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 photo of Klein Lake

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 – 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 – 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 Accent

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

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