Spring: Fact or Fiction?

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Young Corn (1931) by Grant Wood at the Art Institute of Chicago

Here is Illinois the weather has been unusually sunny, warm, and very Spring-like. Now as a hardy mid-westerner I know this can not last. But as an optimist, I can image it lasting forever. And that is why I love this painting by Grant Wood called Young Corn. It is a lovely ode to the promise of the greening of Spring.

greenfabricWhich leads me to collecting this set of green fabrics. It’s time to construct something fresh with lots of green fields and the promise of Spring. Wonder what it will be.

What to Do with Cheesecloth

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Small World #7   by Laura Wasilowski

One of the more unusual things I dye is cheesecloth. Lately I’ve been dyeing it for the April IQF Chicago and AQS Paducah shows. You may well ask “how do you use this loosely woven fabric in your fused art work, Laura?” Thank you for asking. I use it for texture. Here you see it as the sun in the sky. Don’t you love that checkered texture?

Here’s how to prepare cheesecloth for fusing:

cheesecloth11. Apply fusible web to one layer of the cheesecloth. I recommend Misty Fuse, a light weight fusible web that won’t clog up the gaps in the cheesecloth with glue as much as other fusible webs. Use parchment paper to transfer the glue to the fabric.

cheesecloth22. After the fabric cools, remove the parchment paper. Place the fabric back on the parchment paper and fold and squish the cheesecloth as much as you want.

cheesecloth33. Apply another piece of parchment paper to the top of the fabric so it is in a sandwich of paper. Fuse the folds in place using a hot iron.

cheesecloth44. After it cools remove the papers from the cheesecloth. cheesecloth5a5. Cut the cheesecloth into shapes or place the whole piece onto another fabric background. Cover it with parchment paper and fuse into place. Isn’t that texture terrific?

You can see all the colors we have in stock at the shows. Give it a try!

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The Quiet of Winter

birdhousesinwinter In the olden days, I hated the dark months of winter. Where was the sunshine, the greenery, the warmth of the great outdoors? But not any more. Now I treasure the quiet days of winter.

randomacts5My favorite days are the days when I’m snowed in and dare not leave the house. On those days (after shoveling the walks, ha!) I play in my studio and make new art work.

randomacts7The quiet is an opportunity to exercise my art making brain. The challenge of improvising a design from fused fabric scraps keeps me warm.

randomacts8It’s also a time for me to reflect on what it’s like to be one of my students. In several of my classes I demand that they make up a design on the spot. “This is hard!” they say.

I know. I have the same problem. But like any exercise, it is worth it in the end.Save

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Color Chip Collage #4

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Before placing the backing fabric on my color chip collage quilt, I added a little hand embroidery to the leaf in the center. A Size 12 pearl cotton thread and Size 5 hand embroidery needle are used for stitchery. After the hand embroidery is complete, the backing fabric is added and then it’s off to the races with machine quilting!

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A color chip quilt has dozens of raw edges. These fabric edges can catch on the prongs of an open presser foot. So I use a closed #29C quilting foot for my BERNINA 750 QE sewing machine. This type of machine foot glides across the fabric surface and keeps those fabric edges flat as you stitch.

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Here’s the final color chip quilt all stitched and bound. I feel so tidy and neat now. It was a delightful way to use up all those fused fabric scraps!

Color Chip Collage #3

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The color chip collage was invented by a frugal fuser. It is a way to get rid of lots of fused fabric scraps and make a fun piece of artwork at the same time. This fused collage measures about 12” x 11” and was built on a Teflon sheet. Notice that the outside edges are irregular. That’s fine with me.

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Our irregular color chip collage is about to be joined with a background fabric and design element. The stylish design element is a free-cut leaf in a really red color. Zig-zag edges of the leaf are cut with a pinking blade on the rotary cutter.

colorchipcollage8The layers of the design are assembled onto the non-scrim side of the batting and then steam set with a hot iron to fuse the layers in place.

The quilting process for a color chip quilt requires a special foot for your machine. Stay tuned and I’ll show you that soon.

Color Chip Collage #2

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When I’m in a rare neaten-up mood, I like to build collages from my fused fabric scraps. These scraps, left over from other fused art quilt projects, may be years old. But just like many of us ancient things, they still have their uses. They are still very fusible.

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Most of my fused scraps are sorted by color….. kinda. If you don’t have a mountain of small fused scraps in your stash like I do, then randomly chop up larger fused fabrics with your rotary cutter to make scraps. Fused fabric scraps that measure 2” or less give you a more fractured look. These bits of fabric are called “color chips”.

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In fusing you don’t sew fabric scraps together, you just overlap them slightly and iron or fused them together to make a collage. Build your collage on a Teflon sheet or parchment paper (fused fabrics will release from them after ironing). Overlap adjoining scraps by about 1/4” and collage away!

More coming up on how to use color chips to make a small art quilt.