EASY Stitched Photo Ornament

Stitched Photo Ornament

Are you looking for a unique ornament to hang on your tree or to give to a family member or friend this holiday season? If you have a digital camera, a computer and an inkjet printer, you can print your photos on fabric and create a personalized ornament for your holiday tree. In these examples I placed my friend Alice’s son, Max, in the center of the ornament. You can also place a photo of a favorite pet looking through the wreath.

There are only 10 steps to stitching this ornament once you have your printed inkjet fabric.


Step 1

Once your fabric sheet has come out of your inkjet printer, let it dry. Once dry, cut the four images into equal squares.

Stitched Photo Ornament-cut the four images into equal squares

Step 2

Cut a piece of batting to the same size. I used Dream Green, a polyester batting made from recycled plastic bottles. Peel the fabric off the paper backing on the inkjet printable fabric.

Stitched Photo Ornament- Peel the fabric off the paper backing

Step 3

Put your fabric sandwich together, taking care to align the front and back pieces of your printed fabric. Note that the back piece of fabric is the mirror image of the front. Careful alignment of the front and back fabrics will place your stitching in the same place. Stitch on the top or front of your sandwich and the bobbin stitches should be in the same place on the back. Pin the four corners.

Stitched Photo Ornament-Stitch on the top or front of your sandwich

Step 4

First, stitch the image in the center of the ornament. Because I wanted a lot of visibility in stitching close to the center image, I used the BERNINA Open Embroidery Foot #20. My sewing computer is a BERNINA 770 QE and one of the things I enjoy about it is the hover function. Using it, I could accurately stitch around Max’s face peering out from the wreath.

Stitched Photo Ornament-stitching using the hover function

Step 5

Lower the feed dogs for free-motion quilting. Stitch the outside of the wreath first, using the BERNINA Free-motion Embroidery Foot #24.

Stitched Photo Ornament-Stitching the outside of the wreath

Step 6

Stitching inside the wreath gives extra dimension to the individual branches.

Stitched Photo Ornament-Stitching inside the wreath

Step 7

Next, raise the feed dogs for straight stitching. I used the BERNINA Patchwork Foot 97 D to stitch a securing line around the edge of the ornament.

Stitched Photo Ornament-raising the feed dogs for straight stitching

Step 8

Change the straight stitch plate (right) and replace it with the 9mm stitch plate (left) that allows for a Zig zag stitch.

Stitched Photo Ornament-Change the straight stitch plate

Step 9

Stitches Zig zag No.2 or the Satin No. 1354 on the BERNINA 770 can be used for this step. Guide the edge of the fabric into the center of the Reverse Pattern Foot #1C. For a clean edge finish, position the ornament so the needle goes into the fabric on the inside of the Zig zag stitch and just over the edge on the outside. My stitch settings on the BERNINA 770 QE were width 4.0 and height 0.30.

Stitched Photo Ornament-the Zig zag stitch

Step 10

Trim any stray threads, being careful not to cut into the edge stitching. You can also use a fabric marker on the edge where the batting shows, or touch up any white areas that show through the stitching.

Stitched Photo Ornament-use a fabric marker on the edge where the batting shows

Thread a 10-inch length of perle cotton or other heavy weight thread through the ornament to hang it on your holiday tree.

Stitched Photo Ornament-Stitched Photo Ornaments


So, how did I get the picture of Max peeking out a holiday wreath? Here are 20 steps I used to make the digital fabric for the fabric ornament above.


Step 1

Start with a photo of the holiday wreath on your door. I used an iPhone7+ and took this photo of the wreath on the “Square” setting. If you can’t do this easily, a copy of my wreath photo is available for you to use. Image: Wreath Transparent 4×4

Stitched Photo Ornament-wreath photo

Step 2

Import the photo from your digital camera into your computer. I used the photo processing app Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) to create the images that I printed on inkjet fabric sheets.


Step 3

Open the picture of your wreath in PSE and make a duplicate, or copy, of it. Then close the original picture file. This way you are working on a copy and if you make any mistakes you have not harmed your original image. Next, make a duplicate of your background layer. I called it “Wreath Transparent.” Turn off the “Eyeball” in front of the “Background” layer.

Stitched Photo Ornament-Open the picture of your wreath in PSE and make a duplicate

Step 4

Using the “Quick Selection Tool” select the entire door outside of the wreath and delete it. Again use the Quick Selection Tool to remove the center of the wreath. This will place just the wreath on a transparent background. Zoom into the image, and using the Eraser Tool, clean up any parts of the background that you did not get with the Quick Selection Tool.

Stitched Photo Ornament-clean up any parts of the background

Step 5

You can now delete the “Background” layer and save the image of the wreath on a transparent background. It needs to be saved either as a TIFF or PNG file to preserve the transparency. Next, make a copy of your Wreath Transparent image because, again, you want to work on a copy, not the new original that you have just created.

Stitched Photo Ornament-save the image of the wreath on a transparent background

Step 6

Crop the image to the size that you want. I chose to make this a 4-inch ornament. I set the width and height at 4 inches each. Most importantly, because I will print this on an Epson printer, I set the resolution to 360 pixels per inch (ppi) which is the native resolution of the printer. If you are using the image of my wreath, all of these steps have been done for you.

Stitched Photo Ornament-Crop the image to the size that you want

Step 7

Open the photo that you want to put in the center of the wreath. In this case, it is Alice’s son, Max. The image from her camera is 72 inches by 48 inches at 72 ppi. I wanted to know how large this image was at my printer’s resolution of 360 ppi. From the top menu bar, go to Image and drop down to Resize, and across to Image Size. This opens the Image Size dialog box. Unclicking the Resample Image box allows the resolution to be changed without changing the size of the file. I changed the resolution to 360 ppi.

Stitched Photo Ornament-Open the photo that you want to put in the center of the wreath

Step 8

Next I cropped the portrait of Max to 2 inches by 2 inches.

Stitched Photo Ornament-crop the image

Step 9

Remember, the ornament size is 4 inches. Go to the Image menu and drop down to Resize and this time, over to Canvas Size. When the menu opens, change the canvas size to 4×4 inches with a colored background. I chose a dark red.

Stitched Photo Ornament-change the canvas size to 4x4


Step 10

With the photo of Max open, I then opened my Wreath Transparent 4 x 4 image. I went to the Window drop down menu and selected Images>Tile. This places both images on the screen together. From the Layers Palette I dragged the “Wreath Transparent” layer to the image of Max. This places the wreath over the image of Max on a separate layer.

Stitched Photo Ornament-places both images on the screen together

Step 11

You can use the Move tool to reposition the wreath over your center photo. Close the copy of the wreath that was used to create the layer above your photo. Because the wreath is a separate layer, the eraser tool can be used on that layer to remove parts of the center of the wreath to reveal Max in the center. I like to use a soft round brush and remove a little bit at a time. In this way there are no sharp edges, and if I make a mistake and remove too much I can back up in my work history.

Stitched Photo Ornament-use the Move tool to reposition

Step 12

The image I have of Max looking out through the wreath is square. I want to make it round for my ornament. With the Tool Options selected in the bottom tool bar, click on the Crop Tool. In the Tool Options next to the Crop Tool is the Cookie Cutter Tool. Clicking on the Cookie Cutter gives you a new menu of options. The default shape is a heart. Clicking on the down arrow next to it opens a window for the Custom Shape Picker. Select Shapes and scroll down until you find the Circle Shape. With the Circle Shape chosen, to the right are options for the size of the shape. From the drop down window, select Fixed Size. This activates the width and height boxes: enter 4 inches in both boxes. Below it is a checkbox From Center: click on it, selecting that option.  From the top toolbar under the View drop down menu, select Grid. This places a grid over the image and allows you to easily find the center of the picture. Click on the center of the image and you will get a perfect circle and the rest of the image will disappear, and the background will be transparent. Clicking on the green checkmark in the bottom right hand corner of the image will save this action.

Stitched Photo Ornament-select the circle shape

Step 13

Return to the View drop down menu on the top menu bar. From the View drop down menu, click on Grid and it will disappear from over the image. From the File drop down menu select Save As, and save the file to a folder, giving it a name such as “Max Ornament Front.” I like to save files like this as a Tiff, because Tiffs preserve transparent layers. Once the file is saved, you can make a duplicate of it for the next step. Close your original file, and working on the copy, go to Image drop down menu and select Rotate. This opens another window next to it: select Flip Horizontal. Flipping it Horizontal creates a mirror image for the back of your ornament. If you line up your top and bottom sheets on your fabric sample, your bobbin stitching will match the stitching on the top.

Stitched Photo Ornament-creating a mirror image

Step 14

Save this new flipped image in the same folder with your other images.

Stitched Photo Ornament-Save this new flipped image

Step 15

Open a new file with a transparent background. Select inches for your new file, set the resolution for your printer. Many printers have a native resolution of 300 pixels per inch. The Epson printer I use is 360 ppi. The Color Mode is RGB and the Background Contents are Transparent.

Stitched Photo Ornament-Open a new file with a transparent background

Step 16

Once the new file is open, also open the front and back images of your ornament. Again, go to Window>Images>Tile. You will have three windows open. Highlight the front ornament file and again dragging from the Layers Palette, place the front ornament on your new file. Repeat this process with the back ornament file. Use the Move tool to accurately place each one in a corner of the new file.

Stitched Photo Ornament-placing the images in the corners

Step 17

You can get four Ornament sides on one sheet of 8.5 x 11 inch inkjet fabric. In this case, I used the above procedure and brought in images of a friend’s dog. There are a variety of inkjet fabric sheets that have a coating on one side to capture the ink. In this case I used Threads 100% Cotton Poplin from BREWER.

Stitched Photo Ornament-You can get four Ornament sides on one sheet of 8.5x11 inch inkjet fabric

Step 18

Once I have my four sides in one file, I go to the top menu bar Layer, and drop down to “Flatten Image.” Now I am ready to print the sheet of inkjet fabric. From the File drop down menu, select Print and the Print Menu opens up. It is important to change option 5 Select Print Size from the default 4″ x 6″ size to the Actual Size of your file.

Stitched Photo Ornament-print the sheet of inkjet fabric

Step 19

At the lower left corner of the Print Menu is a box “More Options.” Click on it and go to the third choice on the bottom, Color Management. The default Color Handling is to let the Printer Manage Colors. This seldom produces the results that you want. Change this to Photoshop Elements Manages Colors. This is one of the most important things you can do to get good color on your fabric sheet. If your printer has profiles, select the one for Ultra Premium Presentation Matte. Rendering Intent should be Perceptual. Printer Preferences will take you to the Advance Settings.

Stitched Photo Ornament-Manage Colors

Step 20

You can also reach the Advance Settings from the Print Menu Option 2 Printer Settings. Click the Change Settings window and in that window click on Advanced Settings. Here are the Media Settings I use. Media Type: Ultra Premium Presentation Matte. Since we are letting PSE manage the color, the setting for Mode is “Off (No Color Adjustment).” These are the settings that I use with my printer. The settings on this menu will vary according to the printer that you are using. You may not have all the options that are shown here. Click OK until you get back to the main print menu. Clicking Print gets the inkjet fabric sheet printing. Once it is printed, you have the fabric for your holiday ornament.

Stitched Photo Ornament-Work with Advanced Settings


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