Sewing portraits tutorial

25 May 2014

These are really fun to make and here are some tips for you.

sewn florence

I started with a simple pencil drawing I had made of my daughter.

original drawing

I then cut this into the ‘face’ piece and the ‘hair’ piece, these become your templates. I decided to use denim as my background fabric, anything goes but a stable heavyish fabric is good. It’s nice if you can use some pattern fabric for either your ‘hair’ or ‘face’ or even both. I think choosing the fabric is a chance to get creative and incorporate some favourite fabric.

face only

Using the templates draw your shapes on some bondaweb (making sure you get the image the right way round) and iron this onto the fabrics you have chosen. Cut out the shape and iron the ‘face’ onto your background fabric. Put this onto an embroidery hoop and sew a simple running stitch around the outline using cotton thread.

face on denim

Now start ‘drawing’ your face with stranded embroidery thread. Use different number of strands to create different effects, more strands to define the eyes, less strands for subtle shading of the nose.

one eye started

Don’t worry if it looks a bit basic at first, as you add details it starts to come to life.

sewn picture of H

I didn’t use colours, apart from on the eyes, to try and keep that ‘pencil sketched’ looked but it might be nice to experiment – this is all about getting creative. Once you are happy with the ‘face’ then iron on the ‘hair’ and sew round the outline with running stitch again.


You may need to iron it again once you have finished sewing, and then your embroidery hoop becomes the frame.

sewn portrait on wall1

I cut the fabric at the back of my hoop, cut out a bit of card and then glued this on the back. It was a bit fiddly but now the pictures sit flat against the wall.

sewn portrait on wall 2