I get a lot of questions about how durable it is to do raw edge applique with fusible adhesive – especially the way I only outline it with straight stitching instead of a wide satin stitch.
I’ve got a post about that here where I showed one of my daughter’s quilts after almost two years of use with lots of laundering.
One of the caveats in that post is that the quilt was made with good quality fabric. Fabric from a quilt shop, fabric from a big box fabric store, and fabric from a discount store like Walmart are all printed on different quality base fabrics – with the price usually going up with the quality.
When I started using Spoonflower fabric with my quilts I wanted to test just how well their fabric holds up to repeated washing and drying. And they print on several different fabric bases so I wanted to test it on more than one.
For my daughter’s quilt, I washed it. . . like a quilt. That means cold water wash in a front-loading machine and drying on something hot but not the hottest setting. I also didn’t keep track of how many times I washed it in that almost-two years.
For this test I wanted to be even more rigorous – and more controlled.
I made up two samples. For each sample I quilted a background block, then fused on my applique and stitched around it – just like my quilts.
Then I threw it in every load of laundry I did until each sample had been washed and dried twelve times.
I was not gentle.
When I washed them with clothing I washed them in cold water and dried them on hot.
When I washed them with towels I washed them in hot water and dried them on the hottest setting.
For the record – I would NEVER wash an actual raw edge applique quilt in hot water, I would never dry it on the hottest setting, and I would NEVER wash it with towels. So rough! They’ll rough up those raw edges like nothing else will. What I’m showing you here is the worst-case scenario that would result from really abusing your handmade quilt.
Update – a lot of people have asked about color-fastness. I wish I had thought to take before photos just to show the color! But I didn’t, so I’ll just have to tell you that I’ve been very happy with the results. As you look at the photos below, the Petal Signature Cotton looks really faded next to the bright colors of the Organic Cotton Sateen. It’s not. Those started out as very greyed-out, muted colors for an Arctic Chill quilt I was working on. It’s a really unusual color palette for me, so looks very faded compared to almost everything else you’ll see here at Shiny Happy World, but that was by design and has nothing to do with the washing and drying. 🙂
So here are the results. . .
Petal Signature Cotton
The first sample is printed on Petal Signature Cotton. That’s Spoonflower’s basic quilting cotton, and I think it’s their least expensive fabric.
There’s definitely some fraying – an amount that’s desirable to many people. In fact, some people deliberately scuff up the edges with a wire brush to get it to look exactly like this.
One important thing to note is that even though there is some fraying on the edges, in no place is the piece lifting up. In other words – the fraying doesn’t go past the stitching line. The edges fray, but the entire patch remains intact.
Organic Cotton Sateen Ultra
The second sample is printed on Organic Cotton Sateen Ultra. This fabric feels like quilting cotton, but it’s a little bit smoother. It’s not shiny (it’s sateen, not satin) but it does have a little bit of a sheen to it.
One of the reasons I wanted to test this fabric is because it’s wide. The printed area is 56 inches wide, compared to 42 inches for the Petal Signature Cotton – wide enough to back one of my napping size quilts with no piecing.
It’s more expensive than the Petal Signature Cotton – but not as much more as it seems at first glance, because it’s more than a foot wider and that adds up to a lot more fabric.
So let’s see how it did!
Very, very little fraying. The two sides of the triangle cut on the straight grain have almost none – and even the bias hypotenuse edge has a few long threads (easily snipped), but not much general fraying at all.
It’s worth noting that NONE of the fraying showed up until the first time I threw it in a hot wash with towels.
So there you are!
If you’re doing raw edge applique with fusible adhesive, think about the kind of fraying you find desirable.
If you like a soft frayed edge, I recommend the Petal Signature Cotton.
If you want as little fraying as possible, I recommend the Organic Cotton Sateen.
They’re both wonderful!
You can shop for all my fabrics on Spoonflower here. They’re organized in collections by color and by print for easy shopping.