A few weeks ago, I posted a “how-to” use thread painting to make patches. It linked out to a lot of good resources and that seemed to be exactly what some of you needed to get inspired and get going. For others, it was overwhelming and not very useful. I aim to please, so I’ve taken a bit of time to put together the basics of thread painted patches with a requested sample project, a Mario mushroom. These are fun to make! Despite the million words I’m getting ready to throw at you – they don’t take long. From start to finish, with pictures, it took 45 minutes to make this mushroom.
To get started we need a list of supplies:
- Super Sulky Water Soluble Stabilizer
- Thread in colors required for patch
- Lots of bobbin thread (neutral color)
- Tulle (neutral, or color that matches patch)
- Embroidery hoop (with or without twill tape)
- Line art & Sharpie
- Fresh Embroidery Needle
Let’s talk about each of these a little bit more.
Super Sulky Water Soluble Stabilizer
I use Super Sulky because it was what I learned on, available just about everywhere, and it works for me. I’m sure there are other brands out there, but I don’t usually stray too far from something I know as long as it is working. It’s a plastic like film that keeps the threads on the top and bottom of the film rather than getting lost in the fabric. It has a front side that is a bit shinier with texture and more dull backside. The front is facing front when it is on the roll, so you can always go back to that to compare if you switch sides. I’ve also been told that it’s properties will change if left in the sun or outside of it’s package for too long. Could be a wives tale, but I’ve never taken the chance!
You’ll want to make sure you have the threads you need before you get started. For this project we’re walking through a simple color block and will just need red, white, tan, and black. You may want to use different colors for shading like in this project or to add interest and dimension like in this project. I like Sulky embroidery threads for this type of work. There’s three big reasons I lean towards this thread:
- It’s accessible. It’s hard to pick thread colors online. JoAnn carries nice selection of colors and if I pay attention to the sales, at a good price.
- I have yet to have one break. These patches get thick with thread and there is lots of moving and pulling and changing angles when making one. No thread breaking is impressive. You know what they say – if it ain’t broke….
- I love the shine! You’re going to see that the shine is problematic in pictures, but in real life it looks great!
You don’t need to futz with changing the bobbin. Just pick a matching thread type in a neutral color. You will run through TONS of thread, so start with a full bobbin or have one near by.
You’re probably familiar with tulle. If you ever worn a prom dress, tutu, or veil, you know tulle. The thing you might not know about tulle is that is quite strong. The netting is created with a weaving technique that creates a tension amongst the threads much different from standard cotton weave. Tulle is an ideal medium for this type of work because it will hold its form despite the 1 zillion times we’re going to punch it with a needle.
The idea of this patch is completely cover the tulle. It will peek out here and there though, so it is wise to choose a neutral or color that matches the bulk of your patch. For this project, I’m using white because it’s what I have (heh).
I’m using the plain old wooden hoop that you can pick up at the craft store for a buck or two. I try to use the smallest hoop I can get by with because it is easier to control to movement of the hoop when it is smaller. I feel like I get better results using the twill tape trick. All I’ve done is wrapped twill tape (find it at JoAnn near the binding) around the hoop then tacked it down with a small, messy stitch. Hey, up until now, no one would have known it was messy! If you want to be a little more neat about it – here’s a great tutorial from Mary Corbet at Needle and Thread.
TIP: The patch you are embroidering can be larger than your hoop! Hoop it, embroider it, then move the hoop and continue on the next section. The embroidery will get sandwiched in the hoop and that’s ok!
Line Art & Sharpie
Now you need something to embroider. I like to use line art because it is simple to trace and easy to see where there might be difficult sections to fill in or navigate around. I can almost always find a good reference if I google image search the things I want to embroider with the string “line art” or “coloring book page”. Go ahead -see if you can find a good butterfly with this google search. For the sample Mario mushroom, I found him in line art form and sized him to 3.5 inches for embroidery. If you’d like to use it, right click the image and choose “save image as”.
I typically use a fine tipped Sharpie to trace my line art onto my stabilizer. I suspect there is a better way (the sharpie eventually finds itself on the tulle/threads), but I havent figured it out yet. Feel free to drop the answer in the comments if you have it!
I’m looking forward to working through it with you! Please, leave any feedback, questions, or just drop some knowledge in the comments.
Read the Full Series!
Thread Painting: A Beginner’s Tutorial, Supplies (you are here)
Here’s some projects that feature thread painting patches: