This is a technique I’ve been wanting to try for awhile now. I hesitated in the past because my sewing machine was not equipped to handle free-motion quilting. It makes the process quicker and easier to move the paper in any direction, as you “sketch with thread.” Although I recently acquired a new Singer sewing machine, I prefer to use my forty-year-old machine for crafting and other areas of potential destruction! I wanted to prove that I could use straight and zigzag stitching in this technique and achieve a similar free-motion effect. The method I used definitely takes more time and patience, but the result turned out fabulous!
First, lightly sketch a basic design on to a piece of watercolor paper. (Flowers or a still life with fruit are good options to use.) Apply painters tape to secure the paper to a piece of cardboard. This keeps the watercolor paper as flat as possible, to prevent excess buckling and also creates a nice boarder for your finished image.
Start laying in your background color first, being careful to paint around the remaining objects in your design. You can combine different tones of the same color, but let each color dry completely, before moving on to the next one. In the example above; I put in the blue background first, then the yellow tones, green leaves and brown seeds, in that order. When your painting has dried; insert your watercolor in a folded piece of parchment paper, place inside a thick book, and leave overnight. This will allow for the flattest surface to stitch on.
Watercolor paper has about the same thickness as standard cotton material. I used a regular needle and pressure foot, with stitch lengths of 15 and 20. The flowers and leaves were done with forward and back-motion straight stitching. You have to go slowly; but you can maneuver your paper in any direction, as long as your needle is penetrating the surface. I used a zigzag stitch for the sunflower centers and for the border that enclosed the design. This little piece of artwork is worthy of framing, but I’ll probably poke some holes along the white edge and hand stitch it to another piece of colored cardstock: I can think of a few people who would love to receive this hand made greeting card in the mail!