A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Outline Drawing with Your Sewing Machine

In this first exercise we’ll start with a simple outline drawing. The most fundamental of drawings have just the outline to help you see the form and shape of the object being drawn.  Think of drawing stick figures for example. So that’s what we’re going to start with this week.

1. Take a white piece of paper and lay your hand on the paper with your fingers spread out and then with your other hand trace the outlines of your hand.
Hand Tracing on Paper

When drawing the outline of your hand on paper, you can use a pencil first and then go over it with an ultra fine sharpie so it’ll be easy for you to see through the fabric when it’s time to trace onto fabric.

2. Now using a light colored fabric on top of your paper drawing, trace your outline drawing onto fabric.  I use heat erasable FriXion pens. 

Place light Colored Fabric Over Paper Tracing

Please note I’ve found that they leave a faint mark on dark fabrics after heat is applied. But that been a problem for me because eventually I’ll stitch over the marks.  Here are several tracing methods you can use to transfer your design onto fabric if you need help.

Using a FriXion Pen Begin to Trace

3. Using your outlined drawing as the top layer, create your quilt sandwich. The felt (batting) will be your second layer, and the stabilizer your third and the backing fabric your fourth. Fasten all 4 layers of your quilt sandwich together as you’ll usually do. I fuse my layers together. (If your going to fuse and you used friction pens remember not to iron on your pen marks so not to erase the marks)
Put all 4 Layers together to Prepare Your Quilt Sandwich for Stitching

4. Lets draw.
Now bring your sandwich to your sewing machine. With your feed dogs down, bring up the bobbin thread to the top. (Helps prevent bird nests forming under your work). Then carefully trace your outline drawing with your sewing machine. Think of this as drawing with ink and no eraser.

You don’t want to stop and cut threads several times.  Use continuous stitching, so whenever possible just travel over previous line of stitching without cutting your threads. It saves you time and avoids frustration.

Watch this video to see how it works.  https://youtu.be/1vlBuGNLBxE
Let me know if you have questions.

Warmest Regards,


  1. If you are using batting do you need a stabiliser? The last time I did thread sketching I used only a stabiliser initially and after finishing the sketch I used batting and backing to quilt it.It gave my work a 3 d effect. But I have to admit I was just winging it. Which is the better option?

    1. I’ll say it depends. You can get away without a stabilizer if you’re not doing very dense stitching. For example this “hand” example will work without a stabilizer.

      Also if it’s a small portion of work, you might be able to do without a stabilizer.

      But it’s safer to use a stabilizer to avoid fabric distortions. After all, it’s a lot of work doing thread sketching and you don’t want to be done and have a piece that’s so heavily distorted you can’t get it back in shape.


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