Frustration Abounds

Poor Smitty. It's not very nice out, and he's so bored, he's actually had to resort to chasing his tail. But things are looking up. No really. "Things" are looking up.

So what's this all about anyway? Well...let me tell you.

Perhaps you've noticed these doors in random pictures of my basement sewing room. 

Behind the louvered doors (think of them as Door #1 and Door #2), you'll find the furnace, water heater, and air filtration system for our house.

Behind Door #3 is stuff related to our water. We are on a well here. Our water tastes good, but it is hard water. We have all this fancy dancy stuff to soften the water, but we also have a system to regulate the pH level in our water. We learned completely by happenstance that we have aggressive water, which means that it is corrosive to the plumbing in our home. We had noticed the bluish stain in our shower, but didn't think much of it until we talked with a neighbor. Turns out the blue stain was evidence of our copper pipes corroding away. Enter a very expensive system to counteract this problem, and you have the items behind Door #3.

And I'll just say that if I were a child of, say, 8 years or younger, I would probably be afraid to come into the basement because of all this stuff.

It doesn't bother Smitty, however. Since discovering this place, we cannot be in the sewing room with these doors closed. He comes in, day after day, and whines and whines until I open the doors for him. Yesterday, I was resisting, and so he started walking around on my sewing table, picking up random items, and throwing them on the floor. Not that he's spoiled or anything.

So what's so wonderful about this place anyway? See that space in the image below to the right of the light bulb? There's a space where he can get between the main floor and the basement ceiling and explore. Occasionally critters take up residence in here, and we have to set a trap. For now, it is irresistable to our cat.

I was nervous about letting him up here to explore, but Mike has looked around with a flashlight and assures me it is perfectly safe. And so, it's become Smitty's personal spelunking grounds. Oh yes, and this Any-Cord-Within-My-Reach-Must-Be-Chewed cat, took the time to chew the end off the cord we use to turn on the light yesterday. 

I hadn't thought much about the cord until I heard the tiniest "ping" sound yesterday afternoon, and I knew instantly what it was.


So there you have it. Smitty's jungle gym and cat cave.

Entertainment for hours. All you need to do is open the doors.

So yesterday, I was being very mysterious about the new project I was planning to start, although I wasn't trying to be intentionally mysterious. Actually, it seemed easier to just take some pictures as I worked on it. As it turns out, I didn't get very far.

Here's what I'm making. 

This picture is from the website where I found a tutorial a long time ago. Recently, I found it again, and I decided to make it for our CSA farmers. Our next pick up will be Week #23 of 28 weeks, and so the season is coming to a close. We've so much enjoyed being a member of the "Farmily" and the beautiful veggies we've received that I wanted to give them a little quilt as a thank you for all their hard work. This summer was so danged hot, and they always came through, week after week. 

So I got to work on it yesterday. You could easily make the quilt from the tutorial, or you could be lazy like me and purchase the templates. They aren't available at the link I gave you any more, but I found them right here. And I'm adapting the pattern a little bit. For one thing, I'm going to do the quilting quite a bit differently, and I wanted to add a sun at the top. For that, I'm using the same sun I used when I made the Line Dancing quilt for my laundry room.

So I pulled out the pattern for that and borrowed the templates to make the sun. I intended to get quite a bit further along on this, but alas. This is as far as I got.

As the title of this post suggests, frustration abounded as I got to work. Here's the thing: I've always used Heat 'n Bond Lite for all my applique projects. As I said in the tutorial I once wrote about fusible applique:

It's the only product I've ever used.  It was recommended to me.  I tried it and liked it. It's never given me a bit of trouble, and so I've never felt a need to try anything else.  It is readily available at most fabric stores, and can be purchased in pre-cut rolls or by the yard.  I prefer to purchase it by the bolt.  I do a lot of applique, and this is the most economical way to purchase it.

With that said, I took a class in Tacoma last summer and one of the classes required that I bring Wonder Under, the choice of many others. You can read the post I wrote about the class right here. Basically, the advantage for the class was that it can be peeled up and used again. You can also use it to transfer designs to your fabric. It's too much go to into here, and so if you're curious about this, I'll refer you back to the post from the class.

So all of that to say that I've had this Wonder Under hanging around my sewing room ever since. And then I used it again when I made Gracie's portrait. June Jaeger recommended it in her "A Cat is a Cat" class recently. Having used it a couple of times now, I had an idea that it might be less stiff than the Heat 'n Bond Lite. I decided to try it again yesterday.

So here's where Wonder Under and I started to part company, probably for good. I was using a fabric from one of those bundles of fat quarters you often find at Joann fabric stores. They come in lots of colors...some in shades of the same color, and some in rainbow colors. I use them a lot because I love the colors, even if the fabric is not the best quality. And when I fused the Wonder Under to this fabric that loves to fray, I had the hardest time peeling away the backing. I nearly destroyed the points on the sun's rays trying to get the backing off. I was seriously so frustrated that I almost started over again.

Finally, I got them all separated from the Wonder Under, trimmed off the frayed edges and fused them down. Here's a picture of the Wonder Under on the "sticky" side. It looks and feels like parchment paper. 

And here's what the Heat 'n Bond Lite looks like...shiny...probably more plastic (or something). Anyway, I have never fought with the Heat 'n Bond the way I fought with the Wonder Under.

As a person who does a lot of fusible applique, I have this recommendation: Wonder Under probably is less stiff than Heat 'n Bond Lite. However, I wouldn't choose Wonder Under again unless I'm using tightly woven fabrics like batiks. For other fabrics that are of a looser weave, I will choose Heat 'n Bond Lite from now on. And one more thing: There may be other fusing mediums, but the only other one I'm aware of is Steam 'a Seam 2. I've heard from two sources now that Steam 'a Seam 2 is not a good product, although I've never tried it. Apparently the original version of Steam 'a Seam was well-liked, but then taken off the market and reformulated for some reason. The newer version is not preferred. 

And that, my friends, is probably more than you wanted to know about fusing medium. It's amazing how verbose one becomes when one is frustrated. Often, the verbosity consists of words that should not be repeated.

This morning I turned the third corner of the Dream Machines quilt. Of course, I always start inches from the first corner so that I can turn a corner right away and then announce, "Wow! Look at me go!!" It makes me think I'm making progress, even if I'm only just getting started.

So here's how it's looking:

Whoa! Is there a quilt needing inspection here? Why wasn't I consulted?

And how am I supposed to give it a thorough inspection when it's all folded up like this? Huh?

Like I said, frustration abounds.

16 comments from clever and witty friends:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

He'll keep the squirrels and chippers from nesting under there. I liked the original Steam A Seam lite - the new stuff does suck.. I used Wonder Under once and was not impressed and Mist to Fuse is a nightmare. Curious to see what others suggest.

Sher S. said...

I've used Wonder Under, had a little trouble with it, using Steam a' Seam 2 lite now and not sure if I like it or not. It was recommended to me by a quilt shop that I bought a pattern of fishes, seahorses and such to use for these blocks. Still trying it out, not sure what I like. It's fairly easy to buttonhole stitch by hand unless you have two or more layers, then it's puncture finger time. Mr. Smitty is one very curious cat! One of these days he will learn to not be so curious. Good luck with that.

Janarama said...

Wonder Under is the first fusible web I ever used and stuck with it because it worked for me. Here is a tip learned a gazillion years ago. When you're ready to take the paper off, use the tip of a straight pin and run it across the paper down the middle of your piece. Use enough pressure to somewhat tear the paper, but not so hard that you rip into the fabric. Then you remove the paper starting at the area you scored. Easy peasy and works every time. No more frayed edges from trying to remove the paper without scoring it first.

Lyndsey said...

i'm not sure what fusible I'm using at present but the pin trick works well when the backing is being 'iffy'. Dear Smitty is such a lovable boy and so adventurous. His gym and cat cave look great fun for such a bold explorer.

Lynette said...

Yep, the times I've used Wonder Under have required the pin technique from the center, or it does indeed fray the edge. Steam a Seam 2 Lite's new version - I find the fusible itself still as good as before once fully engaged, but the new 1st-peel paper falls off prematurely, defeating the whole purpose for it. I still have a lot of this bolt left, so I have a while before deciding what to try next. :)

gayle said...

Does Smitty do his exploring alone, or does Gracie accompany him?
Thanks for the info on fusibles!

Teresa in Music City said...

Poor Smitty - having to actually resort to tantrums in order to be allowed to have fun!!! Actually, that gorgeous feline is so spoiled, I'm not sure but what he might be disappointed when he gets to heaven some day. "What? No catnip on demand? No jungle gym in my basement? I'm not allowed to hunt and eat the critters? And where in the heck are my servants?????" LOL!!!!!

Great review on the two fusibles. I use Heat'n Bond Lite as well, always have, and the only problem I've ever had was when I didn't follow directions and I used a too-hot iron. It's great stuff!

Kate said...

Sorry for the frustrating fusing experience. Thanks for sharing all the info. I don't do much where I have to fuse anything, but it's nice to know just in case I do in the future

Dana Gaffney said...

That place looks like so much fun for Smitty, I'll bet he'll be demanding a bed in there when it gets cold. I use and like Wonder Under, yep I've had fraying problems but the pin method works if that's going to be a problem, usually just scraping my nail along the edge of the paper makes it separate and peelable.

Jackie said...

Loved your post! You had me laughing with Smitty's antics! My cat Milly freaks out if I close the louvered doors to my washer & dryer. She meows and paces until I open the doors. So I leave one side open - keeps her happy.

Vivian said...

I use Wonder under because I have had issues with other fusibles. My tip is I always peal a small piece of the fusible off before I cut my pieces on the outline. It always gives me a piece to grab on to when I have to peal the backing away. I will try the pin trick.
Nice idea to give to the CSA. I am sure they will appreciate the quilt. Perfect quilt idea!

Quilter Kathy said...

A wonderfully entertaining post! Enjoyed hearing about how your cat is training you :)
And also love how you start binding close to a corner so you can say look at me go!!

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

Cute kitty! I did get a laugh with the cord chewing. Visiting from Slow Stitching Sunday. I totally agree with your assessment of Wonder Under vs Heat and Bond. I use the pin trick too, and it does help.

QuiltShopGal said...

My BIL, who recently bought a home in Washington is also on a well and had to install a water softener/filtration system to protect his copper pipes. Seems expensive, but worth it in the long run. Enjoyed seeing Smitty's Cat Cave and your beautiful projects. I may have to make your garden quilt for a neighbor who is an avid gardener.


gpc said...

Love Smitty's sense of adventure. LOVE the veggie quilt, too. But the technical talk about fusation leaves me politely looking around the room and thinking about what to eat, much like Smitty in the first photo, and wondering if I am going to have to learn another new skill. You guys are talking way over my head.

CathieJ said...

Smitty has his own jungle gym. Cats always seem to love being able to climb. Sorry about your fusible troubles. I don't use it that much so I have no opinion. Enjoy your binding. I always love that part of quilting.