How to Sign a Stitched Painting

Sign a Stitched Painting cover image
Sign a Stitched Painting cover image

In preparation for my first gallery show, I had to solve the problem of how to sign a stitched painting.

Lots of Stitched Paintings, but no signatures
Stitched Paintings, but no signatures?

The pieces were finished. They were stretched on internal frames. They were absolutely ready for the packing crate.

Except that… oops!… Nothing had a signature!

Now I knew I could sign the back of the work, but I wondered if I could add a subtle signature to the front of the piece. Something that was “there” but not a distraction.

Test, Test, Test!

I considered looking for a marking pen that I could use to sign my name on the fabric. But I have no idea where I would find such a pen here in Chapala. And I was not willing to make a mistake at this late stage of the game.

Sign-a-Stitched-Painting with sticky-back stencils
Signature stencil on test fabric

The next logical option was to create a Signature Stencil. So I fired up my Silhouette software and the cutting machine and made a stencil with a font that I’ve been using for years.

Testing signatures to see if it works
Testing 1…2…3…

After much diddling around, I decided to go with the script font. It took a few modifications to make the font stencil-friendly, but it was worth the extra effort.

Stencils for Signatures
Signature Stencils for Talavera Garden stitched paintings

For the large stitched paintings, I wanted the signature to follow the curve of the design. And yes, that meant creating six variations of my signature, taking care to get the correct year of completion for each design.

(Somewhere in this process I decided I had really gone off the deep end. This was insanely fussy, even for me! But… after the months and months of work that went into each piece, what’s a little more time to make a pretty signature? Right?)

Sign a Stitched Painting

Sign-a-Stitched-Painting, stencil in place
Signature Stencil in place

With the stencils ready to go, it was time sign the stitched paintings. (And hope and pray that no stencil mishaps came my way!)

I used transfer tape to move the stencil to the proper location on the painting.

Signature stencil ready for paint
Ready to paint!

Before painting, I masked off the surrounding area with blue painter’s tape.

“Signing” with Shiva Artist’s Paintstiks

Then I took a deep breath and proceeded to add Iridescent Charcoal Gray paint to the itty-bitty openings in the stencil.

Sign a stitched painting - complete
Signature on Talavera Garden 1

I let these dry overnight for good measure, and peeled off the stencils the next morning. I was beyond happy to see that all of the stencils held up just fine. Woohoo!

Almost Ready to Pack

Letting the paint dry on the Stitched Paintings
Wait for the paint to dry!

The stitched paintings are all carefully stacked in the studio to allow the signature to dry for a couple of days. They will be ready to pack when the shipping crate arrives from the carpenter.

And then? I’m off to Minnesota for my first Gallery Show at One Division Art (Buffalo, Minnesota), and a long-awaited visit with family and friends.

Thanks for reading

Thanks for taking the time to read about my little adventure with signing my work. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of your creative world.

Leave your questions or comments below – and let me know how you sign your textile-based pieces. I’d love to hear your ideas.


  1. Barb on August 22, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    Love how I always learn something new from everything you share. They are gorgeous. Have a joyous, safe, and happy visit to the US. Be safe and stay well.

    • ShellyStokes on August 22, 2021 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks, Barb. I figure there’s no reason for everyone to figure it out separately!

  2. Cynthia Crull on August 22, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    Hi Shelly!
    I’m so excited for your show. Congratulations ! I wish I could be there to see you and it.
    Your signatures worked out beautifully, and the perfect finish to your beautiful art.
    Love you, Cynthia

    • ShellyStokes on August 22, 2021 at 4:03 pm

      Gracias amiga! It would be lovely to have a Paint•Stitch•Bead reunion one day. For now, I’m just going to enjoy the show and our visit to the US. 🙂

  3. Helen Smith Stone on August 22, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    These are simply gorgeous, Shelly! I love your idea of creating a stencil for your signature on the front of your art quilt. Very professional-looking. Thanks for sharing!
    I have recently wrapped three of my new art quilts around gallery canvas, too. Because I quilted them first, it was a bit tough getting the corners nice and sharp with a clean-looking finish. I did use thin cotton batting, which helped somewhat. (I bought the canvas pliers, too, which also helped with the process.) As for my signature, I machine-stitched it along the bottom area of the quilt after all of the machine-quilting was done. I think I like your stenciling idea better, though. FYI: I will be having my first art exhibit in October – at the Duluth Folk School … so excited!
    Question: Would you ever consider making a video showing how to attach an art quilt to gallery canvas? I was only able to find a couple of videos on YouTube and they were okay; but, I’m sure you would do a much better job. I found it a bit challenging.
    Anyway, as always … I love your work! And, I hope you’re doing well…

    • ShellyStokes on August 22, 2021 at 4:08 pm

      Thank you, Helen. A machine-stitched signature would work well, but only if you think about it BEFORE stretching the pieces on a frame! 😉

      I “gallery wrap” my stitched paintings on a wooden frame, but the batting is attached to the frame — it’s not part of the finished piece. I no longer add quilting to my work. For one thing, the beads make it pretty much impossible. But more importantly, additional stitching would detract from the embroidery.

      Bottom line, if you’re going to wrap a quilted piece in a similar manner, you’ll have to figure out how to removed the batting/backing from the areas that become the corners. That’s the only way I can see to remove the bulk.

  4. Beth B on August 22, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    Congratulations on the show. I would love to be able to see it and meet you but both are a fair distance from New Hampshire. I hope you will share some pictures of the exhibit later.

    • ShellyStokes on August 22, 2021 at 4:09 pm

      Thanks, Beth! I would love the opportunity to meet you too! I will definitely share photos. It should be a wonderful time. 🙂

  5. Barbara Kahn on August 22, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    Everyone is going to enjoy your beautiful art! Enjoy your visit with family and friends!
    Looking forward to paint and stitch again. Just started unpacking boxes in Hartford, Wisconsin (near family) after 32 years in Florida. Hoping the old(very) New England genes kick in when the snow flies.
    Safe trip!

    • ShellyStokes on August 24, 2021 at 3:22 pm

      I think you’ll be just fine, Barbara! Welcome back to the northland!

  6. susan a pfettscher on August 22, 2021 at 10:00 pm


    • ShellyStokes on August 24, 2021 at 3:24 pm

      Thanks for your wise words, Susan. We will definitely be careful about wearing our masks.

      My awning is still in process. The iron worker got tied up with an urgent request and a new job. So I’m waiting…

  7. Bev Boss on August 23, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    Your pieces are beautiful!!Wonderful that you have the opportunity to show them.. Safe travels to you and enjoy Minnesota!

    • ShellyStokes on August 24, 2021 at 3:25 pm

      Thank you,Bev. It will be lovely to visit Minnesota and to make our pilgrimage to the southern Black Hills. If I ever move back to the US, that’s probably where you will find me!

  8. Donna Jones on August 23, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    Thanks so much Shelly for sharing your preparation skills before the exhibition. I have one hand embroidered piece for a Sydney based competition and you have just helped me get one step closer to submitting it in the mail. Still in lock down here but a post office is still an essential place to visit. Love your work. All the best with your exhibition. 😊🙏

    • ShellyStokes on August 24, 2021 at 3:27 pm

      You’re welcome, Donna. I’m delighted to hear that you are submitting your piece! It’s always a challenge to get our head in the right space to put our work out there in the world. So good on you — and I hope the lockdowns don’t last too much longer. I keep an eye on Australia news and I can imagine that the entire city is a bit stir-crazy!

  9. Rebecca Muir MacKellar on August 24, 2021 at 7:49 am

    Beautiful as always. I love the signature idea too. It worked really well and it looks so professional. Congrats on your gallery show. I am sorry that I cannot see it in person.
    I hope that you and your husband have safe travels. May you also stay away from covid.

    • ShellyStokes on August 24, 2021 at 3:28 pm

      Thank you, Rebecca. The stenciled signature is a nice finishing touch. I am signing the back of my work with my proper signature, but I’m happy to have a way to claim my work on the front. 😉