Friday, 3 April 2015


Wedding cameo album cover
Although for myself I don't really get the marriage thing, the forthcoming wedding of my not-so-little-anymore brother has been unexpectedly exciting. His lovely wife to be is no other than Sunshine of the kaleidoscope quilts. It is a good thing to have fellow crafters in the family and I think one day we will have to make a group quilt in the old tradition.

The wedding has generated a number of unexpected and fun craft projects - this is one of my favourites. The idea came from seeing a pet dog cameo cushion (something like this). Along the way my cushion morphed into a photo album cover. I forgot to take a photo of the finished piece, no matter.

Step 1: Get profile shots of the couple - to save time rooting through albums for suitable photos (who takes profile shots?) the direct approach of asking for profile shots is best.

Step 2: On Picasa or similar photo software increase the contrast a lot, cut the cameos our, colour with black pen, rescan and increase contrast again until happy with the final cameos. I did both left and right profiles and picked the best.

Step 3: Design a frame - to do this start with an oval and then draw half the frame. I incorporated a number of symbols in the frame for special significance - a Scottish thistle because it is a mixed marriage ;-) Pisces and Aquarius, bicycles, 2 dogs which look a bit like wolves, initials, roosters for their Chinese birth year, and a stylised coat of arms which is a mix of the 2 surname coat-of arms with the eye of faith.

Step 4: Use Picasa to flip the image so you have 2 identical halves. Then on the computer, fit them together with the cameo in the middle. That bit was very fiddly.

Step 5: Print the finished Cameo onto Wash away stabiliser - I used Madeira Avalon Film. In the past I have done this using ordinary paper (for the Dear Aunty quilt and Doodle quilt)  but it takes a lot to pick out the bits of paper from the crevices after machine embroidery. For small projects I definitely recommend this, but it would be too pricey for a big project. I  printed the frame separately from the cameo as I did this in 2 steps

Step 5: Cut out fabric silhouettes of the cameos, glue them to a cream oval the size of the centre of the frame in the correct position. Machine embroider around the cameos. Soak away the stabiliser. Dry.

Step 6: Stick the cream oval with cameos onto a patterned fabric. Peel the stabiliser off the backing and stick over cameo. Free motion machine embroidery over the frame design. Repeat soaking and drying steps.

soaking away the stabiliser - very easy!
Detail of the frame 

Step 7: This wasn't planned, but I haven't mastered getting the tension right when machine embroidering - so as you can see the centre of the frame is all bunched up - I have inadvertently created a trapunto effect. So there was nothing for it but stick some sponge in the middle to smooth out the wrinkles and make it all look very deliberate. To keep that in place I sewed an oval from the front, around the frame.

Step 8: Use this to cover a small photo album and make it pretty with bits of lace. Job done.

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