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tinting embroidery with watercolor paints

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It's a week of embroidery tinting! So far, we've explored crayon and colored pencil tinting, and today I bring you what I think is the prettiest of them all: Watercolor Tinting! This is a little different from all the rest, because the paint gives more of a wash to the background, but that's what makes me love it so!

The paints that I'm using are opaque watercolors, but you can use other types. I just wouldn't recommend the washable kid paints, because...well...they're meant to wash out! Also, I'm using cotton fabrics for this. Blends with lots of polyester are probably not going to work so well.

You'll see two ways to do this. The first will fill the whole background with a soft wash, and the second will just fill a specific area. Both are pretty dreamy, if you ask me...

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Place your fabric in a hoop and lightly mist the fabric with water.

NOTE: Unless you want to tint your hoop with paint, use a hoop much larger than the area you intend to paint. Mine got a wee bit blue...

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Start adding some paint. Keeping it pretty watery is a good place to start.

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Add some more intense color by using less water on your brush. Think about what you'll be stitching over this, and consider using the paint to create some depth and shadow.

Give the paint plenty of time to dry. It will dry lighter, and may get some interesting textures in it, as you'll see below. If you want, you can layer on some more paint.

You can iron this to heat set it a bit or toss it in the dryer. For this one, I didn't wash it, but you can. The color will fade some, but not much.

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Once you're finished with your painting, trace the pattern using regular pencil. (Mine is from the Solar System Set in my Etsy shop.)

You could trace the pattern before painting if you want to try and keep the paint within certain areas, but be aware that the paint will bleed and spread a lot.

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Stitch the design, and enjoy your lovely background!

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This second method uses a freezer paper stencil!

Cut out a shape from the center of a piece of freezer paper, then iron it onto your fabric with the shiny plastic side down.

I doodled a cloud to go behind the cloud I wanted to stitch. It doesn't match the same shape, which is what I wanted. If you want to keep the watercolor exactly within the area of your embroidery pattern, cut out the silhouette of your pattern.

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With the stencil in place, and the fabric in a hoop, paint inside the stencil. Take the paint all the way to the edge, blending the colors as you like.

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After the paint has completely dried, remove the freezer paper and iron the fabric.

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Trace your pattern onto the painted fabric using pencil. Mine is from the Doodles and Dreams set of patterns.

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Now you can stitch! For this, I used DMC Pearl Cotton Variations. I love how it has the same blended look of the watercolor background!

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There you have it! Two new ways to tint your embroidery with watercolor paints! Tomorrow I have one more tinting tutorial...this time with markers...

37 comments:

  1. All this tinting has me in a tizzy I love it so much. And as always your photos have me reaching for my stash. (though sadly it is time to hop to carpool.)

    I really love both techniques. The freezer paper one I can see doing a lot in the coming halloween, thanskgiving, and advent and Christmas months. Off-setting the tinted picture behind the embroidered picture look so cool.

    Also, how did you do the planet's mouth so perfectly? It is kind of a tear drop shape, but what stitch did you use?

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    1. I used satin stitch for the mouth, working the stitches the long way.

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  2. They are so wonderful. :)

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  3. I love the tint with variegated floss. That's gorgeous!

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  4. This is so pretty. I tried crayon tinting for the first time a few months ago and loved it. I definitely will give watercolors a try! Thanks for the tutorial. :)

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  5. Great tutorial--thanks so much for sharing!

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  6. I'm in love with this!! Gotta try it sometime c:

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  7. Ouu I absolutely adore this look - totally want to try this out!

    xo
    http://kittysnooks.blogspot.ca

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  8. this is a great idea!!

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  9. Thank you ! I love watercolor and this tutorial was great!

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  10. These tinting blogs this week have been FABULOUS!!! I can't wait to try some of these techniques!

    http://zeeramblingsofacatlady.blogspot.com/

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  11. Freezer paper? Mollie, you're a genius! I'm going to have to do a bit of brainstorming to figure out what to do with all this great information you've shared this week. Thanks so much!

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  12. These are beyond adorable! Your site always leaves me so inspired!

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  13. Michele10:24 AM

    Been planning to make some cute items for my niece's bathroom with this month's designs from your Patterns of the Month, and with these tinting tutorials my brain's really going into overdrive (but in a good way, of course). Thanks for more great ideas!

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  14. Ooo I think I like this one the best out of all your colour tinting ideas. It's so pretty!

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  15. This is so cute! What a wonderful idea! xxx

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  16. thank-you so much for the tutes on tinting...i had been wondering how this was accomplished,and didn't know who to ask about it. i enjoy your blog and your designs immensely.vickeyb

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  17. You are so creative! I'm always smiling by the time I finish reading your beautiful posts :-)

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  18. I am *so* trying this!!! I would have never thought you could do this with watercolors - so pretty!

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  19. I adore this! Thank you so much for sharing a new way to make our hobby even better!

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  20. Wow! so what is next for tinting, Koolaid? You know how the red stains forever...!

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    1. That's a really great idea! hmm...I'll have to play with that...

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  21. I love this soooo much! Thank you for sharing. I'll be trying this over the weekend.

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  22. Thank you all so much for your lovely response to this!

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  23. What a wonderful tutorial. I can't wait to try it.

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  24. Brilliant and with beautiful results! :D

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  25. I think this is my favourite of all the tinting you've done. Now to decide what to tint. I assume with the freezer paper tinting that you didn't mist the fabric first? You just painted on dry fabric?

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    1. That's correct! Although, I suppose once the paper is ironed on, you could mist the fabric a little if you wanted.

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  26. omg these are adorable my new school holiday project! xxx <3

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  27. This is a brilliant Idea! I just started trying out tinting with crayons, but wow! These effects are awesome. Thanks for showing us how!

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  28. Wow these are amazing!!!!!

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  29. Awesome! Your designs are so sweet and whimsical. Love the contrast of the bold stitches with the watercolour.

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  30. I enjoy your work and tutorials tremendously. Thanks so much for sharing your talent!

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  31. Anonymous1:15 PM

    If I were to use this tinting technique on a bag that I make, how well do think it would hold up?

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    1. I'm not sure that I would recommend it if you are going to need to wash the bag a lot, but I know that the color will stay with minimal fading in the wash. Heat set it with an iron.

      If you use the freezer paper stencil method, I'm not sure if it will bleed in the laundry. You may want to do a small test with the fabric you'd plan on using just to be safe.

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