Before we start foliage I thought we should look at how to construct branches and some of the materials that work very well.
I finished one side with a zigzag and the other side with a blind hem stitch. That's my favourite stitch finish.
This second is braided wool, anchored with a straight stitch and unraveled towards the end to make finer branches.
Next is skinny ribbon with a straight stitch.
Next, couched wool.
Then, bias cut cloth stitched close to the edge and then rolled and stitch to hold, close to the edge.
The last is a wider, folded piece of material. Both edges are stitched to the backing and the remainder rolled over, similar to an edge binding. This is anchored with a blind stitch. It allows more dimension than stitching it flat.
But I wanted to show how using the same colour thread on three different background materials change the look of the trunk/bark.
The first "tree" is black, the sceond grey and the third dirty white. These three cover most of the N.AM. deciduous species.
The black and grey have black, lighter grey and brown stitched in a jaged motion up the trunk.
Most trees have this pattern of bark, some rougher and some smoother. A few like Cherry and other fruit trees have "patches" of bark. It's one of their identifying characteristics.
The third tree represent the coloration of beeches, birch and poplar. The birch and poplar have their bark markings primarily horizontal instead of vertical. Beech are more evenly mottled, with little variation throughout main branches.
This sample is stitched with grey, cream, white and pale green.
(The fine branches for all, are different again, usually done with greys, black or red.)
The stark grey and black on the left side, works well in winter scenes when you want minimal addition of other colour.
The simple addition of brown on the right, brings the bark to life.
The lighter grey base colour make the tone of this tree less hard. Bleeding the thread colour, either the brown or the black (shadow, or darker side) gives texture to the edges of the tree.
This dirty grey is stitched horizontally as these trees, poplar, birch and beech, have horizontal cracks or lenticles in the bark as part of their air exchange systems.
( Fruit trees have them as well but they are not very noticeable as the tree grows. In fact most deciduous trees have them for a few years. They are still there, but buried under the rough bark and no long noticeable.)
Grey on the dark side (left) and creams on white on the sunny side give shape to this type. In the case of poplar, green is more predominant than cream/white.
And the last style represents all those old orchard trees. Again greys, browns and black.
The placement of only 3 colours goes a long way towards making it real.
Don't rely on the material, no matter how clever the pattern. Use the colour but, add life with