Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Silhouette Ornament Tutorial

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I know, I know... I bet you thought I had fallen off the face of the earth. I assure you that despite my poor neglected blog, I am doing well. When life gets busy (when is it not, right?) the blog goes on the back burner. I've put together a little tutorial to try and make it up to you. Christmas is coming up and I'm always antsy to make ornaments. These are similar to my other silhouettes, except I use a digital silhouette printed on iron-on transfers instead of cutting... I know there are people that can cut a silhouette the size of a quarter, but I am not one of those people, so there you have it. Hope you enjoy!


wooden plaque (small 3" to 5" size, any shape, unfinished)

acrylic paint

Iron-on transfer sheet for LIGHT fabrics

small piece of cotton fabric, light color and pattern

Mod Podge


Step One: Prep your wooden plaque. Smooth with fine grain sand paper if desired. You can purchase these small wooden plaques at most craft store for 50 cents each. I purchased mine from my local Hobby Lobby, but they also sell them online here.

Step Two: Paint the plaque. I just used classic black acrylic paint, but feel free to go wild and use any color of your choice. I only painted the sides and the back, leaving the top unfinished, since the top will be covered by the silhouette.

Step Three: Create your digital silhouette. This is the most tedious part of this project, but it's worth it to make digital silhouettes of your children because then you can use them to make a countless different projects. The best way to draw your digital silhouette is by creating a vector image in a program such as Adobe Illustrator. Vector images are created using "paths" such as points and curves that connect. Like this:

This means that your image will retain its same high quality whether you enlarge it to the size of a house or shrink it to the size of a peanut. Very cool indeed. Drawing vector files takes practice, but it's definitely a handy thing to know. I taught myself by watching this excellent tutorial on YouTube. I will not attempt to teach vector drawing in this brief tutorial. If you are familiar with creating vectors, great, but if not then here is an alternative method to creating your silhouette:

  1. Take a profile picture of your child. Good luck trying to get them to NOT look at the camera. Take at least 10 pictures and use the best one out of the lot.
  2. Upload the photo onto your computer and print the head/shoulder profile picture as large as possible onto an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper. Print as is, in color.
  3. Lay a plain white sheet of paper on top of your printed picture. Tape at sides to hold sheets together.
  4. Tape to a window with lots of natural light. Use a pencil to trace the silhouette. Free-form draw the shoulder bust as desired.
  5. Remove silhouette from window and using a fine-tip permanent black marker, carefully trace the silhouette over the pencil lines. Since you used a permanent marker, you can now go back and erase your pencil lines without the black marker smudging.
  6. Scan the silhouette image into your computer and use a paint or photo editing program to fill the silhouette in black. Also, clean up your image by tweaking the brightness, contrast levels. Crop and save as a jpeg.

A third alternative is to hire someone to draw your vector image for you (not me). There are a lot of sellers on Etsy that will do this :)

Step Four: Size your silhouette and add text. Determine the size your silhouette should be based on the size and shape wooden plaque you are using. Size silhouette accordingly, add text. Once you are happy with your layout, you will need to REFLECT/MIRROR/HORIZONTALLY FLIP the image so the text is mirrored. Now print a test page and lay it over your plaque to make sure it lines up nicely.

Step Five: Create your iron transfer. It is important that you buy the iron-on transfer sheets for LIGHT fabric (not dark). The iron-on transfers for light fabric are transparent, and will allow your cute fabric to show through, as well as laminate it nicely and prevent fraying. Follow the instructions for printing your silhouette.

Step Six: Apply your transfer. Cut your fabric piece to roughly the size your need to cover your plaque. Your transfer should be laying on the RIGHT side of your fabric. Tip: Before you iron your transfers, run a lint brush over your fabric to remove any unsightly fuzzies that will be come forever trapped beneath the transfer.

Now use your superwoman strength to firmly iron your transfer, using the highest heat setting, and NO STEAM. Iron in circular motion.

Cool completely and peel away paper.

Step Seven: Mount your silhouette. Cut your iron-on transfer to the shape of the wooden plaque. A good way of doing this is making a template first. Lay a sheet of paper over your plaque and use your finger to trace and crease. Cut out paper template, center it over your iron transfer, and cut out your image.

Tip: To center your template over your iron-on transfer, hold up to a window with a lot of natural light.

Apply a coat of Mod Podge and adhere your silhouette. Hot glue a ribbon loop to the back to finish.

Now go make a bunch... the grandparents are going to love these!

Happy crafting


Audra said...

Gorgeous! Very good tutorial, I am definitely making these for our Grandma!

Sara said...

Its nice to see you back.
Coming to Boise for the Holidays?

Love the silouette ornaments. Perfect Great Grandma gift, she only likes sentimental gifts because she already has everything her 90 year old heart desires.

Monika said...

WAY cute!!! You're amazing, as always!!

Tricia said...

Great tutorial, and the silhouettes look great.

Pamela said...

WELCOME BACK!!! Those are so cool... I'll have to try them once I get Illustrator! :)

Philip, Melissa, & Summer said...

Super cute idea. I think I would have to stick to cutting the tiny thing out because I am not great with a computer. They are adorable.

Mamima said...

I never tought to make silhouette ornaments, but these tutorial tempted me to finally try making my own for Christmas gifts.
Your ornaments are so lovely!


Anonymous said...

If you have really active kids, like mine (!), I have found it easiest to:
1) just take video
2)upload to computer & watch until you find the perfect profile-pause video
3)use some sort of capture software to grab that still and save it off as a jpg.