Tutorial: Fleshing Out Embroidery with Paint

I started by tracing out the neckline and side seams on tissue paper, which I will admit rips easy. To have a rip-free drawing, I traced the garment, regardless of the holes, and then retraced the slightly tattered tissue on a fresh piece. Simple, but it was still a bit of an ah-ha moment.

I then proceeded to draw out different designs to test the scale and shape.

The triangles complement the v-neck, but I’m not too jazzed about the design.

Love the design! It doesn’t look as good as it could with that v-neck, though.

And because doodling freshens the mind and the creative process, we can swap garments and necklines to see which design look best on different articles of clothing. After I drew the last one, I knew I had to use it, so from here on out, we’ll be using V9015.

I traced out the design I wanted using a tracing wheel, which requires no crazy amount of re-sizing and all that, as we drew on a scale model. File_002

I went back and used a pencil on all of the places I had either missed or felt needed some more lines. Since we’re adding embroidery, we should be hiding all of the lines, but just draw light enough for you to see comfortably.

Then, using Jacquard Textile Colors in yellow (primary), white, and colorless to be more sheer, I painted inside the circles, trying not to go over the lines and obscure them. The yellow I was going for was this yellow I created for a painting:


To keep the paint from seeping through, I used freezer paper. Freezer paper is awesome, because the waxy side keeps paint from soaking into the paper itself. This means that not only can you use it to keep paint away from other layers, BUT you can also use it as a disposable pallet.

After letting this dry for an admittedly long time (it seemed to stay wet in areas of high buildup for a few hours), I began to shade in the shapes with a home-mixed purple. What I love about this bit, is that, since I have a colorless fabric paint, I can use it as if it were a fabric medium. This means that I can use the same color I mixed in the painting above. Typically I use Daler-Rowney FW acrylic ink to paint with. This ink comes as a liquid in a glass bottle with a dropper, making it incredibly easy to place small, precise drops of paint.

While I could have used a more traditional fabric medium, I feared that the fluidity of the ink would make it too runny, as fabric medium is designed for more traditional, thick acrylic paint. If you plan on using acrylic paint, the fancy shmancy colorless fabric paint isn’t necessary. However, I am not certain of the quality of traditional, craft store fabric mediums, while I do know that Jacquard is a quality brand. It may sound a bit snobbish, but one thing that art school taught me is that the higher quality your materials, the higher quality your work becomes. Work with materials, don’t fight them, and all that.

The mixture I used was a combination of purple lake and Payne’s Gray (which must be the most magical color in the history of colors) ink. A one to one ratio of the two colors resulted in a rather dark blue, so I mixed in a touch more of the purple lake to vary the color and add more life. (another thing art school taught me: variation=interest) I also used a traditional fabric medium I had on hand which happened to be very fluid to create a washier effect in some areas, like I’m used to painting. Here’s the effect:


The effect is nice, if rough, because the thickness of the paint makes it hard to create nice, crisp edges while still showing the pale yellow underneath. When I started, however, I knew I wanted to use embroidery to define the edges, much like the white lines in my inspiration picture above.

After heat-setting the paint, following the instructions on the Jacquard fabric paint, I got out my embroidery thread and hoop, and did a stem stitch all around, using two threads for the larger circle, the outline of the middle circle and the middle curve, and then I used only one thread on the rest of the curves in the middle circle, and completely on the small circle, so the embroidery doesn’t overwhelm the shape.

And here’s the final product:

File_000 (2)

I will admit, I have not washed this garment to test it’s durability, but I’m pretty sure that you would want to hand wash anything with hand embroider. If anyone has any information on that, please share; the internet is scant on information about hand embroidered clothing. I have used these paints before, but never on something that requires multiple washing, and nothing mixed with these inks. If there does end up being a change, I will add a note to this post, or link a different post if the top just goes bananas.


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