Silhouette Embroidery designs (Tips with Free downloadable patterns)

Have you seen all those posts on instagram with silhouette embroidery? I was wondering how that was done and tried it on my fabric. It looked simple enough. I managed to get to it like an elephant in a sugarcane field…..but I am happy with the end result.

silhouette embroidery of side profile of a girl

Silhouette embroidery involves creating embroidered designs that emphasize the outline or shape of a subject. And as a very beautiful subject, the silhouette of a young and pretty girl is what I have seen the most, in many different avatars.

How to do the Silhouette Embroidery

Step 1. Draw or Trace the design to the fabric

If you are good at drawing, you can simply draw your silhouette on the fabric or your clothing. If you are not,  get the downloadable files I have included at the end of this post and take a print out.

Drawing a silhouette of a familiar item or person can make your silhouette embroidery work very personal. Imagine walking around with your loved one’s silhouette embrodered on your t-shirt.

silhouette embroidery

How to draw the silhouette

Step 1: Get your photo

Decide on the picture of the person you want to create a silhouette of. Silhouettes have simplified shapes and the interior details do not matter.

But the outer line should have a pleasing and logical shape. So, get a photo in which the outer contour of the subject is pronounced. Imaging tracing a person and the outline looking like something else. Check this before you start to use the photo.

Step 2. Cut the outer line of the subject

Cut out the outer line of the subject on the photo. Keep the cut-out photo on another paper and start tracing the outline using a pencil. Do not trace too delicate details, or else you may find it difficult to embroider. Be sure to capture the main features and shapes of the subject. Keep your lines simple and clean.

Step 3. Trace the outline onto a paper.

Once you’ve traced the basic outline, refine the lines to make the silhouette more accurate and visually pleasing. This is the template. Use this sheet to trace your design on to the fabric using a carbon sheet. 

design for the sihlouette embroidery

If you have the printout (Get the design to printout from below) just use a carbon sheet (buy carbon sheets for sewing) to trace the design on to your fabric.

Step 2. Decide on the color scheme

There are many harmonious color schemes in embroidery. One of them is romantic and for cute girls this is a very suitable color combination.

romantic colored embroidery thread for silhouette embroidery

Step 3. Background

In a silhouette embroidery design of a person, the dress takes up a major portion and then the next difficult part is the hair. As the dress covers a large portion, you can either use fabric paint to cover the whole dress area and then use some embellishments over it. Or you can applique fabric pieces directly on the design to look like a gown, or a dress.

a coat of fabric paint over the silhouette

And if you are patient, use the whole spectrum of embroidery stitches to fill the whole area.

I am not, so I used fabric paint to cover the area, first and then used small rice stitches to give the area some dimension.

Either way, use fabric paint to ensure that the base fabric do not show through. This is so much applicable for hair. It is not a pretty sight to

Step 4. Embroidery stitches for the Silhouette Designs

Whatever design you choose, you have to emphasize the outline or shape of that object, figure, or scene. You can fill it up with filling embroidery stitches or use simple outline stitches to outline the outer edge.

The outline edge stitching using simple embroidery stitches like backstitch creates a very minimalistic and modern charm. Whereas if you are using the filling stitches, you can go all out as you want and add all the elements and techniques you know about embroidery and applique to it. Even fabric painting, and beadwork. You can create all the drama you want with your silhouette embroidery.

Use simple backstitches to outline the body. This is very tricky and you can go horribly wrong when doing the face (and hand 🙂 )

Step 5. Hair -stitches

For the hair, use embroidery thread in black or brown or your favourite color – it can look a lot like original hair if you do it right.

You need a needle with a big eye, because for the hair you will be inserting the whole of the  6 strands of embroidery floss through the eye.

embroidery thread

If you are not using black or brown fabric paint as base under the hair, use the embroidery thread to cover the whole head with straight stitches.

The finished head.

head covered with stitches

Start stitching loops from the outer edge of the head

start stitching from outer edge of head

Make loop stitches

loop stitches along the outer edge

Complete the whole outer edge of the head with loop stitches.

loop stitches

Cut the bottom edge of all the loops. The thread will almost look like hair now.

Start combing the thread and it will look lot more like hair.


Now you can twist it into a bun shape and stitch in place.

silhouette design

You can do the same for braided hair and let down hair too. After this, it just needs a combing to seperate the floss into strands and fill the area nicely.

silhouette embroidery

Step 6. Complete the rest of the design

You can embroider very small sized flowers on your silhouette to add dimension and interest to the minimal design.

silhouette embroidery of side profile of a girl

Free embroidery designs of Girl silhouettes

Open and save the file you want to your computer and take a print out. Trace it to your clothing and start embroidery.

Silhoutte Design for download – Girl with flowers – DOWNLOAD


Silhouette design for download – Back profile of girl with bun hairstyle – DOWNLOAD

girl silhouette

Silhouette design for download – Front profile of girl with flowers – DOWNLOAD

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

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