DIY: Easy Stitch Art (or Australopithecus Embroidery for your Unborn)

You know what’s a cool scene? A bunch of archaeologists on a dig in Ethiopia in 1972 discovering pieces of a 3 million year old lady skeleton. The angle of the knee joint of this skeleton showed that she walked upright, meaning that our evolutionary ancestors walked upright way earlier than we previously thought. The scientists named her Lucy after the one in the sky with diamonds (the most played song at camp).

I made some art for the Goose’s nursery this morning to honor this important evolutionary discovery. (Also, I’m not sure I can really get into Darwinian finches in the age of “put a bird on it.”)

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Yes, it’s weird and a little creepy, but if this kid can’t get into weird, then she’s in for a long life.

You can use this stitch technique on anything. I used the same technique to create a small framed portrait of Jay Z for my piano once:

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Start by finding or creating the image you want to use. If you’re not that into drawing, download something from the internet, and use your tablet like a light box to trace the outline.

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My original drawing got some tweaking when I stitched it in, mostly because the hands were too complex and the ribs/face/hair were really not cute.

Gather your materials. For the stitch art part, all you need is your drawing, scissors, a Sharpie, a couple pieces of tape, felt or fabric to stitch on, embroidery floss, and an embroidery needle. I also used a few bits of brightly colored felt to cut the letters out of it.

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I fit my felt to a frame I had lying around beforehand. Nobody’s gonna miss this guy:

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Once you’ve cut your felt or fabric down, tape the drawing to the felt where you want it. To transpose the image, I use a very technical technique called “poking it with a Sharpie.”

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Just poke holes into the felt through the drawing until a rough outline comes together. This will guide you on where to place your stitches.

To start stitching, just thread the embroidery floss (a.k.a. the stuff you used to make friendship bracelets out of) through a large-enough needle. I double the floss up on the back end but don’t tie it off. After you place your first stitch, tie the loose end to the part you just pulled through. Then just edge up your Sharpie dots with a simple back-stitch until you run out of thread. Thread some more on and keep going!

You absolutely do not need to know how to sew to make one of these things. If you’re not sure what kind of stitch will work or have no idea what I’m talking about, test a couple or stitches out of a piece of scrap fabric before you get started.

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To tie an end off, just loop through a preexisting stitch a couple of times and tie a knot (on the back side).

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Make sure you don’t pull any of your stitches too tight, which will warp the fabric.

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If you mess up or end up with a huge wad of knots somewhere, try not to freak out and make Chewbacca sounds at your husband as he innocently tries to walk through the room. Instead, calmly just cut the thread, tie it off, thread a new piece and start over.

When it’s all done, it’ll look something like this:

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You can stop right there if you want, just frame your portrait and call it a day. She looks pretty good! But since mine is for the nursery, I decided to add some bright, block, 70’s style lettering to the bottom.

I made a rough drawing to estimate what I wanted the font to look like, and then cut them out of colored felt with a pair of scissors.

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Hot glue ’em down while your cat tries to figure out what you’re doing and why it doesn’t smell like food.

And that’s it! Frame it up and admire your handy work. Start to finish, a little project like this takes just 2-3 hours; my kind of timeline.

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Hopefully the Goose will admire her gilded hominid for years to come. If not, maybe some ex-hippie septuagenarian will get lucky at GoodWill in a few years, with this reminder of a particularly memorable acid trip. Either way, success.

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