I don't see the "Ferns" stencil from Alabama Chanin used very much, and I understand why--it is a pain to cut out! But it's very graceful and makes a great straightforward base for embroidery.
I used a mix of two fabric paints from Hobby Lobby--one part French Roast to two parts Pond Scum--for a kind of neutral sparkle, then chose a cool non-metallic golden floss for my modified satin stitch embellishment. I'm going back over the fern fronds adding a golden bead here and there. Soon I'll stitch it all together and it will be an elbow-sleeved bolero.