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Framed Fabric Painting

By: Shannon Mullen for C&T Publishing

For beautiful wall art, frame fabric pieces and embellish with free-motion thread-painting, crystals and/or paint. This wall art idea works particularly well with large-motif floral designs like the one pictured. Project excerpted from Make it You- Your Space by Shannon Mullen published by C&T Publishing.

Framed Fabrics


  • 1⁄2 yard large-print fabric
  • 8˝ × 10˝ or 11˝ × 17˝ frame and mat
  • 90/14 top-stitch needle
  • Rayon decorative thread to match fabric motifs
  • Tear-away stabilizer
  • Water-soluble marker
  • Gluestick
  • Free-motion embroidery foot
  • 1˝-wide coordinating grosgrain ribbon (optional)
  • Tsukineko fabric inks (optional)
  • Kandi Corp hot-fix decorative applicator to apply heatactivated crystals (optional)
  • Heat-activated crystals (optional)
  • Basic supplies


  1. Remove the mat from the frame and place the mat on the large-print fabric so that it frames the design elements you want to feature. Mark around the framed image with a water-soluble marker and cut the fabric 2˝ outside the marked line. Framing and cutting a piece of fabric with the exact design elements you want is called fussy cutting.

  2. Thread your machine with a rayon decorative thread. Drop the feed dogs and select a straight stitch. Place tear-away stabilizer under the fabric to prevent it from puckering while you sew. Lower the presser foot before sewing to engage the tension on the top thread.

  3. Use your hands to guide the fabric in a side-to-side or up-and-down motion under the needle. This technique is called thread painting. If you have a speed-control setting on your machine, find a comfortable speed that helps you get a consistent stitch length.

    Free-motion Thread-Painting

    Free-motion fabric embellishment uses a straight stitch with the feed dogs lowered. The fabric can be placed in a hoop, or you can sew with a free-motion foot or a darning foot. Consult your sewing machine manual for free-motion and darning settings.
  4. For additional embellishment, use Kandi Corp’s hot-fix decorative applicator to apply crystals and pearls or use Tsukineko inks to paint original designs. Make sure you allow the ink to dry before you frame the fabric.
  5. Center the mat over your thread-painted fabric and turn them both over so that the back of the fabric is facing you. Use a gluestick to tack the edges of the fabric to the mat. Turn the mat right side up. Using a straight stitch (length 3.5) and the 90/14 top-stitch needle, sew the fabric to the mat by stitching 1⁄2˝ from the inside edge of the mat. For a fun touch, you can glue or sew grosgrain ribbon around the mat. Add the frame and hang your masterpiece!

    Framing Fabric

Additional Ideas:

  • Why not try a complete room makeover? Stretch your fabric over a large canvas and make it into a one-of-a-kind headboard.
  • Mount your thread-painted fabric on an artist's canvas with a staple gun. These canvas are available in all arts and crafts stores. Simply pull the fabric over the edges of the canvas and secure the fabric in place with a staple every three or four inches.

    Stretched Fabric Streched
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