Written by contributor Melissa Camara Wilkins.

I like to frame all sorts of things: postcards, and old calendar pages, and greeting cards that make me smile.

Here’s a fun way to make this kind of “found” artwork more personal: embroider it.

I added a few freehand stitches to this page out of an old Paper Source calendar. These tiny trees are my favorite details.

Embroidering paper is even easier than embroidering fabric. (You may remember this idea from, um, kindergarten. Remember sewing cards? This is pretty much just the grown-up version of that.)

This technique can add texture and interest to a print, or bring emphasis to details that might otherwise be overlooked. If you don’t want to stitch directly on the print, mount it to a background and embroider that instead.

I mounted this postcard from Ideal Bookshelf onto pink-and-white striped paper, then backstitched a curving pattern around it.

To get started, you’ll need:

  • A print or card to embellish
  • Pencil
  • Embroidery floss and needle
  • Tape (acid-free if you are concerned about your print’s longevity)

Yup, my work area really looks like this. Why there are crocodiles in there, I do not know.

Here’s what to do:

1. Make pencil marks where you want your holes to go.

If I’m embellishing part of the card or print, I make my marks right on the front. If I’m adding a design on my own, I draw it on the back of the print, then embroider along the lines I’ve drawn.

2. Poke holes through the paper where you’ve marked or drawn.

3. Embroider through the holes. Any stitch will work. I usually choose something simple, like a running stitch (for a dashed line) or backstitch (for a solid one).

4. Tape the ends of the embroidery floss to the back of your project so they don’t come loose.

All set!

Tips & Tricks:

• I like to use a thicker needle (like a cotton darner or a doll needle) to poke holes in the paper, and a thinner needle (like a beading needle) to do the actual embroidering.

• Heavier-weight paper or cardstock will be easier to embroider than lightweight papers. If you want to embellish something especially thin (like a picture out of a magazine), affix it to a piece of cardstock first.

• Paper has less “give” than fabric, so pull gently on your floss as you make your stitches!

If you happen to tear through the paper, you may be able to hide the flaw by removing the thread, smoothing down the paper, taping up the back, and then continuing to embroider. Your thread should then cover the small tear or hole.

A running stitch over this greeting card’s border introduces a contrasting color and gives the card a little more texture.

For more embroidering ideas, check out Nicole’s guide to hoop art. For more ideas on framing found artwork, see this post over at my blog.

What do you think? Would you try embroidering on paper?