How to thread sketch from an existing drawing

The sewing prompt for my Creative Sewing Challenge this month was ‘botanical’. I knew I wanted to do something with those lovely pen illustrations you can find of flowers and plants, so I decided to opt for recreating them as a thread sketch. If you’ve never attempted thread-sketching before then you might want to read my post Learn how to do free motion embroidery in 7 simple steps. If you’d like to incorporate existing sketches into your work, read-on to find out my approach.

You will need:

  • Stitch’n’tear (or similar product)
  • A copy of your original drawing
  • Pencil
  • Pins
  • Basting thread
  • Strong thread for your sketch
  • Sewing machine
  • Darning foot

Make a copy of the original drawing you would like to recreate. The image I used is by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Trace your image onto stitch’n’tear. I just chose a few leaves to recreate. Its worth remembering to keep your tracing as simple as possible as it can be hard to remove your stabilizer if there is a lot of detailed stitching over it. You can go back and add any detail once you’ve created the basic shape (see further down).

Pin and then tack your stitch’n’tear drawings to your fabric.

Set up your machine ready to sketch! This involves:

  • Setting your stitch length to 0
  • Dropping the feed-dog
  • Changing to a darning foot

Again, if you are new to this, check out my post here for more detailed instructions and have a practice first before attempting anything too controlled.

Sew over your tracings to get the basic outline you need.

Remove the stitch’n’tear (be gentle, it will come away eventually).

You’ll need to add more stablizer to the back of your work at this point, otherwise you run the risk of your fabric puckering when you try to thread-sketch. Then, using your original drawings for reference, go back and add in any details you want to.

The more confident you are with thread sketching, the more detailed you can go with your images. If you are new to this, its worth keeping it simple to begin with, and using quite large images to recreate. But over time you’ll master the control you need to re-create anything you fancy. The creative possibilities are endless!

I went on to use my mini sketches to create some spring botanical bunting (you can find out how here!)

botanical bunting

And if you love this sort of thing, then please do consider signing up for my Creative Sewing Challenge. We work to a different prompt each month, and I send ideas and tutorials for sewing projects tied to each theme. Its just a free and fun way to inspire our sewing and keep this lovely hobby of ours fresh. Find out more here or sign up below:

And here’s a lovely pin for later…