Thursday, January 17, 2013

Art Quilt Techniques - Seed Stitch

Today I was reminded that one of the techniques that I take for granted in my art quilts might be a new experience for others . . . so, today, I would like to share with you my absolute favourite way of adding texture to art quilts . . . with seed stitches!

Oh oh, it's hand stitching . . . even if you don't normally like to stitch by hand you can pretend that the seed stitch is not REALLY hand stitching . . . it is so soothing!

Let's take a look at a few examples before I describe the stitch:

Blended threads in sage green and brown  add to the calm relaxing mood in this quilt.
 Blended threads in soft gold and brown harmonize the light background and the painted and organza leaves on this art quilt.
(this one is in my Etsy shop)

Two or three shades of pink and mauve add texture to this cuff bracelet.

About Seed Stitch
A seed stitch is just a little straight stitch and you can plunk it down anywhere you like on your quilt and then put the next stitch at any angle and go back and forth in any sequence you like, in order to fill the space. I keep it really simple:
1) scale the size of your stitch to the overall look of your quilt (whether the stitches are large or small)
2) keep the size of the stitches and the space between them relatively similar OR dramatically different (so it is obvious you were not just being sloppy with your 1” stitch mixed in with some 1/4” stitches)

Use whatever thread you think will give the quilt the look you want to achieve ... it might be any number of strands of embroidery floss, pearl cotton or even metallic sewing thread.

Use a nice sharp Enmbroidery needle with an eye that is large enough to hold the thread without making a big hole in your fabric.

I sometimes like to create my own variations in colour by blending one strand of floss “A” with two strands of floss “B” and then reversing it to blend two strands of floss A with one strand of floss B to achieve a different tone. By using these blends along with the solid colours, it gives a nice variation to some pieces.

One of the other things I like to do is to add a few stitches in a thin metallic thread (the ones that you don't work well in your sewing machine are still great to sew with by hand) and intersperse them with the other stitches . . . or add another whole layer of stitching OVER the first layer :)

I usually make my seed stitches sit on top of the fabric ... putting the needle only through the top layer of fabric and the batting ... and hiding the tails of the thread in the batting. By the way . . . you don't need to use an embroidery hoop for any of this stitching, the batting and backing keep it stable enough for stitching without any stretching. If you want to make that section of your quilt recede a bit, then you might like to stitch right through to the backing.

This stitch can be truly meditative and I find that it is a surface design technique that adds such interest to my work . . . try it out for yourself! 

If you take a look in my Etsy shop ( you will see numerous examples of seed stitch being used in my art quilts, purses and cuffs.  Thanks for checking in ... I hope you will try out this delightful stitch in some of your art quilts.


Char said...

Great post Kathy. Thanks for the reminder I haven't done any seed stitch in a while.

Cynthia Brunz Designs said...

Thanks for sharing Kathy! Lovely work.

DownHome Designs said...

Kathy, I SO enjoyed reading this post on seed stitches. Great information! Thanks!

Terry Aske Art Quilts said...

Great information, Kathy! I'll have to try this on one of my art quilts.

thebutterflyquilter said...

Thank you Kathy. I was wondering as you know and I know how. Will have to give it a try on some of my quilts. Great information!

Jerimi said...

How beautiful! I haven't heard of this stitch, before. I'll have to give it a shot. Thanks so much.