My little Isabella leaves me wonderful love notes all the time. At least once a week I find a tiny little drawing on my pillow or a handwritten note tucked in a coat pocket. There's something so sweet about a five-year-old's handwriting.
Children's art is wonderfully graphic and simple, so it lends itself very well to interpretation through other mediums like fabric applique and embroidery. Using a simple backstitch, you can create an embroidered heirloom from your child's artwork.
You don't need special pens or fabric transfer paper to create an embroidery project from your child's artwork, but a few simple tips make the process a little easier.
My best tip? Freezer paper!
Yes...freezer paper, like you'd find in the meat department of your grocery store. Using a medium-hot setting, iron your piece of fabric to the slick side of a sheet of freezer paper. The fabric will stick to the paper, making it a lot easier to trace your embroidery design onto the fabric without it puckering. Once you trace your pattern onto the fabric, it will peel off the paper without any residue.
Transfering your pattern to the fabric is also a lot easier if you can create a lightbox effect. I have a large piece of glass I took out of an old frame from the thrift store that I keep tucked in a closet. I covered the sharp edges with masking tape and when I need to trace a design, I rest the piece of glass between the edge of my couch and the edge of my coffee table and put a small lamp on the floor beneath the glass. Instant-"cheapo"-lightbox!
You can trace the pattern lines onto your fabric using a soft #2 pencil if you want the lines to be fairly invisible on the finished project. However, if you are using a backstitch (as I have used for my "embroidered love note"), you can even use a fine-tip permanent marker to transfer the pattern lines because they will be completely covered by your stitching.
Once you transfer your stitching lines, remove your fabric from the freezer paper and stretch across an embroidery hoop.
My prefered embroidery stitch for this project is the "backstitch." You'll find a great tutorial on my favorite embroidery site:
When stitching, I usually work with the ol' standby DMC or Anchor brand embroidery floss. There are cheaper brands out there, but they usually don't have the same pretty sheen or smooth texture. Embroidery floss is relatively cheap anyway, so don't sacrifice the quality of your floss to save a few pennies.
A single piece of embroidery floss is actually SIX strands of floss. When doing "real" embroidery (you know, the beautiful heirloom techniques), you would rarely use all six strands at once. However, with the casual "backstitch," using the six strands together works fine. The only time I separate my strands of floss (called "stripping" the floss) and work with fewer strands is when I am stitching a very small detail in my pattern. For example, on my sample project I used the full 6-stranded floss for the red and pink of the heart pattern. However, I "stripped" my floss and used only TWO strands of black floss for the lettering on the pattern.
My final tip, or bit of stitching advice, is to take your time and make careful stitches. When working around a tight curve in the pattern, use smaller stitches and you'll be happier with your results. And when you're unhappy with a stitch, take the time to pull it out. If a mistake or careless stitch bothers you as you are working, it will REALLY bother you when your project is complete!