In the beginning of my quilting life accuracy and precision was key importance. I started mainly with piecing, but pretty soon I found limitations in execution of my images on mind. So I started to applique. That gave a lot more independence in shapes, but I still was very strict about the edges. I had to fix everything with satin stitches to look right. So I got limitations again with the size and and the details.
Then I saw a video on free motion quilting and thread painting. It was a real eye opening, I had to get a darning foot, lots of thread, drop the feed dog and let go. The advantage of these techniques is that you have all the controll. The disadvantage is that you have all the controll. Yes, the same thing. If you think about freedom, where you can do whatever you want, you will realize, that you need to know, what you want and need to be able to do so. You need to controll the stitches, for the machine does not controll stitch length anymore. You need to move the fabric under the needle, for the machine does not move it anymore. So there are lot more things, that you need to be aware of, and therefore you need to practise a little. Stitching a straight line will be a lot harder this way, than with a presser foot and feed dog. As you get the hang of it, a whole new world full of potential will open for you.
My fractal quilt is finished and all the details and little bubbles are made with these techniques.
Both of these methods are simply drawing with your thread, drawing lines and colour areas as you would with a pencil. You can blend colours by going back with a different shade, you can create light and shadow.
The Acropolis, the Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal and almost every image was made this way on my quilt named Mother Earth Is Our Home.
I took a photo of the object, I traced the main outlines and shadows, that create the three dimensional look of it. I chose a fabric with the main colour of the object, like grey for Stonehenge, Light cream for the Acropolis and the Taj Mahal, I put the image on a light box ( or to the window) and slightly transferred the outlines and shadows to the textile with a pencil. I put an iron on interfacing on the back, I chose a shadow and outline colour, that is not necessarily black, but rather a darker shade of the base colour, like darker grey or light brown. I took my darning foot, dropped the feed dog and started to draw around the contours and fill the areas with thread. I mostly use straight stitches fot that, but for larger areas zig-zag stitches work faster, and create a different result. It is fun to experiment with it to attain the result you need. Finally I cut around the piece carefully and applique on its final place.
Another method is that you draw the mirror image of the design onto the iron on interfacing, put your colourful thread in the bobbin and work on the wrong side of the quilt. This is very useful in occasions when your thread is too thick or breaks easily (especially some metallic threads tend to do so).