There are few things I love more than a good mashup. A combination of favorite things can only mean that they’re about to get better, together. That’s what I thought of when I saw this brilliant project – the mashup of two of my favorite hobbies, photography and embroidery. Instead of using oils to color the photos (I’ve seen it done a few times, especially with vintage photos), which can get messy, using brightly colored thread to add detail and whimsy to photos creates a 3-D effect, making the photo even more eye-catching. What’s not to love?
While there is plenty of inspiration online for embroidery on vintage photos, including artist Jose Romussi’s work, being able to work with family photos seems a little less intimidating and more rewarding, in the end. Especially if you are giving the embroidery project to a family member for a special occasion such as graduation, a housewarming present, or to celebrate the birth of a baby. Of course, you can choose whichever type of photo you prefer, and you don’t even have to stop at portraits. You could embroider an old family home, or the landscape of a favorite vacation spot, or a treasured family heirloom.
Whatever you decide to do with this project, and whatever you decide to use for it, you’ll need a few items to complete it: a black and white photo (you can alter photos on your computer or have them printed somewhere), scissors, sketching materials (colored pencils work best, as they will help you keep the colors separate and won’t run or bleed on the photo), a needle, and several colors of embroidery thread. You might also want an embroidery stitch visual handy in case you want to try different stitches, especially if you’re embroidering plants, clothes, or other items requiring a little more design.
Before you begin, you will also need to decide where and how you’re going to embroider the photo. Do you want to simply embroider a little color onto someone’s sweater, or the family pet? Do you want to add things to the photo like a bouquet or words or stars? Taking some time beforehand to plan out what you’re going to do will save you many headaches down the road. Try sketching on a piece of paper or print out a few copies of the photo so you can try out what you want to do ahead of time.
Does this project tickle your fancy? You can find a host of helpful tutorials and plenty of inspiration online, but I’ve collected some of my favorites for your benefit below. If you want inspiration for vintage photography and embroidery, do check out artist Jose Romussi’s work. You can also find plenty of ideas over at Craftsy – Sarah Barnes has a tutorial specifically for combining vintage photography and embroidery. If you want a look that’s simpler and has a “sketch” style to it, you can find a tutorial for that at Patchwork Posse. And if you just want an easy DIY tutorial for adding some color and 3-D effects to your family portraits, read through the incredibly helpful photo-and-written tutorial created by A Beautiful Mess.