How to embroider on tulle
It has only been a few weeks since Charles began to experiment with how to embroider on tulle. If you’ve never embroidered on tulle before it can be quite tricky to start. This is especially due to the transparent and fragile nature of the tulle fabric.
Nevertheless, modern embroidery designs on tulle has become increasingly popular and we understand why. The transparency of the tulle can really add something unique and fascinating to your artwork.
For example, Charles has experimented to place himself behind the work as a juxtaposition in relation to the actual embroidery. Sometimes the embroidery is a general design of a flower or plant, whereas other times he used his own face as the baseline. There are no limits to your imagination!
Both of us love the freedom of modern hand embroidery. But it isn’t only the techniques that gives you creative freedom.
It’s also the wide range of materials that you can use. Whether you have a thick or thin, transparent or fully covered fabric, the effect will be very different. Of course it’s not only the type of fabric that will have a big impact on the final result, but also what kind of threads.
We mostly use DMC or Anchorcrafts embroidery floss, where the latter is especially for the multicolored threads. We enjoy their threads both for their glance but also for the ability to use them when embroidering on clothes.
Key things to think about when you want to embroider on tulle
1) How hard you pull the threads
2) How hard you stretch the tulle in the hoop
3) The placement of your threads
4) How you attach the threads when finished
With this list right at the beginning, it might feel overwhelming to even consider to try to embroider on tulle.
But I aim to digest each aforementioned point in more detail as well as show you some recent examples by Charles.
Even though written articles can be very helpful, I find that for creative arts and crafts projects the visual support is just as important.
In fact, that is one of the reasons why Charles and I launched our Youtube channel at the end of 2019.
Furthermore it’s also why we have developed a series of online courses to provide hands on teaching in a one-on-one style. But let’s get into the topic of today:
How to embroider on tulle?
1. How hard to pull the threads
First you must be aware of the fragility of the tulle fabric. This is why the first point above targets how hard to pull the thread. In fact, the necessity to be VERY LOSE on your hand is one of the first things you will notice when you begin to stitch.
As soon as you pull a little bit harder, you risk to make a hole in the fabric.
This has happened on several occasion for Charles. However, he noticed it in time before the hole got too big and thus was able to mend the hole carefully. Of course this is only possible if you embroider a design with relatively covered surfaces.
With designs that concentrate on delicate contours, it will be trickier to mend a hole without it showing too much.
Hence, in short: Be gentle and rather pull to few than too much (especially in the beginning).
2. Stretch the fabric
Continuing on the effects of the fragility of tulle, it will also have an impact on how you stretch it in a hoop. To be able to make smooth stitches you need to stretch the fabric in one way or another and a hoop is always handy. Because if you don’t stretch the tulle, it can easy create bubbles and just be very difficult to get an overview of the design/where to place your stitches.
Just as you need to be gentle on your hand when you embroider on tulle, you also need to be gentle when you stretch it… Logic right! Thus the way we recommend is that you place the fabric on the inner part of the hoop. Try to place it “flat”. In other words, as naturally stretched out as possible.
Thereafter you place the outer ring on top of the inner and tie up the hoop. If you did the aforementioned trick, you will most likely not have to pull the tulle while it’s in the hoop for additional tension. Instead, just the fact of closing the hoop with the outer ring is enough to make the tulle straight and neat.
3. Placement of your threads
Now you have your tulle in the hoop and some basic understanding to be gentle in your stitching. But how to stitch so that you don’t see the threads through the fabric?
Well, it’s technically impossible to not see the underside through. This is due to the transparent nature of the tulle. As a result, the best way to work around it is to use it to your advantage. Either you only do travelling lines underneath areas where you have or will fill out. For example this was seen in the freestyle embroider on tulle video by Charles above.
Another example is to use the running stitch instead of the typical backstitch for contours. In his Instagram post below you can see how Charles almost “weaves” his stitches through the fabric, which makes the stitch under as important as the ones above.
View this post on Instagram
Here is another example with a full process video on Youtube, where you can also see the weave technique for the contours. The eyebrows on the other hand are stitched with more “loop” looking stitches.
4. Attach the thread
How you want to attach the thread will be related to the type of design you are embroidering. If you embroider a fine contour design, you will want to minimise the thread on the back as much as possible. In that case it’s recommended to secure the thread with a tight knot underneath one of the lines. Thereafter cut the rest of the thread as close to the knot as you can but without the risk of the knot undoing itself.
The second option is to secure your thread with stitches on the back. However, this only works if you chose to embroider a more thread-painted type of design. In that case it might even be beneficial to attach the thread with stitches as it will add some extra stability on the back.
Tip on how to get inspiration for your next tulle embroidery
Lastly, before rounding off today’s article, I just want to leave you with some thoughts on how to create a design.
If you have watched Charles embroider on tulle in the videos above, you have probably seen that he first draws his designs on paper. Thereafter makes a photocopy and then transfer the design onto the tulle with an ink pen.
However, what if you don’t know what to draw? No inspiration?
Below is yet another hand embroidery design on tulle that he has made. For this one, he also included how he found his inspiration…
When scrolling through old photos on Instagram! You don’t have to look through your own pictures, but it can be a useful trick to ensure the authenticity of your design. Because none else is you, and thus your pictures of yourself will always stay authentic to you and your own style.