Saturday, November 11, 2023

Abstract Free Motion Embroidered Landscape

Hi! I just finished a workshop by artist Dionne Swift on creating abstract embroidered landscapes with a perspective that lets the viewer enter the piece. I know that doing more than one sketch and piece is great for learning, but I'm usually impatient to get on with the next thing! 😁Here's the beginning of a learning adventure.

Perspective and a sketch

The assignment was to find an image with a perspective, sketch it and then use free motion quilting (FMQ) to stitch or embroider it. Here's my first finished piece. 

Perspective - free motion embroidered

I started by choosing a photo that invites the viewer in. It's from last year's fall trip to Agawa Canyon.

Agawa Canyon in Northern Ontario

The next step was to convert it to black and white. It's still a great picture for this exercise. Lots of contrast and perspective.

Black and white picture in the Agawa Canyon

I then made the sketch. Can you tell that I'm not used to working with a pencil? My hands were covered in black!

Sketch of the black and white photo

I'm afraid that my sketch got lost in translation when I started embroidering. About half-way through the stitching, I realised that I had lost the perspective that I was looking for. So, back to some sketching!

My sketch made this look far in the distance without
adding the perspective I was looking for

This time I drew a sketch right on the fabric. I forgot to take a photo, but you can see the green FriXion pen marks as I'm stitching. I also kept the photo that I was using close by on my phone. The sketch is different from the original one. Sometimes I was more accurate and sometimes I just made it up as I went along. 😊

Following the sketch on the fabric 

I stitched most of the piece with black cotton thread - nothing fancy, just my go-to piecing black thread. Three bobbins of black thread were used in this piece!

About half way through, I decided that I didn't want to stitch the lighter sections in black. You're supposed to use black but not as densely stitched to show lighter areas. Instead I found a spruce tree green that looks like a dark gray next to black. The only gray thread I have are too light and would have created too much contrast.

Perspective - free motion stitched

Here are the two stitched pieces. 

It really was worth making a second piece to get it right

What I learned
  • I'm glad that I didn't do my usual thing, which is to finish what I started and just call it done!
  • I really wanted to get the perspective right and drawing the sketch on the fabric helped me do that.
  • What I didn't know at the time is that in the Further Development video, Dionne suggested that we use colour in our sketches and our embroidery. I ended up using a spruce green in the lighter areas instead of just stitching less densely. 
  • I'm really happy with my piece and I would like to make at least one more version with some colour. 
  • This one will be a little smaller, maybe an 8" hoop instead of a 10". 
  • It's also possible to add paint - wouldn't it be cool if the water was blue, maybe with some water colour paint? I would want to do this before stitching it, in case the paint part didn't turn out.
  • Dionne stitches her piece on a tightly woven, but not felted, wool. That would eliminate the puckers at the edges that I got from using a piece of cotton. I'll see if I can find something like this.
Related links
Linking parties
I'll be linking up to many fun linking parties. Why not check them out? Put your foot downSew & TellCan I Get a Whoop Whoop?Peacock PartyPatchwork & Quilts, TGIFF, Beauties Pageant


  1. This is a fun technique. I love that you did skip your normal process and go with making a second. It really is evocative of the picture.

    1. Thanks so much Kathleen. I'm really hoping to make a third one with more colour. We'll see if I can stick to it or get distracted! Take care.

  2. An intriguing process! Cheers on forging ahead to the second version to do what the class was designed to teach. In addition to "getting it right," I've also had good experience with moving from sketch to sketch and leaving the original photo behind and developing an abstracted design. Two very different strategies that produce two very different results.

    1. Thanks for your suggestion Claire. That sounds like a great strategy. I haven't done the third one in colour yet but hope to eventually.

  3. Very interesting! Last night I was looking at it on IG and trying to decide what the image was. Before scrolling down this morning i was looking at it and thought I saw a birds head. After reading on and seeing your photo I am so impressed. It looks wonderful. Thank you for linking up last week.

    1. Thanks so much Denise. I didn't realize that I had posted this on Instagram without the original image. I really hope to make a third one eventually.

  4. J'aime beaucoup ce procédé, et tu l'as trÚs bien réussi, bravo ! Un jour je me lancerais aussi ;))
    Merci pour le partage !

    1. Merci Frédérique. Il y a tant de chose que nous voulons faire! Une journée ce sera ton tour :-) Bises


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