…when it all comes together! From the inspiration, the initial design, the selection of fabrics and the final presentation – I equate it to a well choreographed dance, much like a ballet – or even better, the Tango. Keep reading… you will find out why I am introducing this blog post with the analogy of dancing!
I mentioned this little fellow in yesterday’s post. He was one of the main characters in a 12 month frog calendar from a few years ago. I was pursuing an updated design for one of the components in my Introduction to Design workshops. Several of these exercises are also part of my “Twisting Nature” or “Twisting the Landscape” workshops.
Here is a basic unit based on the initial “recognizing line and shape” exercise…
…and here is a paper mock-up of the quilt I visualized after exploring various possibilities with individual units. That is where it came to a screeching halt earlier this spring due to my teaching schedule.
I am happy to share with you: Last week, with a solid block of free time available to me, I pulled out the paper quilt and revisited numerous options. I coordinated some hand-dyed fabric, a fresh bolt of EZ Steam, scissors, iron, and marking pencils to forge ahead.
Four days of assigning colors, tracing shapes (some as small as my ring fingernail), careful cutting, assembling individual shapes, fusing, appliqueing, and quilting, I am pleased with the final outcome:
“Frog Leg Tango” – a full view of the new quilt…
While working on the project above I decided to test a new-to-me product, Pellon’s EZ Steam fusible. Early this summer bought a full bolt of the product, and after one of my students recently experienced quite a bit of frustration with this fusible I made it a priority to explore its pros and cons.
Here are my observations: EZ Steam is a paper-backed fusible, my favorite kind of fusible. Upon closer inspection I found that the glue is distributed much like the lightweight Wonder Under version by the same manufacturer. This was promising, as I am a huge fan of Wonder Under already.
I used my iron with the cotton setting and fused a small piece of the EZ Steam to fabric and became skeptical. Once I peeled the paper back the fusible had bonded well with the fabric but it looked shiny and much like plastic and felt a little stiff. The fabric side was unaffected, so I moved on.
Let me confess here: I did not read the instructions provided with the product. When I read them after my testing I was glad I did it my way… it worked very well. Here is how I proceeded with great success.
I traced/transferred the individual shapes (in as many individual units as I could determine) to the paper backing. Next I fused the fabric to the glue side of the Pellon Product. I used the cotton setting and pressed (without steam) for approximately 10 – 15 seconds. The glue adhered well.
This was followed by nearly two days of cutting the individual shapes. The paper provided stability to the fabric and continued to “stick” to the glue side which was helpful when I assembled multicolored units to press them together before placing them on the background fabric for the quilt.
I removed the paper backing from each shape before placing it on the background fabric. The sticky nature of the EZ Steam Fusible kept the units in place while I added the more complex multi-layered shapes.
I used a Teflon pressing sheet to avoid glue contamination of the iron, however, I quickly realized that the glue does not travel or move out from the paper backing, a big plus!
Then came the point when I realized that I had not been as careful as I thought when placing the colored shapes. Several shapes were not quite in the space where they should have been to ensure continuity and fluidity of the pattern. My heart sank – but not for long. I carefully “picked” at the edge of one of the shapes with my finger nail – and low and behold, the shape could be moved with only a slight effort. The shape maintained its shape and could be repositioned without issue. I was ecstatic – I had used Steam-
A-Seam in the past and once the piece was fused to the background fabric it was there forever! EZ Steam wins hands down!
When stitching over the appliqued shapes it is important to be aware that the machine and needle will labor slightly. I started out with a Superior Top Stitch # 100 but didn’t like the large holes that accompanied the stitches. I took a chance and switched to a #80, and I found that the holes were smaller. In addition the machine worked more quietly and with less effort.
So, here are my observations in a nutshell:
Pros for using EZ Steam:
- Easy to use.
- Stays in place when assembling the applique units before pressing.
- Repeated repositioning of pieces does not affect the stickiness negatively.
- Pressing is straight forward – and the glue does not mess up the iron if you forget to use the pressing sheet.
- Applique pieces can be removed and repositioned without glue residue on the background fabric if corrections are necessary. (Special note: I used a dry iron to test this. I have not tested this fact after steam was used on the fusible applique pieces.)
- Fusible is smooth and does not shadow through with a perforated appearance like other products.
Cons of using EZ Steam:
- Fusible does not extend fully to one side of the paper backing and may throw off calculations if user is unaware of this fact.
- Fabric appears a little stiff when handling, especially when several pieces are overlapping.
- When top stitching/quilting use a smaller needle (I used Superior Topstitch #80) to avoid large holes in the applique units.
Please note: I purchased EZ Steam without solicitation by the manufacturer. This review was generated without encouragement by the Pellon company. I hope you found this review helpful.