Sunday, April 1, 2012

How To - Thread Paint 3-D Dragonflies

I started to make some 3-D dragonflies to add to one of my Gelli print journal pages, and decided to make a "how to" with step by step photos. I hope you give this a try. It takes a little skill at free motion quilting, but it does not take very long to make one, and they are a great embellishment for any nature or floral quilt. You will need an 4" to 8" embroidery hoop, that will fit under the pressure foot of your sewing machine, they make some especially for this. Draw a simple outline of a dragonfly on a piece of "Solvy" wash away stabilizer with a felt marker. Make the wings long & narrow, short and rounded, swoopy, any shape you want. Try to make them an even size, but it doesn't matter if one side is larger than the other. I usually curve the tail, but you can make it straight too. Layer a piece of tulle (white or any color) then the Solvy drawing, then a piece of organza or chiffon scarf. I like the shimmer organza, but don't use any that has glitter or beads on it. I have used a variety of shimmery fabrics, silk and polyesters as a base. Hoop the layers with the embroidery hoop, and fill a bobbin with black thread. I love rayon thread for my dragonflies, but you can use a metallic thread too or regular cotton. I use a 90/14 needle, use a metallica needle for the metallic threads. Set your machine for free motion quilting, put on a darning foot, and drop the feed dogs. Stitch the outline of the body with a colored thread, purple, teal, orange, pink etc... Then zigzag inside to form an interconnected grid, continue stitching in a zigzag, then a back and forth manner until the outline is filled in. Next use an emerald green or lime green thread(try red too) for the eyes, stitch an area at the top of the head. Switch to a black thread, and outline the body and tail, making several segments in a series of figure eights. Stitch around the eyes, making two round areas at the top of the head. Next outline the wing shape, correct your drawn lines if needed, go over the lines at least twice, to create a thick edge. Start adding veins into the wings, I add a center line and go off of that like a leaf vein, each wing will have your own unique pattern, like a finger print. Do NOT thread paint legs or antennae, we will add them when attaching them to our textile art. I use a "Sulky Sliver Metallic" thread in a clear holographic color to highlight the wings and eyes. It is a flat mylar thread and reflects light beautifully. I have never had any tension problems with it, or breakage, I use my regular needle too. Stitch over the outline stitching on the wings, and some of the veins, only once, then do the eyes with a denser stitch. Make multiple dragonflies on the same piece of fabric, filling the hoop, and not wasting any of the space. When you are done, remove the hoop and trim each dragonfly close to the thread edge, with a sharp scissors. Don't worry if you snip some threads, it is not a disaster. Dab the cut edges with a little bit of Fray Check, and pin the dragonflies to something to let the Fray Check dry. To attach the dragonflies, use black thread and stitch around only the bodies, leaving the wings free. Now is the time to add legs or antennae if you want to. For dragonflies, add two rear legs to each side, with a bend in the middle, and one set of legs to the front, for butterflies or moths add antennae. Moth antennae are thick and feathery. Pull the wings up, to give them shape, and free them from the background. I usually don't washout the Solvy, it is layered in between and adds stiffness to the dragonfly, you can soak them in a dish of water if you want to remove it. You can embellish your dragonfly's eyes with hot fix crystals, faceted crystal beads, or fancy buttons. Go forth and populate your art with dragonflies, butterflies and other insects! Have fun!

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