Friday, April 15, 2011

Teaching at "It's Sew Fine Sewing Expo" - Decorative Stitch Thread Painting

On Wednesday, I taught a Decorative Stitch Thread Painting class at "It's Sew Fine Sewing Expo" at the General Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton, KY.  It was an all-day class.  I used a book by the same name published by Nancy Zieman.  The technique was developed by Karen Linduska.

I saw Karen on Nancy's PBS television show in January 2010 and fell in love with her technique of distorting  built-in decorative stitches on the sewing machine to interpret flowers, flower stems, flower leaves, grass, ferns, tree bark and leaves and ground cover.

After practicing Karen's techniques, I decided to schedule a class to teach them at Austin's Sewing Center in Louisville KY last summer.  When the opportunity to teach at the 2011 Sewing Expo became available, I jumped at the chance to teach the class there.  Ten students signed up for my class and we had a ball!  Each student learned to let go of the usual sewing "rules" and allow their creativity to flow.  (We actually opened the door to the classroom and threw the "rules" out!)   I think most of the students didn't even know how creative they actually could be as they learned about distorted and elongated stitch patterns!

Click on any of the photos to get a detailed look at the stitching.

 The students are starting on the first step of their wall art quilt, stitching the background of their piece.

Here is what the stitching looks like as the altered and distorted version of a built-in cross stitch.  It's been pushed through the sewing machine so it is elongated.  The stitching is started at one corner and is stitched across the background to the opposite corner.

 Altered stitching was completed on the background piece.  This student used three colors to add even more texture to her background piece.  Pretty, isn't it?

After the background stitching was finished on the insert piece, the ground cover section is added.  Decorative stitches that look like little flowers are added in a zig-zag pattern, from their default setting. 

Next, students completed stitching flower stems for the spike flowers, using an altered stem stitch.

This student didn't have some of the built-in decorative stitches on her sewing machine, so she put in her flowers with a free-form thread painting technique.  It was difficult to tell that the flowers were done free-form, they looked so good!

Students used a built-in petal stitch to stitch the spike flowers.  This stitch gets altered and elongated by pushing the fabric through the machine.  A quilting foot is used to accommodate the build-up of threads that occurs by stitching across petals more than once.

Spike flowers and scallop flowers have been stitched, centers have been stitched, and the stems and leaves have been stitched.  The last step on the insert piece is to add three different types of yarns to separate the flowers from the ground cover.  I call that the bushes section.

 The insert piece will now get trimmed down to get rid of the stabilizer on the edges, and will then be stitched to the larger background piece with a grass stitch.

 A grass stitch is also added to the outside edge with a space left between it and the quilt's binding.  A backing fabric is also added before placing the binding on the wall quilt.

This is the first of two projects given in the book.  Some of the students asked if we could have another class on the second project next year.  Yeah!  Let's do it again next year!  This is a wonderfully fun project to make!


  1. how lovely, this has inspired me to use my machine more for fancy sewing

  2. Ruby, thank you! So sorry I didn't respond sooner to your comment; I just now found it! Using the decorative stitches to thread-paint is so much fun!

  3. Sitting in this class 2013 version. Lots of fun. I'm a hostess for the sew expo.