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One of the first craft books that I bought and that I’ve loved very much is Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule*. This book was the inspiration for my repurposed towel and bedsheet bathroom rugs. But it also inspired me to make a handmade bookmark with portrait drawn by my daughter for every family member one Christmas.
I love having my children make a handmade gift for family and close friends every year at Christmas. People love getting something heartfelt, and I like the kids to learn the spirit of giving. So, Christmas 2010 was the year of the embroidered bookmarks!
No, my daughter did not know how to embroider when she was 4 years old. But she was quite accomplished at drawing very unique pictures of her favorite people. So she drew onto fabric, and I embroidered over it, then sewed it together.
Let me show you how to make your own handmade bookmark with an embroidered portrait!
- Linen or cotton fabric*. I repurposed scraps of linen left over from sewing corners onto flat bedsheets.
- 2.5 cm (1″) wide ribbon*.
- Masking tape*.
- Water soluble fabric marker*.
- Embroidery floss* of various colors.
- Embroidery needle*.
- Embroidery hoop*.
- Regular sewing materials. (thread, needle)
- Fabric shears*.
The embroidered version:
- Cut out a piece of white fabric considerably bigger than the final bookmark size and tape it to a table, near the edge, with masking tape. Notice how I marked the edges of the bookmark. This helps the child understand the borders of the drawing. I marked off 9 cm wide by 20 cm high.
2. Have the child draw with the water soluble marker within the rectangle of fabric bordered by masking tape. Here you can see drawings for two bookmarks on one large scrap of the sheet.
The nice thing about the water soluble pen is that, if your child makes a mistake, you can dab some water on it to erase it. (Hence those wet spots in the picture above.)
3. Embroider over the drawing. I suggest you also embroider the name or initials of the child with the year on the back piece. I only used backstitch and French knots, but you could use other fancier stitches, too.
4. Wash away the marker, let the fabric dry and iron it. (I didn’t iron these, but do as I say, not as I do!) Mark where you want to sew (which will be the final dimensions) on the back of the embroidered picture.
5. Put the piece with the portrait on top of the back piece, right sides facing, and pin. On the right you can see the pinned pieces as seen from the wrong side of the backing.
(Just a little note: I am updating this tutorial 9 years after having originally created it. You will have MUCH better and precise results if you cut the two fabric pieces to the final size, + 2 cm both horizontally and verically, after ironing the fabric in step 4. This way you can have more control over centering the embroidery and making it fit together correctly.)
6. Sew along the rectangle you drew (or, if you did as I suggested above, around the cut out rectangle with a 1 cm seam allowance), leaving an open space at the top (marked by the red arrows above). Trim off the extra fabric and clip the the corners (marked by the blue arrows above).
7. Turn the fabric right side out and press out the corners and sides with a pencil or other blunt point. Fold the edges of the open space inwards and iron well.
8. Fold a wide piece of ribbon in half and insert the ends into the open space. Pin the space shut.
9. Topstitch around the edges of the rectangle, and you’re done!
Aren’t these adorable?! The one of the left is Sofia’s “Mamma” and on the right is “Daddy”. 9 years later, we still use these!
Remember I suggested to embroider the child’s initials and date into the back side of the bookmark? Years from now, everyone who received one of Sofia’s portrait bookmarks will remember who made it and when!
Now that you have your own personalized handmade bookmark with portrait, it’s time to get reading!
The painted version:
So, you might be thinking what I thought at the time: after the original drawing gets washed away, all that can be seen is the adult’s embroidered intervention. If this bothers, or you have limited time, or you don’t know how to embroider, the child can simply make a permanent drawing directly on the fabric.
I tested with permanent marker, but it soaked too much into the linen fibers.
But acrylic paint* worked perfectly! Tape the fabric to the table, marking off the work space was with the embroidered version, but give the child acrylic paints to be creative with.
This is a whole different effect, but wonderful all the same!
This time I painted the initials and year on instead of embroidering.
I rather like both styles. Which do you prefer?
If you like your children to make handmade gifts for family and friends, make sure you check out these super simple DIY felt Christmas tree ornaments! All you have to do is cut out the felt bauble shapes and the children can decorate them as they please!
Three great things about these ornaments:
- They are so simple, any age can make them.
- They are made with repurposed materials!
- They are flat and light, so you can easily slip them into cards that you send to loved ones around the world! (and if you want to make your own cards, download my simple and free printable holiday cards!)
*All starred links are affiliate links which help fund this blog. All opinions are my own. Please read my affiliate link disclosure for more information.
- Linen or cotton fabric (or repurposed scraps of linen)
- 2.5 cm (1") wide ribbon
- Masking tape
- Water soluble fabric marker
- Embroidery floss of various colors
- Embroidery needle
- Embroidery hoop
- Regular sewing materials (thread, needle)
- Fabric shears
- Cut out a piece of white fabric considerably bigger than the final bookmark (about 9 cm wide by 20 cm high) and tape it to a table, near the edge, with masking tape.
- Have the child draw with the water soluble marker within the rectangle of fabric bordered by masking tape.
- Embroider over the drawing.
- Wash away the marker, let the fabric dry and iron it.
- Cut the two fabric pieces to the final size + 2 cm both horizontally and verically.
- Sew around the rectangle with a 1 cm seam allowance, leaving an open space at the top. Trim off the extra fabric and clip the the corners.
- Turn the fabric right side out and press out the corners and sides with a pencil or other blunt point. Fold the edges of the open space inwards and iron well.
- Fold a wide piece of ribbon in half and insert the ends into the open space. Pin the space shut.
- Topstitch around the edges of the rectangle.
And you're done! Now grab a good book and use your cool new customized handmade embroidered bookmark!
If you don't know how to embroider, no problem! Just have your child paint on the fabric with acrylic paint before sewing.
Be eco-friendly and try to repurpose old sheets or other linens. Otherwise use fabric scraps left over from other sewing projects.
All materials links are affiliate links which help fund this blog. All opinions are my own. Please read my affiliate link disclosure for more information: https://www.cucicucicoo.com/affiliate-links/