Thursday, August 29, 2013

Just sketching with machine and thread

To draw or in my case, doodle with machine and thread is the best fun. It really is playing in the best sense! 

After having just finished stitching a hexagon quilt with thousands of tiny little stitches stitched entirely by hand, I decided that a quickie quilt was to be the order of my day. This fun fabric jumped out at me a couple of weeks ago and I decided that it would be the impetus to make a table top quilt, incorporating oodles of 'drawing with machine and thread'.

 I love the scene on this fabric, the houses, the trees, the wrought iron fences, the street lamps and the trees. I envisage 'drawing' an abundance of quaint houses, children playing in the street, perhaps a stylish and chic lady or two, puppy dogs, children climbing  trees, children flying kites....and whatever else is required to make a happy streetscape. Goodness gracious golly gee whizz me.....did I say that this was going to be a 'quickie' quilt........mmmmmm....perhaps I exaggerate...just a little......oh alright then....a lot!!

Have you ever drawn with your sewing machine? 'Tis a bit nerve-wracking at first but once you get into the groove of doodling with your machine, it is so liberating. It really is just like drawing, only with the sewing machine; and the messier and scribblier the better. Hang on.....did I really say "the messier the better"??? Goodness me, what is to become of me, quite a deviation from my usual persnickety self! I am a gal that is ever so finicky with whatever I create! Believe you me, it took a while to espouse this new attitude of unshackling the chains of fussiness and just freely scribble over fabric to my little ole heart's content! But now, that 'sewing within the lines' mindset is but a fading memory in the deep recesses of my rather foggy cerebrum!
'Tis good to practice this technique a little on a scrap of fabric until you are feeling confident, but in no time at all you will be feeling rather like an artiste. It is also beneficial to practice a little, giving you an opportunity to adjust the tension if need be. 

 I always go over the stitching several times to give a delineated, scribbled appearance.

When freehand stitching on your machine, you will need to drop the feed dogs on your machine. This enables you to move the fabric under the needle in any direction, as fast or as slow as you want. You will need a free-motion embroidery foot, also called a darning foot. This stops the fabric from lifting as you sew. It is helpful to put your fabric in an embroidery hoop whilst you sew, keeping the fabric flat and taut preventing any puckering. You can purchase special hoops for machine embroidery, or you can also use  the traditional embroidery ones.....both work well.

I draw my pictures on to the fabric with a disappearing ink quilting pen......though I must admit, more often than not, I 'draw' freehand with my machine and thread, straight onto the fabric. It just depends what it is that I am making and of course how intricate the design is. If it is a naïve picture that I am 'drawing', then I usually go with the flow and make it up as I go.

Set the stitch length on the machine to zero and 'draw' away. Start slowly to get the feel of the stitching. The fabric is the paper and the needle is the pencil. Switch your brain in to reverse are moving the fabric to stitch your design.

My thinking at this stage is to use the metre length fabric as the central piece with a border of chevron and stripe and then a wide cream border of freehand machine drawing around the perimeter. Of course this could change as I am just making this quilt up as I go.

I have gathered a few resource books to have a bo peep, to attain some ideas on the look of my urban streetscape.

Here are some of my sketches (and a few traceries) that I have drawn that I might add to my streetscape.

Of course these are just a few ideas running around and colliding in my brainpan!! This is definitely a 'making it up as I go' quilt and let's see what eventuates.

Anyway.......enough of this doodling with paper and pencil and rubbing boo-boos out with my faithful rubber! I'm off to jump from the secure stitchery precipice, hurtling down, down, down, into the valley of free-hand machine stitching, where there is no safety net of rubbers, nor where my trusty unpicker is of any use (it takes an eternity to unpick free-hand stitching....oh believe me...I have tried)!

It’s fabric, thread and machine doodling................that awaits me!!


  1. WOWEE!! Your thread sketching is very artistic. Thank you for the tips, I may have to try this technique!

  2. Oh my dear sweet friend....I had no idea that you were/are such a fantastic artist! I can not wait to see the finished quilt. It will be beautiful! I loved this post!

  3. I'll have to try this one day. My first ever quilt had some stippling on it so I jumped into that with a little practice but haven't moved further. My machine may need a service first though.....
    I love your drawings and traceries, so many possibilities - love your fabric find too!

  4. Oh I am so intrigued! I can't wait to see your finished quilt (and I might have a go at thread sketching myself one day!).

  5. You have been soooo busy. I envy your artistic talent. Wish I could do that. I also love that house book. It looks great!

  6. Your quilt will be amazing! I've tried drawing with the machine before, and it is fun. I LOVE the inspiration fabric. Who is the manufacturer? Is it still available?

    1. Thank you Holly. The fabric is a 100% cotton, made in Japan one, which is called "Take a Holiday Collection". I purchased it only a couple of months ago, in a store called 'Spotlight', so I am assuming that it would still be available.

  7. I have not yet drawn like this with my sewing machine, but it sounds very appealing. Love seeing your samples and sketches!

  8. Your blog is great. I would love to talk about this topic whole day..I shared it with my valuable friends. I like the way you are managing , I will be in touch