In the beginning I was wondering many times, how can people make their quilts so realistic. There are some methods that work well, photocopy is one, painting the design with fabric paints is another. But if you would like to create it with thread and fabric, you might want to try thread painting. The lotus flowers on a Horoscope Mandala and on Dance Of Elements are Thread painted.
For this method you need a drawn design of what you would like to paint. Colours of thread that are coordinating with it. For the lotus I used 4 different shades of pink. One dark for the contour and edges, one very light, even shiny silk for highlights, and two colours between. I sketch the colours on a paper, to get an idea, which area should be what colour. I transfer the design to an interfacing, that is a piece of fabric with fusible web on the back. Have it larger, than the design itself, so that it is easier to move under the machine. Start with the outlines according to your colour scheme. Use a darning foot, lower the feed dog and loosen the upper thread. Always try the settings on your machine on a spare piece of fabric, before you start. Ripping these stitches out is just a pain...
As you go with your machine with straight stitches, move your piece back and forth under the machine, as you were painting with a pencil on a paper. The direction of your stitches should be the way as your pencil strikes would go. Fill up the areas with thread, leaving some spaces for blending colours. When you are finished with one colour, you go back with another and fill out some more, getting between the previous lines as well. Work all the way through your image, cut it out carefully and applique it on its final place.
I created a tiger, the turtle and the whale the same way on a Horoscope Mandala. (left below)
The dream catcher (right above) on the Mother Earth Is Our Home quilt has no background fabric and since I did not want to draw on the front of the piece, I worked from the back of the quilt. I drew the mirror image of the design on a fusible web. Ironed on the back of the fabric to its final position, put the colour, that I wished to use into the bobbin and did the same as before. Here it is key importance to check thread tension, before you go, and usually the top thread needs to be more tight, the bobbin looser.
My dragon above (left above) was carried out the same way.
Next time I will write about techniques I used on my May Tree quilt and will start a block of the month series with 12 flowers I used for the tree. They will be available to download for free from my website. Hope to see you next week.