Colouring your stitchery designs is easy

Outline of gumleaf
Outline of gumleaf

What you need

Fabric for your design (in the sample I have used seeded muslin).

Freezer paper. You need a rectangle a bit bigger than your design but it does not have to be as big as the piece of fabric. The freezer paper can be used about 3 or 4 times.

Brush. I used a #5 synthetic pointer brush. Use what ‘works for you’.

Fabric medium. This makes the design stay on the fabric. This can be found in some craft stores or art stores.

Whisper weft. This is a stabilising fabric that stays behind your stitchery.

Pencils. Tracing and colouring pencils. I trace the design onto fabric using either a fine .5mm pencil or Pigma Micron 01 pen. I have used the Pigma pen for the photographic purposes but most often use a fine .05 pencil.

Gumleaf coloured in
Gumleaf coloured in


Iron on the freezer paper without using steam. Iron the freezer paper onto the back of your design by putting the paper under the fabric and ironing from the front. The freezer paper stabilises the fabric so that you can colour in the design.

Now you are ready to colour!


Colouring in the design… I have coloured samples with a variety of pencils, (see A bit about pencils’ tutorial). The instructions below use Derwent Inktense pencils.

Colour the leaf with Leaf Green #1600 and create shade and depth with Bark #2000.

Now comes the fun part!

Make up a 50/50 mix of water and fabric medium. * see below.

Gumleaf after using fabric medium
Gumleaf after using fabric medium

Paint the leaf, being careful not to go over the edge or to have too much medium on the brush at a time. Too much medium causes the colour to ‘bleed’ out of the lines. A small ‘bleed’ can be remedied by adjusting the stitching line. Paint the whole leaf first (so there is no stop and start dry lines) then, using the brush, go back over and smudge and smoosh the colours until you are happy with the look. A little more colour can be added by touching the tip of the brush to the pencil, do not put the pencil onto the wet fabric unless you want a lot of colour!

Colour the bud using the same method.

Don’t overdo it! Your design will be a little bit lighter when it is dry.

Wash the brush in water and dry… see ‘Caring for your brushes’ tutorial.

Now paint the blossom using Poppy Red  #0400 and the tip of the brush. Load the brush with colour and, starting at the base with very light flick strokes, create the ‘petals’. Go lightly, you are creating a light base to go behind the embroidery.

Wash the brush again in water and dry.

Preparing to stitch. Let the design dry, peel off the freezer paper and iron on whisper weft, or your favourite backing, and then embroider using threads to match.

Completed Gumleaf with stitching
Completed Gumleaf with stitching

Finished stitchery.  I have used DMC threads.


Colours and stitches as follows…

Leaf centre, stem and twigs – DMC 3970 Dark Kharki – back stitch, single strand.

Outline leaf and blossom bud – DMC 3970 stem stitch 2 strands.

Blossom – DMC 3833 Pink – straight stitch, single strand.

–  DMC 3822 Yellow – french knots,single strand, 2 wraps.


*If this is a new technique for you, iron a scrap of fabric to a piece of freezer paper and draw a couple of circles, colour in any colour add a bit of shading and ‘paint’ with straight medium to get the feel of using the medium, then do another practise with the 50/50 water and medium


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