Monday, August 13, 2012

Tutorial - Painting Embroidery Backgrounds

I'm working on two large embroidery and silk ribbon projects for a special group of ladies. The first is ready for the silk ribbon...as the base thread embroidery is done.
The second is not finished yet...but the painted background part is. 
I still have the fence to embroidery...but thought you might like to see how easy painting the background is...so...
Sharing this tutorial on how we are painting...you might want to give this a try. It was fun...easy...and very inexpensive!
From start to finish, this process took me about 2 1/2 hours...for both designs... before I could start stitching. It could take longer if you don't have a light box to use when tracing...or you might be faster than me. But, just in case you were wondering...wanted you to just know that it did not take days...hugs!
Step One
Cut your background large enough to hold your embroidery design with about 3-4 inches outside of that on all sides. This give plenty of room for your hoop, and to paint the area. You will trim this work to the finished size you want later on.
Note: I use a thin Pellon fusible interfacing to my embroidery (or muslin)...I like to do that when I'm using a light to medium weight fabric, because it helps me hide my knots and such on the back. You'll need to cut that interfacing or base fabric as well.

Step Two
Get a natural type sponge...or, prepare a substitute as I did here. This is a really, really cheap kitchen sponge...clean...and a pair of tweezers. Pluck and pull out bits of the sponge to make the surface "rough".

Step Three
You need acryllic paint and water. I use a kitchen glass plate for my mixing area...because they do not absorb the paint and clean up is a breeze...just rinse and put into the dishwasher. Hugs!

Put a little dab of paint on the plate...add a couple of tablespoons of water. Mix gently. In this case, I want to paint "sky" so I choose white and light blue. When mixed, I got white...blue...and a muddy mixture of white/blue.  
You want a really thin mixture...like ink would look...(sorry, forgot that photo).
Now, Be brave...and put some paint-water on the sponge ... and dab it on the fabric. Keep sponging from the plate to the fabric until the sky is like you want it. It might not be pretty, or perfect...but don't fret. All will be just fine!

Repeat this step for other areas of the project. For these, I did greens for grass at the bottom. (you could do grays for hills, or tans for sand, etc.) Remember to add the water to thin out the paint!!!!
When done...you have a piece of fabric with the "illusion" of sky and ground!
As I said, it's not pretty...but it is not realism...only the "hint" of
the sky and ground. 
It will be enhanced by your stitching! Seriously, it will!
See how the second design looks on top of the sky/grass!
Cool! And it isn't even done yet!
Okay...
Now, let your painted fabric dry...completely!
You can just lay it out overnight...or, if (like me) you do not want to wait...you can iron it dry.
Here's how I did mine...
Use paper (just plain printer paper) on the top and bottom to protect your iron from excess paint...at least until it partially drys and the paper soaks some excess water/paint up.
Then iron as you like!
Because there is so much water mixed with the paint...the fabric soaks up the color...but is not rough or coarse.

Use a light table or sunny window to trace your embroidery pattern...or whatever method you normally use.
Here is one of the designs, just traced with a #2 lead pencil...my tool of choice!
See, you can see the design...and then, just stitch as usual!

ETA: Is painted fabric washable? Well, I don't plan on washing these scenes...as the silk ribbon will not hold up I'm thinking. But, my sister (the painter) has used acrylic paint on t-shirts...and ironed to set the paint...and they have washed just fine. There is also a fixative for acrylic paint that helps it adhere to cloth. So, you could add textile/fabric medium to thin your acrylic paints before you use them on fabric if your scene will be washed a lot.
So... if you are planning on painting on wearables or other things that are laundry prone...do your research. Here is one link to get you started:
http://painting.about.com/od/fabricpainting/a/FabricPaintTips.htm

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1 comment:

Natasha R Naidu said...

Great tute, Kathy. Don't you need to prewash the fabric before you begin painting? Also, do you think spritzing the fabric with water before daubing on the paint would ensure a better finish? thanks for being so generous with information and tips.