Thursday, June 02, 2011

Picking My Brain

I have been trading emails with a gal in nearby Franklin TN ( nearby means like 2 hours away) who is interested in moving over to the dark side and becoming a fuser. She had lots of questions and while some are already answered on the sidebar under Process Pledge, some need immediate clarification. I suggested answering them here, for everyone who may want to know but never got around to asking. So here we go.

One question pops into my mind. You mention in your blogs that the fabric you are using is different than I purchase commercially. Can you go into a little more detail about that? AND I think one of the things you mentioned on your blog is that your dyeing process takes the color all the way through the fabric where commercial color sits on top of the fabric, right? Can you successfully use your techniques with batiks then? I did go on your blog and read all your tutorials. I'm sorry that I have asked some of the already answered questions from your blog! I found it to be great reading and quite funny - your classes must have been a riot!!

So of course I went back to the tutorials looking for what might have been funny.

The fabric I use (and I am not alone here) is prepared for dyeing Print Cloth from Dharma Trading Company. It is tightly woven, yet a finer weight cotton than Kona for example. The tightness of the weave is very important because it resists fraying when fused, and we like that. We is the "Chicago School of Fusing".

Commerical fabrics I refer to as color sitting on top is printed cotton. There are fully  dyed cottons out there of course, but being commercial they may have a coating that is like perma-press and prevents wrinkles and also prevents permanent fusing. It DOES NOT WASH OUT. So after trying all sorts of fabrics for raw edge fusing, I just bit the bullet and used only hand dyed by me fabric for all of my work.
Of course one may fuse commercial fabric, but be aware that it will lift, or ravel, as it is a looser weave, or show the back side or unprinted side at the edges. I don't want to finish the edges of anything I fuse, but with commericial fabric, one might need to, to protect and preserve the edge.
Batiks: When it comes to fusing batiks are THE WORST for staying stuck. The poplin base is so slick and tightly woven that it might as well be teflon. Batik will definitely have to be stitched down to stay put...eeeouw.
In recent years I have added some commercial fabric to my work, making certain it is tucked under another piece of hand dyed cotton and discretely stitched in the ditch to secure it.

But bottom line, if you want to make art quilts then the easiest way to get there is to use hand dyed fabric. The colors are richer, the effects are so interesting in themselves and there is no time stamp of fabric popularity associated with prints.
Can't get this look from prints.

One more thing, fabric paint won't work with fusing either. It puts a layer on the fibers which is slick and prevents fusing from sticking. I have tried it all and finally just gave in to dyeing the stuff. It saved me lots of headaches.


  1. Melody if you don't want to dye your own, is there a good place to purchase the type of hand dyed you have described?

    Thank for all the good information.

  2. Anonymous11:24 AM

    Hi Melody, I'm wondering about your last comment regarding fabric paint. Do you mean if you got fabric paint on the backside of the hand-painted yardage by accident? So, when you go to fuse it to the fusible, it wouldn't stick? Not sure I understand what you meant.

  3. Anonymous11:31 AM

    Hi Melody, Not to dispute you, oh wise one, but I fuse batiks using Wonder Under all the time with no problem, maybe I'm just lucky. I don't stitch around the edges, but I do anchor them with quilting.

  4. Thanks for this further explication, Melody!

  5. That's very helpful info. I hate to dye really (I'm just lazy), but this is good to know if I want to do some that are fused.

  6. Hi Melody, I just finished a small zentangle practice art piece and before I started I read everything you had written about fusing. I didn't use hand dyed fabric for my little practice piece and I am sure that if I had there are some problems that I would not have had to deal with. I didn't want to use my handdyed fabric for practice. I did notice that some of it is not as tightly woven as others so I guess I should stick to buying from someone who uses what you suggest. Thank you for being so generous with all of your information.

  7. Thank you, Melody, for this additional information on fusing fabrics. I really needed it right now! Very good information.

  8. Hi, Melody. Just wanted to clarify something: when you say that batiks won't stay fused, I'm assuming you mean commercially produced batiks, not those I do at home, right?

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