One of the first steps in fusing fabric is to apply the glue to the fabric for 5-7 seconds with a hot, dry iron. Seems simple, right? But I have discovered that in different regions of the country, people count at a different pace. So 5 seconds in Alabama is not 5 seconds in New York City.
Therefore I have implemented the Chicago School of Fusing Method of Counting!
First, pretend you are Lawrence Welk. You are conducting the orchestra in a polka. The beat goes: 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3. (Do NOT include the North Dakota “anda” between the numbers.)
- Count out loud. If you do this rhythm 4 times correctly, a total of 6 seconds will pass.
- Now draw a straight line on the non-glue side of the fusible web.
- Place the glue side of the fusible web onto the fabric.
- Place the hot (cotton setting) iron on the right side of the line.
- Begin the polka. Repeat after me: 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3.
- As you begin your 1,2,3s glide the iron across the line so you end up with the line on the right side of the iron by your last 1,2,3.
- There! Not only do you have the correct speed for fusing but you can dance as well.
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.
1.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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
7. Continue to fuse more bias strips across the square.
8. 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.
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!
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.
- 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.
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.
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!
Windy City #6 (9″ x 12″) by Laura Wasilowski
A few days ago I asked if you could estimate how many hours it took me to make this small quilt, Windy City #6. And, as an experiment, I tried to keep track of the time to complete it. But honestly, my skills at time keeping stink! It seems I go into a zone when making a quilt and lose track of time.
Below are the stages of creating the art work and an estimate of the number of hours to complete each stage. Let’s see how close you were in guessing the total time.
- Hand-dyeing the fabrics- .5 hours
- Fusing the fabrics- .5 hours
- Designing the quilt- 1 hour
- Adding hand embroidery- 6.5 hours
- Machine quilting and binding- 1 hour
- Photographing and documenting the quilt- .5 hours
Windy City #6 (detail) by Laura Wasilowski
The total is about 10 hours from start to finish with most of time spent on hand embroidery. Now, what you don’t see in this list is the hours of enjoyment I got from making the art work. That’s really hard to measure.
Lucky me! I just came across this set of pre-fused fabric scraps and collages for art making. (Note to self: clear my work table more often.) Sure some of the pieces are 10 years old. But like starter dough, these scraps have great art making potential.
But first, a batik background fabric is selected to provide a base for the design work. Working on a background helps you choose the colors for the elements in the design and gives you an idea of what size it will be. This set of odds and ends are pulled from the “fused for your convenience” scrap pile to kick start the design.
And here’s the design made with some of the fused fabric shapes and other shapes found in my mound of pre-fused scraps. Improvising is the only way to go! Next up? Hand embroidery, of course.