Disclosure: This blog contains links to my Amazon Associates affiliate page, and any purchases you make from that page may result in Amazon store credit for me. As always, I would never recommend something that I have not personally used and/or would not purchase with my own money.
Heat-N-Bond Lite (often referred to as HNBL) is a fusible (iron-on) adhesive that many use in machine embroidery to adhere fabric in an applique onto a project to reduce wrinkling, tearing, or fraying. It comes in several different sizes/quantities; click on the names in the previous sentence to see some quantities on Amazon.
Often we’ll see a picture posted in an embroidery group asking, “What can I do to make this applique better?” Fabric pulling away from the satin, raw edges, wrinkles, puckers, and more – we all want to eliminate these issues and produce the best finished project!
There are, of course, many factors and elements that go into creating a quality embroidered project. HNBL is a great solution for many problems that you’ll encounter.
REASONS TO USE HNBL
1. Easier to cut!
Fabric with HNBL adhered onto the back is stiffer than a plain cotton without. When cutting fabric for an applique, I believe we all agree that anything that helps us not cut into a precious shirt or dress is great! Having a stiffer fabric allows for better control of your scissors as you pull it up and away from the project.
2. No fraying/peeking out.
Sometimes, the satin stitch of your applique is just not wide enough to cover the edges of your cut fabric. This is a digitizing error. The best solution, obviously, is to purchase a better-digitized design. But if this is a design that you must use right at the moment, HNBL will give a protective layer on the back of your fabric that will keep the threads of the fabric from separating and starting to pull away.
3. No wrinkling.
Have you ever laundered a beautiful appliqued shirt only to pull it out of the washer and think, “WHAT HAPPENED?” If you do not use HNBL, the fabric inside your applique is free to just move about the shape. This will inevitably cause wrinkles and a messy look. By using HNBL to literally stick the fabric to the project, you ensure that the fabric will stay put no matter what life throws at your project.
HOW TO USE HNBL
Follow the instructions on the package, which will be, generally:
Cut a piece of HNBL approximately the size of your piece of fabric. Heat iron to a medium setting. Place HNBL TEXTURED SIDE DOWN (paper side up) on the BACK of your fabric. Apply heat for recommended time. Wait until the fabric cools and remove the paper. Applique as usual. After project is complete, apply heat to the applique fabric for the recommended time.
Now, personally, I iron mine for TEN seconds instead of the 5-7 recommended on the latest package I purchased. And some folks iron in between the tackdown and satin stitch. Of course you’ll find slight variations on what works best for you, your iron, and your project.
TROUBLESHOOTING HNBL ISSUES
Is your HNBL not sticking? Three common errors in using HNBL are:
1. You used the wrong iron setting (too hot or cool).
2. You ironed for the wrong amount of time.
3. You peeled the paper off before the fabric was cool. This literally pulls the “sticky” from the HNBL, which is the whole point of using it. I still do this ALL THE TIME because I am impatient! Be patient and wait until the fabric is completely cool to ensure the best result.