Thread Sketching: See the Difference it Makes

So often when we approach a quilting project, we focus on the fabric. But thread art–from the color choice to the free-motion quilting or thread sketching–is also a key design element.

Award-winning art quilter Susan Brubaker Knapp is a master at using threadwork to bring her fiber art to life. Just look at the two examples below to see how machine embroidery thread choices and thread sketching techniques alter the look of her designs.

apple quilt before thread sketching "Cripps Pink" before: 

In this piece, Susan began with a very simple pattern, with only two colors of fused fabric for the apple, and two others for the background. She wanted to demonstrate how much realism she could add with thread alone.

apple quilt with thread sketching

"Cripps Pink" after:

She used brown, purple, dark red, dark orange, and medium orange thread on the apple, and made sure that her lines of stitching curved to create the illusion of roundness. The many thread colors are needed to create dimension (with darker thread on the shadows and lighter on the highlights) and to blend the colors.

butterfly quilt without thread sketching

"Prepared for Takeoff" before:

Look how flat and uninteresting this piece looks before the thread sketching. Susan marked some of the lines and areas she wanted to thread sketch with a mechanical quilter's chalk marker before she started stitching.

butterfly quilt with thread sketching

"Prepared for Takeoff" after:

Thread sketching adds subtle color variations, emphasizes the lines and patterns, creates the texture, gives the piece a sense of movement, and makes the whole piece pop. A webbing of black thread for the shadow under the butterfly adds dimension.

In our new eBook Thread Sketching 101 with Susan Brubaker Knapp, Susan reveals her tips and techniques for thread sketching. Plus, she included machine stitching exercises that will help you elevate your art quilting. You can download it today!

P.S. What's your best thread-sketching tip? Leave a comment below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Quilting Daily Blog, Thread Painting, Thread Sketching

One thought on “Thread Sketching: See the Difference it Makes

  1. I think you should be a little more forthright and tell people that the new thread stitching 101 is actually a reproduction of articles (or that the dvd jumps off from the articles) in previous magazines. Mind you I did really enjoy the articles, and studied from them