Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Process Pledge: The Fusing Begins

This post is for those who are new to fusing quilts.
I have been fusing a long time and have a large collection of fabrics that I both dyed and fused. The fusible web I use is regular Wonder-Under. Nothing else will do the job as well. My art quilts are all fused, because I can do things with fusing that would be impossible or take a really long time to do with other techniques. All that fabric on the table is backed with Wonder-Under and some of it is very old. It doesn't matter. It still works just fine. No paper remains on the fabric from the fusing process, but I do have lots of the paper left, which is now called RELEASE PAPER. It has no fusible on it.
 For this quilt I am beginning with a drawing, which will act as my pattern. I probably will make some changes along the way, but it will help keep me on track as I construct the quilt.
To begin, I use the release paper as my pattern tracing paper, and trace the shapes I want to cut from the fabric. Notice I have drawn the letter G on each of the pieces. This is to safeguard the side that goes onto the fused side of the fabric.
Each piece is cut out and is now ready to find its fabric mate.
Here's the fabric showing the fused side and the unfused front. It is pretty easy to tell here which is which, but when working with nearly white colors, it is not so easy. I have a habit of always working with my fabric glue side down, so when it comes time to use it, I turn it over and that is the side with the fusible on it. I still goof occasionally. I have a lot of iron cleaner handy for those times.
I place the cut out pattern pieces on the fused side with the G facing the 'glue'. With the tip of my iron, I CAREFULLY fuse a spot on the paper to hold it in place while I cut.
I use a rotary cutter most times, or a sharp pair of small scissors (for smaller pieces) to cut the fabric. I never cut the paper. Notice that the fabric is slightly larger than the paper. Really important. One will need an overlap or underlap when assembling the pieces. And since the paper is not totally fused to the fabric, it is easily removed without disturbing the fabric edges. Really IMPORTANT.
 A clean edge is a beautiful edge.
I use a larger piece of release paper to overlay my pattern, for placement. As I cut each piece of fabric I will fuse them together, under or overlapping slightly until that section is finished. Each piece is fused together with the release paper as a base. Do not fuse directly onto the original pattern paper. Use only the release paper as the construction base, as the fused fabrics will come up from it after they are fused together.
Since I started quilting in 1981 I  made both pieced (functional) and fused quilts (art quilts for the wall), but I realized one day that the quilts that garnered all the attention and won the prizes were the fused quilts. It was then that I made the decision to focus solely on fusing as my process. The largest fused quilt I ever made was Eternal Horizons, which was 99" wide by 80.5" high. It was also the quilt that sold for the highest price of my career.
Also see this post for more pattern fusing information.

PS.Whoa! I found a picture in the Visions:Quilt San Diego book from 1997. Eternal Horizons.

And the blurb that went with it...


  1. I was just having my coffee and checking blogland. It was a treat to read your post and browse your flicker photos. Always inspiring to me. Have a great day!

  2. Thank you so much for the tips! I may have to fuse today! Your quilts are always so inspiring.

  3. Thank you Melody! Hope it is not quite as warm as yesterday.

  4. Hi,
    Thank you for so much information on fusing quilts ... it is not something I have ever moved into or know much about.
    Thanks for taking the time to share!
    All the best,

  5. I just suck up any tips and hints you give us! In other posts I think you've suggested that large sections of overlapped fabric, or maybe background, be cut away to avoid bulk. Would you tell us when/how you apply that technique? And, when you cut out your pieces do you add seam allowance to all sides, even if a side won't be overlapped, like the top of a flower petal? One more: what is your favorite PFD cotton du jour? I'm getting ready to dye! Thanks, Melody.

  6. Nancy, my latest fave pfd fabric is mercerized cotton print cloth from Dharma Trading Company.
    AS for 'seam allowances' for fusing that won't be overlapped...I get your question, and all I can say is that I can trim away if the piece needs trimming, but I can't add. As you do it, it all becomes obvious.

  7. I can always use a refresher on fusing as I'm always reminded of something I forgot! Would you remind me, please, why your (and Frieda's) hand-dyed fabrics ravel very little compared to store-bought fabrics? And is there some particular store-bought fabric that might also be as tightly woven as yours? Thanks! :-)

  8. Thank you so much for your fusing tips. Do you hand stitch and machine stitch your piece? I always wonder how all your beautiful art work came about.

  9. Have you ever used EQ to design your patterns?

  10. Colleen,
    I have tried out EQ years ago, on someone else's computer, but for me, it just didn't resonate. It is pretty easy to just dink around and make something and have it be as good as the struggle to perfect a computer program.
    Too much planning takes the excitement out of it for me.

  11. Any chance of seeing a picture of Eternal Horizons? Thanks for all of the info - and inspiration!

  12. Thanks for the tutorial; it's very are very kind to post these lessons for us....
    I have one question for you?
    The edges that are not fused, do they frey or do you machine or hand stitch over them?
    I hope you have a good day...


So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com