Tips and Tricks for Drawing on Fabric

Art, DIY

I really love to draw. But I also love fiber art. So – what’s one of my favorite things to do? Draw on fabric! To me, drawing is the foundation of all art and I love bringing it into the fiber-verse whenever I can.

Drawing on fabric has a few different use cases including:

  • Artwork: If you are like me, then maybe you want to draw a masterpiece on a piece of cotton. If you’re not like me and don’t understand why one would want to do this, think about all of the fun embroidery and sewn elements you can add to the drawing when it’s done on fabric!
  • Embroidery designs: I love drawing embroidery designs right onto the cloth. 
  • Sewing projects: Sometimes you need to draw out a pattern or indicate cut lines.

Whatever your reason for drawing on fabric, there are a few tricks to keep in mind to keep the process fun and frustration-free. Here are my top tips to get you started:

  1. Iron out those wrinkles: Or steam them out! You won’t want those pesky wrinkles getting in the way of your design and tripping up your pen. I have a travel-sized steamer that I keep in my studio that I love using for these occasions. 

  1. Pick the right drawing tool

I you’re drawing an embroidery pattern or making marks for a sewing project, then you’ll want to use a marking pen. I love this pen by Dritz because the ink is disolvable by either air or water, depending on what side you draw with. This is great for making marks that you don’t want to be permanent.

  1. Be wary of bleed

If you’re using a marker, or pen and ink, be wary of ink bleeding through to the other side. To be on the safe side, do your drawing on a drawing board or place scrap paper beneath the fabric. I’ve had this board since college and use it for soooo many projects. It’s my on-the-go studio space!

  1. Add texture

Bring your drawing to life with embroidery! I have a penchant for hand embroidery but adding stitching with a machine is also a lot of fun. Utilize French knots for even more added texture.


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Fantastic Beasts Embroidery


This week’s post was delayed due to a last-minute business trip across the country (more on that later). In the meantime, I’d like to share with you an insight to my newest fiber art piece.

I recently drew a pen sketch of the Niffler from Fantastic Beasts but couldn’t resist further exploring the imagery of this animal, depicting it in freestyle embroidery. The creature’s furry coat is proving to be a lot of fun, as I’ve been using different variations of grey and brown cotton to produce the platypus-mole aesthetic.

FullSizeR (26).jpg

Stay tuned for the finished product!

Spirited: New Series


I’ve been waiting for a new series idea to come to me for a long time. Probably one of the most challenging aspects about being an artist is finding inspiration. In fact, part of the reason I started this blog was to inspire myself and others by  sharing creations and inspiring places, media and recipes.

Recently, Andy and I were watching “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Although probably my least favorite installation in the series, I have always been inspired by the scene that showcases the DA (Dumbledore’s Army) learning how to cast a Patronus charm.

The spell that has come to the forefront of all Harry Potter witchcraft, the Patronus charm defends again dementors and for every witch or wizard, takes the form of a different animal.

tumblr_inline_nvs2kwqehg1stluio_500Thinking about partonuses and spirit animals, I landed upon the idea of creating a series of mixed media pieces, featuring different ghostly animals. Whether the animals are ghosts or the result of magic, I cannot say. All I know is the vision that I have.


Right now, that vision entails white, ethereal animals painted onto fabric and embossed with embroidery. I hope to machine embroider white wisps of thread trailing from the animals. The first animal is a fox, as I have always loved these animals and thought that, were I to have a spirit animal, it would probably be some species of fox.

Although I started this piece a while ago, I am just now ready to proceed into the embroidery phase. Painting onto untreated cotton, I needed to put down numerous layers of paint before I was able to achieve the opacity I was looking for.


I’m looking forward to embroidering, as I know that will pull the piece together, adding details and movement to the composition.

Stay tuned for the final result!

I See the (Embroidered) Light

Art, Pop Culture

You know that scene in Tangled when Rapunzel and Flynn Rider are on the boat during the festival of lanterns and Disney, yet again in true-Disney fashion, inspires you and makes you feel like a kid again? Of course you do. Or, at least you do if you’ve ever seen the movie.

If not, here’s a 3 second recap to catch you up to speed:


Probably the best-loved scene in the movie.

Inspired by this scene I decided to approach the lantern imagery from a graphic stand point and reproduce it in a nontraditional medium. I wished to recreate a lantern in fiber, specifically embroidery.

This is what that process looked like:

  1. I began by creating a quick sketch with pen on white cotton.
  2. Then, I started filling in the colors with embroidery floss using hand embroidery.
  3. Next, I painted in the background with acrylic paint. This is what the piece looked like following one layer of paint, but thought this was too boring.

Rather then having a static background, I decided to add lanterns in the distance. This is how the piece ended up:

In the future I think it would be fun to sew my own lantern and use wire to make it three dimensional. I will have to keep you posted if and when I decide to try this out!

Narwhal, Narwhal


Just because winter is technically over does not mean that you can not (and should not) keep creating in fiber.

One of the reasons I love embroidery is for its versatility. As fun as it is to sit stitching by the fire, light-weight fabric such as cotton also makes for a great spring and summer medium.

That being said, I started this embroidery project back in January…

But only just finished it a few weeks ago. As I’ve mentioned before, embroidery (while rewarding) is very time consuming. The lag time is also due to a hectic schedule and the medium’s ability to be put down and picked up at any point in time.

That being said, I always make a point of having an embroidery project going year round. Because picking up a project here or there will ultimately result in a well-made piece. Not to mention a pleasant surprise on the day it’s actually finished!

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!


A holiday that is met with both excitement and hatred, St. Valentine’s day is a specimen all of its own. Although I am fortunate to be in a happy relationship, being single never stopped me from enjoying this holiday.

Reasons to embrace the day:

  1. Similar to Halloween, it revolves around candy. Except instead of cheap Smarties, the focus is on fine chocolate!
  2. By the time February rolls around, most of us are sick of winter and the lack of sunshine, so why not embrace a holiday? (Especially today when, at our house, it is 25 below zero)
  3. It is a holiday without stress. If you are buying gifts, at least it is only for one person, unlike the 30 you buy for at Christmas.

To celebrate, I am sharing with you a mixed media piece that I completed last month. A combination of commercial fabric, acrylic paint and embroidery floss (plus a lot of french knots!), I hope you enjoy this piece, even if you aren’t a fan of Valentine’s day!

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Fun with #frenchknots.

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Hippogriff in Paint and String


Fibernation post #5! And probably the last of my fibernation posts for a little while. I have found myself partaking in other media this winter as well and I don’t want to neglect them!

I’m hoping, however, that this mini series ends with a bang, as this piece took me quite a while to complete. The imagery is, obviously, directly inspired by Harry Potter’s Buckbeak and is a mixed media piece, created with commercial fabric, acrylic paint and embroidery floss.

A little history:

When I was a senior at SUNY Cortland, I created, hung, advertised and hosted a senior exhibition. The show was called “Idle Curiosities” and this was one of the pieces displayed:

dragon idle curiousities

Receiving overwhelmingly positive response to this piece, I thought to myself, why not make another? A follow up if you will. And so I went from dragon to hippogriff.

Fantastical Series:

As two pieces from the same puzzle, both creatures are approximately the same size and made from the same materials. While I bought the fabric at Walmart, the rest is purely handmade (although I did have a professor accuse me of hodgepodging my dragon).

The tricky part of making both of these was painting on the fabric, as thin cotton has a tendency to want to move around. Also, as the paint dries, it soaks into the material. Meaning, 3+ layers of paint are often needed to get an opaque aesthetic.

While the dragon is adorned with both hand and machine embroidery, the hippogriff was all done completely by hand, again, making it one of those pieces that took a little while to finish.

And so ends this mini-series. While I focused on embroidery this time, there is so much more to the world of fiber art. Hopefully I have opened up a few minds and eyes to this world and perhaps event inspired some of you to try it for yourselves!

The Fox and the Feathers


Fibernation post #4! So far, I have given you two different embroidery-oriented posts. Today’s post is an example of something I have become a huge fan and practitioner of: mixed media.

As I have mentioned before, I do not have my own studio. What I do have is a kitchen table.This means that I am always looking for house-friendly forms of art. While there are many different forms of mixed media, one of my favorites has grown out of the combination of paint, ink, fabric and embroidery.

The piece that I am featuring today was made from fabric, markers, paint and thread and is titled “The Fox and the Feathers.”

Although foxes have become trendy over the last couple of years, they have always been one of my favorite animals. I loved them so much in fact, that as a child I begged my parents for a fox costume, not unlike the one worn by one of Peter Pan’s lost boys. Inspired by this animal, this piece came together relatively quickly, only taking a couple of hours from start to finish.

Having drawn the feathers and the fox in black marker, I was able to smear and smudge the ink using white acrylic paint and a rubbing technique with a paint brush. By doing so, I was able to create a sense of depth and form that was lacking in the line drawing.

I finished the piece by using my sewing machine to embroider over two of the feathers. While I had considered embroidering the fox, I did not want to clutter the piece, so I only added embroidery to his ears. I am quite fond of the simple composition and did not want to ruin it.

  Another reason I love this piece is because it reminds me of what art is really about: creativity. There are those in the art world who believe mixed media is a cop-out, and that if you are a true artist then you should be able to communicate through a single medium. I, however, believe the opposite. To limit one’s creativity, in media choice or otherwise, is to limit the whole purpose of art.

So whether you are creating in one media, or two, or ten, it doesn’t much matter, so long as you are creating.


How to Frame Embroidery


Fibernation post#3! I am posting quite early this week as I will be in NYC Wednesday-Friday for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication’s annual public relations benchmark trip.

In one of my recent posts I discussed embroidery as an art form. It is cheap and doesn’t require a studio. But suppose you are interested in displaying your work at home or in a gallery…

While making art is a ton of fun, making it hanging-ready is usually anything but. Thankfully, for you fiber artists out there, embroidery is one of the absolute EASIEST things to make exhibition ready. It is also one of the cheapest (which is always a plus)!

What you will need:

  1. Your embroidered piece
  2. Wooden embroidery hoop
  3. Hot glue gun and glue sticks for the gun
  4. Pen or pencil
  5. Felt
  6. Scissors

Once you have gathered your materials,

  1. Trace your embroidery hoop onto a piece of felt.   
  2. Cut just inside the line.
  3. Place your hoop (embroidery piece secured inside) face down.
  4. Cut your fabric close to your hoop, leaving just enough material to fold over the hoop.
  5. Begin folding the fabric and gluing it to the inside of the hoop, doing only a few inches as a time.    
  6. Once you have gone all the way around place the felt circle inside the hoop.
  7. Slowly, begin gluing the felt to the inside of the hoop.
  8. Once you have gone all the way around the hoop, allow the glue to dry.

VOILA! Your piece is now hanging ready.

I sincerely encourage all of you who have any interest in fiber to try embroidery . You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it, and nothing is more satisfying than seeing your work on display, even if it is only within the confines of your own home.

Fleece Coat for Skeeter


Fibernation post #2! As my Facebook friends and Instagram followers already saw, I made a custom-made coat for our dog, Skeeter. Skeeter, being ten years old and having relatively short hair, was in desperate need of a coat, especially considering last year’s winter temperatures trumped those of Alaska.

Although I could have easily bought a coat from Walmart or Petco, I decided to make one myself because:

  1. It was way cheaper.
  2. It’s fun to make stuff yourself.
  3. I could make exactly what we needed to supply for Skeeter’s needs.

In terms of material I bought your average variety of fleece. I decided on fleece for a few reasons:

1.It’s cheap.

2. It’s warm.

3. It’s easy to work with. If you are new to sewing I would definitely recommend fleece for your beginning projects. It runs through machines easily and you don’t have to worry about fraying.

I wish I could provide a pattern for this coat, however I cannot. This is because I was “winging it.”

All I did when making the shape of this coat was determined how long I wanted it to be and tapered the fabric accordingly for both his front and back legs. I did not want his movement to be impeded.

I used adhesive velcro on both the front and the belt to make them close, and while the adhesive seemed to be strong, I sewed over it just to be safe. Both straps with the adjustable fastening help keep the coat in place.

This project only took about an hour and provided me with a fun challenge. So if you are planning on sewing a coat for your canine friend, I hope that you find fun and success! I also hope that your dog loves his or her coat as much as Skeeter does!