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Thread Painting Disaster

Thread painting is wonderfully fun and can produce really amazing quilts. It can also produce pretty time consuming disasters.

Unfortunately my latest thread painting foray ended in total disaster.

Here’s the specs:

Thia project was originally started because I wanted to have a quilted portrait of myself to use as an avatar online and maybe even on my business cards.

My husband snapped the photo for me with our digital camera and I loaded it into the computer and blew it up to more than 300 times the original size. The project was going to end up making a medium sized wallhanging.

So my first mistake started when I selected the materials. I used white 100% cotton muslin that had been prewashed.  I had not, however, starched my fabric, or stabilized it in any way.

For stabilizer I was only using one layer of scrap batting that was just big enough to cover the fabric.

So after sketching the lines from the printed photograph onto the fabric using my lightbox, I immediately started thread painting.

The first part I started on was the flesh tones of the face because I figured this was the largest area to start with and I wouldn’t have many thread breaks.

So after painting the whole face, my lips and eyes were now bulging out of my head! I had extreme problems already with the non-painted areas puffing out and distorting the painted areas.

Rather than stop here while I was ahead, I forged on and did another 6 hours of thread painting on this disaster waiting to happen.

And to no avail.  This portrait is really not going to work out.  The distortion caused by incorrect stabilizing has lead to really sever problems with the whole piece.

This is a big lesson in when it’s time to let go and call it quits with a piece.  I have no qualms about putting 8 hours of work and more than $10 in thread into the trash because I know the alternative is to put another 20 hours into it and still not get anywhere.

I might try this project again because it’s really a good idea, but not for a while. I learned a lot of tips about thread painting from this disaster project, which is more valuable than any spectacular thread portrait avatar photo.

Check back soon for photos!


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