Thursday, August 7, 2014

Creative Quilting with Thread Painting and Free Motion Techniques

Welcome fiber artist and quilter Karen Ponischil, owner of Karen Ponischil Design. Karen teaches thread painting and free-motion quilting at Mary Jo’s Cloth Store. To learn more about Karen, and to see examples of her work visit

I have always loved creating with fabric and began sewing when I was a youngster. At first I made clothes for my dolls and as I gained more experience I began making my own clothes. I was given my first sewing machine for Christmas when I was twelve years old, and this began a life long love of sewing.  In 2001, I discovered art quilting which was my hobby until 2003 when I decided pursue it as a career. I create quilts using whole-cloth painting or raw edge appliqué. I then thread paint the quilt to bring it to life!

What is thread painting?

Thread is used on fabric like an artist uses pencil on paper, to add shadows, mid-tones and highlights. Thread “painting” makes an object look 3-dimensional by using different thread colors.  Below is an example of a ginkgo leaf design with and without thread painting. This is what you will learn in the introductory thread painting class that I teach at Mary Jo’s.  You can see how the stitching and threads create depth and texture to the fabric.

After mastering the basic techniques, you can take it to the next level by learning how multiple fabrics and greater detail in the advanced thread painting class where students learn to create the poppy flower design below.  Thread painting really brings the quilt to life, making it look more real and lifelike.

What is free-motion quilting?

Quilting also uses thread but the purpose is to hold 3 layers (top, batting and backing) together where thread painting is purely decorative. Quilting can be done by hand, on a domestic sewing machine or a long arm machine. Free-motion quilting is a technique where the feed dogs on the machine are set in the down position, so the quilt can be moved in any direction under the needle, and not just forward and backward.  This allows for greater creativity!

I love sharing my tricks, tips and techniques for sewing, quilting and thread painting with students.  It is such a fun and creative art that combines fabric, thread and design.  Join the fun and sign up for one of my classes today, by clicking here.

1 comment:

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