Folklorio Dancer 3: All Dressed Up With Stunning Stitches

Let’s Dance by Shelly Stokes, 2015, 9.5” x 14.5”

At the beginning of my art residency here in Chapala, I created a stencil from an image of a dancer, and then painted her up using my extreme stenciling technique.


She was quite lovely in the shimmering iridescent Paintstik colors, but I wanted to give her dress a bit of pizzazz. So, I dug into my stash of pearl cotton threads from and proceeded to dress her up.


I started with a crested chain stitch using the Sunflowers thread. Nice, but a bit too matchy-matchy. It definitely needed some contrast.


I chose the Spice Road thread and added LOTS of bullion knots along the outside edge. Much better! The skirt appeared to have a ruffle and I was much happier! (And, by the way, I’m getting pretty good at those bullion knots…)


After pondering for a bit, I added a burst of flowers to the second layer of her skirt. I had seen some of these over on Mary Corbet’s site at and decided to give them a whirl.

The flowers are made from bunches of lazy-daisy (detached chain) stitches with a straight stitch in the center of each to add some extra color. Plus a few French knots here and there. Not too difficult – and it looks great on my dancer’s dress.


As I got closer to the dancer’s body, the stitch areas were getting too small for larger and more complex stitches. I decided to make a line of Palestrina Knots along the 3rd tier of the skirt using Red Hots thread. It was a bit plain, so I laced the knots with Tangerine pearl cotton. I like the way the lacing frames the knots!

Finally, I used a small chain stitch in Red Hots on the left side of the dancer’s body. It is big enough to have a bit of texture, but not so busy that it is distracting.

I finished off the dress with simple lines of stem stitch. There comes a time when enough is enough.


And here she is all dressed up! Isn’t she beautiful?

I considered stitching around her arms and legs, but I’ve decided to add that stitching when I turn this into a quilt. I’m at the point where the little voice in my head is whispering, “stop.” So I think I will do exactly that.


All of the thread I used for this project is #8 Pearl Cotton hand dyed by Laura Wasilowski at I used the following colors: Spice Road, Sunflowers, Oranges, Tangerine, Peas in a Pod, Ornamental Grasses, Red Hots and Petunias.

The flowers in my dancer’s skirt were inspired by this post from Mary Corbet’s blog. Mary has a new eBook coming soon that I can’t wait to get my hands on. In it, she uses bunches of stitch combinations to create an alphabet. I’m not terribly interested in stitching letters, but I am oh, so anxious to see all of the stitch combinations! Mary… we’re waiting… !

Your Turn:

Have you added stitching to your painted fabric? Do you have a question — or a favorite source for beautiful thread?

Leave a comment below or over on our Facebook page. I would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Sandra Weimer on April 23, 2015 at 11:32 am

    She is lovely! I am a big fan of Mary’s site, too.

    • Shelly on April 23, 2015 at 11:54 am

      I agree about Mary’s site, Sandra. As I am still very new to embroidery, her How-To videos are priceless!

  2. Sue M on April 23, 2015 at 11:44 am

    She looks marvelous, darling. Can’t wait to try paint sticks with embroidery, a great combination. Thank you for sharing

    • Shelly on April 23, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Thanks, Sue and Kim. I think she looks pretty spiffy! Of course, the secret sauce comes in the form of Laura W’s beautiful pearl cottons!

  3. kim kerschl on April 23, 2015 at 11:45 am

    WOW! What a great job you did embellishing with the pearl cotton!

    Just lovely…..

  4. Marlene on April 23, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Have been embroidering since I was 4, but you have inspired me to take off in new directions. I have started using it in my quilting and trying very hard not to get the crazy quilt effect. I love the idea of branching out with silk and pearl cotton. Your dancer is lovely and thank you for the continued inspiration.

    • Shelly on April 23, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      Thanks, Marlene. I have been exploring my paint + embroidery technique extensively for the past year. I will soon be posting photos of my large quilt that will debut at the MN Quilt Show and will be entered in the Houston Quilt Festival. (I hope to see it hanging there!)

      For me the combination of painted images and embroidery has been really magical. The added texture of the embroidery really brings the images to life. 🙂

  5. Juanita Robinett on April 23, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Before all the stitching: Great! After? WOW!

    • Shelly on April 23, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Thanks, Juanita — I think she is pretty “WOW” too!

  6. Bev Bosch on April 23, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous even before the embroidery. And then after the embroidery, stunning. I too started embroidering as a child and have a beautiful wall hanging of the USA map with flowers representing each state. By then I was an old hand at 11. 45 years ago I was teaching teenagers to embroider – even the boys. Now my hands don’t cooperate. I do so enjoy seeing work as exquisite as yours. You are such an inspiration. Thank you.

    • Shelly on April 23, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Ah Bev, I did a little bit of embroidery on tea towels when I was young. But after my mother died, that fell by the wayside. It’s a pleasure to be able to slow down enough to enjoy hand work again. I didn’t have the patience for it for many, many years! I’m glad you enjoy looking even if your hands are not able to stitch any more.

  7. Janice Smith on April 23, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    The stitching had a new, exciting element to the piece. Lovely work . . . Well done!

    • Shelly on April 23, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      Thanks, Janice! It really is very exciting to find a new direction for my art work. I knew that I needed something new — but never imagined that it would be hand embroidery!

  8. Nelly on April 23, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    The dancer is fantastic. Can’t wait to go on vacation to be able to do something like that. Love your work

    • Shelly on April 23, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      Go for it, Nelly! There is nothing like being away from home with limited supplies to concentrate the mind!