Free-motion Thread Play

Posted by Ruth on 24 April 2011 | 2 Comments

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It's not often I get to play and make my own thing, but last week I did just that. Although, I must say, my playing wasn't intended for me, but instead for a birthday gift. Hand crafted gifts are always a pleasure to give and receive so I took the time to do this.

One of my favorite techniques on the sewing machine is machine embroidery, free-motion of course, or free-motion quilting. In my opinion the technique is the same, you just do a lot more stitching with embroidery. I like to combine the two, depending on the project I'm working on.

For this particular project, I worked from a photo. I knew what I wanted so I had to acquire the subject matter first. This meant a walk to the store (which was an added bonus of getting my exercise in for the day). I managed to find what I needed, a small vase. 

glass vase

First I needed a vase

As luck would have it, right under the vases were silk flowers - roses in fact, just what I wanted, and better still, yellow ones. Perfect!

yellow roses

... and yellow roses for the vase

I made my purchase and headed home again, thinking about how I wanted to display these. My first thought was a single rose in the vase with a bud, but unfortunately there were no buds on my flower bunch. I could try pulling one flower apart to form a bud, but I wasn't so sure that would work successfully, so put that idea aside as a backup plan. I know two flowers in a group doesn't look balanced so now I was up to thinking the minimum I would use is three. I felt restricted to three because of the size of the vase. So three it ended up to be.

Now to arrange the setting. Something in the background - colored fabric perhaps.

roses with dark background

A setting with dark background

On second thoughts, let's go light.

roses with dark background

A change to light

Once I had the right photo, it was time to print the photo onto fabric. I've done this plenty of time before so not a difficult task. In fact, I have even written an e-book with lots of information about printing on fabric. (This goes into depth explaining about the right sort of photo required for printing, how to prepare your fabric, printing, many tips and tricks to use successfully, and gives you a fun project to try too.)

With my printed fabric, it was now time to select the thread colors. This is fun. I pulled several yellow threads ranging from very light to dark gold, then a couple of greens for the leaves, grey-greens for the vase and lastly two more threads for the background. I picked mostly rayon threads for the roses so I could achieve a certain shine to them as if the light was reflecting off them.

machine embroider threads

My selections of machine embroidery threads

So with my threads selected, I layered the quilt top with batting and backing and then it was time to begin stitching. In my mind, I had to start with the roses, or at least with something in the foreground. Backgrounds should always be stitched last. I ended up using five threads in total for the roses, starting with the darkest thread first and working through to the lightest which added the highlights.

stitching a rose

Stitching using 5 shades of yellow

Now onto the leaves and vase. Not too much stitching here. I didn't want to lose the transparency effect of the glass vase.

stitching the vase

Less stitching on the vase

And lastly the background. The wooden table was enhanced by a few wood knots and the light top was stippled quite fine.

stitching the background of the quilt

Stitching wood knots and stippling

With all the stitching complete, it was time to find some fabric to border this. I couldn't believe I found the perfect fabrics in my stash without much effort. The gold/yellow was just the right color for a 1/4" border, and the batik grey was a fabric I don't remember even purchasing, it certainly isn't in the color range I usually acquire. I came to the conclusion it must have been there especially for this project.

border fabrics

Fabrics I found in my stash

I finished off with an almost black binding and I must say I enjoyed the whole process, but not as much as the appreciative look on the face of the receiver. Give someone a gift that you've made and you'll know exactly what I mean.

The yellow rose quilt

Yellow rose quilt finished

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