inspiration comes from everywhere, and one place I constantly find
design ideas is in graphic design. I'm obsessed with creative typography
and love to incorporate letters and numbers into my sewing projects
with embroidery, stamping, fabric prints featuring type, appliqué, and
more. Even if you can't read what it says, just the graphic nature of
letter forms, in any language, can add a unique graphic element to your
Alphabet Soup Quilt designed by Rachel Hauser.
So this was my inspiration for one of our project themes in the Fall 2011 issue of Stitch, called What's Your Type?
I challenged designers to create projects that used type in a clever
way in their design-and they didn't disappoint! These talented designers
incorporated type into their projects through hand embroidery,
free-motion stitching, quilting, and appliqué. The results were
in point-designer Missy Shepler created this amazing Quilted Text
Pillow featuring a super-cool free-motion stippling technique. Here are
the basics of this technique:
You will need:
- 2 small spools (about 320 yd [293m]) each of 3 different shades of one color of sewing thread to build visual depth.
One 12" (30.5 cm) or larger handquilting hoop (a machine-embroidery
hoop may work as well; make sure the hoop is thin enough to slip below
the machine's presser foot)
Free-Motion Stippling by Machine
get started, lower or cover the sewing machine's feed dogs (see the
owner's manual for specifics) and attach a darning or free-motion foot.
the fabric on the outer quilting hoop, centering the text within the
hoop. Secure the inner hoop in place, pulling the fabric taut without
distorting the fabric weave. The fabric should lie flat against the work
surface beneath the hoop, the opposite of their position for hand
the fabric under the presser foot, bring the bobbin thread to the
surface (right side) of the work. Hold both thread tails as you begin
stitching. Tie off the threads by making a few stitches in place, then
cut the thread tails close to the fabric. Repeat the process to tie off
at the end of the stippling.
Quilted Text Pillow designed by Missy Shepler.
Quilted Text Pillow, detail.
free-motion work, the stitch length is controlled by a combination of
needle speed and hand movement. Begin sewing at a slow to moderate rate,
moving the fabric smoothly with your hands, moving it just a small
distance to achieve more control. As you gain confidence, speed up the
needle and move your hands more quickly. With practice, you'll develop a
feel for the balance between needle and hands.
machine stippling is a continuous meandering line, usually worked with
smooth curves as the edges of a puzzle piece. Move the fabric forward
and backward, side to side, and even diagonally. The process is like
drawing by moving the paper under a stationary pencil.
the size of the stippled curves to fit the project, but remember that
very small stippling over a large area can make the project stiff.
stitches as desired. The goal in this project is to create dense
stitching around the letters so that the unstitched letters will stand
Follow these steps to achieve a similar look to what's shown on the pillow:
Starting with the lightest shade of thread, free-motion stipple in
the spaces between and around the letters of the feature word (if using
letters with enclosed spaces such as O or P, you should also stitch
inside the enclosed spaces to define them), being careful to leave
the letters themselves unstitched. Extend the stitching 1/2" (1.3
cm) to 1" (2.5 cm) beyond the letters, creating a cloud of
stitching around the letter shapes. Remember that more stitches
will be added with the other thread colors, so don't make the
stippling too dense.
2. Once the
letters are well defined, tie off and switch to the next darkest
shade of thread and stitch over the area again, leaving some of the
lighter stippling uncovered around the outer edges. Repeat with the
darkest shade of thread. The letters should be very well defined and
easy to read.
want to try this at home, don't you! How could you not-it creates a
really interesting effect on the fabric. For the full instructions to
create the pillow plus more inspired project designs, check out the Stitch Fall issue. And be sure to incorporate whatever inspires you into your next project.