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Hand embroiderers call this thread painting. I’ve been playing around with it for a couple of years. While I’ve done some experimenting with my own designs, there are some amazing embroiderers out there who sell designs, even kits including fabric and thread. I’ve done a few of those and quite enjoyed them, but there’s a kind of paint-by-numbers feeling to them, so this year I’ll play with my own designs. This is my first project of 2023 (begun in December). I started by looking at many photos of chickadees and a particular image of the bird, body facing the camera but head turned, caught my eye.

Here’s what I learned doing this project:

  • There’s a reason the professional artists use as many as 30 or 40 colors even for something simple like this. I started this project with just 10 colors and had to go back and add in more tans and grays.
  • Adding in colors after the piece is finished makes the surface lumpy. The colors need to be worked in during the work because the threads are snugged so close together.
  • Good lighting is essential. The light I used made it hard to see my guide marks and the thread direction suffered.
  • Drawing on fabric has some challenges. I’ve tried different pencils and pens with ink that washes out and am still trying to find a good balance between a fine line and a temporary one.
  • Pencil graphite smudges the white thread, but it does wash out.
  • Organizing thread during the project is essential.
  • Mary Corbet’s web site is a life saver. I’ve become a patreon, because she deserves support.
  • Long and short stitching is deceptive. You watch a few how-to videos or step-by-step instructions and you think easy-peasy. But no.

I thought this would be a one-and-done and I’d move on to a different project. But this turned out to be a study. I’ll do another chickadee and incorporate what I learned.