The name fabric adhesive encompasses a variety of products that provide temporary or permanent ways to attach fabric without sewing. Some of them are available simply as applications, while others are sold already applied to a fabric or material, with the adhesive being activated while incorporating that material into a project.
Household glue. While designed for other purposes, white school glue or glue stick can act as a fabric adhesive, temporarily holding fabric until it is sewn and eliminating pinning. Using this kind of glue can be particularly useful for felt and other thick fabrics. One advantage is that, unlike pins, which can cause ripples, these glues leave the fabric flat. They do not wash out, so the amount used must be carefully judged.
Spray Fabric Adhesive. Spray fabric adhesive is useful and neater to apply than glue, but not permanent if the fabric is cleaned by laundering or dry cleaning. Also, unlike the recommended glues, it has toxic fumes and must be used in a well-ventilated space.
Fabric Glue. There are several different types of fabric adhesive that go under the name of fabric glue. Glues for attaching rhinestones, sequins, glitter, and gems to fabric are made in both washable (permanent) and non-washable formulas, the first for clothing and other items that need to be cleaned, and the second for decorative fabric arts. Some fabric glues form a permanent bond between two layers of fabric, a sort of liquid fusible web that can be used in no-sew projects. There are also specialized fabric glues to control fraying and stretchable glue for adding ornamentation to stretchable fabrics.
Bonding Fabric or Fusible Web. Another type of fabric adhesive is iron-on bonding fabric, sometimes called fusible web, a layer of adhesive material placed between two layers of “regular” fabric to fuse them together permanently. It comes in tape and sheets, with or without backing paper. Some fusible webbing has pressure sensitive adhesive on both sides to hold items in place temporarily before they are ironed to fuse them. Another kind has a grid printed on it to assist with cutting to fit.
The bonding fabric can be cut to shape first and fused to both the appliqué and the backing fabric by being sandwiched in between and heated with a steam iron. Alternatively, a whole sheet of fabric may be turned into bondable fabric by fusing the bonding fabric to it with the backing sheet left on the other side. The newly created bonding fabric can then be cut to any size and shape, and used as an appliqué by removing the backing sheet and fusing it to other fabric.
Fusible web in tape form can be used for hemming garments, pillow cases, blankets, table cloths, and curtains. Tape widths include ¼ inch, 5/8 inch, ¾ inch and 1¼ inches (~6.4 mm, ~15.9 mm, ~19 mm, and ~32 mm). To hem with fusible web, place it between the hem allowance and the garment or other item, setting it down a bit from the edge of the hem allowance. Pin it and iron according to directions. For heavy material, a wider strip up to the depth of the hem allowance is used to give the hem more strength. This kind of tape can also be used in no-sew projects, including quilts.
Fusible Interfacing. Fusible interfacing includes fabric adhesive already bonded to a material. Both regular and sculpting woven interfacing are available in fusible versions, along with non—woven styles. Fusible interfacing can be used for garments, window shade backing, handbags, and other projects. It also comes in a variety of materials, including tricot, 100% polyester, and various polyester/nylon blends, and in specialized forms for different fabric weights.
Other Fusible Material. Besides fusible interfacing, there are several other products that have fabric adhesive pre-applied to a material. There are fusible fleece and fusible cotton batting for padding quilts, pillows, and other items; fusible bias tape in ¼-inch and ¾-inch (~6.4-mm and ~19-mm) widths for hemming, edging, and similar applications; fusible ink jet printable sheets for applying graphics and photos to clothing, pillows, ans so on; and fusible thread for basting, appliqué, and other applications.