Saturday, December 4, 2010

Another detail, and some details

I managed to get a slightly better snapshot of one of the embellished circles in Dreamworlds, and now that you can see it I thought I'd add some details about the making of this quilt.

This thing got started because, while rearranging fabric shelves, I noticed that over the years I'd acquired a number of pieces of lace with metallic accents, and I thought they'd look good over black. The background is a black suede-ish FUO (fabric of unknown origin) which I picked because I thought the slightly textured stuff would make a better contrast than just plain black cotton.

I made the quilt as a collection of square and rectangular blocks, each containing one, or two, or none of the embellished spheres, so that I could work on the embellishments without having to manipulate the whole quilt top.

The first stage was to cut circles of metallic lace and fuse them to the black pieces. Cutting out the lace itself was easy enough - I ironed freezer paper circles on and cut around them - but fusing with black Mistyfuse was a total PITA. Mistyfuse is so light and wispy that it likes to drift and ripple and generally not behave like a flat surface. Cutting out circles of it to go under the lace circles was hard. Lining them up with the lace circles for fusing was even harder. No matter how carefully I placed the pieces before laying down the parchment paper and fusing, some of the Mistyfuse would manage to peek out from under the lace and make a nasty shiny blotch on the black suedecloth. I spent a lot of time scratching the stuff off with my thumbnail.

I feel really stupid about this because there ought to be an elegant solution to the problem - there should be some sequence of freezer paper, cutting, fusing where everything is held stable all the way through - but I couldn't think of one. It's like getting the cannibals and the missionaries across the river - until you think outside the box, at least one missionary always gets eaten - and I didn't get out of the box here. If anybody can think of a better way to do it, please tell me!

(But don't tell me I should have used Wonder Under. Yes, it's paper-backed, and that would have given me the stability I wanted. But it shows through the lace. I made some test pieces of lace-on-black using Wonder Under, white Mistyfuse, and black Mistyfuse, and black Mistyfuse worked way better than the other two.)

After that, it was just a matter of searching through and playing with glitzy fabrics, cords, ribbons, buttons and whatever else came to light in my stash. The only hard part was that I had to reorganize four more stash drawers just to find the stuff!

Each circle went more or less the same way. First I tacked it down around the edges, then I bordered the edge with some narrow metallic braid. (I did try combining those steps. It was a mistake.) Then I "cut" out smaller circles of synthetic sheers, using a Versa-tool to burn the circles out and seal the edges in one step, and didn't burn myself hardly at all. Well, not more than 2 or 3 times. Next came any other relatively flat embellishments, like ribbons, yarns, or satin cords. Finally I added gathered circles of wired ribbon, puffy yo-yos of sheer fabric, and buttons.

I hand quilted it with Sulky holographic sliver thread. This was my first time using the Vivian Mahlab school of quilting (don't sit at a machine, do it by hand, don't worry about tiny little stitches, make the color of the quilting thread part of the design) and I loved it. I really, really, really do not like sitting at a sewing machine and wrestling a quilt under the needle for hours; it was much more rewarding to hold this piece on my lap and see the bright sparkling lines move over the black. Anyway, I don't think the sliver "thread" would have held up in a machine.


  1. I am SO not a fan of Misty Fuse, especially under sheers. That aside, it is possible to turn it into a paper-backed fusible by ironing it to parchment paper (or between parchment paper). Better still would have been to fuse it to the lace before you cut it into circles.

    I've had good luck using Steam a Seam 2 Lite to fuse down sheer fabric. It is not stiff like Wonder Under and leaves no sign of itself like Misty Fuse does. It might work with lace.

    But frankly, I'm not sure why you wanted to fuse the lace down in the first place. I've pinned sheers in place and carefully zigzagged the edges with mono-filament thread to hold it in place. As much as you added on top of the lace and over the edge, the fusible imho is superfluous.

    Very beautiful all the embellishment you've added - impressive as is that hand quilting!

  2. Thanks for the 'closeup' and detail on this piece. It's beautiful!!! Personally, I just fuse MistyFuse to the back of my 'whole' piece then I cut out the shape(s) I want. No mess, no fuss..I'm a huge MistyFuse fan..just love the stuff. I do fuse quite often so for me to have fabric with fusing on it isn't a problem for me. In fact, it's a surprise sometime that I found the perfect piece and it's already fused!

  3. Thanks for the suggestions! I believe I've got an algorithm that'll work for the next time:
    1) Fuse Mistyfuse to lace between two pieces of parchment
    2) Flip Mistyfuse side under, lay on parchment, and iron freezer paper to lace
    3) Cut out the Mistyfused shape and fuse it to background

    I knew there was a way to get all the missionaries across the river, I just couldn't think of it when I needed it!


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