Thread Painting – Layers of Texture and Color!

I’m excited to tell you about the new project I started this week. Like most obsessions, It began as an innocent curiosity and before I could stop myself I was tangled in a web of threads and beads.   My new obsession is Thread Painting!!

A few months ago, (okay, maybe six months ago), I purchased 4 large flower panels from Olde City Quilts in Burlington, NJ.  (Note: This project is inspired by a sample that is in the shop, I’m not sure who made it.)  The panels are about 30 inches square and each one has a beautiful flower in the center of bright happy border prints.  Although I don’t like the term, many quilters call this a ‘cheater panel’.

All quilters have a fabric stash and I am no exception; but I also have what I call the “embellishment stash”.  My embellishment stash contains all of the fancy metallic threads that I have collected over the years along with beads and bangles for embellishing my quilts.  I absolutely love this stuff!

Getting Started: On Saturday – I finally took out the flower panel and started pulling fabrics from my stash to create a complimentary border.  These are pictures that of what I started with. I cut strips to border the flower and ended up with a great foundation for my thread painting project.

These are the panels I started with and the fabrics that will become the borders for my mini quilt.
These are the panels I started with and the fabrics that will become the borders for my mini quilt.

Basting: Once the borders are attached, select a backing fabric and batting and baste the layers together. I pin basted for a temporary hold and then used YLI Vanish thread to baste a 6 inch grid. Using Vanish thread simplifies the process of removing the basting stitches when the machine quilting is done.  To remove the stitches, wet the project and the thread dissolves. Since the project will need to be  blocked when the quilting is complete, this makes perfect sense.

    The borders are added and the quilt sandwich (Top, Batting, Backing) is layered and ready for basting.
The borders are added and the quilt sandwich (Top, Batting, Backing) is layered and ready for basting.

Threads: The project is ready for thread painting now. Select a variety of threads to compliment the design.  For this project, I used Sulky Sliver, Madeira Metallic, and Superior Halo for top quilting and Signature 50 WT in the bobbin. I also used Superior Vanish Extra for basting.

Select a variety of threads with varying textures to compliment the colors of the design. Layering colors will add depth to the thread work.
Select a variety of threads with varying textures to compliment the colors of the design. Layering colors will add depth to the thread work.

Machine Setting:  I selected the setting for free motion work and lowered the top thread tension to 2.0.  Since these threads are textured, use with a 90/14 size needle.  Lower the maximum machine speed if you can, this helps prevent thread fray and breakage.  I loaded my top thread and have pre-wound 3 bobbins with Signature 50 weight thread and I’m ready to go!

TIP: One of the best tips I can offer for machine quilting is to use machine quilting gloves to ease stress on your wrists while you work.

This project may take a little while to finish – I’ll keep working on it and will be sure to post a picture here when I am done.

Happy Quilting!
Pat

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