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How to Create a Photo Frame Embroidery Keepsake


how to embroider a photo frame keepsake

Photos are a beautiful way to capture memories, events, and important moments in time. For a unique and special way to frame your photos, try this embroidered photo frame tutorial. It’s the perfect way to stitch a memorable keepsake.


Materials needed to create a photo frame embroidery:

Let’s get started creating a photo frame embroidery:

1. To start, select the photo you want to use for your photo frame embroidery. I based my project fabric and thread colors off the picture I was using, so it was all coordinated. I chose white fabric so that the photo and stitching would stand out from the background. Choose a fabric you think will go well with your photo and trim it to 2 inches larger than your embroidery hoop. For example, my hoop is a 6-inch embroidery hoop, so I trimmed by fabric to be a 8×8 inch square.


fabric in an embroidery hoop with photo and transfer pen

2. With your fabric selected and trimmed, place the fabric in the hoop. Gently unscrew the hoop screw so that the inner ring easily pops out. Lay the inner ring on a flat surface. Then place the fabric centered on the inner ring. Now press the outer ring on top, sandwiching the three pieces together. Next, gently tighten the top screw and tug the fabric so that the fabric is taught inside the hoop. The fabric should be drum tight.


3. Next, trim your photo as needed. My original photo was 5×7 inches, which was too large for a 6 inch embroidery hoop. For this project, I trimmed it down to 3×4 inches.


rectangle frame traced onto fabric

4. Then lay the photo flat on top of the fabric in the hoop and trace the outer edges with the transfer pen.


5. Continue using the transfer pen to mark off the corners of the outline at a diagonal. These will be covered with felt, and marking them off now will help with visualizing the finished piece.


rectangle frame and floral embroidery traced onto fabric

6. Next, draw on the pattern for the frame. Depending upon your photo you might want something specific, like flowers, seashells, balloons. With your design chosen, trace the design along the outer edges of the outlined photo. The design should overlap the outline.


choosing colors for a hand embroidery project

7. Next, choose your thread colors. I laid my photo on top of the fabric as I chose thread options. This helped me choose a color palette that was cohesive and didn’t clash with my photo.


close up on embroidered stems and leaves surrounding a rectangle outline

8. Then start stitching. I started by stitching in the greenery. I used the stem stitch for the stem lines.


Here’s how to make the stem stitch: To start, bring the needle up through the fabric, slightly above the pattern vine line. Go back down through the fabric one stitch length away from your previous stitch below the pattern line. Bring your needle back up through the fabric next to and about halfway between your last two stitches. Then bring your needle back down through the fabric and repeat until the vine is complete.


9. And then used that same color to create the leaves using the leaf stitch.


Here’s how to make the leaf stitch: To start, bring the needle up through the back of the fabric to the front at the top point of the leaf. Then go back down through the fabric one stitch length away along the middle line of the leaf. Next, bring the needle back up through the fabric along the outer edge of the leaf to the right of the first stitch. Then bring the needle back down slightly below the last stitch along the middle line. Repeat on the opposite side by bringing the needle up from the back to the front along the left outer edge of the leaf. Then bring the needle back down slightly below the last stitch along the middle line. Repeat until the leaf is filled in.


close up of floral embroidery on one side of the embroidered photo frame

10. Next, I used the French knots for the circular flowers, buds, and larger flower centers. These are small tight knots that are raised off the fabric.


Here’s how to create a French knot: To start, pass your threaded needle from the back of your fabric to the front. Hold your needle in your dominant hand and use your other hand to wrap the thread taught around your needle two or three times. The more you wrap the thread, the bigger your knot will be. Keeping the thread taught, pass the needle back through your fabric next to where you previously came up through the fabric. Pull tightly until the thread is knotted on the front. It is important to keep your thread taught throughout this process, otherwise your French knot will end up with extra threads and loops.


close up of floral embroidery on one side of the embroidered photo frame

11. I then used the lazy daisy stitch to create flower petals with an open loop texture.


Here’s how to create the lazy daisy stitch: To start, bring your threaded needle from the back of your fabric to the front. Hold your thread off to the side and bring your needle back down through the fabric in almost the same place you just came up. Gently pull your thread until you have a small loop formed on the front of your piece. Next bring your needle up from the back of the fabric to the front, going through your loop. Wherever you bring your needle back up will be where the top of the chain will be formed. Be sure your loop isn’t twisted, otherwise the loop will also be twisted. Then gently pull your thread through so that a small loop is formed on the front of your fabric. To secure the detached chain stitch, bring your needle down, back through the fabric at the top of the loop, on the other side of the looped thread. This creates a single lazy daisy stitch.


close up of floral embroidery on one side of the embroidered photo frame

12. And for the larger flowers I used the satin stitch to create a solid even fill of color.


Here’s how to create the satin stitch: To start, bring your needle up from the back of the fabric to the front. Then down to the opposite side, creating a long straight stitch. Bring your needle back up through the fabric right next to the start of your last stitch and repeat, continuing to fill in the space. Stitches should be close together, like they’re hugging to avoid gaps and evenly fill the area.


January 7, 2019 date hand embroidered in black

13. Once all the flowers were stitched, I added a date at the bottom of my photo frame. For this I used the back stitch.


Here’s how to create the back stitch: Begin by pulling the needle and thread up through the fabric from the back to the front about ¼ an inch away from the start of the line. Bring the needle back down at the end of the line, filling in the space. From underneath, space the needle out the length of your desired stitch (~1/4 inch or less), pull the needle up through the fabric and bring. Then bring the needle back down through the fabric at the end of the previous stitch.

14. With all the embellishments complete, it’s time to add in the corner frames. Trim a piece of felt to a 2×1 inch size. Then fold it in half and trim it to two 1×1 inch squares. Next, fold each square on the diagonal and cut to create the corner pocket.


floral embroidery with felt triangles pinned to corners

15. Now use sewing pins to pin the triangular felt pieces to the marked corners.


close up on a floral embroidery and felt triangle corner

16. Then use a corresponding thread color and the back stitch to attach the corners. Only stitch along the straight outer edges, not along the inner angled side.


17. Before closing the back of my embroidery, I gave it a quick iron to remove any of my transfer pen marks. The pen I used was a heat erasable pen. If you used something different, be sure to follow the directions on your transfer method for removing any transfer marks before continuing.


hand holding and embroidery hoop with fabric cinched around back

18. Then trim the fabric to a circle along the outer edge. Using the running stitch gather the fabric along the back of the hoop.


Here’s how to create the running stitch: To start, bring the needle up through the fabric from the back side for the fabric to the front at your starting point. Go back down through the fabric a short distance from the first point. Continue this until you go all the way around the back of the hoop and knot fabric.


19. Finally, slide your photo into the corners of the photo frame and display!


hand holding and embroidered photo frame

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