Thread Painting a Pear

While I’m busy working on the Crooked Rail Fence quilts, I thought I’d write a post about a little thread painting piece I did a while ago. It’s a pear – a lovely shape to work with, with gentle curves and rounded contours. This was something I did for the art quilting classes I took in 2011, when I did a number of small pieces to experiment with different techniques.

To begin, I drew the rough outline of a pear shape on a piece of thick Vilene interfacing. Dense stitching requires a heavy, stable backing in order to stay flat. I used a variety of thread colours, all rayon, to stitch the pear and the background. Using free-motion stitching, with the sewing machine’s feed dogs down and an open-toed presser foot, I started by stitching the pear in horizontal straight stitches, and then switched to vertical ones. That helped to evenly distribute the direction of pull on the stabilizer created by the stitching. The purple background was stitched in free-motion as well, but I set the stitch selection to a wide zig-zag stitch, and worked primarily up and down to fill in the space.

This photo shows the stitching in progress.

thread painting pear - first layer of stitching

In this next photo, I’ve added more stitching, and more colours to add depth to the background, and shading to the pear.

thread painting pear - more stitching

When I was happy with the stitching, I trimmed the excess interfacing off, and finished the edges with a satin stitch in varying shades of purple.

thread painting pear finished stitching

When I went searching for a backing fabric, I found one that I had painted several years earlier with Colour Vie fabric paint in exactly the right colours. The pattern in the paint was created by putting a wood trivet under the fabric and scraping excess paint off with a flat edge scraper. It’s fun to see something come together like this without advanced planning. (It also validates my habit of saving all of those bits and pieces in case they might come in handy one day!)

I quilted the background by stitching around the petals of the imprinted flowers.

thread painting of pear mounted on background

To finish it off, I used satin stitch again in a coordinating rayon thread, and inserted grommets so that I could add it to my little book of quilt art samples. The finished size of this project is 8 inches square.

thread painting of pear finished


4 thoughts on “Thread Painting a Pear

  1. Thank you. The idea of the book came from our class teacher, author Debbie Bates, and from her book Threads: The Basics and Beyond. It’s a great way to try out techniques on a small scale, and have something to look at later on.

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