Fusing – Turning Lemons into Lemonade

This is a tale of adjusting to the realities of fusing fabric in an intricately layered art quilt.

I began working on the piece that I have decided to call Glacial Flow in early January. My first photo of the work has a date of January 7.

early stage of Arctic Flow

While I have tried experimented with alternative approaches to quilting one of my designs drawn from photos of nature, most often I wait until I have cut fabric for the entire quilt and ‘fused’ the fabric to a muslin background. This is the approach that I used in Glacial Flow – which meant that the piece sat/hung in my studio for almost five months.

Here is a quick snapshot of Glacial Flow just prior to quilting.

Arctic Flow before quilting

You can see there are many layers. I fuse these layers with MistyFuse and normally it holds throughout the quilting process. As you might have guess from the title of this post, Glacial Flow did not choose to behave normally. As I began quilting, it quickly became clear that the fusing was not uniformly holding.

There are probably a number of contributing factors apart from the length of time from fusing to quilting for the failure of the fusing to hold: I added French Knots to some of the fabric used for snow in the upper portion of the design which created a rougher than usual back surface; my choice of batting was a Quilters Dream wool batting which resulted in quite a bit of ‘loft’.

example of deteriorating fusing

Example of French Knotted fabric

Whatever the reason, it was clear I needed to work with the situation. And, so I did. I decided to use the lack of fusing to my advantage. I began to quilt each area in a layered fashion. I used the lack of holding by the fusible to peel back upper layers while quilting those below. In the photo below, you can see the upper layers peeled back  and the piece being quilted sitting a top the lower quilted layer.

Sewing layers Arctic Flow

I coupled this “technique” with a decision to make the most of the pillowy base of the batting to create texture. One of the areas where I used this to great advantage was in the portrayal of the actual glacial flow of the glacier.

Glacial Flow river texture

I totally enjoyed quilting Glacial Flow. The fact that the fusing did not hold could easily have turned into a stressful situation. Instead, I chose to ‘go with the flow’ and look upon the interesting ‘landscape’ that I needed to quilt as an adventure. As you can see from the photo below, what I was dealing with was not your classic fused appliqué platform. I got to a point when,where the fusing was still working, I purposely loosened it before stitching to readjust the layers and create the textural effect that was evolving with the quilting.


In all, the result was an art quilt that I am pleased with and now happily awaits facing.

Glacial Flow


PS: Linking to Nine-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

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  1. loved seeing your process. you did a beautiful job working with the problems that arose. i know you must be proud of this piece.

  2. You really captured the textures of the mountains and the snow and ice. And I’m glad you enjoyed the process rather than getting stressed out about the irregularities.

  3. Beautiful work, Judy! Glad you had the patience along with enjoying the challenges. It paid off.

  4. how wonderful to see this piece from start to finish and I love that you just went ”with the flow”…the results are stunning.

  5. Well done! I enjoyed seeing how you took a problem and made it work to your advantage. I think that’s what sets art quilters apart from the traditional by the book gotta have every point perfect quilter. We don’t stress if something goes wrong in fact we relish it using our imaginations to get us out all the while having fun while climbing out of our hole.
    Glacial flow is fantastic!

  6. Love your attitude Judy! It is a beautiful quilt and I really like how it draws my eye to the furthest mountains. If you have any insight (beyond what you already wrote) about the fusing situation, please write about it. I use MistyFuse and of course want it to hold well-at least I thought I did until I read your post!

    • My best guess, Jenny, is a combination of overuse and sufficient heat. I was using the MistyFuse a bit unconventionally, fusing my pieces of fabric to the landscape at first in spots with a small iron while the piece was hanging vertically. I know I adjusted some of the pieces a couple of times and probably wore out the bonding ability by doing so. I did finally fuse the whole piece on an ironing board with what I thought was a hot iron but perhaps it was too late. And, the loft of the batting when the piece was being quilted definitely presented a real challenge to the fusing. I use MistyFuse in about 99% of my quilts and it was not a new package so the ‘issue’ was probably with the user, not the material. 🙂

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