Colourful fabric and embroidery – small project idea

May 15, 2017 , In: Embroidery, Fiber, Inspiration, Tutorials

This is a simple embroidery project that can be easily taken along (for all the boring waiting times). I love to stitch but I never ever was someone who made perfect stitches or even cared about details like the amount of strands of threads to use… but I do love the way how you can add colour to your fabric. For me it is like painting on fabric in a dimensional way!

It is finally warm enough to sit on our balcony again! At least for me, my husband still seems to live in a different temperature zone (I run around half naked in summer clothes, he had to wear a heavy warm pullover…).

Since a lot of the Art Elements members are really good at embroidery (just have a look at our Instagram account: art_elements (you can also use this as hashtag), a lot take part in #ayearinstitches), I was tempted to get some of my thread out again.

This is not really a tutorial since it is very easy but rather meant as inspirational idea for small projects as well as to show what I use for this and why.


  • stamps
  • permanent stamp pad
  • colourful fabric scraps
  • Walkloden (I struggle with the right english term, it is fulled wool cloth)
  • embroidery thread (or yarn or normal sewing thread…)
  • a sturdy embroidery needle (after all it needs to go through the Walkloden)
  • scissors
  • embroidery hoop

The material I used: Fabric scraps, ink pad and stamps, embroidery hoop and Walkloden and the stamped fabric scraps…


  • stamp the image on the fabric 
  • the fabric should be big enough to be fixated in the embroidery hoop
  • secure the fabric with fulled wool as backing in the embroidery hoop
  • stitch the outline (this really brings the stability to the whole piece)
  • cover all stamped areas with stitches (or other “stuff)
  • cut carefully around the stitched edge

I start the outline with a simple back stitch through all fabric layers (and some knots as decoration) to give the whole piece a basic stability.

I go through the outline back stitch with a threaded running stitch (simply: I go with the thread around the stitches on top) and start to fill the inner areas.

Here you can see the progress. I change the colours, sometimes because I want but also because I use leftovers and run out of them during the project 😉


  • backstitch (this is the only stitch I really recommend to give the piece stability!)
  • threaded running stitch (just go around the back stitch with another thread on top of the fabric)
  • satin stitch (to fill the areas, but actually that are just stitches next to each other)
  • knot stitch (or french knot stitch)

I won’t explain you the stitches in detail but if you use this terms you can find a lot of video tutorials or schematic images. In the end you can also just improvise since for me this is more about the “painting” process than really “correct” embroidery.

You can nicely see the fabric still coming through.


  • If your fabric piece is to small to fit in the embroidery hoop (but big enough for our project) just sew some other fabric scraps at the ends
  • The stamped image doesn’t need to be perfect, just give you an idea about the outlines.
  • Of course you can stitch wherever you want but I like to leave the not stamped areas free so one can see the original fabric 😉
  • If you don’t back your fabric (there are also some good iron-on backings) and it is not a non fraying fabric (like felt, fulled wool, jersey…) you should secure the edges before you cut!

You can see all the stitches I used: Mostly just the back stitch, around the edges a threaded running stitch, some satin stitch to fill the outer areas and some simpel knots.

At this stage I was really not sure whether I really want to cut it or rather sew a small bag or integrate it into a patchwork. But actually I am really glad I didn’t stop at this stage.

You don’t need to use Walkloden (fulled wool) to back up your fabric. But I like this because it will give the project stability and the thread is like felted into the wool. This allows me to cut out the finished piece without being afraid that it may pull apart. It also give the piece some weight and can easily be shaped a little bit. You could also add some wire in between or even through the fulled wool if you want to shape it even more.

As you can see, I really cut quite close to the stitched egde! The Walkloden (fulled wool) is quite thick and stabilizes it.

I can’t tell you how much time it may take to finish (depending how fast you stitch) but is nice to use up leftover thread and yarn. You could easily incorporate beads, shells or strange found objects. 

Oh, I just love it! Do you see how close I cut around the antennae? Be sure to use a good backing to do that! Alternatively you could also use some fabric glue to make sure the fabric won’t come apart.

You could now stitch around the egdes to create a clean outline but I rather love the organic look. As soon as I have decided what to make out of the butterfly I will add some additional fabric only to the back to hide the thread chaos… ehm…

Love the colours… the blue is actually rather turquoise but every functional camera around here was not able to catch it. Still, love them also like this!

I think smaller projects would also create wonderful mixed media jewelry especially since the result is so sturdy. I could also imagine a statement necklace consisting of a lot of smaller stitched pieces combined together… I even know what images I would love to incorporate. But I know myself, it would take to much time for me and in the moment I am rather impatient even with projects I only do for myself. Maybe for the next holidays as travel project… mh…

Actually I would also love to see any mixed media jewelry project you did or would recommend with fabric and embroidery! 

Until next time 🙂


Claire Fabian

Claire Fabian loves to experiment with materials and ideas. She needs to create to “keep her sane” and the process of creation itself is the most important in her work. She is drawn to weird things, to organic and natural textures and loves a tribal and ancient vibe. She makes beads as well as jewellery, but also loves mixed media pieces and little sculptures. Amongst her favourite materials is polymer clay, ceramic clay, all kind of metals, glass beads as well as everything found in nature. She is also working in research which may explain her desire to experiment.
  1. Reply

    Oh heavens! I have some insanely gorgeous turquoise floral silk from Malaysia, I think. I have been hoarding it for over 20 years. I want to make dozens!

  2. Reply

    Very nice! You can also use fusible interface and a nice fabric on the back – it will keep everything “glued” in place. Works great for machine embroidering too.

    • lesleyhw
    • May 15, 2017

    Lovely project Claire.

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