Finally, Fusion Finished!

Have you ever wanted something real bad and then, when you get it, all you can do is sit and grin at it?

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I’ve been grinning at my finished fusion quilt for a couple of weeks now and I figure it’s time to share it with you. I know some of you will be happy to celebrate with me!

A brief re-cap of the project:

I started this quilt in autumn of 2017. As you may remember, I sell vintage linens on Etsy and, in handling my treasures, I often come across pieces that are too damaged to sell.

And, yet, these damaged items still have patches of perfection. A pillowcase may have a big hole in the middle but lovely crochet along the edge. Bugs may have chewed a hole in an embroidered and starched tablecloth but left other areas pristine.

I have never been able to throw these pieces in the trash. Over the years, I’ve piled up a ton of “pretties”—the perfect sections from otherwise useless linens. I always thought I’d find a project for them.

And then I read a post by Tialys, about an approach called a “fusion quilt,” which uses squares of fabric, sewn with batting, edged with blanket stitch embroidery, and crocheted together.

A quick trip to Pinterest gave me more inspiration and I knew I’d found the perfect vehicle for my precious bits of vintage linens, my pretties.

The quilt ended up with 108 5-inch blocks. I included bits from hankies, napkins, towels, tablecloths, and pillowcases. Most of the fabrics came from my special drawer, although friends started bringing me bits they found, too. My favorite square of all is the pink kitty from a decrepit crib sheet, given to me by a dear friend in my sewing group.

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In some cases, with sturdy pieces, I was able to layer the pretty piece with backing and batting, and just sew them and turn them inside out.

With very delicate hankies and such, I ironed the pretty into lightweight fusible web, to give it substance.

When my pretty had lacy or embellished edges I wanted to show, I layered in another piece of off-white fabric as a backing, stitching as much, or little, as I thought necessary.

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I sewed blanket stitch around each square, to serve as a foundation for the crochet.

For the crochet, I used 3/2-weight mercerized cotton from my weaving stash. It is a nice weight, has a pretty sheen, and doesn’t stretch. I did only double crochet, nothing fancy, because double crochet is really the only stitch I know how to do.

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I could have obsessed endlessly about the placement or the squares in the final quilt but I find I get bored with that easily. I did come up with a minimal plan, though, and then my cat rearranged everything for me. So, I ended up placing all the all-white blocks in the middle and then making a transition to borders of brighter-colored blocks at the edges.

After I had crocheted everything together (which didn’t take nearly as long as I feared), I did a row of single crochet around the whole outside edge and then went around again with good-old, reliable double crochet. (Truth be told, I used up hours of my life that I’ll never get back again, figuring out how to do a shell border that would fit tidily within the length of each square, then hated the way it looked.) I used a different cone of off-white cotton for that last border and it turned out to be slightly darker than what I had used for the rest of the quilt and I kind of like the look!

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If ever there were a project that would benefit from being done over again, right now, with the lessons learned fresh in mind, it is this one. I could point out a zillion little mistakes, from bad planning, from inexperience, from winging it.

But I won’t!

All those years, when I taught public speaking to college kids, I told them that Rule One was never to draw attention to any problems or negatives in their speeches. They were NOT to tell us their hands were shaking or that they had forgotten their note cards. Why? Because if the speaker didn’t draw attention to the negatives, the chances were excellent no one else would ever notice. But, if the speaker drew attention to the problem, no one would ever be able to look away . . .

And so, I will follow my own advice and not draw attention to the flaws in my quilt.

I will admit, instead, that I am very pleased with it and have even peeked into that drawer that holds the pretty pieces and thought that maybe, someday, I would start another fusion quilt.

Heaven knows, I have the pretties. And the quilt fits perfectly on a twin-size bed . . . and I have two of those.

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89 thoughts on “Finally, Fusion Finished!

  1. Gorgeous! And I would say the errors are only visible to you, because you’re the one who had the original vision and you feel that certain things don’t comply with it. To the rest of us, it’s a brilliant, individual, distinctive and totally beautiful piece of work! And yes, you should definitely make that second one!

  2. This is a beautiful project and a terrific post. I love the way double crochet looks… and all of your pretties are receiving a second (or third or fourth?) life!!! Hurrah, too, for your cat offering her/his design input during your planning process. Congratulations!!!!

  3. You have put me to shame by finishing yours while mine still languishes in the WIP (or even UFO) pile. However, I’m delighted that I posted about starting the project if it then inspired you to start your own version which is absolutely gorgeous and a wonder to behold. What a brilliant idea to use pieces of vintage linens instead of a charm pack as I’m doing. I feel inspired now to add in a few pieces of vintage bits in the same way you have and, who knows, one day I might actually have a finish too.
    You are rightly proud of yourself and nobody will see any faults amongst all the gorgeousness.

    • You actually inspired more people than you know–two of the women in my sewing group started fusion quilts after they saw what I was doing! And they both finished them promptly, as I struggled to keep up. Maybe adding some bits of vintage linens or other special fabrics would renew your interest in the project?

  4. Oh Kerry, many congratulations! What a wonderful end result to a delightful project. This is the epitome of the ideal creative journey – making something unique, beautiful and useful out of materials which otherwise would be hidden in a drawer. Bravo and I look forward to learning about quilt number two in due course 😉

  5. Fantastic on so many levels! First, it is beautiful. Second, it uses material that might otherwise not be used. Third, not pointing out flaws is such good advice. Julia Child advocated doing a similar thing with cooking for the same reasons. Never point out a dish’s flaws. Chances are, no one will notice. But if you say something, then people will notice and start being critical.

    • Thanks, Laurie! I have a funny story about that business of not pointing out flaws: One day I was teaching my public speaking class, where they had heard me rant about that rule. As I was lecturing, I happened to look down and realize I was wearing one navy blue shoe and one black one! I gasped out loud and started laughing and pointed it out to the kids. And they got all over me for breaking my own rule! Do as I say, not as I do . . . 😉

  6. It it gorgeous! I would hang it on the wall so I could study it and notice new things all the time.
    And I think you included very helpful information for those of us who want to make one too.
    I do have a question — did you make sure you put the same number of blanket stitches on each side of a square, and then that ensured that you got the same number of double crochets on each side?

    • If you ever do make one of these and have questions, let me know–I learned a lot the hard way! Speaking of which, I should’ve but did *not* take care with the number of blanket stitches on each side. Some had maybe 14 and others as meany as 20. It meant I had to do a lot of fudging when I did the crocheting. And, at the end, when i put everything together, I had to do single crochet around the edge and fudge some more so the two long sides had the same number and the two short sides did, so, when i did the border of double crochet, the sides would be equal length. Does that make sense? Luckily, the fudging isn’t very obvious–crochet seems to be very forgiving. But, if I do another quilt like this, I’ll be much more careful to space the blanket stitches more evenly.

      • Everything looked so consistent in your pictures, and knowing how you pay attention to craftsmanship and detail, I was thinking you must have spaced your blanket stitches perfectly. IF I ever do one of these, I hope I remember that tip at least! 🙂

  7. 2nd attempt to post comment, 1st being told it couldn’t post so hope this is not a duplicate…The word is gorgeous for this beauty and I echo the sendiments of all the posters above. I just LOVE this quilt! In fact you had and have *inspired, inspire* me to work with vintage linens. Sharon

    • No duplicates–thank you for taking the time to comment the second time! And, though I haven’t gotten around to really reading yet, I did see the pillow you made with the vintage linen on the back! It’s so perfect! I would love for more people to get these pretty things out of the closets and drawers and use them in creative ways, like you did!

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  9. Oh my! This is beautiful, Kerry! I know each little crocheted block tells a story all of its own. I tend to obsess over block placement, myself. You have managed to arrange each block in a very pleasing manner. This is a treasure for sure!

    • Thanks, Joanne! I have to give that pesky cat some credit for the arrangement of blocks since she insisted on getting in on the act! You’re right, though–each little block has its own interest and story. I never got bored as I was working on this!

  10. Absolutely beautiful. I love the idea of pulling all those little pieces together and creating this useful and decorative quilt. Perhaps a hundred years from now someone will come across this quilt and admire your work just as you admire the handwork of others. And they’ll wonder when it was made any by whom.

    • Thanks, Susan–I really should put a pocket on the back of the quilt and print my blog post and pin it into the pocket, just to keep the story with the quilt. I should . . . I say “I should” all the time . . .

    • Thanks so much–I kept thinking how hard those women had worked to do the embroidery or make the crochet. I didn’t want all that effort to go to waste!

  11. Now I have to start by telling you that my heart began to flutter with anticipation as soon as I opened this post and as I read on it began to soar with sheer delight…. I have loved this project from the beginning and seeing it completed makes me feel like a young thing with her first love approaching again!! Sounds crazy I know, but I love this whole concept of having ‘pretties’, giving new life to them – the care and thought and time that has gone into ensuring each piece has its moment in the sun and the finishing touches….. I’m sure I’ve said it before and it is a tenet held by the Eastern peoples that only Creation is perfect and everything made by the human hand is imperfect, they therefore make a deliberate mistake in all their creations………. It is the imperfections that tell us this is handmade with love.

    I wish I had the years left to me to begin to collect damaged linens and give them new life as you have done here – it is a wonderful, wonderful thing and I hope you will continue to gaze upon it and beam for a long time to come. Good work Kerry!!

  12. Oh my…. I’m speechless! I knew it would be gorgeous.. but never imagined how much so! Time for a happy dance on this lovely finish!💃💃💃

    • Thanks, Deb! I was actually quite concerned, when it came time to put it all together, that the end product would disappoint me. But it doesn’t! I love the way it turned out–whew! A happy dance, indeed!

    • Thank you, Laura! The variety of the different blocks was what kept me going–it never got boring in the least because each block invited a new look and consideration of what made it special.

  13. This is really gorgeous, Kerry. I love the little “pocket” pieces where you show off an edge. It’s so creative and lovely–I can’t imagine you won’t want to try another some time. But not soon. I’m sure you’re weaving and working on the other quilt and…

    • I like those pocket pieces, too–in so many cases, the border of the linens are really special–couldn’t cover those up! I kept meaning to add in some blocks with small, round lace doilies, tacked down on backing fabric, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that fussy work. As you say, maybe next time . . .but not right now. 😉

  14. My eyes see an incredible piece of work. The concept of reusing these pretties is both fresh and wonderfully old-fashioned. You’ve refreshed the scraps and given them new purpose. How great is that. Definitely – you need to apply all your lessons learned and make a mate for the other twin bed.

    • Thank you, Susanne! I’m so happy to have come across the technique of the fusion quilt–it really was the perfect solution for this particular creative problem. You readers are very clear on this thing about making a second quilt . . . easy for you to say! 😉

  15. Flaws? What flaws? All I see is a very sweet, unique quilt, that honours the original embroiderers. Wouldn’t they be delighted to see their work displayed so beautifully? It is almost perfect on your twin bed……perfection would be a matching one on the other bed!

    • I thought about those original embroiderers a lot while I worked! Wouldn’t they be amazed? I do have SO many more of these vintage bits stored away, including dozens of white-on-white embroidered monograms. I imagine there will be another fusion quilt in my future . . .

  16. That is just lovely! What a way to showcase your pretty bits! I hope you signed the back of it, like those ladies did so long ago. It’s a treasure.

  17. This is a work of art, Kerry. What a gorgeous piece of work. Time and again I’m impressed with your steady hand and even stitches. There is something so appealing about the rhythm of that. I hope that makes sense. It seems you’ve honored in a way the idea behind some of the olden-days quilts, that were assembled from scraps of clothing and the like. Instead you’ve honored all those linens. It’s beautiful. I hope you’ll enter it into a county fair or such so that many others can enjoy it, too. Well done!

    • Thank you, Alys–you’re so right about the rhythm of working on a project like this. There were a lot of different steps involved, so it never got boring, but it was very soothing overall. And I got to spend a lot of time thinking about the women who made the original pretty pieces.

  18. I need new adjectives because this project leaves me speechless. It is not only gorgeous and special, but it holds a lifetime of history. Each one of those pretties has its own story, and you put them together so they will never be forgotten. Impressed does not cover what I feel looking at this. Yes, you need another twin sized one because then that room will be a perfect historically balance place to rest and enjoy. And, if the day comes you don’t have room for it, who can say quilt museum or historical society. 🙂

    • What nice things you say, Judy! Preserving those bits and pieces was what motivated me, since they all came from otherwise damaged and useless linens. And, even though the styles and designs of the blocks are very different, they all end up playing well together. One day soon, I’ll do look in that drawer, where the rest of the damaged pieces reside, and begin to think about starting over again. But not today . . . 😉

  19. Congratulations on the finish! Double congratulations for the spectacular finish. It’s almost like an I spy quilt, except the squares are lovelier. That pink pussycat is too cute.

    • Thanks, Joanna! There is a lot going on in the quilt, for sure–it never got boring to make, since every square brought something new to think about. I wish a had more of the pink kitties, though . . .

  20. This was a fabulous idea from the very beginning, but the the finished quilt is so much more! It is beautiful, timeless, and brings to mind a simpler, gentler time. I definitely vote yes to making its companion! Such sweet harmony to see them together!

    • I have to admit, I was very concerned, at the point of putting all the squares together, whether it would work–it could’ve ended up looking like a big mishmash. So I’m relieved and happy! And, with all the encouragement I’m getting, I expect there will be a second quilt in my future . . . .

  21. Where to start? I’ve been looking forward to seeing this quilt in its full glory ever since you first mentioned it. It’s beautiful. And, my oh my, didn’t you do justice to all those women who came before? Think how their hearts would have swelled with pleasure and pride had they known that their work would continue to live on in a new incarnation so long after they were gone.

    Having immersed myself lately in antique wheels and looms, I think a lot about the men who made them and–even more–about the women who used them before me. One thing that has struck me, over and over, is how the things they made and used have lived on for so many generations–often hundreds of years–after they died.

    Creating something useful and lovely with your hands, your patience, and the expressive part of your brain, may be the most long-lasting (aside from genes) legacy most people can leave. You took other women’s work and gave it further life through your own work. Very sweet.

    • Thanks for all of this, Brenda–I can see how much you relate to the kind of work I do. I, too, spend a lot of time thinking about the original makers of these pretty things, and wondering about who they were, did they love what they were doing, what were their dreams.

      And since my genes won’t be passed on to the future, it does make me happy to know I’ll be leaving some creative, useful things behind when I go . . .

      I’d love an update on the work you’ve been doing–a blog post sometime? Maybe?

  22. It looks fabulous, Kerry! Well done and congratulations! I really like the slightly darker outer border and that you have placed the brighter pretties near the edges and the paler ones in the centre. I would be grinning if I were you, too!

  23. there is nothing more to say – brilliant, absolutely gorgeous. A wonderful way to preserve the pretties, give them new life and save them for future generations of “needlepersons”.

    • Thanks, Jean. And I was thinking–this technique might also work as a way for me to preserve pieces of weaving samples. I have my big notebooks but making a fusion quilt with them would be lots more interesting . . . something to ponder.

  24. This is a lovely idea beautifully done! It’s intriguing to think of the many women behind the pieces of handwork, and how pleased they would be to have their work appreciated and preserved.

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  26. Wow, Kerry! You did it. this is stunning, beautiful and I am in awe of all the work and thought and skill it took. Ina piece like this, what you see as flaws are part of the art, my friend. Part of what makes it unique. Part of its story.

  27. I have been following this ‘journey’ w/o a word but……..it’s so pretty! I so like the fact that it retains a simplicity that is totally charming! The darker outer thread is perfect!! Sweetness!!

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