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What Is Thread Painting?

Updated: Apr 24


Earlier this year, I taught a couple workshops with the Virtual Sewing and Stitching Expo, where I shared thread painting techniques. We used them to create blooming heart cacti and it was so much fun to watch my fellow makers paint with thread.


So what is thread painting?

Thread painting isn't necessarily a new term, but it's become a popular trend with hand embroidery. To thread paint pretty much means "to paint with thread." Now this might sound confusing, because painting and embroidery are very different art forms. In essence, thread painting uses the long and short satin stitch to blend colors together to look as if the thread was painted onto the fabric.


Here's a few ways I've used thread painting in my embroidery practice:


Here's some beautiful examples of thread painting by fellow embroidery artists.

Thread painting has become very popular among artists who stitch animals. This technique is a realistic way for them to capture animal fur, feathers, texture, and movement.


Photo from @stitchingsabbatical

Photo from @villagerthreads

Photo from @single_sparrow_stitcher

Photo from @monsterbox


Along with pets, embroidery artists are using thread painting to create people portraits too.


Photo from @rebel.stitches

Photo from @fiance_knowles

Photo from @jolly_hoops


Thread painting is also great for landscapes. Just check out these gorgeous designs.


Photo from @green_ball_and_aneedle

Photo from @etuaembroidery

Photo from @cassiemdias


You can even use thread painting to create everyday items.


Photo from @peacocksandpinecones

Photo from @laurenconcatherine

Photo from @homesweetbrooch

Photo from @chloe.amy.avery

Photo from @tessa_perlow


Want to learn how to thread paint?

You can join me for an upcoming workshop or check out some of these patterns, kits, and books:


Emilie Ferris Bee PDF pattern


MCreativeJ Pocket Plants Wearable Embroidery PDF Pattern


Jess Long Embroidery Hedgehog kit


UsedThreadsShop Desert Sunset PDF embroidery pattern


Tanja's Hand Embroidery Wild Rabbit in Dandelions kit

Pet Portrait Embroidery: Lovingly Stitch Your Dog or Cat; A Modern Guide to Thread Painting by Michelle Staub


How to Embroider Texture and Pattern by Melissa Galbraith

Thread Painting: Simple Techniques to Add Texture and Dimension by Leni Levenson Wiener


***This post contains affiliate links. Should you purchase something listed, I may receive a small portion of the sale. Thank you for checking out my recommendations.***

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