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.
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.
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.
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.
Here the stitching is finished.
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.
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.