Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lighting the Fabric on Fire

I have been working on my phoenix quilt and am very pleased with the way the bird turned out.  It is now fused to the background, but I won't do the thread painting until I have the quilt sandwiched for quilting.  Time to move on.

I need to thread paint some fire below the bird.  Since I have never thread painted before, I have been doing a lot of experimenting.  I bought my thread and figured out what looks best for the feathers of the bird, but the fire left me scratching my head.

Tester:  Thread painting on two of the tail feathers.
How am I going to create the translucency and flicker that we all know and love?  How do you go about researching something like that?  There are books on thread painting, but none about setting fabric on fire.  Leah Day burned one of her quilts that was full of quilted words stating negative thoughts, but that's not what I have in mind!  My bird must fly out of the fire into freedom.

First I cut pieces that were the general shape of those in the artwork I am using as a guide, but discovered a major disconnect.  Two tries and I decided the pieces were too solid-looking to ever translate as fire on a quilt even though the original drawing is fantastic.

My next step was to hunt on the Internet and guess what?  I found some great thread paintings of fire here (scroll down to 12 Jan 2008) and here.  Lots of great ideas to look at, but I still felt insecure.

Next on my list was to pull up pictures of real fire on Google images.  Bingo!  Even more ideas emerged by looking at what fire actually looks like.  Isn't that amazing?  It is so familiar, but I couldn't figure out how I was going to make it look right until I saw images of actual flames.

My first attempt:
I have fire!
I need more practice, but am beginning to feel more comfortable as ideas materialize out of the smoke.  I want it a bit less stylistic and less confined.  I'll get there!

TIP:  Practice makes better, and better, and better.  Go for it.  Just because you don't how doesn't mean you can't learn with a little research and a lot of practice.

I don't know who wrote this, but it is apropos to us quilters:
Toil awhile.
Endure awhile.
Believe always.
Never turn back.
Happy stitching this week.


  1. Really like how the fire is coming along. Had you considered using any metallic sheers? Like how the sparks are not confined. Looking forward to seeing it completed.

    1. What a great idea. I have some in my stash so I will grab them and see what transpires in the fire pit. Thanks.

  2. looks like fun. Enjoy the journey to learning something new.

  3. Your fire looks great and you are right, perseverance is the key!

  4. Your fire is coming along beautifully You're right not to compromise and keep searching till you can achieve your idea. Good luck.

    1. I found some cool red/yellow, randomly variegated tulle with a sheen and a few sparkles. Can't wait to add it to the mix.

  5. It looks gorgeous! I like how you merged the colors together.