Snake River Country Thread Painted Collage


Project Overview

"I was introduced to Sulky threads in a class given by Libby Lehman, nationally known thread artist and quilter. Sulky Threads are very easy to work with and they cause me no trouble with breakage or fraying. They offer a great range of colors and I especially enjoy using the variegated rayons and metallics. They have allowed me to draw details on my quilts and add wonderful texture and interest to my work" 
--- Karen

About the Artist

Karen H. Sienk - Instructor-designer from Colden, N.Y.

With a degree in art education, Karen has found fabric and thread to be the medium to express herself artistically. She has been quilting for 15 years. In the early years, she used books and classes for inspiration. She now tries to design all of her quilts using a variety of techniques.

Karen actively exhibits her work at National Shows. She has received several awards including 1st Place for Amateur Wall Quilt at AQS in Paducah, KY. 1st Place at Quilter's Unlimited Showcase '95 and 1st Place and Artistic Merit at Quiltfest '95 in Jacksonville, FL. Karen has incorporated some of Libby Lehman's free-motion threadwork into her 'Art Quilts'


  • Sewing Machine with Darning Foot, Open Embroidery Foot and Even Feed Foot
  • Paper-backed Fusible Webbing
  • Steam Iron and Ironing Surface
  • Glass Headed Pins
  • #80 Sharp or Universal Sewing Machine Needles
  • General Sewing Supplies - Sharp Scissors, Pencil, etc.
  • Assorted Colors of Sulky Rayon Threads (Sulky Variegateds are great)
  • Sulky Fine Polyester Bobbin Thread
  • Sulky Metallic Threads - use a Metallica or Top-Stitch Needle
  • Fabrics: One 9" x 12" piece of muslin for foundation, Quilter's Fat Quarters or 1/4 yd. cuts of the following colors: bright green, med-light green, 2 medium greens, purple/red, grey or rock fabrics, pale green and sky blue, plus 2/3 yd. of dark green for trees, outside border, binding and backing
  • 14" x 17" piece of medium weight batting
  • Sulky Iron-on Transfer Pen

Create the Landscape Collage on the Muslin Foundation

  1. From the pattern, trace the design onto the paper side of a paper-backed fusible web. Start with the sky and work down to the foreground. do one section at a time, adding about 1/4" beyond the lines in each section to ensure a slight overlap of the background pieces. Trees and other small areas are placed on last and do not need the 1/4" added. Rough cut at least 1/4" beyond the drawn line. 
  2. Fuse the shapes onto your fabric choices and cut them out on the drawn lines. Remove paper backing and lay them out ON THE MUSLIN FOUNDATIONfusible side down, according to descriptions on the pattern. Keep in mind that you will need to keep flipping over the page either to trace or lay out, because you are creating reverse images. You will have several layers of fabric in certain sections. This gives good stability for the threadwork. 
  3. Make sure that all areas overlap a little and that NO MUSLIN IS SHOWING. Adhere the entire fabric collage according to directions for the fusible web. 
  4. Set up the machine for Free-Motion. Thread the needle with a Sulky thread that best suits the design. Use Sulky Fine Bobbin Thread in the bobbin for greater consistency and to avoid having to refill the bobbin as you would have to if using a thicker thread. Choose a medium width zig-zag and the needle down feature, if available. Lower
    top tension until bobbin thread does not show on top of the design.Begin filling in the details of the different areas with either a random side to side, up and down, or circular motion. Allow some of the

    Since some distortion will occur from the stitching, stop often and steam press from the back side to flatten the piece. Clip bobbin threads that may have

  5.  pulled the piece when moving

  6.  fabric collage to show through; you need not cover areas completely with threadwork. Move across the fabric piece as quickly as you can with the machine running at a good speed. Remember to "stay loose" and work all areas. You can keep

  7.  from one area of the design to another. Stop occasionally to see how the colors are working. Either place your work on a design wall and stand back for viewing, or try looking at the image of it in a mirror.

  8. returning to sections to layer more threads to give more detail and depth. Lighter threads should be added over the top of darker threads to give dimension.

  9. If you have decorative stitches on your machine and want to use them, generally do this last. Reengage the feed dogs and use the open embroidery foot. For further details and to add interest, you can use a daisy stitch, satin stitch, or silk ribbon embellishment by machine.
  10. The finished threadwork will need to be trimmed and "trued up". Steam press it from the back to make it lay perfectly flat, then trim it to desired size with a rotary cutter. 
  11. The piece is ready to "frame". To make a narrow piping border to act as a mat, cut a 1" x 45" strip of fabric from an accent color; fold and press it in half the entire length. Cut two pieces of this "piping" the size needed for opposite sides. Place the folded edge to the inside and the raw edges together toward the outside, sew with a straight stitch. repeat for other two sides. Cut 1 strip 2-1/2" to 3" wide X 45" lon
    g for outer border. Cut two pieces the size needed to attach to opposite sides. If you sew those on from the back, you can follow the previous stitching line that attached the narrow piping border. Put right side over piping so raw edges meet, pin in place, turn project over, and stitch exactly on top of the original stitching line so none willshow on the front of the piece. Press these borders out. Repeat for other sides. Layer with batting and backing and pin baste. Using an even feed foot, sew along in the ditch where outer border meets inner border. Apply binding with even feed foot, and complete with necessary handwork. No other quilting is necessary. If so desired, the piece could also be matted and framed.

Designer's Note

If you wish to do other landscapes, the following is the easiest way to draw your pattern page:

Take a photo to a quick copy store that offers colored copies and have it enlarged to the size that you wish your piece to be. Or, if you have a slide, use a projector and trace the projected image.

You will need to trace the main color areas, i.e., sky, mountains, trees, etc.


Many of the fabrics used in this collage were from the "Nature Scapes" Collection by P&B Fabrics