laura.jpgArt quilter Laura Wasilowski of Elgin, Illinois, is a founding member of the Chicago School of Fusing. In fact, she’s the Dean of Corrections.

Kay: To me, the CSOF is more about a state of mind that an ivy-covered institution. It’s standing up tall and saying, “I fuse and I’m proud.”

Laura: The mission of the Chicago School of Fusing is to encourage the technique of fusing to create art work. We know that it is the quickest way to get from that idea in your head to the implementation of that idea in fabric. Fusing gives you endless possibilities for making art.

Kay: Were you always a confirmed fuser?

Laura: No, I started out as a piecer as a teenager but as an adult I wanted to make pictorial art. Fusing allowed me to make those organic shapes so important in picture making.

Kay: The readers are going to want to know what’s your favorite kind of fusible web.

Laura: I use paper-backed Wonder Under #805 (regular weight). The release paper that comes with it is so important in creating fused art quilts. You can use the paper for collage building, pattern transfer, protecting the quilt top, and storing fused elements or large fused shapes. It always releases a fused fabric.

Kay: You prefer to use hand-dyed fabric, yes? You dye your own and also offer it in your Artfabrik store. Tell us why these types of fabrics are better for the fused quilts.

Laura: A hand-dyed or batik fabric works best for these raw-edged fused applique quilts. First, there is no finish on these fabrics so they will adhere better (but wash out the starch in a batik fabric). Most importantly, the color penetrates all the way through hand-dyed and batik fabrics so the edges of fabric elements show the color. A printed fabric will have a white background and you will see that white edge around each cut element.

Kay: You also offer beautiful hand-dyed thread. How can it be used?

Laura: I love hand embroidery with my hand-dyed threads. It adds that extra hit of color, texture, detail, or pattern to the surface that cannot be done with fabric. It draws the viewer closer and brings the quilt to life. These threads can be used for any of the needle arts — crochet, knitting, weaving, needle punch, needle point, couching, machine quilting, and bobbin work.

Kay: How do you finish the edges of the motifs in your quilts?

Laura: They are not finished. Steam-setting the glue keeps the fabric permanently adhered to the other fabrics and batting.

Kay: How do you quilt them?

Laura: I first stitch by hand through just the batting and top layer. Then I free-motion machine quilt through all the layers. My Janome 6500 is a work horse and does beautiful free-motion work.

Kay: You’ve authored two books and a DVD. Tell us a little bit about each one.

fusing-fun.jpgLaura: My first book, Fusing Fun: Fast Fearless Art Quilts, is a great book for new fusing enthusiasts who want to learn as much as they can about the fine art of fusing. There are six projects with variations, basic fusing terms and instruction, a section of binding and display, and a gallery of fused art work by other artists.

fuse-and-tell.jpgFuse and Tell Journal Quilts shows readers how to translate their stories or ideas into fabric. From sketches, to photos, to design triggers, each of the six projects helps you make the quilt in the book and tells you how to make your art work using those techniques. The wrapped binding is introduced along with tips on bias fusing, working with cheesecloth, and improvisational design.

dvd.jpgThe DVD, Laura Wasilowski Teaches You to Create Fused Art Quilts, has a project from start to finish, a tour of my sewing and dye studios, and a gallery of quilts with commentary. And as the Dean of Corrections I go over the rules of fusing from the Chicago School of Fusing. I also sing the fight song sung by the Iron Maidens as they go into battle.

Kay: You’ve been on Simply Quilts and on The Quilt Show. Were those fun?

Laura: Yes, the hosts and crew made it really easy and inviting. As a ham, it was right up my alley! It was also an opportunity for me to hone my teaching skills and to be able to articulate what I do in a short amount of time.

Kay: I hear you’ve become a Serial Quilter. Tell us about this process.

Laura: I have a tendency to work in a series. I’ll take a theme and make quilt after quilt based upon that idea. For instance, in the blue chair series I have my blue chair reading a book, putting its feet up, down at the beach, and plugged in (the Blue Electric Chair). This way I only have to come up with one idea and can make many versions of it before moving on to the next idea.

bluebook-1.jpgbluebeachchair.JPGblueelectricchair.JPG

Kay: You travel a lot for workshops and lectures. How do you enjoy this lifestyle?

Laura: I enjoy meeting new people and seeing new parts of the world. The airports I could live without, but it’s part of my job.

Kay: What are you working on now?

bettysbloomers13.jpgLaura: Hand-stitched small quilts (see Betty’s Bloomers #13, above), new patterns, dyeing fabric and thread, preparing for workshops and vending, and keeping my head above water until December when my teaching season ends and I collapse into a puddle of colorful water on the floor.

Kay: You’re a bit of a songbird. Would you care to leave us with the lyrics of one of your compositions?

Laura: Sure, here are the lyrics to one of my favorites:

*A Sewer from North Illinois*
(sung to Sweet Betsy from Pike)

There once was a quilter from North Illinois,

She exercised often and ate lots of soy.

But a hot flash it killed her as she sewed her last seam,

They found her there clutching her sewing machine.

So take all her fabrics and pile them high,

Take all her quilt tops that reach to the sky,

Take all her needles and bright colored thread,

I hope that I get them,

Now that she’s dead.

Thank you, Laura, for that inspirational ditty, and for visiting All About Appliqué.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Got home on Monday from the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach. All went well and it was a blast and a half! The convention center was much better prepared for the onslaught of quilters… everybody got in the door and got fed!

This year there was a Preview Party on Thursday night that started at 5:00. Here was my aisle at 2:00.

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Hmm… well, it was all good by opening time. The shot also shows this year’s lovely grape carpet.

booth.gifMy little space in Vendorland.

I stayed once again at the Turret House, a lovely, comfortable Victorian B&B not far from the convention center.

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Resident English bulldogs Winston and Waldo show their power-nap skills to visitors.

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waldo.gif

Winston, the white one and the younger of the two, would come trotting up to me, head-bump my legs, and swish in and out of my long skirt. That was jolly good fun.

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My place setting one morning… dragonfly napkin ring and fresh-picked bleeding hearts.

On Friday and Saturday the show closed at 7:00, at which time I would stagger across the street to find something to eat. On Saturday I had just gotten my food at the tacqueria when Beth and Liz swept in and folded me into their party. They introduced me to another gal but I didn’t quite catch her name in all of the plate-moving and napkin-getting. All of a sudden this gal says to me, “Aren’t you the one who did my blog hop?” It was PAT SLOAN. I totally didn’t recognize her from her picture.

After we had all established who we were and how we knew each other, we ate our food and talked and talked and talked. It was wonderful. Let’s just say that the Lizzie B gals are an entertainment unto themselves. After at least an hour, all of a sudden Pat pointed to my apron and said, “Hey, that’s my fabric!” We laughed and laughed.

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Wish I looked as perky as Pat after nine hours on the show floor.

Notice the sign above Pat’s head that looks like it says to Get Naked. Don’t worry, she kept her clothes on. It really says to Get It Naked… in other words, to order the lower fat and calorie version of their foodstuffs LOL!

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Here is said apron.

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The pattern is one of Gina’s at Threaded Pear. I added a monogram à la Laverne. The cute pin was gifted to me by the designer, David McNutt. Thanks David! I love it. And, obviously, I love the fabric!

Until next time… some really cool things coming up…
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

I’m off to Long Beach today a mite early for International Quilt Festival. It’s only a six-hour drive but I’m splitting it up because this year I’ll be all by my lonesome and there’s a Preview Night that wasn’t there last year. So today I’ll drive a little, tomorrow I’ll drive a little, unload, and set up a little, then finishing setting up and be all bright and shiny for Preview Night on Thursday, which starts at 5:00 p.m. Wow!

conv-center.gifIf you’re going to be at Festival this year, please come by and see me in Booth #817, right next to the Embellishment Village. Nice neighborhood!

Back on Monday,
Cheers,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

I’m delighted to present this guest post from Barbara Brackman, esteemed quilt historian and author. Barbara has some news to share that is of great interest and excitement to the appliqué enthusiast!



Barbara Brackman

This just in from quilt scholar
Barbara Brackman

Encyclopedia of Applique, first editionTwenty years ago I published my Encyclopedia of Appliqué, which indexed all the appliqué designs I could find before 1970. It’s been out of print for years.

This month, C&T Publishing is bringing out a revised edition. The index will be the same but the introduction is updated.

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Applique artists will love having the inspiration that the 1,800 black-and-white drawings provide. Born organizers like me will enjoy seeing all that exuberant design classified and numbered.

Page from Encyclopedia of Applique by Barbara Brackman

Here’s a scan of one of the pages on Reel quilts (they are all numbered 17). I’ve been having fun lately by finding block designs from online auction quilts and making myself digital files with color pictures of actual quilts like the page here. (I am a born organizer so that’s my idea of fun.)

The reel is one of the oldest appliquéd block designs, with examples dated in the early 1830s. It remains popular today. Here are a few quilts made by me and my friends using variations of the pattern.

app-finley.gif Oak Leaf and Orange Peel (Bowden Family Quilt) by Bobbi Finley, Williamsburg, Virginia, 2003-2005.

Hip Hop Hickory Leaf by Carol Gilham Jones.gif
Hip Hop Hickory Leaf by Carol Gilham Jones, Lawrence, Kansas, 2007.

Hickory Leaf by Barbara Brackman
Hickory Leaf by Barbara Brackman, Lawrence, Kansas, 2003. Quilted by Lori Kukuk.

Kaw Valley Quilters Guild Opportunity Quilt.gif
Kaw Valley Quilters Guild Opportunity Quilt
by Georgann Eglinski and Roseanne Smith, Lawrence, Kansas 2009. Quilted by Lori Kukuk.



Thank you so much Barbara for sharing this sneak peak with us! The new edition of the Encyclopedia means that not only is it in print again, there’s an updated introduction about the history of appliqué, plus it has color pictures accompanying the black-and-white reference drawings, and, five quilt projects!

You can pre-order your copy at amazon.com. Here’s the link: Encyclopedia of Appliqué on Amazon.

If you have an interest in quilt history and fabric dating, you’ll definitely want to read Barbara’s blog, Material Culture: Information from a Quilt Historian About Quilt Fabric Past and Present.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Pubications & Designs

Sarah Vee ordered some Mistyfuse right about the time we were discussing fusible web without a paper backing. She has checked it out very thoroughly and put up a product review on her Sew Joy blog. Lots of practical tips and hints from her extensive testing! Thanks Sarah!! Great information.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

I wrote this article awhile ago. I couldn’t get a magazine interested in it, so
I publish it for you here, because I think it’s quite an interesting proposition. This was before I learned back-basting.

Hand vs. Machine Appliqué: A Timed Experiment
by Kay Mackenzie

For quite a long time I was a hand appliquér only. But when I started designing appliqué patterns for publication, I turned to machine appliqué as a speedier way of creating second and third examples of the designs. After all, machine appliqué is a lot faster, right?

Somewhere along the way I became curious about how much time I was actually saving. I decided to conduct a personal timed study to compare a hand method and a machine method. I used a block from A Spin in the Garden, a pattern I was designing.

spin.jpg
The spinning vine block in the middle
is the one I used.

I’ll begin by briefly describing the two methods I compared:

HAND
Traditional needle-turn using bias tape maker, freezer-paper templates, and a tracing-paper placement overlay.
MACHINE
Raw edge, small machine blanket stitch using paper-backed fusible web and a tracing-paper placement overlay.

I used the same block and the same fabrics for both methods. I did not time the initial steps that were common to both methods, including selecting fabrics, cutting background squares, finding my glasses, gathering all materials, supplies, and notions, numbering the shapes in placement sequence, and assigning the colors on the pattern.

After organizing my thoughts and the projects, I set to work, watching the clock and recording the time for each step. I did one method all the way through, then the other. Here are my results.

HAND Minutes MACHINE Minutes
Trace pattern quickly onto tracing paper to make placement overlay. 2 Trace pattern carefully onto tracing paper with a heavy marker to make placement overlay, also serves as reversed pattern. 5
Using front of pattern, trace a freezer-paper template for each shape except vine. Cut out templates precisely on drawn lines. 8 Using reversed pattern, trace a fusible-web template for each shape, including vine. Cut out templates roughly outside drawn lines. Cut away centers of flower and leaf templates. 14
Iron templates onto right side of assigned fabrics. 4 Iron templates onto wrong side of assigned fabrics. 7
Cut out shapes, leaving a turn-under margin outside template. Clip notches. 6 Cut out shapes on drawn line. 8
Make vine using bias tape maker. Apply thin strip of fusible to back of vine. Trace vine placement onto background fabric. 6
Clean and oil sewing machine, change presser foot, insert new needle. Wind bobbin for each thread color. Adjust blanket-stitch setting, test stitching. 8
PREPARATION SUBTOTAL 26 42
Fuse vine in place. Stitch vine. Then, one shape at a time, using placement overlay, remove templates and place, baste, stitch using thread to match each shape. 160 All at once, using placement overlay, remove paper backing and place, fuse, stitch using thread to match each shape (all of one color is stitched before changing thread). Pull thread tails to the back, knot, and bury. 91
TOTAL 3 hours 6 min 2 hours 13 min

hand-spin.gif

Hand

machine-spin.gif

Machine

Click either block for a close-up.

It was interesting to note that the pre-stitching phase took longer for machine appliqué than for hand appliqué. Cutting out the centers of the fusible web templates is not applicable for freezer-paper templates, and ironing time for fusible web templates is longer than for freezer-paper templates. For hand appliqué, I didn’t need to set up my machine, and I could trace the overlay quickly and with less care, since it was for placement purposes only.

The time savings for machine appliqué showed up in the last stage, where the shapes were placed, secured, and stitched. The grand total difference in time represented about a 30% overall time savings for machine appliqué.

There’s a lot to think about when looking at these time results. You may be faster or slower at any of these steps than I am. There are many ways to appliqué, and you may use differing techniques that are slower or faster within either hand or machine methods.

Also worth noting is that when I first took up machine appliqué, I don’t think I saved any time at all, because I made a lot of mistakes. Forgetting to reverse the pattern, neglecting to remove the centers of the templates, having the fusible come apart from the paper backing before I had a chance to use it, fusing to the right side of the fabric (force of habit from hand appliqué), and probably a few other embarrassing ways to get things wrong — mistakes in machine appliqué are not a time saver! Now I am comfortable and practiced at both methods, and the times noted in this experiment refer to a “clean run.”

Time, of course, is not the only factor for choosing one method over another. Personal enjoyment, skill level, preference for appearance, portability, appropriateness for the chosen project, type of sewing machine, these things and more can come into play when choosing an appliqué method.

I’m so glad I decided to conduct this personal timed study. Now I have learned that when either method is equally appropriate for my project, and time is the deciding factor, I’ll be saving almost a third by using machine appliqué.

-the end-

I’d love to hear what you think about this! Did I save as much time as you thought I would?

Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

The winner for July among registered readers of the blog is Jane DeLorenzo of Greenville, South Carolina. Congratulations Jane!

As I mentioned last month, Martingale & Company / That Patchwork Place is currently sponsoring these prizes. Thank you Martingale! I appreciate it and I’m sure the winners do too!

This month, in the spirit of Christmas in July, I chose Adoration Quilts: Appliqué Nativity Projects by Rachel W.N. Brown. The author has her own quilt shop, Rachel’s Quilt Patch, in Staunton, Virginia.

adoration-quilts.jpgThis lovely book features detailed information on how to make the moving and symbolic quilt on the cover, as well other holiday projects like placemats, a tree skirt, wall quilts, and a mantel decoration.

But back to that cover quilt, ‘The Adoration.’ These are not your typical blocks! See how there are triangle and parallelogram blocks surrounding the center rectangle? That’s thinking outside the square! Rachel tells you exactly how to go about it. Along the way you’ll appliqué angels, shepherds, sheep, stars, magi, camels, friendly beasts, and the nativity scene. It reminds me of how we used to set up what we called ‘the crèche’ when we were kids.

There’s information on prepared-edge and raw-edge appliqué methods and how to achieve the finer details. There are also a bunch of side tips sprinkled throughout the pages. Some of them provide food for thought on how we should slow down and remember the reason for the season.

easy-applique-blocks-front.gifMartingale has also provided a copy of my book Easy Appliqué Blocks for the prize winner. Enjoy!

If you register you can become eligible for the monthly prize drawings too. See the right-hand sidebar.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Yesterday I put up a post mentioning Maria. Lo and behold, this morning I check her blog and she’s starting up a baby quilt for her newest grandchild, using designs from Easy Appliqué Blocks! Our brainwaves met up in cyberspace.

You can check in on Maria’s progress and see the cute blocks as she stitches them up. Or, sew along with her! Maria’s inviting readers to join in, and send her photos of the Easy Appliqué Blocks they make! How very cool! Here’s the link to the blog, Maria’s Quilt Scraps. Here’s a permalink to the first baby quilt post.

Thanks Maria! What fun to look forward to!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

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