This blog is a place to archive project processes and techniques from Painted Threads with descriptions of how work was produced. I am including comments that contain questions and answers pertaining to the work from many of the original blog posts.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Painted Batting

I wrote an article for the upcoming December issue of Quilting Arts magazine on painted batting. The Warm Company wanted to do an ad tying in to the article and wanted to use some of my artwork for the ad. Unfortunately the only painted batting pieces I had were used in the article. I felt bad about this and decided to come up with something they could use in their ad and sent them a photo of this the next morning.

This is 12" x 12" painted batting. There are 9 two inch painted batting squares appliqu├ęd to 9 four inch painted batting squares that are pieced together with a wide zigzag stitch. It is painted with Lumiere textile paints and machine stitched.

Before I made Lichen I experimented with painting on Warm and natural cotton batting. I wanted to find out what the surface would look like, would it absorb the paint like a sponge or would it sit on the surface. It seemed also like it would make a nice soft surface for embellishing by hand. I have these two, I made a third but sold it at IQF’s silent auction a few years ago (without photographing it first, so I can’t show you it)

I was happy to find that the batting did not soak up the paint like a sponge, and they were easy to stitch and couch on by machine and bead by hand without falling apart.

My son had a fascination with lichen when we lived in Texas. It was everywhere in so many different beautiful forms. Lichen is a class of organisms in which algae and fungi live in a symbiotic relationship as one. They are found throughout the world but are unable to survive where the atmosphere is polluted, so they are good indicators of clean air.

The large lichen on this quilt was made by painting cotton batting and stitching the texture into it. The edge has a fine gauge wire sewn into it to give it form and dimension. The yellow lichen is painted cotton batting. The smaller thread lichen were made by stitching on Solvy. The other lichen is painted and melted Tyvec.

Stem Cells

I thought I would show the process I used to create these cellular themed pieces last year.

First I found an image from the internet of stem cells and printed it out the size I wanted to work. I taped the 8 1/2 x 11 pages together and laid a piece of tracing paper over the top and traced the outline of the stem cells.

I put my outline drawing on a light box and put the fabric I would use for the back of the piece on top and traced the lines with chalk. Next I put this fabric on a piece of white cotton batting and stitched with the sewing machine over all the chalked lines with a straight stitch.
I turned the layers over so the batting was now face up and began to paint the stem cells with textile paint on the batting having my sewn lines as a guide,
I built up the shading with Tsukineko inks. Their transparent color is perfect for that. Then I cut away all the white spaces in the batting around the stem cell painting.
Then I layered the lacy painted batting on a blood red colored piece of hand dyed fabric, a piece of wool batting and another piece of fabric for the back.
I satin stitched around the edges of the batting with gold thread and free motion quilted in the dark red spaces to flatten it and make it visually recede.
Finished stem cells.
This is the image I found and used as inspiration for the nerve cells.
I had a piece of fabric that I had hand dyed a few years ago that looked like nerve cells to me. So half the work was already done. Using Tsukineko inks I drew a few cell shapes on it with white and a dark green with a little shading in purple.
I quilted it using clear monofilament thread, this gave it dimension and no strong outlines of color. The monofilament catches the light and makes little sparkles which seems very appropriate.


  1. Judy, I am a long time fabrics arts person and also a quilter, mostly hand done.
    I greatly admire the virtuosity in your work!
    I am not quite up with machine quilting however, and would love to know how you stitched the gold circles with "holes" in them on the nine patch painted batting.
    Did you program your machine? I don't imagine you did it by hand or did you?
    Thanks, Eleanor

  2. Eleanor, thank you.

    The circles are free motion quilted on the machine. The fabric is moved under the machine by hand. This is also the stitching technique that I used quilting the aliens body on the quilt There's a Place Called Mars...

  3. Thanks Judy for the quick reply. I am amazed that this can be done by machine guided by hand in such small areas. I must give it a try. Thanks for all the inspiration. Eleanor

  4. Judy, your work is stunning. Thank you for your inspiration and eye candy!


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