Introduction: Layered Tulle Embroidery
Embroidering tulle is both easier and more challenging than traditional embroidery. Some aspects of the tulle make is quicker and allow for some interesting stitching that couldn't be achieved otherwise, but the tulle only has so many places you can insert your needle and it's pretty fragile. The coolest thing about using tulle is the transparency. By stacking layers on top of each other, you can create a 3-dimensional image. In the following steps, I'll walk you through some of the tips, tricks, and stitches I used to create this aerial scene, but don't feel limited to this image. This medium is only limited by your creativity.
embroidery hoop for each layer OR one embroidery hoop and a laser cutter
embroidery floss and needle
quick dry tacky glue
sheet of paper
Step 1: Load Your Hoop
Load a piece of tulle into your hoop. Be careful not to pull too hard or you could rip your fabric. Generally, laying the tulle onto the inner hoop and pressing the outer hoop onto it will get it tight enough.
Step 2: Plan
To get a basic outline of an aerial view of fields, trace or draw an image onto paper. Then, cut it out and place it inside your hoop. I've seen people trace designs onto tulle with a sharpie, but it's very difficult to see because there is so little material to mark on. I opted to keep this paper handy for a guide.
Holding the guide under your tulle, use a running stitch to outline each section before you fill it in. With my design, after I had lined the large row of trees and the roads, I didn't use the guide anymore. I could wing it after that.
Step 3: French Knot
French knots are great for trees in this aerial design. I used them in big clumps, rows, and in scattered sections. This stitch was very versatile. Normally, with a french knot, after wrapping the thread around the needle, you would want to go down through the same place you came up in the fabric. However, with the tulle's large openings, you either need to make larger knots by wrapping it around the needle a couple more times or go through the neighboring hole in the tulle.
Step 4: Running Stitch
With traditional fabric embroidery, a running stitch creates a dotted line. However with tulle, it creates a solid line. This makes filling in sections much faster than traditional embroidery. When planning to use running stitches, look at the actual holes in the tulle. The fabric has a straight direction and a diagonal direction. When filling sections, it's easiest to follow the holes in the tulle in the straight direction.
Step 5: Switching Directions
When changing directions with a running stitch on tulle, you get a rounded edge. In most cases it didn't matter much as I was filling the sections in, however it did come in handy. When combining two colors in a field and changing directions in various areas it gave that section a more wild look as opposed to the perfectly tamed rows of a planted field. It also worked great for the clouds in the upper layers.
Step 6: Mixed Stitches
In this section I combined the french knot and running stitches. I absolutely should have started with the running stitches to fill the section green, then added the french knot trees. Hindsight is 20/20.
Step 7: Loose Threads
With tulle, you have to consider the loose threads on the back. On the layer with all the fields, there were no transparent areas left, so I could ignore the thread endings. However, with the top two layers, I couldn't leave them dangling. Using quick dry tacky glue and a paintbrush, I trimmed the endings short and glued them under areas of solid embroidery. Notice the difference between the bottom bird and the top bird in the image.
Step 8: Layers
Here you can see all three of the layers I created. The next couple steps illustrate how I framed them. It would have been easier to mount each layer in its own embroidery hoop, stack them, and glue them together, but I didn't have extra hoops lying around, so I opted to cut myself some frames on my laser cutter.
Step 9: Framing With a Laser
If you go this route, you need two circles for each layer and likely some extras to give them a bit more height. I cut 1/4 circle pieces to cut down on waste where it wouldn't show.
Sandwich each tulle layer between two of the circles with a bit of quick dry tacky glue and use binder clips to hold them tight while it dries.
Step 10: Clean Up Edges
Trim off the extra tulle and melt the small amount that's leftover with a lighter. Sand the edges a bit if they're still rough.
Step 11: Enjoy
Glue the spacers in between the layers and enjoy.
Second Prize in the