Thursday, November 20, 2014

Testing, Testing

Knowing I'd be meeting with my art group this week, I spent the weekend working up a small sample of my fountain wall design. Too much at stake here in materials and untested techniques not to do a trial run in miniature. First up - lay out the fabrics I'm considering over the full-size master drawing in their approximate locations. (As you view the following photos, use this one as reference as closest to the fabrics' true colors.)

Part of what I'm testing is a heavy interfacing I've not used before. I've been using Decor Bond rather than batting when I needed to create a border or "mat" with no stitching across the fabric. It has worked relatively well but I've experienced some issues that this new interfacing promised to alleviate. Stiff Stuff by Lazy Girl Designs advertises that you can crumple it up and it bounces right back, and it doesn't hold a fold. Watch the videos on their website - it really is quite amazing. I'm planning on constructing my fountain wall totally of fabric fused to interfacing which could be problematic come time to stuff it through the machine. Maybe not with Stiff Stuff if it really is that flexible and resilient. So imagine my surprise when my 4 yards of it arrived rolled with breaks like this showing.

Granted, once I unrolled it a bit, the breaks weren't as obvious, and if I were using this as the sew-in interfacing it is, perhaps this would not be an issue. But I'll be fusing my fabric to it and guessing those breaks will show through, just like with the Decor Bond. Well, let's test it out. I took a print-out of the fountain wall I'd made on a regular piece of paper, did some measurements and started cutting units from Stiff Stuff. Decor Bond can shrink slightly during the fusing process so I immediately tested Stiff Stuff's claim of no shrinkage. I steamed it extensively with no change in size - excellent! I opted for Misty Fuse as my fusible since I have quite a bit of it and I'd read it worked really well on synthetic felt. It requires a hot iron which Stiff Stuff held up to nicely. The Misty Fuse applied perfectly and then the fabric fused perfectly on top. I did a test crumple to see if the fabric truly would stay put (it did) and whether I'd see those breaks showing through (I did). The good news is, going over it with a warm iron made those breaks disappear for a smooth smooth surface. I'd originally planned to trim the fabric even with the edge of the interfacing, but I realize it'd be really easy to just turn those edges to the back, and for this sample I used glue stick to hold it down. On the big piece, I'll fuse Misty Fuse to the fabric first so there will be fusible all the way to the edge, ready to hold the extra when rolled to the back.

So this is probably how I will break down the units, with the "grout" lines added with satin stitching and the sections butted and joined by satin stitching as well. However, I may not satin stitch all the edges as originally planned. I really like the look of the fabric turned over the edge which is adding to the realistic look of this piece. Also, I'm questioning the use of the new batik - the spots in it are more widely spaced than in the stash batiks which keeps it from looking like it fits. I probably should not have speckled fabric in that section anyway. And of course, the scale of the patterning in fabric does not miniaturize with the scaling down of the design pattern so this is not a good representation of how it will read in the big piece. We'll see what the art group has to say.  

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