Friday, February 10, 2012

From Paper Sketch to Fibre Art...

I've been so absorbed in my Letter Love 101 online class that when I went in to my studio my sewing machine kept giving me dirty looks. Okay, maybe I was imagining that, but it  did look sad and neglected.  Well, I figured out a great way to make everyone happy - keep practising my lettering and give my sewing machine some loving (come on, it is February!) via thread sketching.  
I started by sketching out the alphabet using pen and paper (one of the exercises in the Letter Love course).  As soon as I saw this exercise I knew I wanted to do it in thread!

 The next step was to trace the letters onto a water soluble stabilizer.  I like to use "Wet N Gone" by Floriani because rather than being like a shiny plastic type of material that many such wash away stabilizers are, this one looks and feels like a soft interfacing.  Don't let the product photo fool you - it's enclosed in plastic to keep it dry for obvious reasons.

I'm now ready to give that sad sewing machine some quality time :0)  I chose a neutral coloured fabric that has a subtle mottled appearance and an slightly coarser texture because I wanted the background to be an interesting base for the stitching.  That fabric was layered with batting and backing as you would for any quilt.  The stabilizer is then put on top and I took the whole 'sandwich' to the machine,  Now for the thread sketching fun!
Using an open toe foot and setting the machine for free motion stitching, I started by tracing around the letters and filling in the negative space between them.  I use any thread in the top and Bottom Line thread in the bobbin.

As you can see, I decided to add some swirly vines which were drawn directly onto the stabilizer and then thread sketched as I did with the letters.

Here's what it looked like once the thread sketching was done.

Fun Fact:  According to Anita from Cotton Mills Threadworks you can wind about 102 yds (93 m) of bottom line onto a bobbin.  Based on that, for this project I used about 600 yds (558 m) of thread!  Needless to say, since I like using black thread, I buy it in cones not little spools ;0)
Now for a little magic.  I run the piece under cool water in the sink and I keep swishing it around until all of the stabilizer is washed away.  This literally takes seconds.  I rinse it a little longer, but because this is an art quilt I don't stress - the remains of the stabilizer actually gives it a bit of a stiffening effect.  If you're using this for a traditional quilt (I thinking a cute addition to a crib quilt maybe) you want to rinse it longer to get all of the stabilizer out and get back the original softness.

I hung the piece in my studio to dry before pressing it, trimming it to square up the edges and then I used a free motion ziz-zag stitch to finish the edges.  I free motion stitched on my signature and...
 ta da!


  1. Ta Da indeed!! This blows my mind.

    1. Thanks Kim, I must say when I'm not sketching with a pen, thread sketching is a fun alternative!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Sherry. And thanks for visiting :0)

  3. That is so cool! I have a free motion foot for my sewing machine, but I've never used it! You have inspired me to pull it out and make some art!

  4. This is just the best idea, WOW, great work!

    1. Thanks Pippa and thanks for dropping by!

  5. Great Project! Thanks for sharing! :)

  6. I am so happy to see someone taking this class into the fiber art world. I use fabric and love to see someone else sharing. Love your
    piece. I have an idea and hope to get with it soon. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Ruthanne. I can't wait to see what you're planning!


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