This all started when I saw a flock of whooping swans in a field just outside of Inverurie, and did a quick sketch of them. But when it came time to digitise them, a couple of problems cropped up. The biggest problem was that the swans were of course pure white, and just having plain white birds with no detailing would have been boring – they would have looked like white holes in a green background. However I didn’t want to sketch in the feather contours in (for example) a pale grey. The birds were so startlingly white that I didn’t want to blemish them by adding another colour. So I was stuck with using white detailing on white applique fabric, but white on white would have been scarcely visible. Also I needed some way to stitch down the applique fabric to the background. So after some thought I decided to use white stitching to do two things at once – to stitch down the applique fabric, and to add the detailing of the feathers. I hoped that the light reflecting off the stitching would give the birds some shape
Yes, it sort of works, but really the swans just look stippled – you can’t pick out any detailing of the feathers and wings. So I increased the length of the stitching on the body. In the original version I just used the default stitch length, which in my system is 2 mm, and which makes the stitches quite close together. I increased the length to 4 mm, which means that there is a longer length of thread between stitches. And it does seem to work better – you can see the “feathering” on the back a little more clearly.
Well, the result isn’t perfect, but it’s an interesting technique which I’ll try and improve in the future