Bondaweb is fabulous. It has a myriad of uses. It is best known outside of the patchwork and embroidery worlds as something useful to mend a falling down hem. In patchwork it can be handy for appliqué, particularly when the shape is complicated. It is effectively a sheet of fabric glue which melts when ironed, joining two layers of fabric together. There is a simple rule to remember when using Bondaweb: remember that it is a sheet of glue. So whenever you iron the Bondaweb, you must protect your iron to stop it sticking to it and ruining whatever you press next. If it does stick to your iron, there are a number of chemical cleaners you can buy to remove it, though it does eventually wear off.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Plain fabric, backing and wadding, each slightly larger than A4
  • Bondaweb. At least A4 size, but preferably more so you can experiment
  • Scraps of fabrics and threads
  • Polyester chiffon (optional)
  • Baking parchment

THEME

You don't need a theme to try out journal quilts; you can just experiment with Bondaweb and fabrics and be led by the fabrics, as Gillian did in Figure 1. Here she pressed a sheet of Bondaweb onto the plain fabric and just placed the scraps of fabric on top in a relatively random manner. She did try to make sure each piece of fabric appears at least three times for coherence. After pressing the fabrics in place, she layered with the wadding and backing fabric and stitched a machine satin stitch around each piece of fabric. There were a couple of little spaces where the background fabric could still be seen and she covered them with beads and buttons. Very straightforward. However, you may want to have a theme to link your quilts together, even if it will not be apparent to others! Gillian's theme is going to be fish. Over the past few years, she has taken lots of photos of fish, jellyfi sh and sharks at aquariums round Europe (This sounds good, but what it means is she only gets to go to aquariums when on holiday!). She
has never used these images to create art work, but has always wanted to, so this is the ideal opportunity. For this, she chose an image of a jellyfish. It is a digital photo, so she cropped it on the computer to concentrate on the jellyfish, then printed it A4 size (you can always do this on a photocopier if you are not so hot with computers. Your local library will probably be able to help). See Figure 2. She then traced the jellyfish onto tracing paper. The image was still too detailed, so she took a section which she found interesting and enlarged it to A4. See Figure 3. This was the starting point of her journal quilt.

HOW TO

Note: it is important that you use baking parchment, not greaseproof paper as greaseproof paper will stick to
the Bondaweb.

From left to right: Figure 2: The source of inspiration: the original cropped photograph, Figure 3: The final traced drawing and Figure 4: The drawing on the back of the fabric

  1. Press an A4 sized piece of Bondaweb onto the plain fabric. Stick your drawing face down on the paper side of the Bondaweb, with a couple of pieces of masking tape and then flip it over. Hold up to a window and trace your drawing on the back of the fabric, preferably with a dark biro. See Figure 4. Remember your drawing will be reversed, so you may want to flip the image before tracing.
  2. Remove the drawing and the paper from the Bondaweb. Place the fabric on the ironing board with the glue face up. To see your outline, you may need to put a piece of white paper underneath. 
  3. Cut snippets of fabric and place on the fabric until it is covered. Don’t worry about being accurate with your drawing, it is more for general guidance than slavish adherence. See Figure 5.
  4. Cover with baking parchment and press well until the fabric is all stuck in place. Obviously, where it overlaps, it will still be loose. 
  5. Turn the piece over and stitch the outlines you drew on the back. This is so you can see where to stitch once you add the backing fabric and wadding.
  6. Gillian decided that her piece was still not distinct enough. She has probably used too small pieces of fabric and it seemed bitty. She added some snippets of thread in similar tones to the water
    and the jellyfish part and covered with Bondaweb. To finish it off, she pressed a very transparent chiffon fabric on the top. See Figure 6.
  7. Add the wadding and backing fabric and sew a thicker thread along the outlines you stitched earlier.
  8. Trim the quilt to A4 size and finish the edges of the quilt by either binding or zigzag
    stitching around the edge. See Figure 7.
  9. Have a good look and evaluate your finished quilt: what worked and what didn’t? How would you do it differently next time? 

From left to right: Figure 5: Gillian’s fabrics in place Figure 6: The finished quilt top and Figure 7 The finished journal quilt

OTHER IDEAS

  • Bondaweb is really useful for adding different colours to a piece. This is achieved by painting the Bondaweb. Make sure you paint the rough side. If you want a subtle change in tone, you can paint it with watercolours. Acrylic paint will give a stronger result. You have to wait until it is completely dry before pressing it onto your quilt top. 
  • You can use Bondaweb to create a totally new piece of fabric, by cutting up snippets of thread, fabric etc and placing on a plain piece of fabric. Cover with Bondaweb and some polyester chiffon if and it will have changed the character of your original plain fabric into something much more interesting.
  • Bondaweb can also be used to sandwich items to add to your quilt top. Leaves, pressed flowers etc are all items that can be kept in place between two sheets.
  • As well as Bondaweb in sheet form, you can also buy glue granules in a shaker. This apparently is more controllable as you choose how thick to make the glue layer and exactly where you use it. You can also use Bondaweb to attach foils to your quilt to give it added sparkle

First published in Popular Patchwork January 2009