Friday, June 18, 2010

Process Pledge: Fused Piecing

Fused applique was where it all began for me, but after a time I wanted to make some quilts that looked like they were pieced.
I thought: Can I fuse them? And the answer was: Why not?
Here's how it is done.
Beginning with already fused fabrics, cut some strips. Keep the fused side down. Choose two contrasting colors, one light and one darker.

 Cut a square-ish piece from one of the strips and from the other cut some very narrow strips.

Apply the narrow strips to the square and fuse lightly in place. In this case I am fusing directly onto a teflon pressing sheet. You may also fuse onto the release paper leftover from the Wonder-Under (no fusible remains on the paper). After the piece has been fused, it peels up easily. It can be pressed many times onto this pressing sheet without losing its ability to stick.

Next cut a strip from the contrasting fabric. Trim it to the size of the block, either before or after pressing it with the iron. Overlap the edge of the square with the fabric strip, just a bit, not a complete 1/4".
Continue to add and trim the strip until the center block is surrounded. The order in which the strip is added is your choice.

This is the reverse side of the fabric, which shows the uneven amount of fusible on the darker piece. I didn't even notice that when I started. It still works since the lighter fabric has been fused to the darker piece. It still works, since the lighter piece was completely covered with fusible. Should there be a need to add more fusible where there is none, just cut a piece of Wonder-Under the size needed, placing it on the bare spot and then.....cover the whole area to be fused with a protective sheet of release paper, so no fusible from the remaining areas gets on the iron.
 All four sides are now attached. Trim the excess strip and this part is finished. Notice the skinny 'seam allowance' visible on the lighter strip. No need to worry, it will stay fused.

The next border is done in a similar fashion with thin strips being added before applying the next round.
And here is the finished block.
Neat and quickly done, with no trips to the sewing machine. I likey!

Some have asked about fraying. Since the fabric is cut and fused  (no paper remaining on the back, ever!!)and carefully handled  (mostly)  fraying just does not pose a problem. However, and this is a big HOWEVER...I am using hand dyed cottons here which are different than commercial cottons (solids or prints) in several ways.
1. No surface coating of any kind, like Perma-Press, Wash and Wear, or Easy Care. These do not wash out and do prevent perfect fusing.
2. With commercial cottons, the printing is on one side and the back is not the same, so when it is cut, the edges sometimes are not nice.
3. Commercial cottons are often a looser weave than the fabric I use/dye. The looser weaves are more likely to fray sometime down the road.
4. It is possible to fuse commercial cottons and use them in quilts, as long as some care is taken to cover the edges with fabrics that don't fray, like closely woven hand dyes.

Finally, I am making quilts for the wall, not functional quilts for the bed, lap or crib. It's a whole different ball game.
PS. To make the rest of the quilt, make more blocks, overlapping as if to seam until the top is fully assembled. Do NOT fuse this to another sheet of fabric, but instead fuse it directly to a smooth surfaced cotton batting, such as Hobbs Heirloom Cotton (80/20) or Fairfield Cotton Classic. Fusible batting is not necessary, and neither is spray glue. No basting is required to quilt it either. I mean, REALLY.


  1. Love this fusing idea! I'm a machine piecer, hand applique and hand quilter. So the quick things you do leave me envious for the amount of time you conserve. I have so many "projects" waiting in the wings that call for the sewing, that I can't see going in another direction. And then I see your work and start to drool and wonder....

  2. Patty, I pieced from 1981 until 1989 and then discovered fusing. It is possible to do both, without rejecting either.

  3. This was wonderful and very helpful...Makes me want to drag out my fabric right now...
    Thanks so much....

  4. Nancy9:32 AM

    I'm sucking it up! Thanks, Melody!

  5. So cool. This is why we look forward to every single post!!

  6. Melody, do you ever used any Hoffman fabrics for your dyeing? I have heard that they have a pfd that is the kind they use for batik, but have not been able to determine which number it is. Do you know which it is and are you willing to share that info. Thanks

  7. Sorry Janice,
    I don't use Hoffman fabrics for dyeing and don't have any info on that particular kind of pfd. See for the list of fabrics I have used.

  8. Brilliant!

    Kristin F. in SC

  9. I love doing this and you have inspired me to go to the studio and fuse an interesting block!

  10. I like where this is going.

  11. Love the tips!! Thanks for STILL TEACHING. :-)

  12. Thank you so much for the simple language tutorial... I LOVE LOVE LOVE you work... but never could figure out how on earth you made them... now I'm beginning too! Thanks.

  13. Love your blog. Even though you make what you call non-functional quilts, do they not get dusty/dirty? if they are displayed for any longer period of time. How do you get them clean again.

  14. Marie,
    Wall quilts can get dusty if neglected on the wall too long. But the fix is just a bit of sticky tape, applied with care. And of course we don't hang artwork near the kitchen or anywhere there might be particulates that would descend on the piece. A good shake works too!

  15. I just love my teflon sheet....amazing what you can fuse together before putting it on your quilt background.

    It is so nice to have you available for new ideas and to keep us thinking.

    I pulled out an old American Quilting Magazine to re-read last night and all of the sudden there you were! It was a few years back and you were still in Illinois. It was fun to see some of your older work.

  16. Judy from Northport11:38 PM

    You never know what you will find here, but you always know that it will be interesting...

  17. Anonymous1:07 PM

    Love the lavender and lime, but then lime is the new yellow isn't it??
    Linda E. in AZ

  18. Thank you very much for sharing this technique! I love to try this out, but first I have to hand dye some fabrics first.

  19. I just had to come back for another look. I'm so glad I did. I didn't relies it was all fused until I slowly reread your post. Love your work. I see a small wall quilt in my future with all my batik scraps. You mentioned wonder-under, is that what you use? Maybe they have made improvements to it since I last used it, always seemed so stiff and gummed up the needle. I have switched to steam a seam lite now. Did I mention how much I love your work?

  20. What a perfect tutorial. Thanks for all the info. My craft room is waiting to be unpacked in my new house. It has a tile floor and a sink! I wouldn't want carpet either.


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