Butterflies and Coneflowers

This is a small exercise in thread sketching, and in fabric painting. The fabric was created by spraying purple fabric paint onto white cotton fabric over a stencil of a butterfly. When I lifted up the stencil I noticed that it was covered with paint, so I turned it over and used it as a stamp, which created the darker outline of the butterfly in the upper-left corner. I added a touch more colour with a fine spray of gold shimmer paint. This piece is about 9 inches square.

butterflies and coneflowers fabric

I wasn’t sure at first what I wanted to do with this, but I was flipping through the April/May 2011 issue of Quilting Arts magazine and read the article on stitched sketches by Jane LaFazio (page 30). That inspired me to try some thread sketching on this piece. I didn’t really follow the method used in the article, but the idea was the same – to transfer a sketch of an image onto my fabric. I also decided to do my thread sketching in two layers. The first layer was inspired by the outline of the butterfly stencil. I stitched around the images of the butterflies that were printed on the fabric, and then I repeated some of the same motif in the upper right and lower left corners in order to have an even base of quilting. I used a pale purple shade of cotton thread that blended into the background fabric.

first layer of quilting - butterflies

Next, I found a photo of some purple coneflowers that I had taken last summer. I often take pictures of the flowers in my garden – they are so pretty and inspiring. Purple coneflowers seemed like a good choice, as they attract many butterflies. I printed the photo in draft quality on normal paper at 5”x7” size and traced the outline of the flowers onto a piece of Golden Threads paper. You can see that I traced a repeat of one of the flowers into the upper right corner to fill the empty space there.

tracing coneflowers photo

Then I placed the paper on my fabric for stitching. I chose a dark purple cotton quilting thread for this layer of the thread sketching, because I wanted it to look like a pencil sketch, while keeping with the monochromatic colour scheme.

coneflowers tracing on golden threads

Here the stitching is finished.

coneflowers stitched

Once the paper has been removed, the sketching is finished. I love the way the flowers look a little rough, the way a pencil sketch would look.

coneflowers thread sketching

As a final touch, I added a few matte finish seed beads to some of the coneflowers. I tried to match the colours of the beads to the fabric because I wanted to add texture without adding additional colour or sparkle.

Here is the finished piece. The finished size is 8 inches by 8 inches. I haven’t decided yet what edge finish to use on it, so it’s still raw edged. I enjoyed this technique and am very happy with the results. I like the layered effect, and the way that the butterflies are revealed only when one looks closely. Sketching with thread is a fun way to play with thread and a sewing machine.

Butterflies and coneflowers finished

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4 thoughts on “Butterflies and Coneflowers

  1. Thanks! I’m so glad you find it helpful and inspiring. I like keeping these step-by-step notes on what I did – that way I won’t forget it for the next time!

  2. Lovely! The tone on tone on tone is sophisticated and gives the images so much depth. This is an inspired (and inspiring!) process and product. Thanks for your concise instructions–I’m eager to give this a try.

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