Hand Embroidery On Printed Fabric – A Different Way To Stitch

One misconception I think a lot of people have about embroidery is that you have to be super good at illustration or design. While it is really helpful to become comfortable with the fundamentals of art and design, especially if you’re wanting to someday create your own designs, embroidery can be whatever you want it to be.

One way you can get started is by stitching on top of printed fabric. This activity is a fun way to explore your creativity and learn how to utilize color and embroidery stitches without coming up with a design from scratch. I would only recommend doing this as a personal project since fellow artists design all of the beautiful fabrics you see in the world, but I think it’s an amazing and less intimidating way to get started learning!

There is no “right” way to do hand embroidery on printed fabric, but I wanted to share with you a few different approaches you could take with this in this post.

hand embroidery on floral printed fabric

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Where To Find Printed Fabrics You Can Embroider On

The best types of fabrics to choose are light or medium weight cotton and linen. Synthetic or stretchy fabrics can be really hard to work with, so I’d steer clear of those.

The best place to find these fabrics, in my opinion, is at the thrift store. Many people get rid of old quilting fabrics and upholstery fabrics that have beautiful vintage designs on them. (That’s where I found the fabric I used!)

If you’re wanting something more modern, another place you could look is Spoonflower, which carries lots of independent artist’s fabric designs. They even have some fabrics that are made for embroidery and sewing projects you could use!

Spoonflower Fabrics

floral fabric in an embroidery hoop with embroidery floss beside it

Some Ideas For Hand Embroidering On Printed Fabrics

Stitch Directly On Top Of Designs

This is what I did for this beautiful vintage fabric I thrifted. I stuck with stitching directly on top of the designs and matching the colors of the fabric.

filling in the flower with the long and short stitch

I used the long and short stitch for the petals, French knots in the center of the flower, and split stitches for the leaves.

finished embroidery flower

This is a lovely way to add texture to the fabric and it’s also a great way to study how another artist used color and composition to create a design. You can also explore the use of different stitches to create different textures…treat it as a learning experience where there are no mistakes to be made!

Use The Designs On The Fabric As A Starting Point

Another thing you could do is use the design on the fabric as a starting point. For example, you could let your creativity run free and try to figure out how to make abstract shapes into an animal or person. A circle could become a head and a rectangle a horse’s body.

The opportunities are endless when you stitch on printed fabric!

The creativity doesn’t end once you’ve finished stitching…there are so many different things you could do with your finished project. You could turn it into something like a pillow cover or a patch for your jeans.

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