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Thread Painting By Machine

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If you enjoy sewing and crafts as I do, chances are that you have accumulated dozens of craft and sewing kits over the years that remain stored away in their original packaging.

For a time I enjoyed counted cross stitch until counting and finding the tiny holes became a bit of a chore. I then moved on to using aida cloth that had a painted design that made it far easier to complete the design. But the time required to finish a canvas became too lengthy so I looked about for a way to use the 8-10 painted cross stitch kits that I had stored away.

As a quilter I have become quite adept at free motion quilting, and I decided to try to apply those techniques to a painted 11 count aida canvas. (I won’t go into detail here on how to do free motion quilting as there are some extremely good books available that explain the technique. In general, I use the free motion open foot for my older Pfaff 7570 with the feet dropped. The technique isn’t at all difficult to master but takes a bit of practice to become comfortable with it. )

The canvas I selected was a Thomas Kinkade English cottage scene about 10 X 12 in size. (See the photo below.) It wasn’t an overly complicated design and had areas where I could ‘paint’ with thread. I ironed a piece of thin stabilizer to the back of the aida cloth to stabilize the fabric while I was working with it.

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I used rayon thread in colors that were appropriate to the design, i.e., a yellow straw color for the thatching on the roof, multiple shades of green for the trees and bushes, brown for the fencing, and shades of blue, pink, and lavender to paint the flowers on the lower left side. The most important thing to remember when using a free motion technique is to relax. Just as you would move a brush up and down to paint a wall, apply the same back and forth technique on your sewing machine. It’s very difficult to do it incorrectly. Just remember to keep your stitches running in the right direction. It’s fine to go over the area several times until you satisfied that the background is properly covered. Don’t overdo your thread painting. You want to highlight areas, not cover everything in stitching. The photos below illustrate these techniques.

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Once you are satisfied that you have thread painted an appropriate amount of the design, look for other areas that could be embellished in more traditional ways. On the canvas I used, the lower right half was a garden of small flowers. Clearly thread painting would not work in this area. I subsequently resorted to making a number of small bullion knots in pink and yellow using narrow silk embroidery ribbon. I used blue silk ribbon to fill in for the delphiniums.

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I estimate that I spent about one hour to complete the entire design. I matted the finished design in a muted pink and finished off with an antique gold frame.

I hope I have given you some ideas on using up your counted cross stitch kits. These pictures look charming in a bedroom or hall, and with so many painted cross stitch designs available it's not difficult to find a subject appropriate for a baby shower or holiday gift.

By Florence Dove Google

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