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Let’s get ready for some thread painting!

Getting prepared

Yesterday we learned a bit about thread painting and previewed some fabrics to use with the Tutti and Konfetti threads from WonderFil. Today we’re going to assemble the rest of the supplies we need and get our sewing machines ready to do some thread painting.

What do we need?

The first thing we need to have is a sewing machine on which you can lower the feed dogs. Next, we need to have a darning, applique or free motion foot and a topstitch or embroidery needle. An embroidery hoop can be helpful for holding the fabric to prevent your hands from getting sore, but is not essential. An extension table or large bed for your sewing machine will give you extra room to move, so if you have one of these, make sure you attach it.

Let’s set up the machine for thread painting

First of all, attach the appliqué foot or darning foot and lower the feed dogs (to do this there’s usually a button to push either on the side or back of your machine – check your manual if you can’t find it). Insert a new needle. Next we’re going to thread the machine and insert the bobbin. I’m going to use a bobbin thread (which is a very fine, polyester thread) to help reduce the bulk on the back of the fabric. My sewing machine has a specialized attachment to the bobbin case that helps to increase the tension on the bobbin thread so that it won’t pull through to the front of the piece – see the picture bellow.

Threading the bobbin with bobbin thread
Threading the bobbin with bobbin thread

 

So, I’ve threaded the bobbin thread through the attachment and I’ve put a spool of the Tutti thread onto the top spool threader. Since my thread spools are wound in a diamond pattern, they are best to be placed on the horizontal spool holder.

Thread on horizontal thread holder
Thread on horizontal thread holder

 

ALWAYS make sure that your foot is UP when you are threading your machine. This opens up the tension discs and makes sure that the thread passes between them. If you realize that the foot was down when you were threading, then pull the thread out, put up the foot and re-thread your machine – believe me it’ll save you headaches later on! Nancy Prince has a series of videos on how to set up your machine for thread painting and free motion – here is the link to the first one:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVFkPCmONJU

Introduction – Setting Up Sewing Machine for Free Motion – Part 1 of 8 – YouTube

Award winning quilter and author Nancy Prince explains how to setup your sewing machine for free motion in an 8 part series. A companion guide is yours free …

 

 

 

What to work on?

I’ve decided to try thread painting on the fabric with the white background, and I have a few extra binders that were bought in the back-to-school buying frenzy, so I’m going to make a quilted cover for one of them. If you want to make one too, just cut your background fabric about 4” wider and longer than your book when it is open flat.

Sizing up the background fabric
Sizing up the background fabric

 

Before thread painting, we need to stabilize things!

When you are stitching densely on fabric, you need to have some type of iron-on stabilizer on the back to prevent the fabric from puckering. There are many different types of stabilizers that you can buy, but I decided to use a tear away stabilizer. Since I’m only going to do the thread painting on the cover for the front of the book, I’ve cut a piece of stabilizer about ½ the size of my fabric. Next I need to iron it on to the back of the fabric. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for directions on how your stabilizer should be used.

Ironing on the fusible interfacing
Ironing on the fusible interfacing

 

Check your tension!!

Now that we’ve got the machine threaded, and the fabric prepped, we need to check the tension on the machine. You will probably need to reduce the upper tension by one and then do a few stitches in the corner of the fabric (where you will be trimming later). You want to have an uneven balance between the upper and lower threads, so that the bobbin thread doesn’t pull through to the top. Keep adjusting the top tension down (lower number) until you can no longer see the bobbin thread when you stitch. The back will look something like this:

View of back of fabric when checking tension
View of back of fabric when checking tension

 

Hand placement for thread painting

Make sure your hands are placed correctly so you have full control of the fabric as you move it under the needle. See how my hands form a frame or circle around the needle.

Correct placement of hands
Correct placement of hands

 

I think we’re all set to start our thread painting!

Well, we’re all set to start stitching, so tomorrow we get to the nitty gritty of thread painting.

Join me for a ‘stitch along’! If you don’t want to make a book cover, you can do your own thread painting and either frame it or sew it into a quilt block – just do the thread painting first and then decide what to do with it when it is done.

I have been designing and publishing quilt patterns for the last 16 years under the business name Fairfield Road Designs. My patterns range from fusible applique and piecing to felted wool applique and punchneedle. You can see all of patterns on my website www.fairfieldroaddesigns.com.

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