Best ways to turn a favourite PHOTO into an EMBROIDERY work

 

All of us have a photo to which we have a little partiality. It may be that of your grandmother or that of a beautiful flower which you took as a fledgling photographer or your baby smiling. What if you could turn it into a work of art with your embroidery skills. It is  easy enough to do that and very very rewarding.

First of all decide on the photo you wish to embroider. It should have enough details and broad outlines. Not too complicated if you are doing it for the first time. Donot make it a very big image , as you might get overwhelmed and discouraged. Donot choose others’ photographs without their permission. Donot use copyrighted images . All these are just commonsense , which I am simply reiterating to make sure that you remember. 

Method 1 Manually trace the design

You need to convert the photo into a line drawing that can be stitched. There are many options that turn your  photographs into a line drawing with broad outlines. Photoshop is one option. My favourite is the online platform Befunky.com. It is free

How to use befunky.com to turn the photo into a broad outline

Step 1

Go to befunky.com . Upload the photo onto befunky photoeditor

turn photo to embroidery

Step 2

Choose the effects tool on the left handside interface

There are many premium options in befunky which are the best ( you have to pay extra for using them)  but the free options work as well. 

turn photo to embroidery

You can use the free effects like Stenciler and or Line Artopia to make the photo stitchable as shown in the picture below

 

Increase the brightness of the photo to make the outlines more detailed.Save to your computer.

Take a printout of this work.

how to turn a photo to embroidery

Now trace the design onto the fabric . For this you need a tracing paper, carbon sheet and a tracing wheel.

  • Keep the photo/printout  you have on a work table
  • Place the tracing paper on top of the photo
  • Make the outline of the photo with a pencil
  • Remove the tracing paper
  • Keep it on top of the fabric where you want the embroidery to be. Keep the carbon sheet in between the tracing paper and the fabric, ink side down on the fabric
  • Use a tracing wheel to run over the design. Or a sharp tool so that a faint outline is made on the fabric

You can use other methods of tracing the design on to the fabric  checkout the post on the 9 embroidery transfer methods for more details

Method 2 Transfer the photo using an iron-on transfer sheet

This is a method which is very easy if you have the iron on peel off transfer sheets. This is a special paper with  which you can transfer designs onto fabric . On one side of the iron-on transfer sheet  is paper backing which can be peeled off and on one side you can print the design.

Steps on how to do transfer the photo with iron on transfer sheets 

Step 1 –Select the photo.

Step 2 – Print the photo on the transfer sheets

Keep the iron on transfer sheet on your inkjet printer

Related post – Checkout the post on fabric Inkjet printing

You need a mirror image for this method to work. Flip the image to  reverse / mirror image on the computer or on the inkjet printer settings

Change the printer settings to heavy paper

Print the design on the transfer sheet. 

Cut out the design from the transfer sheet with a narrow margin all around

Step 3 – Heat press design onto fabric

Place the transfer paper on the fabric face down ( printed surface down on the fabric)

You have to iron it onto the fabric meant for  embroidery

Run a medium hot iron over the back of the paper for 25 seconds.Keep on moving the iron without stopping at any one place. 

The image is transferred by heat to the fabric.After the design has cooled off ( after about 2-3 minutes) peel off the paper backing from the transfer sheet very very carefully ( without tearing)

Now you have a photo imprinted on the fabric. You can now embroider directly on top of th design. I would wash this fabric before embroidering. I don’t want (probable) inkbleed to destroy many hours of loving labour.

How to embroider the photo

You can use needle paining method or free motion embroidery or an embroidery sewing machine to stitch the photo and turn into an embroidered artwork.

Select a medium weight even weave fabric  for embroidering your master piece. You also need a suitable stabilizer. Medium weight even weave fabric as well as medium weight iron-on tear-away stabilizers works the best for doing the stitching on your sewing machine whether as free motion embroidery or your embroidery machine.

Iron the stabilizer to the back of fabric before embroidering .If you have to use light weight fabric use a heavy water soluble stabilizer.

Ensure that you have hooped the fabric with the stabilizer, with proper tension without any wrinkles or folds.

Do the embroidery with subtle shading referring to the original photo and with dense closely packed stitches

Hand embroidering the design from a photo

Using a dark shade use an outline stitch to work the hard edges in your design. Back stitch is best for this .
Then following the contours of the design fill the inside portions. You can use long and short stitch or split stitch as filling stitches
A shading effect can be given inside by combining shade of similar colours . You will need several shades of the same colour to get a shaded effect which will make your work look like the original photo or something closer 

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