I thought I’d share my process for adding the stag’s head to my latest quilt. It’s by no means the only way to add embroidery to a quilt, it was just my way for this quilt.
First, I drew the stag’s head directly onto a piece of tear-away stabilizer. I’m a confident draw-er and just went freehand using a photo as reference, but one could certainly find or print something out at the appropriate size and trace it onto the stabilizer.
Next, I pinned the stabilizer onto the front side of my quilt, which I had already quilted with parallel lines or channels. With 40 weight thread, I free-motion quilted the stag’s head, following the pencil lines I had drawn on the stabilizer. The tedious part follows — gently tearing away all the stabilizer. A seam ripper or something pointy is helpful to pick at the teensy bits in tight spaces. I also knot and bury any thread tails left from when I’ve stopped and stared lines of stitching.
Above is a detail of the front of the quilt with the machine embroidery; below is the back of the quilt showing the full picture.
For the nose and the eye, I placed appropriate shapes of fabric in position under the stabilizer to raw-edge applique the pieces as I followed the pencil drawing (you can still see a white haze of stabilizer that I haven’t yet picked out).
Once the machine embroidery is done and the stabilizer is ripped/picked out, it’s time to add the thicker lines with hand embroidery. Follow the main machine stitched lines, but don’t do the ones that define details on the interior of the image.
Using two strands of embroidery floss and a small chain stitch, I was careful to only go through the top layer of the quilt so as not to mar the look of the thread drawing on the back. Make a small quilter’s knot at the start of your floss, insert the needle into the top only of the quilt an inch or two away from where you want to start stitching, exit the needle where you want to start and pull it gently to pop the knot through the top and into the middle of teh quilt sandwich. When you’ve embroidered your way to the end of the floss, make similar knot by wrapping your thread around the needle twice and pulling it down the length of the needle and floss until it is close to the fabric (it helps to stick a pin into the knot while it’s loose to facilitate sliding it down the floss); enter the needle into the fabric at the end of your stitching and exit the fabric an inch or two away (being sure to go through the top layer and some batting only). Gently pull the needle and floss until the knot pops down into the quilt.
Enjoy the many possibilities of combining patchwork shapes with embroidery lines.