How To Make Stumpwork Leaves

This quick, simple tutorial will show you how to make stumpwork leaves using the wire work technique, aka wire slips. You’ll stitch directly on the fabric and then cut the embroidered leaf out when you’re done!

Normally, hand embroidery is worked on fabric and either framed or left in the hoop for display. This technique makes it so that you can cut out a piece of embroidered fabric and make your embroidery 3-dimensional. So fun!

If you’ve never done this style of embroidery before, stumpwork leaves are great place to start because it will be relatively easy to manipulate the wire to their shape.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase an item.

Stumpwork Video


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 strand embroidery thread – I highly recommend DMC
  • Linen or cotton fabric – Purchase on Amazon
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery scissors
  • Wire cutter – Purchase on Amazon
  • Artistic Wire (28g or 30g) – Purchase on Amazon

The only extra things you’ll need for wire work is craft wire, wire cutters, and an extra piece of fabric. You’ll want to make sure you get wire that is relatively thin because it will make the outline of the wire less obvious.

Stumpwork Leaf Tutorial

shaping the wire for a stumpwork leaf
  • Place your fabric in the hoop and draw the shape of a leaf onto the fabric.
  • Cut a piece of wire, making sure you leave plenty of extra wire. (You will need to use the excess wire to secure the finished leaf onto the fabric.)
  • Shape the wire similar to the leaf shape. (It’s okay if it is not perfectly shaped. You will end up anchoring the wire with some couching stitches and it will be easier to accurately shape it then.)
  • Make small, evenly spaced stitches using one strand of embroidery floss to secure the shape to the fabric.


When you shape the wire, make sure to have the “tails” at the base of the leaf. This will make it easier to attach to the fabric because you will poke the tails through to the back of the fabric after you are done stitching the leaf and cut it out.

Also, it is okay if the tails cross, but DO NOT twist the wire together. This makes it really difficult to poke through the fabric.

securing wire to the fabric
  • Now, you’ll make stitches around the entire outline of the shape to conceal the wire.
  • You can use a variety of stitches over the wire. For this tutorial I used a blanket stitch. You can also use a satin stitch or an overcast stitch. I used two strands of floss for this.
filling in a stumpwork embroidery leaf
  • Once you have stitched all the way around the wire, you can fill in the rest of the leaf.
  • Again, you can use many different stitches to do this but for this example I just used a satin stitch.
  • I used 2 strands to fill in the leaf, but depending on the kind of look you want, you can use more or less.
cutting out the stumpwork leaf and securing it to the fabric
  • Take your fabric out of the hoop and carefully cut around the edge of the shape using a sharp pair of embroidery scissors. Try to get as close as you can to the edge but try not to cut any of the stitches!
  • Then, using your needle, pierce the fabric and wiggle it around to form a hole that you can place the wire through.
  • Place the wire through and then make some stitches at the very base of the leaf and around the wire to secure.
  • You can trim any excess wire that is poking out on the back and you’re done!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Stumpwork is so fun, and there are so many cool things you can do with it! Learn how to make a raised leaf stitch next.

Stumpwork Patterns

Check out these fun patterns to learn how to make various stumpwork insects and botanicals.

If you’re interested in learning more about botanical embroidery, check out this post about how to embroider leaves.

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