How to Make Waves with Fabric

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Betty’s Bloomers #7 by Laura Wasilowski

Need to make waves with your fabric? The answer is bias fusing. Bias fusing is a method of taking a straight strip of fabric and curving it as you fuse. It is magic! And therefore dangerous. So stand back as I show you how to make waves like those in the vase above.

biasfusing51.Cut a square of fused fabric from corner to corner to form 2 triangles. You are cutting the square on the bias or at a 45 degree angle to the grain of the fabric.
2. Cut a set of straight strips that taper from a point to about 1/2″ across from the bias edge of each triangle.

ironcleaning33. Clean your iron! You must use a clean iron to fuse the bias strips or I guarantee you’ll get gunk on your fabric. Here’s how to clean your iron.

biasfusing64. Iron a square of fused fabric to a Teflon sheet or a piece of silicone release paper.
5. Tack one of the bias cut fabric strips onto the edge of the background fabric.
6. Slowly fuse and curve the bias strip across the background square.

biasfusing97. Continue to fuse more bias strips across the square.

biasfusing78. After the fabric cools, remove the bias fused collage from the paper.
9. Fold the square from corner to corner with the glue sides out.
10. Free-cut a vase shape from the folded square.

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Betty’s Bloomer #7 by Laura Wasilowski

11.Stick some leaves and flowers in the vase, put it on a table, and call it done!

Why Bias is Good

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Spring Leaves by Laura Wasilowski

One of the hazards of making a fused art quilt is the dreaded frayed edge. Fabric shapes with threads sticking out like whiskers detract from your gorgeous art work. You want a close shave, fabric edges that are cleanly cut.

Here are a few tips to avoid the dreaded frayed edge.

  • Use sharp tools. Sharp scissors and rotary cutters give you a nice clean cut. Dull tools fray fabric.
  • Practice cutting shapes in one long motion. Starting and stopping while cutting shapes with scissors leaves uneven, ragged edges. biasfusing3
  • When cutting long and skinny fabric shapes, cut the fabric on the bias. A bias cut fabric is cut at a 45 degree angle to the grain of the fabric. Bias cut fabrics don’t fray. To find the bias cut a square of fabric using the selvedge edge of the fabric as one side of your square. Cut across the square from corner to corner to form 2 triangles. The long sides of the 2 triangles are the bias edges.

Happy Fusing! 

How to Quickly Stitch a Bird

backyardbird1prestitchSee that little blue spot on the right of this quilt? That little blue spot is a bird. Or at least it will be a bird after a few hand embroidery stitches make it so.

backyardbird1detailFrom head to tail the little bird measures about 1.5″. He’s just a piece of blue fabric cut in the shape of a bird. He needs stitchery to make up the details of his parts. Make yourself a little bird and follow these steps:

  • Outline the shape with the Outline Stitch and a few Blanket Stitches for the belly of the bird. Stitches are place on the purple background fabric and snugged right up to the bird shape. Use a contrasting thread colorway like Sunflowers. (Size 12 pearl cotton thread with Size 7 embroidery needle.)
  • Stitch the front curve of the wing shape with the Outline Stitch and then swing into a few elongated Blanket Stitches to indicate feathers. (Size 12 Evening Greens thread with Size 7 embroidery needle.)
  • Use that same Evening Greens thread and add 2 long straight stitches down the center of his tail for tail feathers.
  • Use a fine (50 weight) black sewing thread to make the pupil of his eye. Small straight stitches or a heavy duty French Knot will work. Surround the pupil with tiny Outline Stitches. (Size 12 Aquamarine thread with Size 7 embroidery needle.)
  • Make the beak with a set of straight stitches that radiate in a triangle shape from the edge of the bird’s head to the tip of the beak. (Size 12 Oranges thread with Size 7 embroidery needle.)
  • Use the same Oranges thread for accent marks and to repeat the color of the beak. Add straight stitches around the wing and 2 long stitches to the tail. Place 3 French Knots to the cap of the wing for decoration. He is a fancy bird.
  • Make a jaunty crest for the bird’s head out of 3 Pistil Stitches. (Size 12 Sunflowers thread with Size 7 embroidery needle.)
  • Breath a sigh of relief and move on to other areas of the quilt.

How Convenient

fusedscraps It’s so nice to have a stock pile of pre-fused fabric scraps and collages to play. It’s my favorite way to improvise new quilt designs.You could say that all of these fabrics have been fused for my art making convenience.

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Spring Blooms #8 by Laura Wasilowski

Here’s the last design that has sprung from that heap of fabric. It’s called Spring Blooms #8 and is my way of celebrating the spring blooms in my garden. Spring! At last!

A Book Review for You

needlenthreadI’ve long been an admirer of Mary Corbet. Her hand embroidery is so lovely and her friendly style of explaining her techniques keeps me reading her blog, Needle ‘n Thread, on a daily basis.

joyfulstitchingmaterialsAnd today I want to thank Mary for her kind review of my new book, Joyful Stitching: Transform Fabric with Improvisational Embroidery.

You can see her review here: Joyful Stitching Book Review  Thank you Mary for your inspiration and encouragement!

A Favorite Combination

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Rare Songbird (detail) by Laura Wasilowski

And now for a final (and favorite) stitch combination. The Fern Stitch lends itself to many stitch combinations that you’ll find my new book, Joyful Stitching. It evokes the shape of leaves, climbing vines, or even a bird’s tail feathers.

In the Rare Songbird project, three vertical lines of Fern Stitches are outlined in Stem Stitches using the same orange thread. French Knots, in a light blue thread, fill in the spaces between to make a decorative tail for the bird.

I hope the examples of stitch combinations we’ve reviewed in the last few weeks will come in handy and add to your own free-form stitchery arsenal.

May your combinations always rock!