Easy to make family silhouettes

Jul 16, 2010

Silhouette portraits are timeless and treasured additions to any home.  You can find an abundance of options for custom silhouettes on Etsy.  I have been wanting to make silhouettes of my daughters for awhile now and finally got motivated yesterday to tackle the project.  Making the silhouettes was so easy, I made one for each family member, including the family cat!  Here's how I did it:

Some of the materials and tools needed for the silhouette project.

First, I gathered the materials I needed. 

digital camera
computer with photo editing application
fabric in natural (9" square for each portrait) and black (4" square for each portrait)
embroidery hoops (7" diameter)
sharp fabric scissors
fine tip felt pen
tracing paper
fabric adhesive (or a sticker machine)
hot glue gun

Using a digital camera, I took pictures of each family member's profile.  (I recommend that long hair is in a ponytail.) We have a large bright window with a translucent shade that was perfect for a white backdrop.  A white wall can work, too.  Import the images into a photo editing program and increase the contrast of the photo. 

Before tracing an image, make sure it is about 3.5" - 4" in diameter.  Placing a sheet of tracing paper over the computer screen, carefully trace the outline of each profile with a felt tip pen.  (You can print the images in lieu of tracing.)

(My ten-year-old stepped in as photographer as I worked on the project.)

Iron your fabric, and then pin the traced image to a piece of the black fabric.  Cut out the image with sharp fabric scissors.  Next, adhere the centered silhouette onto a 9" fabric background using iron-on adhesive. (I used my handy sticker machine that was a recent craigslist find.)

Loosen an embroidery hoop and center the image in the hoop.  Pull gently along the edge to create some tautness.  Tighten the hoop to secure the fabric, and then trim the extra fabric to 1/2" (or at least shorter than the width of the hoop).

Glue the fabric edge to the frame using a hot glue gun.  If you want to create a more finished look, you can glue a ribbon over the fabric edge.

In about an hour, I was able to create five custom silhouettes.  And since I had most of the materials for the project, it cost me very little.  I thought about embroidering names below each silhouette but decided to keep it simple.


Brianna said...

These are lovely! What kind of fabric did you use to cut the faces from? How did you minimize the fraying?

Cathy said...

I'm glad that you like the silhouettes, Brianna. Both fabrics are from IKEA. Any 100% black cotton fabric should work for the faces. To help the fabric from fraying, use very sharp fabric scissors. After running the faces through my sticker machine, I had some minor touch-ups to do when I pulled the backing off. But, for the most part, the adhesive helped keep the fabric intact.

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