If you own the Cricut Maker, you know that you can cut a variety of materials, including fabric. But can you use it to cut out shapes from fabric that is already backed with fusible web and the paper liner for your applique projects?
For some background, I was working on a baby quilt for my daughter who is due to be born next month. I wanted to applique some bunny shapes in the centre of my blocks. I couldn’t find anyone online talking about using my favourite applique supply: Double Stick Fusible Web. I’ve filmed my experience using my favourite double sided fusible web from The Warm Company: Lite Steam-a-Seam 2, cutting both my fabric and the fusible web at the same time using the Cricut Maker. You can watch that video on my channel, Craftcore DIY & Sewing, or you can keep on reading below!
What is Lite Steam-a-Seam 2?
If you’ve never used this product for applique, I’ll quickly tell you how it works. The fusible web comes on either sheets or cut from a roll. It’s sticky on both sides and is sandwiched between 2 paper liners. One side has a grid, and the other is blank. On the grid side, you draw your shape in reverse, then peel off the blank side. On the back side of your fabric, stick down the fusible web. Traditionally you would use scissors to cut out the shapes, then you can iron the shapes onto your sewing project, using heat and steam.
So normally you would just use scissors to cut out the shape, but I wanted to cut out 12 identical bunny shapes on 100% quilting cotton fabric using the Cricut Maker instead. It’s definitely possible to do this the regular way, but if you’ve got the cutting tool, why wouldn’t you want to make the shape cuts perfectly the same?
Is it possible to cut the three layers of quilting cotton, fusible web, and paper liner at once? Let’s find out together!
How to Prepare the Cut File in Cricut Design Space
First, I made the bunny shape in Cricut Design Space. You can download my cut file if you want to make this same cut out, otherwise, you can use whatever shape you want.
Since I wanted to cut 12 of them, I copied the single bunny shape and pasted it 11 times on my digital canvas in Cricut Design Space. You don’t have to arrange them since Design Space will automatically distribute the shapes so that they take up the least amount of fabric once you send it for cutting
You’ll want to use the pink Cricut mat to cut fabric. I have the 12×12 size and the 12×24 size. Since I was cutting out a lot of shapes, I used the 12×24 mat. Depending on the number of shapes you need, you don’t necessarily need to cut out fabric to fill the entire mat.
Look at the cut preview on Design Space to see how much room your shapes will take up, making sure to select your desired mat size. To cut out these bunnies, for example, I needed a piece of fabric that was 12 inches wide by 18 inches long.
Start by cutting the Steam a Seam to size. The grid printed directly on the liner makes it very easy to cut out.
Next, iron your fabric so that it is smooth.
Peel the blank paper off the steam a seam, making sure that the fusible web remains stuck to the grid paper. You’ll see the fusible glue is a bit shiny.
Place it on the wrong side of your fabric, then trim down the fabric to match the Steam a Seam size. You can cut the fabric down with scissors, or you can use your rotary cutter. Use your hands to press the layers together. Make sure it’s adhered really well.
Remove the protective film from your pink mat, then apply the fused fabric to the surface, lining up the fabric with the grid and making sure that the paper side is up.
The moment of truth: sending the cut file to the Cricut for cutting. My design was symmetrical, so I didn’t have to worry about reversing the design, but if your design features words or a design that can’t be flipped, make sure to use the mirror function of your Cricut so the design is cut in reverse.
I set the material type to Cotton Fabric, and changed the Cricut blade to the rotary blade.
Real talk: So how did it turn out?
I was in panic most of the time as I watched the Cricut struggle with the material.
The first row of bunnies cut great! But I ran into an issue with my second row when I didn’t leave enough space behind my Cricut:
If you’re using the 12×24 mat, you’ll need much more space behind your Cricut than when you’re using the 12×12 mat. Oops. Lesson learned, move that machine forward next time! If you watch the video above, you’ll see that when the mat hit the wall, this caused the fabric to become dislodged from the mat, ever so slightly The fabric was a little rumpled. When the fabric isn’t stabilized, the cuts are not precise, plus, fabric that disloged can cause a jam in the machine. I was watching carefully the cut progress carefully, and it looked like it was still cutting, so I decided to risk it and just see what would happen with my bunnies.
Here is what it looked like when I unloaded the mat from the machine. You can see that along the right side, there were definitely some issues, but amazingly, the shapes were not affected.
I pulled off the background fabric from the mat first, accidentally removing the steam a seam from one of my bunnies. But 11 of my 12 bunnies cut perfectly. Aren’t they just adorable?
For the one that did not stick, I simply reapplied the fusible web to the the back of the shape and it was as good as new.
Some of the shapes just popped off the mat with no effort, but you can use the spatula tool to help lift the fabric off the mat for any that are more stubborn so that you don’t have to touch the sticky surface of your mat too much.
Once the designs are cut, you can apply the appliques as usual to the surface of your project. For these bunnies, I centered them in the middle of some quilt blocks, using a ruler to centre the design. Press for at least 30 seconds on a cotton setting and use steam to dissolve the temporary adhesive. I like to use scrap fabric as a pressing cloth.
All that’s left is sewing around the edge of your applique in whatever style you like! I used the Husqvarna 1070 to sew a blanket stitch around the edge of the applique. I pull the threads to the back and knot it.
What I Learned from This Project
#1 Make sure the fabric is really adhered to the Cricut pink mat. I used my hands to press the mat against the fabric. I’ve read online that a brayer, a tool usually used for print making, is a great tool for making sure that the fabric is pressed against the mat so there is no shifting or lifting during the cutting process.
#2 Before cutting on my project’s fabric and before using the large piece of fusible web, I cut out a much smaller piece of fabric and fusible web that was a similar weight of quilting cotton to test the entire process, start to finish. This way, I wouldn’t ruin a big piece of fabric. I definitely recommend doing that so that you don’t get any surprises.
#3 Make sure your work surface is big enough if you’re using the bigger mat. This was my first time using the big mat, and I think my cut would have gone better if my mat didn’t hit the wall. My test on the 12×12 mat worked perfectly.
#4 Lastly, I think that if there is risk of lifting and your shapes are smaller than 12×12, it’s worth cutting 2 mats of shapes rather than one big 12×24. That way, in the event of lifting, like you saw in cut, you’re not risking as much fabric being ruined if the cut goes wrong.
Please let me know in the comments if you have experienced using The Warm Company’s Lite Steam a Seam 2 with your Cricut, or if you’ve used an alternative fusible web for your applique. I’d love to hear how it went for you!