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Thread painting adds wonderful texture to fabric printed photographs


Yesterday, I wrote about three different WonderFil’s rayon threads – Mirage, Splendor and Accent. Today I thought I’d share a simple project that showcases these great threads!

Last summer I visited my daughter on the west coast of Canada. We went camping for a few days and lazed around in the sun on a dock in the lake. While there, I snapped a few pictures of the scenery with my phone. Later, when I looked at these quick shots, I was fascinated by the reflection of the trees and sky in the smooth, clear water.


A scenic photo of Klein Lake, British Columbia.
A photo of Klein Lake


Another photo of Klein Lake, British Columbia.
Another view of Klein Lake


I thought that one of these pictures would look great as a little quilt to send to my daughter as a memento of our time together. The little quilt wouldn’t need a lot of piecing, just some thread accents.

What threads to choose?

I started playing with the threads in my boxes and decided to experiment and do three mini quilts with three different weights of thread. I tried to choose different weight threads that were similar in color to show how they affected the printed image. The trick with thread painting is to avoid being too “matchy-matchy”. A thread color a bit lighter or darker adds shading to the image and helps it to stand out or to recede. The amount of stitching is a personal decision. As you can see, my three mini-quilts had minimal thread painting, but I could have added more if I wanted to.

Stitching the photos

This is a very simple process. First, print the photograph to fabric. I stabilized my fabric with sheets of freezer paper. Refer to my tutorial post later this week for more details.

Next, I layered the printed photograph with a scrap of batting and a backing. Using my darning foot I simply stitched along areas that I felt needed some enhancing.

Stitching Successfully

As you can see, the 30wt Splendor thread from WonderFil creates just a bit of texture to the quilt. You have to look closely to see the stitching. From a distance the threads don’t really show, but there’s something about this little quilt that pulls you in.


Thread painting with Splendor
Thread painting with Splendor
Thread painting with Splendor - detail
Thread painting with Splendor – detail


When I did my second sample with 40wt Mirage thread it showed up more on the fabric photo because it is a bit thicker and variegated. The light seems to bounce off the various images in the photo giving the quilt some real definition.


Thread painting with Mirage
Thread painting with Mirage



Thread painting with Mirage - detail
Thread painting with Mirage – detail


Accent is the thickest thread at 12wt and really adds a lot of visual texture to the quilt. I used both the solid and the variegated threads in this quilt. Because this thread is so much thicker and shows up so much more, I found that I didn’t need to add as much stitching to this quilt, especially in the water.


Thread painting with WonderFil's Accent rayon thread.
Thread painting with Accent


Thread painting with Accent - detail
Thread painting with Accent – detail



The little quilts were finished with simple borders and another layer of batting. I stitched in the ditch along the seam of the border and used a pillow turn backing.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these quilts stitched with WonderFil’s rayon threads. Watch for the tutorial later this week where we’ll be using this same technique to make a journal cover.


This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: Why WonderFil’s rayon threads is a clear winner for your creative stitching

Go to part 3: Comparing 3 weights of rayon threads in machine embroidery

Allison has an Education degree from University of Winnipeg and many years’ experience teaching aquatics. Allison began teaching sewing and quilting while working at a sewing machine dealer in Calgary, Alberta. She also owned her own fabric store and sewing school for 6 years where she had the wonderful opportunity to teach a wide variety of classes to many sewers, young and old. She now has a studio and classroom in her home and does customer quilts and well as longarm machine rentals. She is a National Handi Quilter Educator. Allison teaches in her studio, locally and in North America. Allison has a very, very supportive husband, 2 daughters and granddaughter close by.

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