Here is a short tutorial to get you all started with miniature surface embroidery! First, you'll need a good workbox, to keep your threads and fabric clean and grease free. Mine is plastic, but as I sew with silks, I never close it properly, as this can cause the silk thread to 'sweat', losing moisture and becoming brittle. A wooden box would be perfect.
You don't need a lot of equipment to start. Silk embroidery floss (try Piper's silks), size 12 quilting between needles, sharp scissors, a 4 inch embroidery hoop and a block of wax. I also have a small pincushion, so I can thread up more than one colour at a time.
Keeping your thread short and waxed is the best way to protect from snags and knots. I recommend a length of no more than 25cm.
I have spent years trying to work out the best way to transfer images onto fabric, and I've tried practically everything! The best, for me, is to draw the pattern in black ink, and then place the fabric over it. Then I use either a lightbox or a window as a light source to trace the image directly onto the fabric.
In my professional days of sewing, I would have bound the bottom hoop with bias binding to protect the fabric and keep an even tension - but miniature embroidery is quite quickly done, so all I do is pink the edges of the fabric to stop is fraying too much. Try not to use a larger hoop than 10cm/4 inches, as the tension is too easily lost. Most miniature items don't need anything bigger.
I start with the stems, and use a small stem stitch.
Then I use satin stitch to fill in the leaves.
A darker contrasting colour is used to fill in the other half of the leaves. The detail is added by stitching over previous stitches in different shades, a bit like painting. I find on a miniature scale, three to four different shades is enough to give a good impression of detail, without the colours getting lost.
A good thing to remember is that bright colours often look much more dull in miniature, because you're not using so many stitches, so don't be afraid to experiment with colour.
My top tip is to practice your stitches before you start - a bit like handwriting! This gets your hands used to the tiny scale and you can improve really quickly with practice.
Here is a pattern I drew inspired by 18th century French silk. I have given you the reverse as well, to help with transferring the image if necessary. The scale might need to be changed a bit!
I hope you give this technique a try, and please don't hesitate to ask any questions - if I can help, I will!