Making a tree -the new stitching method

Recording the new method of tree-ness  – this is mostly for my benefit – I usually forget just how something was done and then get really, really frustrated. You are welcome to come along for the ride and chip in as and when you want to!


Start point – tree.  cross hatched, scribble hatching. Quick, scruffy, immediate.

Mimic layering of lines to give texture and tone. Add fabric for mass and colour. Limit threads – keep it quick and simple.


Textiles – on linen/horsehair tailor’s canvas ( stiff enough not to need a hoop- might not be a good idea), about a hand span high. Using New Home Memorycraft 6000 (ancient), straight stitch, its own freehand foot, dropped feed dogs.

1 Fabric layer –  shiny acid green silk, thin dull green ripstop, blue sheer acetate. 2 Will add rust sheer and green nonwoven as next layer. Needs mix of colour, tone and surface.  3. Stitching first layer. Open directional lines, very loose. blocking in shape and bulk. 4 adding 2nd layer of fabric using no 40 variegated rayon thread, working in smaller blocks.

combo1 sample tree5 close up of the layering. 6  Mid dark thread filling out areas, working across the lighter thread. Keep uneven. 7 Cutting back the fabrics to the stitching. Tear through layers to reveal bottom fabrics – breaking up solid areas  to let more light in. 8 Add trunk – variegated brown/green. No outline – build the stitching up – not too straight. Agghhhh- lollipop. Add rich blue shading to trunk and into tree. Suggest branch framework

combo sample tree2

Fine tuning.  Subtle adjustments – Adding dark tone. Adding variegated blue/green no30.  working across branches and top of trunk. Creating denser areas, contrasts.

combosample tree3




Quite a quick process – an afternoon’s worth (including distractions for the tennis). Need stronger contrast and variety in green tone. More yellow/ blue/purple? Scaling up – more brutal fabric choices – patterned pieces as well. Very heavy on thread. Use ordinary stuff for basics plus fancies for variegation and sheen  for best. Limit to amount of layers – thickness of stitched areas. Can be unpicked and re worked but will distort the fabric – see pull at base of trunk.  Is not a totally intuitive way of working but allows for flexible responses as layers and density builds. Has kept the feel of the drawing. Could be used in a much more sketchy form or modified for more directional stitching. Need to remember to keep stitching quite open upto  7.

Note canvas – itchy but much easier to work than cotton canvas. Machine prefers it as more  open weave but with enough body to work un hooped. Some distortion, but less than calico and hessian!  Has a lot of size but did not object to rinsing and pressing. Doesn’t smell as much as hessian either. Possibly a good thing. Will it take stains?


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