Sunday, September 05, 2010

Choosing Threads for Dance

I've been quilting along on Dance, rather enjoying the process which is not always the case with me and machine quilting. Yet the results have been frustrating. I chose a red/yellow variegated cotton thread to outline my dancers, thinking, yes! That is making them stand out and dance. Then I used a multicolored rayon thread in the background, thinking it too was doing its job without overpowering the dancers. Pretty pleased...until I put it up on the design wall and stepped back. I can't believe it - I am dealing again with a design that looks dull and flat and what I am doing to bring it alive isn't working. The dancers still just sit there and you can't see the background stitching at all. I went back in with black thread around the outside of the dancers, thought, yes! That really helped. But guess what? It didn't. (Click on picture to see detail.)

So I mulled this over for a day, despairing that I didn't have the right thread color to fit the bill, considering if paint could solve my lack of definition problem, even working up a sample using different paints. Nothing seemed right. I was about to add some strong yellow rayon thread, and wishing the red rayon was stronger and more orange when I remembered my experiment with thread blending. That is the technique of stitching with two different threads through the eye of the needle so that they create a new color. I tried a sample of the red and orange together, and now I had the stronger (and heavier) color I was looking for.

I didn't bother to remove the background quilting I'd already done - there were places where the red actually showed up - just stitched additional waving lines that intertwined what was already there. If you click on the picture, you should be able to see the difference between the area around the dancer on the left and the added stitches between the other dancers.

But those dancers were still fading a bit into the background, so I added another line of stitching next to the black, this time with the yellow rayon thread. It's still a very muted piece (and the background color in these photos isn't reading quite true), but I think this additional stitching has improved it a lot. This experience reminds me once again how very timid I am when it comes to choosing thread colors for my quilting although they seldom strike me as timid until after the fact. I've begun auditioning fabric for a narrow border/wide binding, and I think the right choice here will do the final job of pulling those dancers off the background.


Felicity Grace said...

I actually like that they blend with the background - it's an opportunity to think up ways to make them dance! ;) I looked at the two bottom photos before reading your comments and thought 'yellow or red thread'! So yes, great choice and I bet they look even lovlier in the flesh! I'm starting to miss quilting, I really should get out some small projects and have some fun!

Anonymous said...

If I may be so bold? I've just watched a Kemshall video talking about thread density rather than colour. It's a simple principle of making your quilting pattern smaller and therefore more intense the nearer you get to your appliqued piece. This gives the effect of more colour as there is simply more thread. By doing that it would make your dancers leap from the background? Just a idea. It's looking good as it is, but just thought I'd mention it as it was fresh in my mind!!

JennaLouiseCreates said...

Dance is lovely! You are so talented!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Comments much appreciated everyone. Annabel, you definitely may be so bold! What you describe is where my mind was going so thanks for the push. If I were less timid altogether about the quilting, I would have tried some dense quilting around the figures - I do think it would help. I thought about jagged yellow lines to emulate glow, but in the end I settled for the plain Jane single line of stitching. I could add several more lines to densen things up but I think I will just call this good and file the information for future reference. Or not - dang! You've got me thinking...

Felicity - yes, you should get some fabric out and play. Think of what you might be able to do with thread painting now that you've spent so much time shading and coloring with pencil on paper. An exciting prospect!

Jennalouise - I am not the only talented are doing some interesting work showing your special talents too! I'm always impressed even when I'm not commenting.