Friday, September 6, 2013

DI(fr)Yday: How to Embroider Absolutely Any Image You Want

How to embroider absolutely any image you want

Embroidery was my favorite craft when I was a kid, probably because I was totally American-Girl-obsessed, but I hadn't embroidered for years when I went to TxSC last month and became newly inspired.

The first thing that inspired me was a workshop where I learned that you can use carbon paper to transfer images from magazines and books onto fabric. No more Hobby-Lobby-kit cottages in the woods or kittens playing with yarn! (Not that I don't love a good cottage or a kitten, but the possibilities when you buy patterns are pretty limited.)

The next thing that inspired me was seeing my friend Chloe's embroidery that she sells on Etsy. Her pieces are so colorful and humorous, and they reminded me how much I used to love embroidery.

How to embroider absolutely any image you want

Before my surge of inspiration, the last thing I'd embroidered was the cross-stich pattern seen here. But lately, I'd been wanting to do something with more detail, a portrait maybe. And, since I'm not the best portrait drawer, carbon paper was going to be my saving grace.

I developed a technique of my own for making complicated images like photos into basic line-drawings that can be transferred with carbon paper onto fabric and stitched over.

Here's how I created this totally awesome embroidered portrait of Edgar Allan Poe (and how you can create a piece of embroidery out of absolutely any image you want).

How to embroider absolutely any image you want

You will need:
Photoshop or Photoshop Elements
a digital pad or tablet like this one
carbon paper
embroidery floss
embroidery hoop
a needle

01. Open the image you want to embroider in Photoshop. Create a new file and drag the image into that file.
02. Create a new layer and, using the digital drawing pad, trace the important features of the image using a contrasting color. I used red on a black-and-white image. If your image isn't black and white, it helps to convert it to black and white and then trace using a bright color.
03. Delete the image layer. Print.
04. Layer your drawing on top of the carbon paper, which is on top of the fabric (carbon-side down), and trace all the lines of your drawing with a pen, using enough pressure to transfer the carbon.
05. Embroider over your pattern, taking care not to brush your hand against the carbon pattern too much because it smudges easily.

How to embroider absolutely any image you want
How to embroider absolutely any image you want
How to embroider absolutely any image you want
Gonna do some embroidery for the first time in years.

signature color


  1. I love Poe! That looks fantastic. I've nominated you for a Liebster Award, because I truly enjoy reading your blog! If you would like to accept the award, and nominate a few of your favorite small and up and coming blogs, go here:
    It's a lot of fun.

  2. I was sent here by Paulette Hughes. So great! This is the perfect project to add to my fall bucket list. I can't wait to try it.

  3. Yay, I love it! And I'm so glad to have (partially) inspired you to take back up the needle & floss!