Thursday, August 03, 2023

Stitching and watercolour on Free Motion Mavericks

I don't seem to be ready to get back to my machine, either to sew or to do some free motion quilting (FMQ). I guess I just need to some quiet time. My thread and needles are never far away (although I keep having to look for my scissors!). The weather had been cooler so it's been nice to stitch outside. 

Trying for an abstract watercolour

There is a new workshop in the Textile Artist Stitch Club - this time creating an abstract watercolour piece and then stitching through it. Our teacher, Sam Owen Hull, does very cool work with watercolour and stitching (see Related links). 

My first two watercolour embroidered pieces

We were supposed to start with photos that we can then create abstract paintings with. I did take some amazing photos in the garden but the abstraction was easier said than done. I tried to take close-up images of partial flowers or of interesting foliage and then cropped them further with my "Resize Me" app. 

I love this one but haven't painted it...yet?

This was my first try at abstraction in watercolour. It was a mess but might be interesting once it's stitched....but I can't find it 😔

Unfurling beauty

I started painting this one is watercolour but it was too gray. I ended up turning the rock into the next image.

Rocks and vegetation 

The Echinacea is my next one to make. Not very abstract but closer?

Echinacea close-up 

Started of as a rock and turned into a flower😁

The image below was my first attempt. I really love the stitching that I did, but it's not abstract!

Two interesting Echinacea

This is the finished image. 

First finished piece - stitching on watercolour

The next piece that I did has abstract shapes. I was playing with different types of watercolour paints.

Small 4" x 4" abstract watercolour and stitching

Echinacea flowers - real, watercolour and thread 

What I learned
  • This is one of my first attempts at watercolour. I had no idea what I was doing and I'm not sure that I want to invest a lot of time learning. Seems to me that I have more than enough learning happening 😊
  • Having said that, I really do like the stitching on paper. I've been wanting to do that for a long time and I'm glad that I'm doing more of it.
  • I had been told that you have to pre-punch your holes to stitch through paper...and I found out why! If you punch the paper from the back, it leaves a little mound of paper (the stuff that you displaced by making the hole) on the front. This shows a lot if you're using a stiffer paper or cardboard.
  • I did learn however that you don't have to punch all of the holes before you stitch. You can put your needle through the paper at any time, as long as it's from the front of the piece. This is good to know because I stitch very intuitively and planning the whole piece before stitching is a problem.
  • I also learned that the thickness and colour of the thread matters. For my first piece I had used thinner thread. It was ok but didn't show up very much. Eventually I decided to stitch over some of the original parts with a heavier linen thread (both pink and dark green). That worked really well and showed up much better. The holes were already punched, so it was relatively easy to do.
  • For the seed head of the flower, I used two strands of Bengal silk thread from Maiwa - these are the two cones in the picture below. I really like the effect that it gave.

Adding a thicker linen thread over the original thread
  • Because the watercolour paper is stiffer than fabric, you can also create longer stitches. As long as your tension is good, they will stay that way. I did a lot of experimenting with stitches on the small abstract piece.
  • The stitching is possibly more mindful when it's on paper because you have to figure out how you make the stitch, so that you can make the appropriate holes. When it's on fabric, I don't think much about my stitches, I just do them!
  • Stitching on paper is also forgiving. As long as you don't mess up the holes, you can cut the thread and start over, or stitch on top of your original thread with heavier thread. 

Related links

Linking parties

Free Motion Mavericks

Thanks to everyone who linked up!

Gail finished her Trivet last week. It's for Joy’s One gift a Month! If you go to Quilting Gail's post, you can access a link to the tutorial. 

Trivet - a Friday Finish for Quilting Gail

It's now your turn.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


  1. Love your coneflower quilt!!! The stitching is fabulous!!!

    1. Thanks so much Nancy. It's really fun to stitch :-)

  2. I really like this idea! It's got me thinking about something new to try. Thanks for the tips and great photos. These would make really fun cards to send to friends!

    1. Hi Kathy, they really would be. I'm going to try to mount my first one on some wood covered canvas. I think that it will look good. Have fun!

  3. Both pieces turned out beautifully. Even if you didn't get exactly what you wanted, you did a great job experimenting and learning.

    1. Thanks Kate. It's hard to know what to expect when you make a technique for the first time. I do have a couple more to finish...eventually :-)


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