Fabric Fusing Tips for a Coloring Book Quilt

2 Jul 2014

When I was a child, before we had handheld devices--or even more than a handful of TV channels--we often passed the time by coloring. Any time the adults wanted to keep the young folk quiet and occupied, out came a fresh coloring book and box of crayons, and we were absorbed for what seemed like hours.
Bold black lines formed the shapes we would color in with light shading or bold intensity, depending on the crayon of choice and the amount of pressure applied.

For many of us, coloring books were our first foray into the Zen-like focus color play can bring. Time spent in my studio rearranging textiles for fabric art brings me back to those days.

coloring book fabric collage bleiweiss
'Tutti Frutti Lane' fiber collage quilt by Sue Bleiweiss.
I immediately thought of coloring books when I first saw Sue Bleiweiss's "Tutti Frutti" quilt series. The stark black lines, simple house and tree shapes, and candy colors resemble a grown-up version of a coloring book to me, and I know Sue has fun creating these fabric art projects.

Sue dyes her own fabrics for the quilts and spends an afternoon fusing them with MistyfuseTM. She does all her fabric fusing with this gossamer fusible because she can build up layers of fused fabric--as many as eight--without the quilt getting stiff. Plus, Mistyfuse doesn't gum up her sewing needles.

Sue gives special treatment to yellow and black fabrics.

Because a darker fabric background can often show through yellow fabric, she first fuses the yellow onto white fabric. Then she adds another layer of Mistyfuse under the white fabric.

fabric fusing black strips bleiweiss
Sue keeps the outlines sharp by taking two layers of black fabric & fusing them together for extra stability before cutting.
To give her skinny strips of black fabric a little more stability, she fuses two layers of Mistyfuse to the back of the black.

"I fuse one layer on, let it cool, and the fuse another layer of Mistyfuse right on top of the cooled layer," says Sue.

Once her fabrics are prepped, she's ready to design, cut, and assemble her "Tutti Frutti" quilts.

You can try your hand at creating your own coloring book-style textile art with Sue's guidance in her Quilting Arts Workshop video, Coloring Book Fabric Collage: Dyeing, Fusing, Designing, and Quilting, available on its own or as part of our Fabric Fusing Fun: Complete Mistyfuse Kit, back by popular demand.

P.S. Did you color as a kid? Did you stay inside the lines or embellish on them? Leave your comment below.

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SarahleighS wrote
on 4 Jul 2014 12:44 AM

I loved colouring books but my mother banned them. In her opinion they stifled creativity because children should be encouraged to draw their own images not colour someone else's outlines. Consequently, these books were a guilty pleasure I adored.

I coloured within the lines. All pencil strokes in the same direction and applied with the same hand pressure. No streaks. No lines. Definitely no crayons or felt tip pens.

Blue skies used up pencils really quickly, and there never seemed to be the right shade for skin regardless of race or creed. Soft strokes of an almost correct colour were the best solution. Simple times.

on 4 Jul 2014 3:05 AM

Yes, I had coloring books as a child, but I don't remember them particularly fondly. And I would have to agree with Sarah's mother, they don't encourage creativity. Dover makes some books now that are challenging, but drawing your own picture on paper is really more satisfying.

on 5 Jul 2014 7:23 AM

I colored and made collages as a child.  But I used flour paste to peg the cut up catalogs and magazine pictures together.  My grandmother made it for me as I needed it.  It was pretty awful when it dried.  I also colored a lot in very detailed coloring books.  But grandma always insisted that skies be blue, grass green and cows were black and white.  No wandering outside the lines and apples were red even though we had 5 or  6 different colors in the family orchard.  I managed to break the rules when I got to be her age but it took me that long.