The issues with the thread painting seem to be partly related to my embroidery hoop in that I couldn't get the fabric tight enough in the hoop. I did some more research and several sources said that the fabric inside the hoop should be tight as a drum. Well I just couldn't get my hoop tightened enough so that it was like a drum. After the first set of trees there was distortion to the quilt including pulling of the borders which hadn't even been quilted. Ironing did not get the distortion out. So I decided it was time to do more testing. But no matter what I did, including different stabilizers, I was still getting distortion. The other factor that likely was contributing to this issue was the fabric itself. The fabric was from Spoonflower and I had decided to go with their new Kona cotton which actually is a heavier weighted cotton than what I have used in the past. Here is a picture of the distortion.
If I had continued with thread painting the alpacas the distortion would really become unmanageable so it was time for a new game plan. I did some new testing and will just go with doing some outline quilting of the trees and alpaca. This is what the trees would look like.
Given the issues, the outline approach will have to do. For the borders I have plans to quilt a Celtic knot design that will be couched with alpaca yarn afterwards. So fortunately I got several panels printed of the photo at Spoonflower so I will be putting together a new quilt sandwich and starting all over again. Hopefully by next week I will have something to show you.