Give these DIY cuties, get smiles in return.

Give these DIY cuties, get smiles in return.

There is a scientific principle that states “the longer your holiday gift list gets, the more your wallet shrinks.” Hmm, so maybe it’s not science, but it definitely feels like fact. If you’re on a tight budget this season (hi, us too), DIY presents are a cost-effective way to dole out love to your friends and fam. And they’re fun to make. AND people cherish almost anything handmade. Everyone is happy!

Today, Savana Ogburn will teach you to embroider photo tributes to your favorite folks; Marlena Mayle demonstrates how to make patch-pins; and Gaby Gloria offers a twist on the classic friendship bracelet. Each project results in a charmer of a gift. Offer them to loved ones, including yourself.

Savana’s embroidered photos


Some of my favorite things in the whole world are (1) crafting, (2) celebrities, and (3) making homemade gifts. This DIY combines them all! I’m going to show you how to immortalize a special someone by jazzing up their photo with hand-stitched details. Because you can use literally any picture, this project is adaptable for any gift-ee. If the recipient is indifferent to celebs, pick a cherished snapshot instead.

What you’ll need:


How to do it:

Step One


Find a photo you know the gift recipient will love. It could be a celebrity’s headshot, or a personal pic and a favorite quote. The sky is the limit. I chose a photo of Drake and added a halo-esque circle around his head. (Photoshop is totally optional.)

Step Two

Resize the photo to be about an inch shorter and narrower than the embroidery hoop’s diameter. For example, if you have a six-inch hoop, resize the photo at five by five inches.

Step Three


Print the resized image on a sheet of regular printer paper to make sure the size is right by laying the hoop over it. Then print the image on the printable fabric. After printing, follow the instructions on the fabric’s packaging to set the image. (This is where the iron comes in.)

Step Four


Unscrew the embroidery hoop, and place the fabric on top of the smaller circle. Secure the fabric by placing the larger circle on top and screwing the hoops together. Pull the fabric tight. You can trim the excess fabric to make it easier to work with, but don’t trim it all the way down to the hoop just yet.

Step Five


Start embroidering! Where depends on the design you’ve chosen. If you’ve never embroidered before, this is a great first project because you can try any stitch you like. (A straight stitch is a great starter stitch; Apartment Therapy has a helpful guide to other basic stitches.) I embroidered simple designs around my picture, including a zig-zag outline around the photo. Tip: Draw the designs you’re going to embroider using a pencil or chalk, then stitch over the lines. The embroidery floss will cover it up, so you don’t have to worry about it showing.

Step Six


Finish the embroidery by tying a li’l knot on the back. If the fabric got loose while you were stitching, unscrew the hoop, pull the fabric taught again, and then tighten the screw again. To polish things off, trim the excess fabric as close to the hoop as you can. Now admire that angelic little gift ;)