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How To Make Embroidered Memories From Art Work

Embroidered Memories: As soon as they start nursery your kids bring home pieces of artwork or random doodles. In our house, this artwork normally spent a few months on the fridge door. It would, unfortunately, end up in the bin. The fridge was only so big!

However, I couldn’t bring myself to throw away all of this artwork. It was just so cute! 

These precious pieces of paper and memories were stashed in the kitchen drawer ready for them to be turned into an embroidered memories art piece.

How to Turn Your Children’s Artwork Into an Embroidered Memory

I got the inspiration to create this piece of embroidered memory art after meeting the textile artist Tilleke Schwarz at one of her exhibitions. Tilleke is a fantastic thread artist and her work is so eye-catching.

Tilleke’s pieces look like big embroidered doodles and scribbles of everyday things.  At first glance, her textile creations appear to be a random collection of things but if you look closely there is a lot going on in her artwork and it follows a theme. 

Tilke shawrz play with me
Tilke Shawrz play with me

I warn you this is not a quick project, it took me a long time to finish. But it’s one that you can do in small bursts over time, as the piece is created bit by bit, just like a doodle it grows. 

The time spent on the embroidery was well worth it, as it now proudly hangs up in our lounge, and every time it catches my eye it makes me smile.  

To be reminded that your eldest son once thought of you as a “special mum that rocked” is heartening.

Embroidered memories pillarboxblue

My 5-year old middle son brought home a piece of paper from school, he’d been asked to describe himself in three words. His words were, “happy bouncy fun”. It is ironic now, that he is a bit of a moody teenager, that spends most of the weekend in bed.

happy bopuncy fun

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What You Need

  • Linen fabric for your base, you want something that is easy to hand embroider. An old t-towel will also work well. Think about how you are going to frame the finished embroidered artwork and how big you want the final piece to be. This will dictate the size of the linen fabric you use. Also, allow a border for framing (this is something I forgot). My finished piece was approximately 50cm by 70cm.
  • Appleton’s crewel wool for the embroidery – I love the texture and the range of colours.  For the more finely stitched elements, I just used ordinary cotton thread. 
  • Crewel embroidery needles
  • Embroidery iron transfer pen
  • Tracing paper
appleton wool

How To Turn Your Childs Art Work Into Embroidered Memories

1.. The first thing to do is gather all the artwork and doodles that you want to transfer into an embroidered memory. These don’t have to be the most amazing pieces of artwork, you want the pieces that make you smile and trigger a positive emotion. This might be something as simple as a word in their own handwriting.

Childrens artwork for embroidered memories

2. Next, match up the colours in your gathered pieces with the embroidery threads.

3. Next, iron the linen fabric you are going to use for the background. Make sure it is flat with no creases.

4. Then transfer the artwork onto the linen fabric (like with my embroidered coffee cozy). First, decide on whether you are going to keep the artwork the same size as the original. If it is a bit on the large size and going to dominate the finished embroidery, think about reducing the size on a photocopier first.

Then trace around the image with the iron transfer pen onto tracing paper. This will give you a mirror image so you need to go over your tracing paper on the back so that you can counter the mirror image.

Next, carefully position the tracing paper image to where you want it on the linen, with the mirror image facing down. Then iron over the tracing paper image with a hot dry iron (no steam) for about 30 seconds. When the tracing paper is lifted the image should be transferred onto the linen.

Ironing on t-shirt

5. Next, stitch over the transferred lines and copy your child’s original designs, but with thread this time instead of crayon. I used whatever stitches I wanted, so sometimes it was just a running stitch or split stitch, a satin stitch to colour in larger areas, and French knots for texture.

Childrens Emboidered Memories

Top Tips and Finishing Off

Don’t worry if you are not a master seamstress, I found the more child-like the stitching the more appealing the finished embroidered artwork. Play around with the stitches to create different textures.

I found that when stitching text it’s best to use just a simple running stitch and thin embroidery thread rather than crewel wool. But it also depends on the size of the fonts, with larger letters you can use the wool.

Don’t worry about completing this piece of embroidered artwork in one go. It actually took me months to complete mine. I just did a bit here and there when I fancied it. This was one of those wonderful slow crafts that you can do over time. Picking it up whenever you fancy.

I did a lot of my stitching in the evening when relaxing in front of the TV. Embroidery is very therapeutic and doesn’t require much concentration.

Enbroidered Childrens Art - Pillarboxblue.com

When framing my embroidered masterpiece, I used some wadding to give the artwork a bit of height. It hangs above my sofa and is a real talking point.

The kids, even though they are all adults now, still love looking at the piece. They often remark on their previous artistic skills or lack of them! It still evokes many memories, my oldest son loves that the drawing of his pet rat (Gnasher) is immortalized in this piece!

Embroidered childrens art
Do you have a draw full of your kids artwork that you can't bare to throw away.  Well here I show you how you can turn them into your own embroidered memories masterpiece.

As well as embroidering on linen did you know you can embroider on paper too? I have used the technique to create some unique paper embroidery. For other embroidery ideas, check out my Scandinavian Embroidered hearts and spring embroidery.

Cross-stitch is another favourite needlework of mine especially supersized cross-stitch which is super fast. I have used this technique to make a fun supersized stitched cushion for my sofa and a funky DIY draught excluder for my front door.

If you are looking for other ways to craft with your kid’s artwork then check out this comprehensive list of crafts you can do and you might find one to inspire.

12 creative ways to display kids' artwork. Reclaim that fridge!

Monday 29th of July 2019

[…] in awe of this embroidered memories collage featured on Pillar Box Blue. It’s such a sweet, creative way to honor and preserve your […]

Cecilia MyThriftStoreAddiction

Sunday 9th of October 2016

I absolutely love this idea! Thank you for sharing @Vintage Charm!

Claire Armstrong

Monday 10th of October 2016

Thank you !

Cucicucicoo: Eco Sewing and Crafting

Friday 7th of October 2016

What a sweet idea! I did something similar years ago, having my daughter draw pictures of family members on fabric, which I embroidered over and sewed into bookmarks. You can see some here here (sorry, really bad pictures!). But I like the idea of accummulating doodles over time. It's really a great memory-saver! :) Lisa

Claire Armstrong

Friday 7th of October 2016

Thank you, your bookmarks look really sweet and a much quicker project.

Sam @ Raggedy Bits

Friday 7th of October 2016

I am with everyone else on this project!! Such a great idea and so very precious!! I will have to give this a go!! Thank you for the inspiration Claire :-)

Claire Armstrong

Friday 7th of October 2016

Thank you ! It is still my favourite thing hanging in my house.

Victoria @DazzleWhileFrazzled

Wednesday 5th of October 2016

Oh my gosh, what a great idea! A project like this would take me months to complete as my kids are still young and busy but this would make for a great gallery wall once I have more time for projects like this. Visiting from Homemade and Handcrafted.

Claire Armstrong

Wednesday 5th of October 2016

Thank you, it is a project you can do overtime. It took me about a year on and off I'd just do a little bit at a time when I had a spare moment in the evening when watching telly. I was kind of sad when I finished it as I had enjoyed making it over time. I do love to look at it everyday though, it hangs proudly in our living room.