Fabric Postcard – Dueling Fiddlers

Fabric Postcard – Dueling Fiddlers

Fabric Postcard Dueling fiddlersDueling fiddlers is part of my 6 x 4 lives fabric post card challenge. The aim is to create a fabric postcard at least once a month that records what you have been exploring, doing, or thinking about. The format of a fabric postcard can be used to explore telling stories visually, or experimenting with techniques.

I am always rabbiting on about how stitching can be a graphic mark. So, this month, as a personal  challenge, I decided to attempt a fabric postcard using stitches as you would a drawing tool.

Mid month we went to the Music at the Creek Festival. We did all the usual things that you do at such festivals. Eve was performing so I did the proud Mum thing, we listened to music, and met up with old and new friends. In the bar Jerry got together with Tony Pyrzakowski and had a few tunes. Whenever Tony and Jerry get together it turns into a bit of fiddling duel. It is highly entertaining for anyone who is in earshot as they are both high energy fiddlers.

For this months challenge I decided that I would attempt to illustrate two fiddlers at play. Below is the original photograph that I worked the design from. I liked the way the fiddles and the arms of both crossed in the center. This was the main reason I chose this photograph. I knew that since I was dealing with a post card sized piece I could not get tangled in the details of the image. It was the composition that had to drive it.

Fabric Postcard Dueling fiddlers source photo

In order to develop the design I converted the photo to black and white. Next I whacked a blur filter over it to strip out some of the detail. I knew that stitching this small meant I could not afford to get enthusiastic about every little crease in their t-shirts or even defining the faces would have to be very rough.  I then striped the image back to 8 grey tones which eliminated even more detail. This gave me areas to work.

the design for Fabric Postcard Dueling fiddlersI then set about ‘drawing’ with thread. I wanted to keep it loose as possible but I think the postcard size was working against me.

The piece was hand stitched on 36 count linen in DMC stranded floss using 1 and 2 strands at a time. Some fine wool was also used in the background. It took about 30 hours of concentrated stitching.

It was an interesting exercise but as I worked it I kept wishing I had worked at least a few sketches during the session. At the time I took the photograph, with no intention of doing anything with it other than keep it in the family album. I was just enjoying the music while gossiping with a friend over a cold beer. Once I started to work the piece in thread however I wished that I had taken the time to more closely observe both figures.  So lesson learnt is never to leave your sketchbook behind!

Close detail of thread twisties

Thread Twisties!

Experimenting with different threads can be expensive, as you would normally have to buy a whole skein of each type of thread. So I have made up my thread twisties which are a combination of different threads to use in creative hand embroidery. These enable you to try out stitching with something other than stranded cotton. For the price of just a few skeins, you can experiment with a bundle of threads of luscious colours and many different textures.

These are creative embroiders threads. With them I hope to encourage you to experiment. Each twistie is a thread bundle containing silk, cotton, rayon and wool. Threads range from extra fine (the same thickness as 1 strand of embroidery floss) to chunky couchable textured yarns. All threads have a soft and manageable drape so that twisting them around a needle makes experimental hand embroidery an interesting journey rather than a battle.  Many are hand dyed by me. All are threads I use. You may find a similar thread twist but no two are identical.

You will find my thread twisties in the Pintangle shop here.


  1. Mandy and all – thanks for the compliments and Mandy its true that draging out a sketch book at times is hard particularly in a place like this – we were in a bar – there is always some idiot (sometimes drunk) who manages to perfectly break your train of thought as they want to ‘take a look’. I have no idea why people think that the brain is not engaged when drawing!

  2. This works beautifully, and what a wonderful idea. I agree about needing a sketchbook to help remember the detail, though. Keeping a sketchbook around is something I have to work with – I still feel really embarrassed at the idea of bringing one out…. My younger daughter is an animator (2D) and always has one to hand whenever she is travelling on a bus or train. I must try to follow her example. The images she has, ready to use……
    Thanks for the inspiration. The picture works so well!!!

  3. I love this concept of “drawing” with thread, and I think it works whether you are working from a photograph or a sketch. Congratulations on a real work of art/craft (I’ll let you choose the most appropriate term…)

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