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Combining stitches to create a quilted art piece

Combining stitches to create a quilted art piece

by Elaine Theriault

Who would have thought that inspiration could be achieved by a simple exercise? I stitched out a combined stitch sample using the ‘How to Combine Stitches’ in the Sewing Program Sub Menu of the Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC sewing machine? The combining stitches feature in the EPIC’s Knowledge Center.

A rather busy spell and a bad cold had pretty much sapped my creativity and I needed to get back to serious work! Today, I’m going to take what I learned and show you how that sparked me to work on a project for myself.

Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC

Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC

I find that creativity comes from a lot of different areas, but sometimes we need that little spark to pull it together. We had been talking about creating some personal art pieces for our offices.

Hmm – I could do that with fabric. I love collage/vintage/art type pieces but I never seem to have the time or allow myself the time to play with that. I’m saving it for when I retire. YES – I can hear you – that’s totally the wrong attitude to take.

So after I did that little exercise yesterday, I got the idea of making an art piece for my office using collage/vintage/art stuff. I’m the type of artist who has to practice a wee bit before I can successfully translate what’s in my head with what I make with my hands. But here’s the thing, if you keep waiting until you get good, that’ll never happen. Might as well dive right in and see what happens.

I just installed three 4′ long cork strips in my office with the intention of having a mini-gallery in my office and to hang mini-quilts or small art pieces in that spot. Now that I have the equipment (The Designer EPIC), the space to hang the finished pieces, and the motivation to create something, I’m set.

Let’s get started to see what I created today.

I love WORDS. I love fabric with WORDS. And I have loads of it but I never use it. And that’s a shame. What am I keeping it for?

So with reckless abandon (well not quite), but I just randomly cut shapes from a number of prints of things that I like – sewing themes, dogs, and words. Couldn’t find any bicycle fabric with that dull taupe background.

With reckless abandon, I started to cut shapes from my yardage.

With reckless abandon, I started to cut shapes from my yardage.

Once I had a number of randomly (I swear they were cut randomly!) cut pieces, I assembled them roughly on the table. I wanted to keep the project small. That’s the beauty of this kind of artwork – make it small, try a new technique and if it doesn’t work out? Well – at least I won’t have wasted a whole lot of my precious word fabric!

Random fabrics laid out for a background

Random fabrics laid out for a background

I sewed the pieces together, trimming as I needed. When I was finished, (I swear – I didn’t measure those pieces!), I measured the final piece. It was about 10″ x 11″. Hmm – I didn’t really want something square, I kind of had 9″ x 12″ in my head, so I simply cut one more piece and added it to the top so the approximate measurement is 10″ x 13″. Lots of room to trim once the piece is done.

Randomly pieced background of various prints - size is roughly 10 inches by 13 inches

Randomly pieced background of various prints – size is roughly 10 inches by 13 inches

Of course, it was super easy to sew the seams with the Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot. Even though the ¼” wasn’t critical to the end result, it helps to have a guide.

Piecing the sections with the Quilter's ¼" Piecing Foot

Piecing the sections with the Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot

Then I had fun creating my own string of stitch sequences. There are so many decorative stitches and fun stitches and well – stitches for lots of things. It took a bit of time to swipe sideways and up and down through the menus, but eventually, I got what I wanted and now it was time to stitch the stitch sequence out.

If you’re having trouble deciding which of the many stitches to use, make it simple for yourself. Pick two. Play with them on a scrap. Do you like them? If not, then try a different combination. It helps to have a theme as in my case – dogs and bikes.

And very important, before I did any stitching, I fused a piece of stabilizer to the wrong side of the piece. There was going to be a lot of different styles and types of stitches and the last thing I wanted is to have tucks and puckers.

As this is going to be an art piece, it doesn’t matter if the stabilizer stays in the piece which in this case it will. I found some stabilizer in my stash for collars and cuffs (now where did that come from?) I cut a piece and fused it to the back and it was a perfect weight. To think I was going to give that away! Thank goodness I didn’t because I have a whole bolt of it and I can make a lot of art pieces with that bolt.

Now it’s time to stitch. The length of the total stitch sequence was listed in millimeters on the screen. ACK! I’m not into metric for this kind of thing! I really must learn, but no worries, I would have to measure anyway. So I measured the width of my piece along the tape measure printed on the base of the Designer EPIC. Well close enough.

Now if I would have created a shorter stitch sequence, the Designer EPIC would repeat the sequence until I hit the STOP function or I manually stop the sewing machine. In this case, I did have to manually stop the machine because I ran out of fabric. Nice to have options.

Using the S foot to stitch out my stitch sequence

Using the S foot to stitch out my stitch sequence

I’m also one of those who can’t follow the rules. Well, there are no rules! This is my art piece so I can do whatever I want. Was I going to stitch in a straight line? If so, then I would have to mark the line in order for it to be straight. I would have to pay attention to keep that wide stitch centered on my drawn line. Oh – this is too much fussing and where’s the fun in fussing? Let’s move the fabric as it’s stitching so it stitches in a curvy line. Curvy lines are better than straight lines. At least in my book they are.

First rows of stitch sequences are completed

First rows of stitch sequences are completed

Let me explain! That curvy part that you see is the stippling stitch on the Designer EPIC. That’s a built-in stitch. The curvy part I did – well you can see that that entire line of stitching isn’t straight! That’s the curvy part that I added.

Can you see what I stitched? I used the stippling stitch and the bicycle stitch! So it looks like I’m traveling on the bike!

Then I decided to use the stippling stitch and the dog stitch and I also incorporated WORDS into that same line. Isn’t that the coolest ever!!!

Bicycle stitch and the stippling stitch are incorporated together

Bicycle stitch and the stippling stitch are incorporated together

In the example below, I incorporated the dog stitch, the stippling stitch, and the words WOOF WOOF. It’s so easy to incorporate the stitches and by adding words, you can personalize your stitch sequences to any situation. Oh, the thoughts are running through my head. I need time – lots of time.

The dog stitch, the stippling stitch and the words - WOOF WOOF

The dog stitch, the stippling stitch and the words – WOOF WOOF

Remember that I’m experimenting here. I didn’t want those stitch lines to be really obvious. OK – I didn’t do a practice and I didn’t want to mess up my word fabric! So I used a subtle thread color. Then that thread ran out so let’s find something a little bolder. I moved to a darker brown 40-weight thread and that became very visible!

Do you see how I curved that last line of stitching? That was one continuous line of stitching. Because the piece was well stabilized, there was no stopping me from turning it as much as I wanted. I never once lifted the pressure foot. The sky is the limit!

More words stitched in a stitch sequence and the piece rotated while being stitched

More words stitched in a stitch sequence and the piece rotated while being stitched

The piece is flat as a pancake and I have not touched it with an iron.

Now I know that it looks a wee bit lacking at the moment. I do have a few more embellishments to add – some by machine and some will likely have to be added by hand. If you come back tomorrow, I’ll show you how I’m going to finish it off.

The piece won’t be ready for the first day of my new office art gallery, but it’ll be hanging up there real soon.

Now here’s a lesson for all of us. If you wait to use that precious fabric or your most favorite piece of fabric or wait to try a new technique when you have more time or wait until you’re more skilled? Well – STOP waiting! Get out there and start using your good fabric, learn something new.

I have this one piece almost under my belt and already, I’ve loads of other ideas on how I would do it differently. How can I incorporate some embroidery (machine or hand) and a whole lot more!

That wraps up today. Remember to come back tomorrow to see how I use the Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC to finish off my art piece.

Have a great day!


This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3: Sparking creativity using the Designer EPIC’s Knowledge Center

Go to part 5: Essential finishing tips for the Vintage-look Art Quilt

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