Handi-hour Crafting: Embroidery on Paper

Handi-hour Crafting: Embroidery on Paper


Hi! I’m Katie Crooks, public programs coordinator at the Smithsonian American art Museum and Renwick gallery. Today I want to show you a new craft that I’ve come up with, which is embroidering on paper. I’ve done some embroidery crafts and done videos on that before. If you want to learn the basic stitches for embroidery please check out those earlier videos from a few months ago. But today, I’m just going to show you kind of the technical aspect of what you need to do to embroider on paper. First, I’ll show you an example of a finished piece that I’ve done. What I’ve done here is taken a very illustrative and colorful image from a comic book. I’ve outlined it in a fun complementary color in a back stitch. I use some fill stitch on the shoulders and a french knot technique on his chest. Then, I gave our superhero hear some sequined embellishments, which is very easy. You can just glue on some sequins if you want to add a little sparkle. I thought this is a really fun image. Comic books are great for this sort of thing, but you can use any type of decorative paper. Let’s gather together our materials and get started. So, to do something like this, you’re going to need a colorful image. I highly suggest checking out magazines and comic books. Pieces of wrapping paper work really good that have fun decorative patterns. I’m keeping with my comic book theme, and I’ve have grabbed this super-fun image. This actually a photocopy of an image. If you have some decorative paper that you don’t actually want to rip from its source or you borrowed this from a library or a friend, I highly recommend a good color photocopy. It works just as well and by the time you’re done, no one can tell the difference. So get your decorative piece of paper and a piece of Cardstock or another type of sturdy paper. Paper is not as forgiving as fabric, so you need something that’s going to be very supportive to hold your stitches. In addition to that, scissors are always helpful in case you want to trim around the edges. You’re going to need some embroidery floss and an embroidery needle, and some glue. First step, glue your image onto your Cardstock. Center it as best you can. I’m eyeballing all of this, If you are feeling that you want to be very exact about the process, grab a ruler and measure it out. Just to show you the difference between the photocopied and the original artwork, here they are side-by-side. I could have chosen to do a photocopy on a glossier paper to make it better match the original. I think by the time I’m done embroidering, and if I choose to put this in a frame, no one is really going to notice the difference. In case you make a mistake, a photocopy is going to be your best friend. Since I made photocopies though, I’ve already done a few the steps in advance so that we can skip ahead. I went ahead and I glued my photo copy to a piece of paper. Like I said, I just eyeballed it to get it roughly in the spot. If the corners come up a little bit like this, just add a little bit more glue as you go along. You can use a stronger type of glue if you want. I like to use a glue stick just because it doesn’t create a lot of excess liquid underneath the paper. You don’t have any bunching or bubbling which is really good. A flat surface ends up being easier to embroider. From this point, what I want to do is I have this great bright yellow thread that I think would highlight the word ‘crash’ very nicely. I’m going to embroider around the letters. Since paper is much harder to do, you need to go ahead and poke those holes with your needle beforehand. When choosing your embroidery needle, get one that is sharp. Some of them have a more blunt end to them, but a pointy sharper needle is best. If you’re not used to embroidering, I suggest a thimble to protect your fingers. Sometimes that can be helpful. So the first thing I’m going to do is just push holes through the edge. When you’re doing this, you’re going to want to make sure that you don’t put them too close together. If you do, the paper in between the holes will tear, and you’re left with a large gaping hole, which sometimes you can cover up by going back over. Many times, it’s best to leave, I would say at least an eighth of an inch if not more between each stitch. You won’t be able to have tight tiny little stitches like you would in fabric. There’s no way to keep those threads in between each one. So, go ahead, poke holes all the way around, or you can do it in segments if you want to do some holes first. Then do some embroidery, then do a new set of holes, and go along like that. You’re going to want to put a knot at the end of your thread. I double or triple knot to make sure that it won’t come through. Thread the end through your needle and then get started stitching. I’m going to start in the back. No one will ever see your back, so don’t worry if it looks like a complete mess. Just go through those holes that you already poked. I’m going to do a simple back stitch. Remember, if you need more help on how to do the individual stitches check out my earlier video on embroidery. You’re constantly going to be flipping the paper over so that you can see the back and see the front. You might have to do a little working and wiggling to get the needle through, then you do all the stitches. So this one, I’m just starting, but I have one that is almost completely done that I can show you. So with this one here, I went ahead and I did the embroidery all the way around. It’s really nice because the original wording, if you look at one of my photocopies here, the words are very scraggly. The embroidery isn’t meant to be super straight. I wanted it to really take on that, kind of, scraggly feel of the original lettering. All I have left to do in this one is just this top bit here, then it will be complete. I might choose to do a little bit more. This is just one word. This fanciful beast that’s crashing through the window, might be fun to do a different type of embroidery to highlight some of the strands in his mane, or these curly horns. If I wanted to Bedazzle it or add sequins, like I did with our superhero, I could easily glue some sequins on to the different flecks of glass. That’s basically how you embroider on paper.

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