Friday, September 9, 2016

Fusing Q & A

Nancy had a boatload of questions, and I am happy to answer them here for all. My answers are in blue.

Hello Melody,
I have been plugging away at our assignments, having just finished our composition and design project.
 I will continue with our projects, but wanted to ask a few things before you’re done with us.
Little tree project, fusing from a pattern: I did this “easy” exercise because it was the assignment for the week, and the process brought up many questions.

I penciled a “G” for glue side as suggested, but that G and any other lines that I did not fully erase during sketch transferred onto the web side of the fabric and showed through lighter colors. Suggestions to avoid this and still know what side you’re working on?

If you are working with a light color, don't write on the pattern piece. Just pay attention to the shape and fuse/cut it.

As I cut individual pattern pieces, I added a 1/8” or so margin all around. As I added other pieces, those seam ended up messing up my original design. Do you add that seam allowance only to select pieces or select edges of pieces as you go along to keep to the original pattern? 
Do you look at a piece before you cut and determine “this edge over, this edge under” and cut accordingly?
(Contrast, contrast, contrast. I thought that your sample looked great, but my little tree was kind of lost in the background. Had no pop to it. I know I need more dark hand dyes, but any other tips to color/value selection?
Simultaneous contrast works in most cases. Opposites on the color provide that, even if they are lighter values.You could have switched out your background colors to make the tree stand out more. Thinking ahead is always a good idea.
What size stitch do you usually use for quilting? When you get to a corner or point, do you lift the foot and manually insert the needle to be right on the point or corner?
Yes, sometimes. I like a longer stitch length, 3.0  usually.

All threads are just brought to the back and left as tails, no knotting?
My machine has an auto thread cutting button which pulls the threads to the back and cuts them. I manually stitch in place about 3 times to secure the threads then press the button. I use a self threading needle to pull the starting thread through to the back. No knots.

Still having trouble with using release paper -- we simply are not friends. As I commented in an earlier post, I have found fusing success only in removing the webbing entirely from the release paper and fusing it from the right side of the fabric, backed by a Teflon sheet. I can continue with the extra steps for this, but I sure would like to know why fusing directly from release paper works for some and not for others. Even had trouble with a piece bunching up when doing a final fuse to release paper at the end of a project. It did relax when pressed to batting.

As mentioned in a previous email to you that there are many variables when it comes to the initial fusing. How hot is your iron, how long are you pressing, how cooled down is the piece before trying to remove the paper, etc. If I were with you in person I might be able to tell what is happening for you, but just let me say that it is not uncommon to have trouble when you are in a hurry or already stressed by life. I have been there. When I am out of creative ideas, it is time to fuse new fabric, and dream about the possibilities.
As another participant recently commented, one of the things that make your pieces so wonderful is the use of your flat dyed fabrics that fade from one color to another. My last attempt at creating these fabrics was a failure, at least not what I was going for, and I’m about to embark on a new dye session, especially to include the darks my collection is missing. Any suggestions for avoiding this look? (colors are off with photo, think blue-purple-red) has all the things you will need to make the fabric I use. The missing info is that I put three layers of fabric on the platter (now I use styrofoam insulation sheets cut to 24x48") and pour on the dyes. working out the bubbles with either my gloved fingers or a plastic spoon. The fabric you use makes a difference too in the final outcome. I use mostly bleached mercerized print cloth or bleached muslin. Not pimatex or poplin. 

As for design principles, could you talk a little bit about negative space, i.e. maybe percentages of busy vs. areas of eye-rest in a composition? How does color play a part in achieving a balance? Do you look at areas of a composition and think, now I need something dark in this corner, or something bright opposite this side, to balance? How about motifs – ever need to balance those?
That is impossible to discuss without samples, so let's leave that for next week.

Trust me to continue our exercises, though I’m lagging behind a bit now. (My last exercise sat on a surface in the quilt room for over a week and I rearranged it every time I walked through the room – there’s certainly something to be said for spontaneity).
If we do not continue the class formally, let me thank you now for sharing all this knowledge, and for allowing us to use your original designs as a stepping-off point. Several years ago you gave me permission to practice using designs like yours until I found my own “voice” and I think that’s a rare and generous thing for an artist to do. I’ve been following you ever since I first figured out what a blog was – no idea how I came to fibermania, but I’ll never forget the thrill of seeing your work and getting to know you. I know you were still in Chicago at the time, and I read backwards from there. I still refer to those posts from time to time.
Thanks for all,
Nancy Albright


  1. This is wonderfully helpful. I've also been struggling with the margin issue. Have a plan from the beginning--who'da thunk it? Many thanks.

  2. There is some bad wonder under out there. Some of you may have gotten the bad stuff. I bought some that I will probably throw out. Luckily I've had enough experience using it to recognize the bad stuff.

  3. do you recognize the bad Wonder Under?

    Melody...why do you choose bleached mercerized print cloth or bleached muslin. Not pimatex or poplin.?

    1. Pimatex and poplin are the same weave, very tight and dense. Hard to needle through. They dye up with lots of texture, which can be great, but machine quilting through the fabric leaves needle holes, and I just don't like that. The others mentioned are lighter and finer and just nicer to dye and quilt.

  4. I just compared my good bolt to my bad bolt. The bad bolt is super shiny on the glue side. The good bolt is not nearly as shiny. In behavior, I find the bad bolt doesn't stick to the fabric very well and doesn't release from the wonderunder paper very well. . Maybe they had some bad batches for a while. I got both my good bolt and my bad bolt from Amazon. I didn't open the bad bolt right away and it was too late to return it when I knew I had a problem.

    I found this post by Laura Wasalowski about Wonder Under

  5. I may have missed something, but will these lessons remain available after the end of the class?

  6. Yes the lessons will remain on the blog for a long time. But we will begin a new series of exercises this week, so stay tuned.

  7. Hi,
    Just found this! What dyes do you use!
    Nancy Dunn



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