Turn Photos into Embroidered Portraits

comments (9) October 29th, 2008     

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erika_kern Erika Kern, contributor
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My Grandma Jeanette is as pretty in embroidery as she was in real life.
The finished portraits of my grandparents all stitched and painted.
My Grandpa Ray. After my grandma passed, I found a wallet-sized print of the original portrait. On the back my grandma wrote, Rays graduation photo. Is it any wonder I fell in love with him?  No, Grandma, it isnt. . .
My Grandma Jeanette is as pretty in embroidery as she was in real life.

My Grandma Jeanette is as pretty in embroidery as she was in real life.

Photo: Erika Kern
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I love finding new ways to put my own stamp on my embroidered portraits. While trying to figure out how to stitch up the portraits for this post, I started thinking of this gift I made for my friend Jen a few years back. Then I only used one color and did all the painting after I stitched the pattern and stretched the fabric, but this time I wanted to use the painting as the base for the embroidery. I used the paint to add an extra layer of texture and to fill the finished piece, and boy, am I happy with the results!


The finished portraits of my grandparents are all stitched and painted.

 

 

Here's what you'll need to do what I did:

For the painting:

  • Your pattern transferred onto a natural fabric (natural fibers take the paint color better)
  • Large embroidery hoop, bigger than your pattern
  • Fabric paints (I like Jacquard Textile Paints)
  • Fine-tipped paintbrushes
  • Small lidded containers (I found some 6 for $1 at the Dollar Tree)
  • Water
  • Piece of scrap fabric to test colors
  • Small hoop for test fabric

For the stitching:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery floss
  • Needle

For the mounting:

  • Acid-free bristol board or other thick mounting or mat board
  • Spray adhesive
  • Glue (I used a quick-drying fabric glue)
  • Frame

embroidery Get more embroidery information:

• How to Embroider a Greeting Card
• Embroidery Term of the Week: Topping
The Last Stitch: How to Finish Your Hand-Embroidery
How To: Five Handy Embroidery Stitches

Stretch your fabric in the large embroidery hoop. I knew I wanted to frame my finished work in oval frames, so I drew an oval around the transferred images using a pencil before I put it in the hoop. Use the small hoop to stretch your test fabric.

Put a small amount of your paint into a small lidded container.


I found these containers at a dollar store. They are perfect for mixing the very thin paint used in this project.

 

 

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posted in: embroidery, vintage, family, portraits

Comments (9)

Asia_Tatiana writes: Whoa! Mindblowingly beautiful!
Posted: 2:57 am on October 31st
erika_kern writes: That does sound gorge' kiliki! Me, I go all crosseyed with the beads. . . but I'd love to see your work.
Posted: 4:26 pm on October 30th
dany4bec writes: hi Kiliki, thats sounds gorgeous! I'd love to see it in a post:)
Posted: 1:57 pm on October 30th
Jen_W writes: Totally gorgeous. I definitely want to try this sometime.
Posted: 11:34 pm on October 29th
Kiliki writes: This is really beautiful! I did something similar once a few years ago. Only I took a portrait and printed it on grid paper where each grid square was the size of one seed bead. Then I took hours and hours and a toothpick (to rub in a little glue, then pick up a bead and put on grid) to match a bead with the color that was in that one square. When it was all done it was amazing. i can't really hand stich anything, I'm a machine sewer so this is just beyond me but if you have the time try it with seed beads it is so pretty and most people think it's a painting until they get up close and see that it's actually beads!!
Posted: 7:20 pm on October 29th
pinsandneedles writes: Nice work...way beyond my skill level!
Posted: 6:51 pm on October 29th
erika_kern writes: thanks so much!
Posted: 3:16 pm on October 29th
MichaelaMurphy writes: Holy Smokes Erika, these are amazing works of art-- I am simply blown away.
Posted: 2:58 pm on October 29th
dany4bec writes: Wow these are really beautiful...I need to try this one, thanks
Posted: 12:08 pm on October 29th
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