Sunday, October 17, 2010


My inspiration
Working on gifts for my two little granddaughters is something that gives me a lot of satisfaction. I found ideas for making a personalized, embroidered picture on a couple of different blogsites. Because I wanted these gifts to be truly one-of-a-kind, I decided to make my own design.

The pictures I made for the girls are entirely handmade. They include only simple quilting and embroidery. I used scrap gingham fabric: dark red for one girl and blue for the other. The blue material came from an old dress that was found long-abandoned in a family member’s basement and the red fabric was a remnant from a thrift store. The embroidery floss in several different colors was also a thrift store find. The initials for the girls are “M” (for Myra) and “I” (for Iris). So, the words on one picture are: “ I is for ice skates … and for Iris.” I embroidered a girls on ice skates on this picture. The words in the other picture are: “M is for music … and for Myra.” A cartoon singing face and musical notes are embroidered on this picture. 

This is a really simple gift to make and it takes only about one day to finish. The picture is made up of just a few pieces. Four quilted rectangles of a tiny print fabric (your choice of design) form the “mat” with an embroidered square in the middle. The embroidery is done on white cotton cloth. The child’s initial is also cutout from the fabric and sewn to the center square. All the rest of the design is hand embroidery. The “mat” pieces and the initial are sewn to the background fabric with intentionally uneven stitches, using floss that’s the same color as the fabric. The picture requires cotton embroidery floss  in whatever colors you want to use. I used three strands of floss on the needle and embroidered the entire picture with straight stitches.

Things you'll need
-- Computer clipart, photos or drawings of the initial of the first name of the child and a simplified (cartoon-type) picture of a child doing an activity that begins with the same letter
-- Fabric for quilt pieces (remember to cut an extra 1/2 inch for quilt hems)
-- Tracing paper
-- Washable fabric pen
-- 7-inch embroidery hoop
-- Small sharp scissors
-- Embroidery thread
-- Embroidery needle
-- Straight pins
-- Photo frame with a removable backboard that holds a 11 x 14-inch picture.
-- Light weight cardboard the same size as the backboard.
-- 12 x 15 inch piece of plain fabric as a back for the quilting.

Making and transferring the design to the cloth
If you use a design from clipart, you may want to use photo editing or graphic design software on your computer. That way you can shrink or enlarge the picture to the size that you want the finished pattern to be. Print the image for your pattern in black and white. Or you can use a standard copy machine to reproduce a photo from a magazine, book or a line drawing. It’s best to go over the outline of your design with a marker so that you have traceable outlines to work with. You may want to use tracing paper. Follow the instructions given on the package of tracing paper. Be sure to run over the lines of the design with a marker and draw thin lines - that way your stitches will cover up any marks that didn’t wash out. Also, remember to leave at least an inch allowance at the edge of the embroidery hoop. (It’s hard to stitch close to the edge of the hoop.)

Embroidering the picture
Place the marked fabric in the embroidery hoop and begin embroidering. Simple straight stitch outlines work well for simple designs like these. Then, you can then fill in the outline, if you like. When the embroidery is finished, attach the other pieces to the picture. (I made rather obvious, uneven stitches to give the quilting what I considered an informal, country look.) Finally, rinse the line markings out of the picture, let it dry, and carefully iron out any wrinkles.

Framing the picture
Place the finished picture on the cardboard. Fold the sides (about 1/2-inch of fabric) over the cardboard, keep the fabric taut and hold everything together with straight pins. Use the main color embroidery floss to make small straight stitches to sew the layers of the fabric – both front and back - to the sides of the board.  Remove the pins, insert your work in the picture frame and secure the backing. Your personalized picture is ready for gift-wrapping.

Note: Although it's not shown in the drawing above, a nice addition to the picture would be four little flowers, one each embroidered in the four corners of the white square. I originally included this in my design but ran out of time and didn't get it done in the gifts that I made.  I'm really slow at embroidery.

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1 comment:

Peggy~ said...

I love this! I'm getting all kinds of gift ideas from you! Thanks!