Switching Up for Better Details


For those of you who have been sitting anxiously for the next Jason’s Pumpkin installment, hopefully this will give you some gratification.

You do not have to be an “art” quilter to think outside the box.  Thinking outside the box is just that.  Thinking outside what has been done before…..to death.  These words will always hold you back, “this is what I was taught so why should I change it?“.  <sigh>

Thinking outside the box has nothing to do with whether it is art, traditional, whatever.  It has everything to do with thinking about, and approaching, a technique differently to achieve a more interesting effect compared to what you have been doing. 

I am not an art quilter.  I am a contemporary traditional quilter ( if you need a label).  I just say, “I make quilts” when asked and I think outside the box.  Ask yourself, “why am I making green embroidered veins on green appliqued leaves?  Usually in the same matching color?”.   Did you just hear that “Aha”?  A light coming on? 

Just like the fabrics we choose to create depth, the same decisions apply to using color in your embroidery to create the same effect.  Switch it up!  Do you notice on these leaves how my embroidery threads DO NOT match the leaf color?  Notice how more life-like and colorful they become? 

Your eye, even at a small distance, will marry these colors and see transitional color just like a painting.  Have you ever been up close to a master painting and seen how “separate” the strokes of color are and then stand back at the proper distance and they marry to create that realism?  The same thing happens with fabric and thread.



 Take it one step further and use <gasp> two colors on the same leaf for veins.  Can you see the difference?  If you want a more realistic and colorful result, step away from monochromatic matching of fabric and embroidery thread.  Notice the difference in depth and interest?  The embroidery *marries* the applique rather than just sits on top like a lump of thread texture.



 This is a basic, almost primitive in appearance, stem stitch.  Nothing fancy or precise.  The embroidery is not meant to be the focal point, but to create another layer of texture and color accentuating the applique and creating automatic depth.  It is the “worker” embroidery, not Prima Dona embroidery.  Two different animals and outcomes.

This is what can make your applique look so complex and painterly without having to use artificial additives such as paint. You can accomplish the same result with fabric and thread if you just approach it differently than what you have been told or thought.  There is never only one way to do anything even if you are a traditional quilter.  Experiment, experiment, experiment and make it interesting.