Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pumpkins are Everywhere

This time of year you start to see Pumpkins (in many forms) everywhere. A few years ago I created a little pumpkin quilted wallhanging as a project/pattern that was available in The Canadian Quilter. 
I thought that perhaps some of my readers might like to try this as well.  The technique is a cross between fused applique and thread painting......by having the fabrics act as the underlay, you don't have to add that much thread to get a cool effect.
Since October is my blog-versary month, I thought I would share the instructions pretty much as I had written the article and also share the printable pattern/design

Have you ever tried to paint a picture using just fabric and thread? It can, and should be a lot of fun. It may appear complicated at first glance, but follow the steps and you just may discover your inner artist.
For this project, your list of supplies are easily found......mostly, you are going to need to raid your scrap pile. Dig in and find a number of greens, browns and a few oranges. (wonderful effects can be achieved by using small prints that read as a solid) You will need threads, for this project too, I used just three different spools of variegated thread.....but, you could use up those spools that no longer have much on them. Gather up a selection of shades in the same or similar colours as your fabric bits.
You will need some yardage, a piece of fabric for the background, I started with a piece roughly 18”x 12” as well as something for borders if you decide to finish the piece as I have. I will list those dimensions further along in these instructions.

The thread painting process will be done prior to adding batting, this can cause some distortion so a stabilizer is important, a piece large enough to cover the design area will be needed, I used a medium weight, tear away stabilizer, big enough to cover the back so I did not have to worry about having enough coverage.  You will also need some paper-backed fusible, 0.25m should be plenty (I used Wonder Under). Besides a sewing machine in good working order, one that can have the feed dogs dropped, you will need the usual tools, a pair of sharp scissors, an iron, perhaps a pair of quilting gloves, and if you have one (or can borrow one) a hoop will help diminish the amount of puckering that can occur, depending on how heavily you stitch, and of course, additional yardage for borders, backing along with your choice of batting.

Using a variety of different fabrics will help give it a more painterly feel. If you pick colours that look good together, then in the end, it will be harmonious. Here is a look at my choices

 Are you are ready? Let's get started.
You will first need to print the pattern. Download the design as a PDF using this link
It is a 4 page document containing the pattern, right side up, this is your placement guide and a second that has been reversed to make it extra easy to trace out all of the pieces. Follow the instructions on the pattern pages for joining the two halves, you can now begin to trace and number each piece onto the paper side of paper-backed fusible, be sure to leave a little room between each shape and note what colour the piece will be, B for brown, G for green and O for orange.

The next step is to cut out each traced piece roughly, do not cut on the pencil lines just yet. Separate the bits according to their colour designation. Next, choose the fabric you wish to use. For the pumpkin, I used a different orange print for each piece. For the leaves, I chose a variety of darks, lights and mediums. Place your traced fusible on to the wrong side of your fabrics, fuse according to manufacturers directions. At this point, you will cut each piece directly on the pencil line. Once all of the pieces are prepared, you are ready to begin putting them in place. Lay your background fabric, right side up, over top of the placement guide, if the fabric colour is light enough you should be able to clearly see where each piece will go. Begin by removing the paper backing one piece at a time and place it in the corresponding spot following the placement guide. Don't press anything just yet, you will want to make sure you are pleased with the placement of all of the pieces before fusing them permanently. The goal is to put it all back together, almost like a jigsaw puzzle, but don't be concerned if you have a little gap here and there, you will be covering it with thread.

look closely and you see that there are some small gaps.....no worries, they will get covered
Once your design is fused, you will now need to place a piece of tear-away stabilizer on the back, just baste it along the edges using stitches that you will be able to easily remove later.
Set your machine as you would for free motion machine quilting, this is where the fun really begins. I first stitched the stem and vines, then the pumpkin and finally the leaves. Concentrate on one small area at a time, place it in the hoop and stitch following the contours of each shape, for the pumpkin, strive to have your stitching flow with the natural curve of the pieces, Look carefully at each area and try to imagine how they would look in nature. You don't even have to stay within the lines, wander off here and there, give the vine a bit of a “hairy” look. Stitch a little or a lot. Not sure where to start? If you like, draw a few guidelines to help get you started or perhaps, fuse an extra leaf to a practice piece and stitch until you become comfortable with the process

This photo illustrates what the piece will look like on the back and may help give you a better understanding of the direction you will want to move your thread work. (the white you see is the stabilizer that will later be removed)

Once you are satisfied with the amount of thread painting, it is time to get rid of the stabilizer. Remove those basting stitches and begin carefully tearing away the stabilizer, remove as much as possible. Here is a look at the back, you can see that I have thoroughly removed any stabilizer that had not been stitched through.

Even with the use of stabilizer and hoop you may find that you have a bit of puckering, not to worry, the quilting will get rid of that. First, minimize some of the puckering by placing the piece face down onto a thick towel and press from the back using lots of stems. Let the piece cool and you are ready to trim, add borders, batting and backing. For this sample, I trimmed my thread painted piece to 10.5”wide by 16.5” in height. I cut narrow border strips at 1.25 inches in width, (they finish up at 0.75”. Next, I added the outer border strips cut at 5 inches. Once the piece was quilted, that outer border was trimmed to about 3.5 inches. By initially cutting your borders generous in size, you will have something to “hang” on to during the quilting process.
I chose to do a fairly dense echo quilting in the background, circles on the inner border and meandering on the outer border.

These photos illustrate the thread painting process, as I said you can stitch as much or as little as you want. Allowing your beautiful fabric to shine through adds to the effect with this technique and by using the fabric as an underlay you don't have to build up any "base" stitches as with true thread painting.

Enjoy....Have fun!


Wendy said...

thank you for sharing this wonderful pattern with your readers.

Glenda said...

Looking at your brown vine/stem gives me a buzz of happiness. It is my favorite part of this piece of yours. I love it. Last year I made a small wall hanging for my sister of a leafless tree. She wanted a place to hang her collection of owl pins and I loved thread painting and quilting it. It looked so wonderful from the back side. I agree so much that meandering off the edge and creating texture is a great addition to the life likeness of a piece. Great job Jill. It is so lovely.

Michelle May-The Raspberry Rabbits said...

This is so beautiful. I have never been very good at painting with thread and my machine. I always stand in awe of those who can create such loveliness. xx

Лёка said...


LynCC said...

Thanks for posting this! I have a number of McKenna Ryan fused pieces that I need to do thread work on before quilting them, but I've been letting it intimidate me. I need to just suck it up and try this! You add to my courage.

Debbie said...

Thank you....great pattern and instructions! I can't wait to try this.

Joan Kawano said...

Ohhh, I can hardly wait to play. Thanks for the delicious design!

Createology said...

Beautifully painted with fabrics and thread. Your pumpkin and vine quilt is stunning. Thank you for always sharing so generously. Dare to Delight...

Kim said...

Thank you, can't wait to try it you make it look so easy!

I hope had a happy Thanksgiving, we all have so much to be grateful for don't we!

Thanks again and happy sewing

Diane E W said...

Just discovered your blog. I have printed out the pattern and cannot wait to give this a try. I am a longarmer, would I still need to "paint it first" with the stablier or just quilt the layers as usual. Might try both ways. Not quite big enough for what I want, permission to enlarge alittle?

Raewyn said...

Thank you for sharing this design and technique. I look forward to having a play.

Copyright Jill Buckley