Commemorate big milestones and celebrate loved ones near and far with a custom photo ornament! Join Spoonflower team member Amy as she walks you through designing fabric featuring your photos that will fit perfectly in an embroidery hoop to hang on your tree for the holidays or even display year-round on your wall. After the fabric is stretched within the hoop you can take your customization to the next level with embroidery embellishments, ribbon, felt, fleece and more—the only limit is your imagination! Did we mention you can make 12 ornaments for under $15 (that’s less than $3 for one!) when ordering a fat quarter of Petal Signature Cotton™? (Note: this post also uses Fleece for backing. In March 2023, we are phasing out our Fleece fabric and launching Polartec® Fleece, which will also work great for this project!)
Amy: I was inspired to make an ornament last year to commemorate our first Christmas with our dog, Stella and had to continue the tradition this year with another Stella snap. Scroll through your phone or dust off those old print photo albums to find the events you’d like to decorate with and give as gifts this year!
Part 1: Design and Upload
Step 1: Canvas Set-up
- Canva files export at a lower DPI than we need for printing through Spoonflower (Spoonflower’s default DPI is 150). To compensate, we’ll set up our canvas 2X as large as we want our design to print.
- I’ll be using a 4″ embroidery hoop and I want to have a bit of fabric in order to stretch it. The fabric square with your photo will measure approximately 5″ x 5″ (13 x 13cm) and since it has to be double the size in Canva, I’ll make a 10″ x 10″ (25 x 25cm) canvas. Be sure to choose inches or centimeters from the dropdown.
- If you plan to use a different sized embroidery hoop, just add an inch to your hoop size and then double that number for the Canva size.
Gifts for the whole family! Printing this sized design repeated on a fat quarter will make 12 ornaments. With the designer discount, a fat quarter of Petal Signature Cotton is just $10, making each ornament print less than $1!
Just need one? Order a swatch of your design for $5 to make one ornament for your tree.
Step 2: Create Your Photo Frame
I’m going to create a frame for my picture so there is a bit of space between the photo and the hoop. Since my hoop is 4” (10.2 cm), I’m going to make my photo frame 3” (7.6 cm). Don’t forget that we are doubling everything in Canva, so the frame will be 6” (15.2 cm)
From the toolbar on the left side, click on Elements and under shapes you should see a grey circle. Drag this circle from the toolbar to your canvas. Then click and drag one of the corners of the circle element’s box until it says “w:6 h:6” (aka a 6” (15.2 cm) circumference). Then, in the top right, click on the Position button. From there, select Middle and Center to ensure it’s centered perfectly. Then to choose the color of your frame’s border, click on the small grey square to the top left of your canvas (if you hover over it, it says Color). Here you can select from their default colors or use the color picker to choose the exact one you’d like. If you aren’t quite ready to commit to a color scheme yet, you can always revisit this step after you have completed the next few steps.
Step 3: Upload Your Photo
From the toolbar on the left side, click on Uploads, and then click the button to Upload an image or video or drag and drop your photo file from your computer.
Step 4: Add and Resize Your Photo
To put your newly uploaded photo into a perfect circle, click on Elements and under Frames you will see a circle option. Drag this frame circle from the toolbar to your canvas. Then click and drag one of the corners of the frame so it until it says “w:5.5 h:5.5” (just a little bit smaller than your border circle underneath). To center this perfectly like the previous element, click on the Position button and then hit Middle and Center. Your frame is now ready for your photo. Return to the Uploads section of the left toolbar and drag and drop your image into the top circle frame. You can resize and reposition your image by double clicking into it. Then you are able to see the entire photo with a blue border and are able to find the perfect composition by dragging corners and/or moving the photo. When you are happy with how it fits in the frame, click Done in the top left corner of the canvas.
Step 5: Pick Your Background Color
Now that your photo is set, you have the option to set a background color. If you are happy with a white background you can skip this step. From the left toolbar, select Background. Do not be dazzled by all the photographic style backgrounds in this section — for this project we’ll choose a solid color using the top carousel above all that. Click on the paint palette icon to open up a window with a color picker to select a custom color or select a color from their defaults there. Once the color is selected, the background will fill in immediately. If you haven’t settled on the color of your border circle, you can revisit the border circle color if you’d like to coordinate. When you click on the element and select Color there will now be a section called Photo Colors that might help to coordinate.
Step 6: Download Your File
Before you download, click up where it says Untitled design to rename your file. Then click the Download button, stay with the suggested PNG format and click Download. Canva will export and download the file to your computer.
Step 7: Upload to Spoonflower
Go to Spoonflower.com and next to the logo at the top of the website click the Upload Your Design button (or under Design & Sell click on Upload Your Design). Follow the instructions to upload your logo.
Once your logo is done uploading, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can adjust your design size. First make sure Fat Quarter is selected under “Choose a Size & Amount” and “Basic” is selected under Repeat. Then under Design Size click on the Smaller button until you are able to see 12 full photos like the screen below. Make sure Petal Signature Cotton is selected and click the “Add to Cart” button. Continue the checkout process and we will get to work printing your memories on fabric!
Extra Credit: Put your design skills to work in your software of choice to create more elaborate designs with your photo or fill a fat quarter with different photos for many milestones! I used Adobe® Photoshop® to mask out my dog’s face for a 3D effect and added some small white dots to look like falling snow. To create a file with 12 different photos in Adobe® Photoshop®, you can use this template to get started.
Part 2: Create Your Ornament
Optional Finishing Touches
Step 1: Measure and Cut
With a ruler and a pencil, measure and mark a 5.2” (13.2 cm) square with your photo in the center. Cut on your pencil line and cut off any selvedge. You can also measure out the entire fat quarter into 5.2” (13.2 cm) squares and cut them all out at once. If you used our Photoshop template (link) to make 12 different ornaments, you will just cut on the printed cut lines.
Step 2: Stretch Fabric Around Hoop
Loosen the screw on the outer part of your embroidery hoop until the two rings come apart. Place the smaller inner ring on a flat surface and put your fabric (photo side up) on top, centering it as best you can. Put the outer ring on top and press it around the inner ring until it feels snug. Then tug on the corners of the fabric from the back so it’s taught and centered. Tighten the screw on top to secure the fabric in place.
Step 3: Finishing Touches
The stretched fabric becomes a blank canvas for your creativity to honor the people, places and pets you hold dear! Here are some embellishments to start your brainstorm.
Since it’s already in the hoop, it only seems natural to add a bit of flair with a needle and embroidery thread. It’s simple to add a few stitches to make a quick shape like a star or snowflake or to outline your border with a running stitch. More advanced stitchers could add text or more complex flourishes and experiment with different stitches.
After you have added any embroidery you’d like, you can cover up the back of the hoop with some scrap fleece for a more finished look. Trace around the smaller inner embroidery hoop on the back of your fleece and then cut out the circle. The circle should perfectly cover the back of your hoop, so give it a bit of a trim if you test it out and are able to see any fabric peeking over from the front.
Grab your fabric glue and slowly move around the circle gluing the fleece to the back of your hoop. Use one hand to hold down any excess fabric so it is hidden by the fleece back. Use your other hand to apply the glue in small increments and press the fleece circle to the hoop.
Add a Hanger & Ribbon
The metal top of the embroidery hoop by itself can act as a hanger in a pinch, but if you want to make it more deliberate, you can use string, twine and/or ribbon. I cut about a 12” (30.5 cm) piece of twine and used the technique shown below. To cover up my knots from the front, I tied a bow around the bottom of the metal piece.
How to Tie a Bow On Your Ornament
- Thread both ends of the twine through the metal top of the hoop from the front.
- Position ends of the twine so they are in front of the metal top and flip the loop up.
- Tie the twine around the metal top with a double knot.
- Trim the twine excess.
- Tie a ribbon around the metal top and the twine knot.
You know that box in your closet filled with leftover notions and craft materials bought on a whim? This is a great project to use your stash to make your ornament uniquely yours. Could those red pom poms and that piece of green felt be transformed into holly berries and leaves to cover of the knot from your twin hanger? Absolutely! Are you eager to show off your puff paint skills you picked up in summer camp? Go for it! Do you have some spray paint or stain that would be perfect to liven up the wood of the embroidery hoop? Oh, that’d be really fun! (Just be sure to let it dry before stretching the fabric).
Whether you raid your closet or visit your local craft store to be inspired, this project has endless possibilities!