Inner Circle

Does anyone remember this wall hanging in process? Well, now it’s finished. Here’s what I did to get to this status.

I spent a lot of thinking about how to give the piece more weight and presence,taking into consideration my skills and my eyesight limitations. I want to extend my thanks to Leonie Andrews, who took a lot of time and consideration of the piece in coming up with several suggestions. She really helped me figure out what I wanted this piece to be, from a fabric standpoint.

Because – though the images are drawn, the fact that they are on fabric makes the piece different from a painting on canvas or ink on paper.

In the end, I used skills that I am familiar with and practiced in from my days in making fabric wall hangings (my first real venture into the art world, I made and sold appliqued wall hangings from about 1996-2001 or so).

I used very thin batting and a backing for the piece, so I had three layers to work with. I did free-motion stitching all over the piece in different colors of thread that I felt complemented but did not compete with the images.

My version of this technique consists of driving around the piece as fast as possible and paying no attention to the pattern the thread makes or inconsistent stitch lengths and so on. I just try to get a nice amount of thread holding all the layers together in a way that looks good to me.

I left a few areas without stitching, or with less stitching, but mostly I really laid that thread down. I just like the flatter look for this piece.

Then I put a black binding around it plus a hanging sleeve and voila! All done.

Here are some detail photos.

Well, there you have it. The serendipity of scrawling some images on fabric to test out paints and markers transformed into something more. I named the piece “Inner Circle” because I think these creatures are all part of a tight little society that landed on my fabric.

15 thoughts on “Inner Circle

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I like it this turned out with the stitching. It does seem to complete the image in a way a smooth flat surface did not. Plus I like doing this kind of sewing.

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    Your wall hanging is spectacular, Claudia. I was thinking, upon looking at the first image, that there was a wonderful visual texture to the whole piece, almost as if it was a fresco. Upon scrolling down I see this is all down to you bringing your sewing skills into play. I appreciate you providing the close up photographs so that we can understand how the stitches interact with the painted images.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I really enjoyed making this. The painting part went ultra-fast and I didn’t overwork it. And I do love to do free motion stitching – it is so relaxing just to drive the machine around the fabric like this. I like the look you get with a lot of stitching, too.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you! The fabric was basic white cotton, a quilting weight, but on the heavier side vs the lighter, and close woven (there are many different weights to choose from in white or beige so you have to think of what you want to do with them in order to decide the weight). The paints were a mixture of fabric paints (here is a link to the kind I used:, regular acrylic paints, and some acrylic markers. I did not wash the hanging after having made it, but I did pre-wash the fabric to remove the sizing. I heat-set the paints with an iron. I used regular sewing thread for the stitching. If you want to know more, just ask! It was fun to make and I like talking about it.

      1. margarethallfineart

        Thank you so much, Claudia. I might try just using acrylics – do you set these with an iron too? And as you are painting, do you just lay the fabric flat or stretch it? It good of you to give me advice like this .

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          I’m happy to answer as many questions as you have, I love talking about this kind of project! For the acrylics, no, you would not need to heat-set them (it’s just like painting on canvas, they are permanent). I would test any acrylics you use before you start the actual project, to make sure they are the right consistency for you. Too much wateriness (as in cheaper paints) and there might be bleed). It is not necessary to stretch the fabric tightly like a canvas but I do reccommend taping it to a flat surface, such as the table, to keep it from moving around. However, I didn’t do this since I thought I was just sort of playing around with the paint, and it worked fine for me, but in retrospect having the surface less wiggly is probably better. Also be aware the paint can seep through the fabric, so if you don’t want your table all painted up, you might spread out something to protect it, such as freezer paper, or a plastic sheet, or the like, that will keep the paint from going through to the table.

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