Mixed Media Textile Art and Sewing Tutorial

Many of my art pieces combine hand embroidery, machine stitching and painting. I am in love with texture and always looking for more ways to get it!

I was inspired to make this piece after watching a leaf fall from the plum tree in my front yard. I know it is only August but here in the south when the highs are in the 90’s, you tend to jump the gun a little when it comes to the autumn season. These crows are flying by a rising harvest moon on their way to their roost for the night.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how do it.

What you’ll need:
Higher quality muslin, unbleached/natural, size of your choosing
Acyrlic paint, paint brushes…you know, all that kind of stuff
Embroidery floss in colors that you like
Sewing machine and all that mess
*To frame…piece of thin wood or other backing (reuse an old hardback book cover, gameboards…anything you can think of), adhesive for gluing the piece down to the wood.

Flying Crows, mixed media original

1. Start by designing and drawing your piece…the size you want it to be, the colors and the feel of it.
2. Cut out a piece of muslin to the size you want…give yourself about an extra inch around, larger than the block you are going to seal it down to. I find that smaller sizes are easier to work with but larger sizes are good too, just be prepared to really stretch it down after all that sewing. This piece is about 7×7 but I cut the muslin to 8×8.
3. Apply a thin wash of gesso. Let it dry.

4. Apply a thin wash of color or do multiple layers of colors… whatever you like…the main thing to remember is that you must keep the paint and gesso somewhat thin so that your needle can go through easily but still thick enough to get the look that you want.
5.Transfer your drawing or design. I use the tracing paper/pencil method but you can do it how you like. Next, you’ll want to paint it up. For this one, I painted layers of green and russet and yellow. I put some tree blobs at the bottom with a whole mix of colors…blocked in the crows and did circles of white and grey for the moon.

5. Next you’ll want to machine stitch the heck out of it. I sew a straight stitch around and around the edges for a border and I like to do different contrasting colors. If my machine wasn’t acting up and only sewing a straight stitch I would do other kinds of fun stitches too. I sewed circles around the moon and around each bird too.

***At this point I will look at my piece and see what it needs…more contrast, more outline, etc. then I will paint or sew some more. I leave the hand embroidery until last.

6. Hand embroider to add accents, to outline, to add texture… I use mostly french knots and the simple backstitch to outline and highlight, but I also just make a big mess of the stitching, making random knots and leaving thread hanging out here and there. I love Mary Corbet’s Needle N Thread for learning stitches.

7. Frame it or wrap it.Once the piece is done you can frame it how you would like. I prefer to paint a piece of wood and stretch the piece down to it with spray adhesive, but you could frame it anyway you like. After I got this wrapped around the wood, I painted the edges and sides grey and russet.

So, that’s pretty much it…just a mish mosh of stuff on layers upon layers of thread and paint…have fun and remember that nothing in life is perfect…in fact, it is the imperfections and mistakes that make us (and our art) beautiful!


2 thoughts on “Mixed Media Textile Art and Sewing Tutorial

  1. Beautiful! I love your textured stuff! I used to do a lot of stitchery when I was young, but have rarely touched a sewing machine. Anyway, thanks for the tutorial. It will be fun to try someday – when my son is older and I have more time for such things again. -Annie Davis


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