We’ve fallen head over heels in love with this stitched photos idea by Kirsty Neale, featured in her book Paperie. Stitching on paper is different, but not really any harder, than stitching on fabric, and look at the amazing results you can achieve!
Tools for Stitching on Paper
Needles – paper blunts needles far more quickly than fabric, so it’s a good idea to set aside dedicated needles for this kind of stitching. Store them in a separate, labelled container or, for sewing machine needles, add a dot of nail polish to the shank so you can quickly identify that it’s a paper needle.
Thread – you can use normal, all-purpose sewing thread for fine stitching, both by hand and machine. Thicker threads are slightly trickier, but as long as you don’t rush or pull them through the paper too quickly, they will work and can create interesting, textured effects. Try using embroidery thread (all six strands for a chunky effect, or less if you prefer), fine yarn or baker’s twine.
How to Make Stitched Photos
If your project needs to lie flat, avoid knotting threads when starting and finishing. They will either be visible or create lumps in the paper. The simplest alternative is to use sticky tape. Pull the threads taut against the back of your work, tape down neatly and then trim away any excess. You might find it easier when hand sewing to make the holes first. This can be especially helpful when sewing through several layers of paper at a time. Outline your design on the paper and then use a needle or piercing tool to stab small holes at regular intervals. Work with the paper on top of an old mouse mat or sheet of craft foam for best results.
You will need:
- Tracing paper
- Sheet of craft foam or mouse mat
- Stitching template
- Embroidery thread in two colours
1 Transfer the stitching template onto a sheet of tracing paper and place over your photograph. Make any necessary adjustments to the size or proportions of the heart by moving the outer points (marked with black dots) so the subject(s) of the photograph fit neatly inside. Keep the tracing paper on top of the photo and slip a sheet of craft foam underneath. Use a needle to pierce a hole through each of the corner points.
2 Sew from each point to the next, using a single, long stitch (worked like a very large form of backstitch). Change to a different thread colour and sew around the heart again, this time stitching over alternate points, e.g., instead of going from point 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4, and so on, go from 1 to 3, 2 to 4, 3 to 5, and so on. Knot or tape the threads neatly at the back to secure.
3 Sew a selection of random cross stitches around the outer edges of the heart, either freehand, or by marking them on the tracing paper and piercing holes through the photo, as before.