Protect Your Mat from Decorative Blades

Are you using decorative blades in your rotary cutters? Decorative blades make wonderful embellished edges for your fused art quilts. They come in wave, scallop, and, my favorite, the delightful pinking blade

But beware! Decorative blades can damage your cutting mats. Here you see a cutting mat on the right that has been scored by decorative blades. See how the decorative blades have gouged into the mat?

When you cut with a decorative blade you have to push a little harder to cut cleanly into the fabric. This means the blade will etch into the mat and mess up your grid lines.

Save the grid! Flip that mat over and cut your fabric on the wrong side of the mat. You’ll save your mat and you can use a pinking blade to create fun fabric edges like these.

Check out how I’ve used the pinking blade to create this decorative fused binding here.

What Foot to Use for Collage Stitching

Welcome to my studio! I make fused art quilts with free-motion machine quilting. Every inch of the colorful fabrics used in my designs is covered with fusible web. And, as a precaution, I fuse more fabric than necessary to construct a new design.

This means I have lots of cut-aways or left over fused fabrics. I save these fabrics. Once fusible web is on a fabric, you can use it today or years from now. These oddly shaped fabrics also give me a palette of pre-fused colors to improvise with and often trigger new quilt ideas.

When I’m in a tidy-up mood, I like to build collages from my fused fabric scraps and use them in “color chip” quilts. Art quilts made with these chips have a lot of movement and cheerful color. But there is a trick to the free-motion stitching on this type of collage quilt made with many small snips of fabric. 

Here’s how I prepare my Bernina 750QE sewing machine for free-motion quilting on a collage quilt. (You may have to adapt the instructions to your machine.)

  • Drop the feed dogs on your machine.
  • Insert a straight stitch needle plate
  • Use a size 40 thread in the bobbin and top in your choice of color.
  • Use a chrome coated embroidery needle (best for fused fabrics). Size 14/90 recommended.
  • Use a closed quilting foot.

Why use this type of quilting foot? This foot has a wide, clear sole so you can see where you’re stitching. But most importantly, it is a closed foot. There are lots of raw edges on the fused collage you are stitching. These fabric edges can catch on the prongs of an open presser foot.

But with the closed quilting foot, the foot glides across the fabric surface and keeps those fabric edges flat as you stitch. Free-motion stitching with the closed quilting foot is slick and easy.

Fusing Tips: How to Remove your Wrinkles

Are you suffering from wrinkles on your fused fabrics? Is your cloth all a-ripple? Are wavy wrinkly wrinkles wreaking havoc with you? Then you need this handy tip for the Chicago School of Fusing to remove your rascally wrinkles.

Here’s a way to remove your wrinkles:

  • Place the offending fused fabric on release paper or a silicone mat.
  • Tack a corner of the fabric to the release paper or mat with a hot iron.
  • Get a grip on yourself.
  • Now get a grip on the fabric and stretch out those wrinkles while holding the fabric down with the iron.
  • Pass the iron across the fabric as you stretch and iron it flat.

Your offending wrinkles are gone! It’s a miracle! (Only for use on fabric.)