Recently I've started to delve into hand embroidery and watercolor. Before starting an embroidery piece, I experimented with watercolor paint on different fabrics, and also tried using watercolor pencils vs watercolor brushes. Here are a few of my learnings:
- Color bleeds less on unbleached muslin than bleached muslin. I’m not exactly sure why, but I expect it has something to do with bleached muslin having a smoother and more even surface. As a result, the paint is more likely to bleed on bleached muslin. Not a bad thing, just something to be aware of as you experiment.
- Colors will be subtler on fabric than on watercolor paper. When painting on fabric, add a little paint at a time and use more paint than water, because the paint will naturally be less vibrant.
- Using watercolor pencils may yield more vibrant colors than watercolor on brushes. This may have to do with the concentrated nature of watercolor pencils. (Check out some by Prismacolor.) Try sketching on dry fabric and adding water, or wetting the fabric first and then sketching over it. See which results you like best!
- You don't need a fancy set of watercolor paints. In fact, I tried a few different brands and was pretty impressed with the vibrancy of good ole Crayola!
- Details were best painted using a rigger watercolor brush. Rigger watercolor brushes have very long, thin hairs and were created to paint long, thin lines. They hold a lot of color at the tip, due to the shape of the hairs. Try watercolor rounds, riggers and flats to see what kind of brush you prefer for the effects you want. Mine are from Winsor & Newton.
- Sketches should be rendered in pencil, not a water-soluble marker. Most embroidery marking pens are created so their lines disappear in water, however, if you are using watercolor paint, it will dissolve your lines. If you need to sketch anything out, use a sharpened #2 pencil, or even a mechanical pencil.
- Once the paint is dry, stitch as usual! Once your paint has dried, sky’s the limit - have fun stitching! When it comes time to press the final work, just be careful about steaming the embroidery as it can cause the watercolors to run. Therefore laundering is not recommended.
If you’re interested in trying watercolor with your embroidery, it will take a little bit of trial and error. Have fun with it and experiment till you get the effect you are looking for!
Already tried watercolor with your embroidery? Share any other tips or tricks, or a link to your work below!