Monday, April 20, 2015

Fusible Methodology

I am busy again building my Phoenix bird and have developed a methodology, which helps with color choices.  I made enough errors at first that I have two nice pieces on which to practice thread painting, but that can't continue so I will share with you how I ended up managing the process.

Iron fusible material to the back of selected fabrics.  I use Soft Fuse, which I buy in a roll, but it also comes in sheets.

Fused fabrics
Draw the finished design on freezer paper in ink for better visualization and to use as a master copy.    Trace a copy in pencil also on freezer paper.  Number the pieces, note the intended color of each one and mark the edges where you will leave 1/4 extra fabric (little red arrows).
Master copy of drawing

Place the master copy on the ironing board and press it down (it is freezer paper after all).  Lay a silicone sheet over it.  You should be able to see the drawing through the sheet.  A few pins will hold it in place.

Now you are ready to cut up the pencil copy as I discussed in a post last month, cut the fabric around your little freezer paper patterns, and tack them onto the silicone sheet with the tip of the iron using the drawing underneath as your guide.  Align the freezer paper edges of each piece with the adjoining pieces, just like working on a puzzle.

TIP:  Cut out one little pattern piece at a time.  Don't cut up the whole thing while you are watching tv.  You'll never find which piece goes where.

Align the freezer paper patterns

This is where I ran into problems.  I couldn't see how the fabric colors interacted as I proceeded.  It was a little like painting with a blindfold on.  The colors on my pattern sometimes needed to be slightly changed.  My first attempt became a tester for thread painting because it was way too yellow for my red bird.  I had to draw a new pencil copy from the master copy and start over.  My solution to the visualization problem is to pull off the freezer paper pieces as soon as there were no more edges to align with that piece.  This way I could better see how the colors were working out as I went.

Remove patterns to assess color
Ahhh!  Much better.  Yes, I had to do my bird's wing over, but now it looks really nice, and I am a happy camper.  I also had to do one set of tail feathers over.  The cost of doing business I guess, but it has been very handy to have these cast-a-ways for thread painting practice.

TIP:  I've said it before, but in case you forgot, I repeat.  Maintain a positive attitude and turn your creative brain loose to solve your problems.

When all the pieces have been assembled with freezer paper patterns removed, you may want to make a change or two.  You still can by gently pulling pieces apart and replacing what you don't like.  When you are happy cover the completed artistic creation with another silicon sheet and iron it all together.  When cool, you can lift the whole thing off the sheet at once and put it up on your design wall.

TIP:  Always remember to admire your beautiful work and pat yourself on the back!  You may keep this tip private, but it is important to feel good about what you are doing.  If you don't, then step back and figure out what is bothering you.

One more comment on the color problem.  I often preview my colors by designing in Illustrator, but this was too complex a design and I didn't want to take the time to draw every feather on the computer.  Pencil is easier for me in this case!  Colored markers or crayons?  Can't make changes.  Colored pencils?  I don't have enough color variety in my set.  Watercolor paint?  Possible.  I didn't even think of using them until now.  The other thing is that colors on paper or computer do not always translate into the fabrics available.

TIP:  Sometimes you just have to make what is available work for you.  That's where creativity is a real friend.  Your artistic ability is there, and the more you use it, the better you get.

Happy stitching this week.


  1. Excellent tutorial! I'm learning this and it helps make the whole process a little easier. Thank you!

  2. Your work is incredible, Mardi. And I sure love your tips. Especially the second one, which I think can apply to any quilting problem. Lovely tutorial!

  3. Wow - what intricate work, and what patience! It's going to be beautiful. Thank you for linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday.

  4. Thank you, Mardi, for sharing your tips on fusible appliqué. I've struggled with the very same issue as you. I prefer to have the freezer templates on the right side, but then struggle with "hidden" fabric choices. Your tip of removing the templates from pieces where they are no longer required is a great one.

    1. Thanks for you comment. I'm glad my ideas were helpful. Doing it that way helped me immensely.