TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Do Fusible Products Harm Your Artwork?

Autumn's Edge, by Gina DeLorenzi

Research continues on discoloring and degradation of fusible sprays, webs and batting.

by Gina DeLorenzi

To help artists in make informed choices when they buy fusible products, Janet Evenson and Patricia Cox-Crews, U Nebraska - Lincoln, published recent research on fusible sprays, webs and battings. They wanted to know how these products discolor and degrade over time since they could find no published results concerning the long-term performance of adhesive-containing products available to quilt makers and home sewers..

Scientists at the university used infrared spectroscopy to determine the chemical classification of the adhesive sprays. Fusible batting adhesives were identified by proton nuclear magnetic resonance.

The goal was to identify discoloration, yellowing, strength loss, bleed through, stiffening and color changes other than yellow. Various methods to accelerate aging were used.

Major brands of fusible products were studied. Control samples were prepared for comparison. Since different products have different chemical properties, and product formulas change over time, comparing different brands of fusible sprays for example, can only be stated as “this product developed more stiffening than that”. In other words, there can be no exact comparisons between 2 brands performing the same function, merely in relation to each other. One brand may become stiffer, or cause more yellowing, or lose strength sooner. In several cases, percentages of degradation are given for these comparisons, making the information more relevant.

It is reassuring to read in the report that fusible batting products do not appear to deteriorate or cause deterioration in quilts. “The fusible batting adhesive formulations may contain cellulose ethers. Cellulose ether-based adhesives are quite stable to light and have been used for long-term conservation treatments.”

The results for fusible sprays and webs are more disturbing. Read the complete article, its methodology, findings and conclusions.

Evanson and Cox-Crews conclude:

“The fusible webs evaluated, while acceptable for quilts intended to last for 10 to 20 years, could not be recommended for quilts intended to be handed down from generation to generation or for studio art quilts intended for sale to serious collectors or museums. A museum curator or knowledgeable collector will not want to pay thousands of dollars for a quilt that only has a lifespan of 20 years."

Quiltmakers should carefully consider their long term expectations for each quilt they make and select adhesive-containing products accordingly.

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided for this research by the International Quilt Association and Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine.” (quoted excerpts from the referenced article)

Do you have a disappointing "fusing story" to share?
Please leave a comment with your experience.

Gina is a self taught quilt artist. She creates visual and emotional impressions in her fiber art by allowing a relationship between various fabrics to emerge. The stunning results of her dyeing and sewing techniques energize the direction each art work takes.

Gina is a regular contributor here on Fiber Focus. Click here to see her past posts. She is also the quilt moderator for our Fiber Focus Group.

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  1. Fusing seemed a great idea, it makes postioning of scraps so much easier. No getting pricked by pins, no basting. But then I found that hand quilting is so much more difficult after fusing. I disliked the loss of the original grip and softness of the fabric. As a dedicated hand-quilter, I turned back to traditional methods, although the advantages of fusing -- quick results, exiting design -- were clear to see. The information of the harming effects make me more determined to remain a "traditional", as far as techniques are concerned.

  2. I made one quilt so far using treated cotton batting that fuses to the top and back. It washes out and it worked a lot better than I expected it to. It made basting a lot easier and I think I will use it again.


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