How to Embroider Photos for a Heartfelt Mother's Day Gift

Embroidered photographs for a Mother's Day gift

The Spruce / Lovely Indeed 

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

If you're searching for the perfect Mother's Day gift idea, we've got you covered! Everybody wants to find the perfect gift for mom—something that she'll love, treasure, and want to display. This year, skip the usual ideas and create something personal and charming with these embroidered photographs! They're simple to make and full of a whimsical joy that is so contagious. 

Embroidered family photos
The Spruce / Lovely Indeed

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Embroidery needle
  • Scissors
  • Pencil


  • Printed family photos
  • Embroidery thread


  1. Gather Materials

    As you're gathering your materials, try to find photos that have a little bit of space on them to embellish with your embroidery. It's also great to find photographs that you could add a "drawn" element to: steam rising from a cup of coffee, waves on water, clouds in the sky, and so on. Use your imagination when it comes to your embroidered elements; mom will love it!

    Materials to create embroidered photos

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  2. Sketch Images

    Start by lightly sketching your images on each photo. Consider the scale of the images that you're drawing and don't let them overwhelm the photograph, but don't let them get so small that the embroidery thread will look messy. 

    Sketched image to create embroidered photos

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  3. Poke Holes

    Use the tip of your embroidery needle to poke guide holes along the lines of your drawing. These holes should be approximately 1/8-inch apart, to help "trace" the lines of your drawing with your embroidery thread.

    Needle poking holes in photo

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  4. Prepare Thread

    Prepare your embroidery thread, otherwise known as floss. Standard embroidery floss comes in a hank that's made from 6-ply strands; split this in half to separate three strands. Cut a length of about 3-feet. Thread the strands through your embroidery needle, pulling the ends so that they're even, and make a thick knot at the end.

    Thread and photograph

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  5. Begin Embroidering

    Start by inserting your needle through the endmost hole in your design, coming up from the back and through to the front. Then find the next hole and insert it from the front to the back. You can see this technique on the dotted line trailing behind the paper airplane in this photo.

    Embroidering on a photograph

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  6. Backstitch

    Most of your designs will be outlined with a backstitch. This technique was used on the paper airplane on this design. Start by creating your first stitch as described above. Then, skip a hole and come up from the back of the photograph into the next hole. Once your thread is in the front of the photograph again, insert it through the hole you skipped, creating a backstitch. Continue in the same manner (skip a hole, come up through the back, insert through the skipped hole) until your entire design is outlined.

    Backstitch embroidery on a photograph

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  7. Tie Off

    Once your design is outlined, tie off the thread at the back of your photograph and trim the extra. 

    Embroidered photograph Mother's Day gift

    Lovely Indeed

  8. Give and Enjoy

    Give to the moms in your life! These are wonderful as Mother's Day cards (glue a backing on them to hide the stitches and so that you can write a little message), or you can frame them as art. Mom will be sure to love them!

    Embroidered photograph Mother's Day gifts

    Lovely Indeed