Bring Flowers to Life with Machine Embroidery and Paint – Quilting Daily

While Vivika is on medical leave, we’re revisiting some of her most popular posts and guest bloggers are pitching in, too. Today, we’re featuring this post on how Barb Forrister creates lifelike flowers with machine embroidery techniques. ~The Quilting Daily Team

fabric flowers with machine embroidery and paint by barb forrister
Flowers created with machine embroidery
designs and paint by Barb Forrister.

Dimensional flowers lend beauty and texture to a piece of fiber art, but they are not easily accomplished. When I saw Barb Forrister’s demonstration of how to make realistic looking flowers with a combination of machine embroidery and surface design techniques, however, I was intrigued and wanted to share the process with you.

Here is how Barb creates fabric flowers that pop out of her quilts like crocuses on the first warm day of spring.

To make the flowers:

1. Assemble a sandwich starting with a layer of sheer fabric, a layer of Mistyfuse, and a layer of white cotton. 

2. Drizzle thread and fiber snippets over the white cotton to create a textured surface for your flower. 

3. Place another layer of Mistyfuse followed by a top layer of sheer fabric and fuse the layers together. This side will be the top portion of the flower petals.

free motion embroidery on petals
Free-motion embroidery adds life
to the petals.

4. Flip the sandwich over and continue layering with Mistyfuse and an additional layer of sheer fabric. Fuse layers together. This will be the underside of the petal.

5. Transfer the pattern for the petal onto a piece of cardboard and cut out the template. Lay the cardboard template on the side that has snippets of fibers showing.

6. Transfer the petal shapes to the fabric using a disappearing ink pen. Each flower has 5 petals. 

hand stitching and embroidery on petals
Stitch the petals with simple
sewing or hand embroidery.

7. Use free-motion machine embroidery to stitch the outline of petals and their pattern. For this step, the feed dogs must be in the down position and the bobbin thread should match the back of the petal. For the top thread, choose a color that shows up against the sheer fabric.

8. Finish quilting the petals by outline stitching once more. Cut out all of the petals and rinse them in cold water to remove any marks from the disappearing ink pen. Let dry.

9. Add the white design to each petal with white fabric paint, referring to the template. Add texture by painting small dots of three-dimensional acrylic paint along the inside edge of the white design. Add an additional outline of dots just outside the white area. 

quilt by Barbara forrister
The finished quilt.

10. Edges may be finished with satin stitch machine embroidery or hand embroidery. You could also paint the edges using a 1:1 mixture of matching fabric paint to clear gel medium.

I hope this tutorial sparked your imagination and encouraged you to try combining embroidery designs with surface design to make flowers. Last year, we explored many other ways of creating flowers (and other motifs) in fiber art in the pages of Quilting Arts Magazine. All six issues are now available together in our convenient Quilting Arts 2012 Collection CD. There are so many inspirational techniques to try!

P.S. Do you make fabric flowers with machine embroidery and surface design? What tips and tricks do you use? Leave a comment below.

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