Saturday, March 14, 2015

Learning Curve Continues

Learning thread painting is throwing me some curves.  It is not the stitching that is the challenge, but rather the planning and not knowing precisely what awaits beyond the next corner.  Last week you read about the things I was learning from my tester piece.  See "Looking Ahead, Stuck Behind"  Now I will write about some other things that have popped up.

Here is the very messed up tester.  Be aware that some experimentation remains as I do not have any thread yet.  With two quilts to block and bind, my pretty bird sits grounded for a short time.   You can refer to this photo as you read the rest of my ramblings.

Phoenix Tester
Layering the fabric properly on this project is counterintuitive.  It is best to lay down the light colored fabrics first and place dark fabrics over them to avoid a shadow under the light fabric, but the dark feathers on my bird look like they should be behind the lighter fabrics.   This scrambles my brain!  In order to counteract reality I need to paint some shadows onto my fabric to make the darker fabric, which is on top, recede into the back.  Thread painting with darker thread in the shadows will add to the effect, but I didn't have any appropriate thread to play with.  I tried black, but it is way too harsh.  No surprise there.  Outline stitching appropriately laid down may help too.

Fabric Paint
*Tsukineko Ink.  I didn't try this because it comes on pretty strong and I have a limited number of colors.
*Copic Pen.  This bled onto the lighter fabric and didn't show up enough on the darker one.  I also have a limited number of colors.
*Inktense Pencil. I put a little fabric medium on a brush, picked up color from the end of the pencil, and scrubbed it into the fabric with a small brush.  I have 36 colors to choose from to coordinate with my fabrics.  Voila!  This is it.

Thread choice  
Should I use cotton or polyester?  I tried both from my thread stash.  Isacord polyester is the clear winner.  I love the sheen it gives the feathers of the bird.  I will use silk for the background quilting because it buries itself in the thickness of the quilt.   I will also try some variegated threads because my research indicates that they provide additional interest.  I ruled out rayon because it is not as sturdy as the polyester.

Quilting (doesn't appear to show up very well on the tester photo) 
Normally I don't worry much about my quilting ahead of time although it does bang around in my head as I work.  However, on this project I have thought a lot about how to quilt the painted background so I tried some of my ideas.  When I looked at the results I realized that there was way too much interest and texture.  The problem is that the bird will be very flat after all the thread painting and I don't want the background to cause visual interference.  My new decision is to do McTavishing with champagne-color, silk thread.  This will tame the beast and still look really nice, maybe a little like smoke from the fire below the bird.  It will allow the bird to fly.

I am painting the background first and wanted to see how the purple air marker and the blue water soluble markers work with the Intense pencils.  I colored with the pencils and fabric medium, heat set the color and marked with both kinds of markers.  No problem.  They disappeared as advertised.

Next, I laid down the blue marker and then colored over it with Inktense pencil and medium.  Wow, the blue marker disappeared.  The fabric medium is water soluble so that makes sense.  The next morning all had dried and the blue marker line was still gone.  I decided to see what happened when I heat set.  Oops!  The blue marker returned as a ghost line.

I used a Lumocolor permanent marker by Staedtler for the red triangular lines.  When I sprayed water on the blue marker lines (see above) they disappeared, but the red lines ran all over the place where they got wet.  How fortunate that I found this out now!  I then tried out a red Micron pen and it worked fine.  I soaked it with water and no bleeding.

I want the painted background to stop just barely under the bird and that is why the concern about markers.  I ended up marking the fabric 1/8 inch inside the borders of the bird lightly with regular pencil.  Those lines will ultimately be covered up by the bird.  Problem solved.  I hope I can see the pencil lines when the time comes, but if not, I will use a light box and the full-size pattern as a guide.

Enjoy your sewing this week.


  1. It' looks pretty cool to me - keep on trying and you'll figure it out!

  2. Wow, I've never tried thread painting but I never realized there were so many things to think about when working on a piece!

  3. Looks beautiful and I know you'll be an expert in no time!

  4. that was terrific reading all about your choice making. I wish more bloggers would share how they make their choices with art projects. LeeAnna at not afraid of color