How to turn your child’s art into an adorable bookmark

March 05, 2012

I just finished making my third “art bookmark” and wanted to share the process for those of you who may enjoy this unique and creative way to turn your child’s work of art into a useable gift.  Some of you may remember the instructions below that I originally posted in May of 2010.

Several years ago when my husband and I were house hunting I discovered something about myself.  I have a hard time “envisioning” what could be without having something of inspiration to start with.  Where he could look at a home and totally gut it and refinish it in his mind I had a hard time getting past the yellow carpet or ugly tile bathroom.  BUT if you give me a home decorating magazine with photos of adorably decorated homes and let me look at the same home again I can totally strip down and redecorate it mentally.  I need inspiration!  But once I have it, just set me loose and I will run free.

This perhaps is why I enjoy reading so much.  I love to be inspired by others who are doing something that I want to do better or learn more about.  I previously showed you how to make a memory tree out of reporposed fabrics which was a craft inspired by Handmade Home Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures written by Amanda Blake Soule.  This last week just before this book was due to be returned to the library, I was inspired by another project in this book–making bookmarks out of your children’s art.  I know that I said the memory tree was my favorite project of all time but this one is pretty great too, maybe it is my new favorite ;) !

What you will need:
-light colored fabric (the size depends on how many bookmarks you will make and what size you want them to be)
-felt for backing to your bookmark
-embroidery thread (the number of colors depends on your preferences)
-embroidery needle
-embroidery hoop (optional but very helpful)
-pinking sheers (optional)
-pencil or pen
-a budding artist
-sewing machine (optional)
-a ribbon or fabric scrap (perhaps some remaining fabric from your memory tree project or another outgrown outfit)

1) I started by cutting out my light colored fabric (3 inches across and 6 inches long).  However I found that cutting it first made it a little hard to hold inside my embroidery hoop.  In retrospect, it would have been easier if I would have cut out the fabric rectangle at a later step.  So I suggest that you mark out the area that you plan to use for your bookmark with tape or a pencil line (in order to help your child know where to draw) and leave enough room around the edges of the bookmark for you to easily hold it within your embroidery hoop.*

2) After cutting the fabric with pinking shears (this creates a cute look and reduces fraying) I taped the edges down to the counter and let Ashlyn draw a portrait of me.  I added the month and year at the bottom so I would remember when it was created.  *As I mentioned above, I suggest you wait to cut the bookmark out until later in the project.

3) Once the image is drawn, place the fabric within your embroidery hoop and cover the lines of the image with your thread.  I used about 3 strands of embroidery thread but using all the threads would have worked better to cover the pencil lines.  (For those of you who may not know, embroidery thread is comprised of several threads twisted together.  Depending on the project you may use differing numbers of threads.)  Ashlyn had fun choosing which thread color I should use for different parts of the image.  She also helped me pull the thread through the fabric.  Depending on the age of your child, see which parts they can help with and involve them as much as you can.  By the way, do you like my belly button:)?!

4) *This is the point in which I would suggest cutting your light colored fabric out using pinking sheers.

5) Cut your ribbon or fabric scrap in a strip that you can fold over so that both sides show the outside of the fabric.  I cut my fabric strip about 1 inch wide and about 3 inches long before I folded it over.  Again, I used my pinking sheers so that I wouldn’t have to hem the edges.  I had some fabric glue so I used this to adhere the ribbon together between the two layers that were folded over but this is optional.  (For my ribbon I used some left over fabric from one of Ashlyn’s outfits that I used for our family memory tree.)

5) Place your bookmark over your felt fabric and cut around the edge so that the felt is slightly wider than the top fabric.  You may wish to pin these two fabrics together to prevent them from slipping before you sew them together.  I will mention that at first I planned to adhere my bookmark to the felt fabric with fabric glue but found that this didn’t work well for two reasons.  First, the bond wasn’t holding well for me and more importantly, the glue was showing through the light colored fabric which I didn’t like.  Because this bookmark will be touched and handled a lot I think it is best to sew it anyway.

6) Sew your two fabric pieces together (I used a straight stitch) taking care to stitch the ribbon between your two fabric pieces at the top.  If you don’t have a sewing machine you could sew this by hand using your choice of thread.

7) Step back and admire your work!

8) Grab a book and try it out!  Here is the current parenting book that I am enjoying: Raising Your Children With No Regrets by Catherine Hickem.

9) Take a photo with your little artist and the project you made together!

For an alternate bookmark option that is super easy:

-Use some cardstock and allow your little artist to decorate it with stickers, stamps or a drawing.
-Add their name and the date.
-Cover it with some packing tape or laminate it.
-Punch a hole at the top and add a ribbon.

Both Hunter and Ashlyn have had fun making these simple bookmarks and sending them to friends and family in the mail with a handwritten note of hello.  It is a great way to use up extra scraps of scrapbook paper!

In my opinion these bookmarks make a very special gift (perhaps for Mother’s Day coming up).  They are personal, inexpensive and fun and will be treasured for years to come!  I hope you feel inspired. . .

Mom 4 Life. Now that Ashley owns Mom 4 Life, I am focusing my energies in homeschooling and asking God to use me in other areas.

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