For both techniques, you’ll need to pre-wash and dry your fabric before getting started.
Painting the Fabric
Adding fabric paint can be a great way to fill in large areas with a solid colour, or to add different texture, colours and detail to create a one-of-a-kind piece. I used this technique with designs from Mariposa, Larkspur and Zinnia patterns.
You can use fabric paint (look for ones that say soft on the label, not puffy or slick), or regular acrylic/craft paint mixed with textile medium. Although it is often used alongside hand embroidery, I don’t recommend using watercolour for anything that will be worn/need to be laundered.
For these, I have used craft paint mixed with textile medium.
The textile medium makes the craft paint more fluid and prevents the paint from cracking when dry. Once it has been heat set, the garment can be washed inside out, with mild detergent on a gentle cycle without fabric softeners. It is recommended to air dry garments with hand embroidery, painted fabric or applique.
Note: If you are using a different brand of textile medium than the one pictured, please be sure to refer to those directions as the paint mixing ratios, heat setting and washing instructions may differ.
If you plan to use your completed design on clothing, it is recommended to transfer the pattern piece outline onto the fabric to check placement before transferring the embroidery design.
To transfer your desired embroidery design to fabric, you’ll need to use either the tracing method, or the washable tracing paper method. Full instructions for each method are included in each Peony Patterns embroidery pattern. I use the tracing method for lighter fabrics, and washable tracing paper method for darker fabrics.
Place a piece of cardboard under your fabric to protect your work surface.
Mix 2 parts acrylic/craft paint with one part textile medium. Paint the embroidery design as desired, then allow the paint to dry fully. It may be necessary to do multiple coats of lighter paint colours on darker fabrics.
When you are finished painting with the textile medium, your paintbrushes should be cleaned using soap and cool water.
Once the paint has fully dried, heat set the painted design by covering it with a pressing cloth and moving a hot iron over the design, with no steam, for 20 seconds. Do not wash newly painted fabric for 7 days after painting and heat setting.
If a heat erasable pen has been used for transferring the embroidery design, or if parts of the design that you wish to stitch have been painted over, you will need to transfer the design to the fabric again, using the same method used previously.
After your design has been transferred again as needed, place the fabric in an embroidery hoop, and complete the stitching as instructed in the embroidery pattern you have chosen. If you have painted areas of the design where it is instructed to use satin stitch or long & short stitch to fill in the design, you may wish to simply outline that area using backstitch, whipped backstitch or stem stitch, or simply stitch in a few details instead.
Do not wash newly painted fabric for 7 days after painting and heat setting. After the paint has had the appropriate time to cure, the finished garment can be washed inside out, with mild detergent on a gentle cycle without fabric softeners. It is recommended to air dry garments with hand embroidery, painted fabric or appliqué.
Adding appliqué can be a great way to add extra dimension to simple embroidery designs, or to add in a coordinating fabric for an extra pop of colour and detail. I used this technique with designs from Fuchsia and Mariposa patterns.
You will need an iron adhesive/double stick fusible web such as Wonder-Under or Steam-A-Seam 2.
If you plan to use your completed design on clothing, it is recommended to transfer the pattern piece outline onto the fabric to check placement before transferring the appliqué and embroidery design.
To transfer your desired embroidery design to fabric, you’ll need to use one of the methods listed in each Peony Patterns embroidery pattern. For this technique, I used printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy and the tracing method. Do not transfer the pattern to your fabric yet!
You will need to print your embroidery pattern design on either regular printer paper or Sticky Fabri-Solvy. Trace the outline of the areas that you wish to use for appliqué onto a transparent paper, such as baking paper or tracing paper. Cut the shapes out and label them as needed.
Next, you will need to prepare the fabric you are cutting the appliqué shapes from. I prefer to add the iron on adhesive to an entire section of fabric large enough to cut the appliqués from, and then cut out the shapes. I find this gives a cleaner edge to the cut shapes. Following the directions on your iron adhesive/double stick fusible web, attach the adhesive to the back side of your fabric.
Trace your applique shapes onto the front of your fabric and cut them out. I like to use a heat erasable pen for this step.
Now is a good time to check that they fit correctly onto the printed design and look the way you want them to. At this stage you can easily trim or recut the applique shapes as needed.
To ensure that the shapes are placed correctly onto your main fabric, use the tracing method or washable tracing paper method to transfer the surrounding part of the design onto your fabric. It is not necessary to transfer the entire design, just enough to help you place the appliqué pieces correctly. When your pieces are in place, remove any temporary backing on the appliqué pieces, then iron them to your main fabric following the directions of your iron on adhesive/double stick fusible web.
With the appliqué pieces secured in place, transfer the rest of the embroidery design. I used Sticky Fabri-Solvy with the appliqué areas cut away so it would be easier to see where I needed to attach it. Place your fabric into an embroidery hoop, and the design is now ready to stitch.
For simpler designs, you may wish to applique the entire design and then outline each section with hand embroidery. For this petite butterfly, I cut out the printed design and traced the outline onto my prepared appliqué fabric. I cut out the traced shape, removed the temporary backing and ironed it onto my main fabric. Then I added the printed Sticky Fabri-Solvy to prepare for stitching.
When stitching large designs like these bunny ears, it is a recommended to complete the areas closest to the appliqué first. Wonder-Under and Steam-A-Seam 2 don’t require stitching to secure the applique, but you may stitch down the perimeter with your sewing machine or hand embroidery for extra security.
Complete the stitching as instructed in the embroidery pattern you have chosen. If you have appliqued areas of the design where it is instructed to use satin stitch or long & short stitch to fill in the design, you may wish to simply outline that area using backstitch, whipped backstitch or stem stitch, or simply stitch in a few details instead.
When you have finished stitching, soak away the Sticky Fabri-Solvy. I submerge the embroidered fabric in a shallow container with plenty of warm water and a very small amount of rubbing alcohol (this will help to remove any lingering printer ink from the Sticky Fabri-Solvy) and I usually leave it to soak for an hour or more. Rinse thoroughly and line dry your fabric. If needed, you can place the dried fabric back into the hoop to gently smooth out any wrinkles around the stitching, then remove from the hoop and carefully iron from the back with the embroidery side face down on a thick towel.
Once it has been completed, the finished garment can be washed inside out, with mild detergent on a gentle cycle without fabric softeners. It is recommended to air dry garments with hand embroidery, painted fabric or applique.
These techniques can be used with any of our Embroidery patterns. I hope you will try them and share photos with our Facebook group!
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