those designs won’t go out of print in a few months!)

Before I started using it, I (of course) needed to know how durable is applique with fusible adhesive when the fabric is Spoonflower fabric? I did what I always do – extensive testing to see how it frayed. You can see the results here. I use the Petal Signature Cotton for my background blocks because it’s a little less expensive, and I use the Organic Cotton Sateen for my applique pieces because it just about doesn’t fray at all, and the colors are a smidge brighter.

One more note – all of this is assuming you’re using the right weight adhesive. I use Heat-n-Bond Lite for my quilts. You can see the results of my fusible adhesive testing here.

Do you like that cat face? It’s one of the blocks in the Cuddly Cats quilt pattern. 🙂

Here are links to all the posts showing how to applique with fusible adhesive – my favorite method. It’s fast and easy and (with the right materials) it holds up beautifully to rough use and repeated washing.

Here are links to special posts about eyes.

Here are links to some extra fun things you can do with your applique.

Other Applique Methods

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about outline stitching.


  1. Anonymous SAYS...

    Thanks for this post, Wendi. I have asked this very question in my mind many times. Therefore, I have never tried this method of applique. I so agree with you regarding fabric quality. I never really paid that much attention to the difference in cottons until I started buying fabrics for quilts. The better quality fabrics really do make a difference..

  2. I also use Heat ‘n Bond lite. Starting several years ago I always finished my appliqués with a satin stitch. Then I made a heart appliqué quilt for my granddaughter two years ago and used different stitches on all the hearts because there were so many hearts. Satin, zig-zag, blanket, and straight. All of those hearts still look good! Now I’m working on a quilt using your quilt as you go method. Thank you for your tutorials!

  3. Catherine SAYS...

    I never tried heat ‘n bond because I always needle turn applique. Will an appliqued quilt still take frequent washing if I apply a small amount of fabric glue to hold the applique piece in place and then use straight stitch stitching without using the heat’ bond?

    • I don’t think so. When I tested the two weights of Heat & Bond (Lite and Featherlite) there was definite fraying in the Featherlite. I think the glue fused to the back of the applique pieces is part of what keeps things from fraying.