What Is Stumpwork Embroidery? Hint: It Has Nothing To Do With Wood

Ever wonder, “What is stumpwork embroidery?” It takes your hand embroidery to another dimension and makes it appear to jump right off of the fabric. Although it looks difficult, stumpwork builds on basic hand embroidery stitches to create gorgeous, 3-D projects with strikingly realistic results.

Stumpwork Embroidery

Learn stumpwork embroidery techniques at your own pace!

stumpwork embroidery

Start adding texture and dimension to your work with these HD video lessons you can watch anytime, anywhere.Enroll Now »

What is stumpwork embroidery?

Also known as raised embroidery, stumpwork originated in mid-1600s England. Traditional stumpwork creations most often depict nature: flowers, insects and small animals.

Stumpwork flowers and bee via Bluprint instructor Celeste Chalasani

Photo via Bluprint instructor Celeste Chalasani

The three-dimensional embroidery is achieved by layering stitching, adding beads, and stitching shapes around wires, then attaching everything to the fabric base.

Red Clover Fairy by Di van Niekerk

Photo via Di van Niekerk

Artwork can be drawn by hand and pre-printed panels are also quite popular. In the photo above, fairy wings are stitched on fabric, then cut out and attached to the project. The addition of silk ribbon embroidery, and items such as hair and clothing, adds further interest.

Embroidery begins on the fabric surface then explodes into life-like portraits in thread.

Types of stumpwork

1. Padding

Padded_Leaf_Shapes_For_Ribbon_Embroidery_by_Di_van_Niekerk

Photo via Di van Niekerk

Dimension is created by embroidering stitches in layers, adding raised stitching, and embroidering over a layer of padding, like wool felt.

cutting out a stumpwork bird by di van Niekerk

Photo via Di van Niekerk

Almost like a hand-embroidered appliqué, stumpwork layers three-dimensional accents.

How to make cute little roses bird nest Di van Niekerk

Photo via Di van Niekerk

This little bird gets embellished with wooly fibers, has a backing and more fiber stuffing added, and is perched on a nested branch. Wrapped stems and silk ribbon flowers complete the ensemble.

Want to learn more about silk ribbon embroidery? Mary Jo Hiney will show you how in the online class Embroidering With Ribbon.

2. Texture

Wild Violets by Di van Niekerk

Photo via Bluprint instructor Celeste Chalasani

Heavier wool and cotton threads add texture and help to create realistic shading.

Bluprint instructor Celeste Chalasani

Photo via Bluprint instructor Celeste Chalasani

Adding the Ghiordes knot, also known as Turkey work for the country of its origin, creates realistic bees. Wings, stitched in  button hole with organza on wire,

3. Wired slips

Couching Wired Slips in stumpwork

Photo via Celeste Chalasani

Combine wire with sheer fabrics, like organza, to make delicate leaves, wings and flower petals.

Stumpwork #1 flowers and bee via Bluprint member Rosioquilter

Bluprint member Rosioquilter does a wonderful job with Stumpwork #1, her first attempt!

Learn stumpwork embroidery techniques at your own pace!

stumpwork embroidery

Start adding texture and dimension to your work with these HD video lessons you can watch anytime, anywhere.Enroll Now »

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