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The Design Progresses… Slowly

My new design is still that… a design.  But progress IS being made!  I did make the prototype cut… a fancy way of saying that I have cut it out of poster board!  My designs fit together like a puzzle, and I am very picky about them fitting together perfectly.  When I first started making these for myself, I was cutting them out of the fabric with the fusible on the back, and then finding something I wasn’t happy with, and starting over.  I was raised by the “Waste not, Want not” rule and that was not acceptable to me, not to mention that it gets expensive!  Do you know that fusible is more expensive per square inch than good batik quilt fabric?  And I was throwing both away!?!?!   So I started trying to figure out a better way.  One day it clicked that poster board is cheap, relative to fabric with fusible, and works well to assemble a puzzle.  I have a pretty good grasp on how thin an area can be cut from fabric and still not fall apart when handled, so I can tell that the poster board as well.

So now the process is to cut the design out of poster board and work the puzzle.  I also quickly color the pieces with marker, just so it doesn’t get too confusing looking at a pile of white puzzle pieces.  The colors aren’t always right, but they do the job!  So, the puzzle is made, the fabric ordered, AND I get a backorder notice.  Grrr… but only until I could wrap my mind around it.

Okay, move forward and start the assembly instructions.  These take a LONG time to write, and I usually do them after making the initial kit to photograph, but I am too excited about this kit and don’t want to have to wait!   So now the instructions are written, and hopefully ready to go.  And I think this is going to change the order of my process!  While writing the instructions, I changed the order of a few pieces, as I “built” the kit on the computer.  This saved some back and forth in the assembly and simplified a few things.  I even eliminated a couple of pieces (this kit has a LOT of pieces!) that just did not seem necessary in light of my fabric choices.  I was able to change the cut files to match, eliminating even more steps.   So much better!   So once again, what started as frustration, turned into learning a better more efficient process.

Bring on the fabric, please!!!

Are you frustrated with a project?   Take a deep breath and move forward with what you can!

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The Store is Open!

Quite a few years ago, we built our own house.  Hands on built.   During that time we learned a very important life lesson.  If you think it will take an hour, it will take a day.  If you think it will take a day, it will take a week.  If you think it will take a week, it will take a month.

As it turns out, that also applies to stores and websites.

I started considering this about three years ago, and dismissed it for all of the reasons we as humans come up with because we are reluctant to step into unknown territory. However, it would not go away.  Finally at the beginning of this year I decided I HAD to do this.   Every argument I came up with would be demolished by something I read or heard.   Beyond that, I just knew this was what I had to do or I would forever wonder…  What if?

So here I am.  Here IT is!   This truly is a culmination of my life:  all that I have experienced and all that I have learned (about myself, about my craft, about life, about those I love).

I hope you will come along and watch my store grow and maybe even help me with suggestions, photos of your work, and even questions.

And please examine those thoughts that keep coming back to you and won’t go away.  Please don’t get to your sunset years and find yourself asking…  What if?

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Fusible Web Test Project

Quilting, Applique, Fusible Web, Challenge, Steam a Seam 2, MIsty Fuse, Splendid Web Plus, Iron On, Challenge, Test

I just finished doing a test of three brands of fusible web to determine what works best for the laser cut fusible appliques that I will be selling. I wanted to be sure that my kits were high quality and would hold up whatever finishing touches were used.   I purchased each of these at the full price charged by the store.  No freebies or perks here, I just simply wanted the best product for my project!

The three fusible products that I chose were based on reviews and things I had heard or been told.  I was really hoping for Attached Inc’s Misty Fuse to be the winner, as it does not have the paper backing, so should be better for the environment and less paper waste for me to dispose of.  It also has the reputation of leaving the fabrics with a softer hand (Alittledesignhelp.com defines “hand” as “the ‘feel’ of the fabric against your skin.”) because of it’s sheerness.   I have used Bosal In-R-Form in tote bags before and loved it, and have read good things about their Splendid Web Plus, so chose that as a trial as well.  For the third choice, I used Warm Company’s Steam-a-Seam 2.  I have seen this brand recommended on many websites, so it also made my list.

Here are the steps I used for this test:

  • I used a piece of unwashed fabric from my stash and cut three 4 ½″ strips from this same piece so that all three fusibles would be tested on the exact same fabric.
  • I put the three different fusibles on the back of the fabric strips using the large heat press that I will be using for my fusible laser cut appliques, noting and following each of the manufacturer’s instructions, and documenting temperatures and steam/no-steam, etc for future reference.
  • I then cut three 3 ½″ squares from each of the strips, using the laser. This is important to note, as the heat of the laser melts the fusible while cutting, and the fusible bonds to the cut edge, helping to keep it from fraying afterwards.
  • I then ironed three squares of each type of fusible backed fabric to a base fabric (sheeting from my stash) that I had serged the edges on so it would hold up through the washings. I did this step using my Rowenta home iron, again following the manufacturers’ instructions.   I knew my future customers would be using a home iron, and thought it was important to replicate the process that would be used to put a kit together.
  • For each of the different fusibles, I left one square raw edged, the second one used the raw edge applique technique, stitching about an 1/8″ from the edge with a straight stitch, and the third square was stitched down with a traditional zig zag satin stitch. One of the things I looked at through this process was the ease of sewing through each of the fusibles.  I had no problem with the needle gumming or getting through with any of these products.
  • Then the washing began! I washed this sample several times to see how well each of the fusibles held up to the washing.  I did not give this piece special or gentle treatment.  I threw it in with whatever laundry I was doing that was appropriate:  towels, t-shirts, and even jeans!  I washed with warm water and used the regular setting on my dryer.

The following photos clearly show the results after five washings!

The left column is Attached Inc’s Misty Fuse, the middle column is Bosal Splendid Web Plus, and the right column is Warm Company’s Steam-a-Seam 2.   This was test for my purposes, so I didn’t get fancy.  I just wrote the names with a permanent maker on the backing fabric.

This first photo is the piece before washing.  You can see that they all started out the same.

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This next photo is after two washings.  I did NOT iron the samples after washing and drying for any of the washings.  I did not want to change the results in any way.  You can see that the top two squares in the first column (Misty Fuse) are starting to fray and bubbles are starting to form between the top and bottom fabric.  The same is happening in the middle column (Splendid Web Plus), but not as bad as the first column.  (This actually started happening after the first wash, and I took a picture, but it must have gotten deleted.)  The third column, Steam-a-Seam 2, is showing no fraying or bubbling. Please keep in mind that I was not careful in the washing and drying of this sample.  This test was for my purposes, and your project may call for some of the attributes of these other webs!

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The following photos are from washes 3, 4, and 5, as numbered.  I did not trim any frays, or iron after washing.  Number 4 looks smoother, but I think that is just because I got it out of the dryer faster.

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I quit after five washings, as I knew at that point what I was going to use!  There was such a difference between the three that I didn’t feel I needed to go any further.  The third column, Steam-a-Seam 2, was still firm with no bubbles, and no fraying on the top square that did not have any stitching.  Both of the others were bubbling and the raw edges were fraying.

Now you know!   The Artfully Quilted Design Pre-Fused Laser Cut Applique kits will be made with Steam-a-Seam 2!  An added plus?   The repositional quality of this fusible is wonderful for getting those little pieces in just the right place, and they stay there until you press it!