Embroidered Portrait

Marie and I run a community craft group for Surestart called The Adult Craft Exchange. It’s a group for parents to gain, exchange or practise a skill whilst the preschoolers play around us. As you can imagine the projects therefore have to be relatively safe, given small inquisitive hands, and achievable, as none of us seems to have enough craft time.

My fall back craft is crochet but one of the objectives of the group is to inspire and push us into unexplored creative territory! We search out ideas on blogs and pinterest and try our best to recreate or redefine it at the group. The embroidered portrait was one such challenge and this was my take on it. (Please be aware that I have an aversion to cross stitch having painfully undertaken a family portrait alla Martha Stewart one holiday so my needlecraft is probably grim to the needle trained amongst you.)

I started off with a photo of my three girls which I liked – except for the fact that Eden wasn’t smiling. I found a nice photo of her on her own and got my lovely hubby to add her in without worrying too much about blending. He did make sure that her face was in the same scale as the other faces in the picture. We used paint.net and applied Effects, Artistic, Pencil Sketch to it and fiddled with the levels until it left only the key features for me to trace around.


With my image in hand, I then needed to transfer it to the calico type fabric I’d chosen to embroider on (much cheaper than using Aida.) Glass doors make excellent light boxes I realised! I just traced around the lines I could see and didn’t worry about any shading (though most had been taken away by the pencil sketch effect.)

embroidered portrait on the window

Once I had the outlines laid down, I started work on the embroidery. I went for a modern approach and used some bold colour combinations as inspired by this blog. I have a short attention span so I knew I would have to start with outlines only and add a little more detail to each girl as I went on.

embroidered portrait outline Eden started

Bear with the crazy colour combos (mostly around the eyes in my case)  – it needs the final step back before it all comes together. I’m sure I could have been bolder but I have to say I’m really chuffed with it. Hope you’re inspired to give it a go.

x Vanessa

embroidered portrait 1

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