Working with Stencils

Working with Stencils

Posted by Christen Brown with guest artist Laura Wasilowski on Feb 25th 2021

Several years ago, I developed a “series class” called the Embroidery Corner. There were 17 2-hour lessons, during which the student would explore one stitch. This was a very popular series, and many students repeated it!

During each lesson, I would have them draw a line, a curve, or even a circle to work the stitches around. Invariably the question that got asked was how long, where do I put it, or even huh?

I realized quickly that a starting point would be helpful, so I created my first set of stencils for C&T Publishing. They are called Embroidery Stencils, Essential Collection. This set has four 4 easy-to-use stitch templates, with a variety of motifs to choose from including vines, hearts, circles, bugs, flowers and more. There is also a 16-page how-to booklet filled with instructions and tips.

A few years later I created a second set of stencils called Embroidery Stencils the Darling Motif Collection. This set of 4 templates include over one hundred popular motifs, such as garden elements, household items, vintage sewing accessories, the alphabet, and more. There is also a 16-page how-to booklet filled with tips and instructions for six basic stitches.

Guest Artist/Author Laura Wasilowski

I have long admired Laura’s fun and exuberant artwork. She is the author of several books for C&T, and the owner of Artfabrik where you can find her hand-dyed fabrics and threads. I met her one year at Quilt Festival in Houston, where I purchased many, many skeins of her hand-dyed perle cotton. To DYE for REALLY!

I recently asked Laura to create a small piece using my latest stencil collection, and she kindly obliged!

Laura began with a piece of her hand-dyed silk fabric fused to wool batting which measures about 5” x5”. She chose several of the stencils to create this beautiful garden scene, transferring her design with a pink chalk mechanical pencil.

These include #17 the bird house, #40 leaves, #35 stalks, #49 flower, #44 sun, and #19 bird. She extended the post for the bird house and flipped the bird stencil to have both a right and left image.

The next step was to embroider the outline of each of the stencils. She used her hand-dyed size 12 perle cotton in these colors: Lime Frappe, Aquamarine, Butter, Degas Blue and Red Hots.

The final step was to fill in the shapes, using the same colors of perle cotton, plus Peas in a Pod. Laura says that she likes to use perle cotton thread because they sit up on the fabric, which adds more texture. And she loves the variegated colors because of the interest and spark it adds to her embroideries.

Laura’s favorite stitch is the French knot, because it is bold, perky, and provides that hint of color that draws the eye of the viewer to the surface of the design. On this project she also used the chain stitch, stem stitch, lazy daisy stitch, straight stitch, fly stitch and blanket stitch.

In Laura’s words ~ It was fun to do!

In my words ~ Thank you Laura for creating this beautiful piece!

Special Note

You can find Laura’s blog, workshops, lectures, tutorials, quilt portfolios, store and more at

You can also find Laura on Creative Spark here.

You can find Laura’s books for C&T Publishing:

Fuse-and-Tell Journal Quilts eBook

Fusing Fun! Fast Fearless Art Quilts Print-on-Demand Edition

Make Wall Quilts- Contributor

Sewing Needle Pocket Guide for Hand Stitching

Joyful Stitching: Transform Fabric with Improvisational Stitching

Playful Free-Form Embroideries will be out in May 2021.


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