Portrait Bookmarks

By Amanda Soule

image of Amanda Soule's bookmarks

The drawings my children make of people are so very dear to me. All along in their learning process—from the earliest of blobs (in which I look quite like a potato spud) to the later years when the details of fingers and toes and hair are added—I’m intrigued and in love with the portraits they create of those they love. I’m always so impressed at the elements of personality they manage to convey in their portraits despite their young years and new drawing skills.

These portrait bookmarks evolved like many projects do in our home: out of a need for bookmarks to keep our places in all the books around our house and out of a desire to save and treasure our children’s interpretations of each other at these important moments in their lives.



Pattern Details


A day project

Suitable for little hands

Finished size: 3 1/2” x 7 1/2”


Use What You Have

This project is excellent for using up scraps that you may have, since the pieces needed are so small. Nearly any midweight cotton fabric will do—from bed sheets to linen to quilting cotton. You’ll likely want a light color to work well with the embroidery. 

(The photographed bookmarks are made from linen scraps for the front, vintage fabric scraps for the back, and vintage ribbon trim for the top loop.)



Approximately 1/2 yard total, as follows:

Fabric 1: (1) 9” x 9” piece for bookmark front

Fabric 2: (1) 8” x 4” piece for bookmark back

Lightweight fusible interfacing: (1) 8” x 4”

Ribbon: 5” long

Embroidery needle and floss

6” embroidery hoop

Masking tape


1. Prepare Materials

Gather all materials and cut all fabrics to the measurements given above.


2. Draw Bookmark Portrait

Use a pencil to mark an 8” x 4” rectangle in the center of the 9” x 9” front fabric. (Note: Eventually the fabric will be cut along these lines, but it starts out larger to accommodate an embroidery hoop.)

Use masking tape to secure this larger fabric square to a hard surface. Ask your child to draw a portrait inside the marked lines for the rectangle.

When drawing, allow at least a 1/2” margin between the drawing and the line. If your child is too young for this specific instruction, use additional masking tape to further clarify the drawing area. When the portrait is complete, add any additional words, names, or information on the bookmark.


3. Embroider Drawing

Remove the tape from the fabric, and place the piece inside an embroidery hoop with the drawing in the center. Using a simple backstitch and all six strands of embroidery floss, follow the outline of your child’s drawing. Adjust the fabric in the hoop as needed to reach all the drawings and letters.

Remove the fabric from the hoop, and cut along all four sides of the marked rectangle. You now have an 8” x 4” bookmark front. Set this piece aside.


4. Adhere Interfacing to Back Fabric

With a hot iron, and following the instructions for the interfacing, adhere the interfacing to the wrong side of the back fabric piece.


5. Assemble Bookmark

On a flat surface, lay the back fabric piece right side up. On top of this, place the front fabric piece right side down. The two right sides of the bookmark pieces are now together. Pin the pieces in place.


6. Sew Bookmark

Start sewing along the top edge of the bookmark, 1” away from the corner. Machine stitch 1/4” from the edge. Continue around all four sides, stopping 1” past the opposite corner on the top edge, leaving a 2” opening at the top center.

Cut the tip off all four corners, being careful to avoid cutting the stitches. These cuts will make the corner points more distinct.

Through the 2” opening at the top, turn the bookmark right side out. Work slowly and pull gently. Use a chopstick or pencil to carefully push out the four corners. Press.


7. Finish Bookmark

Fold the ribbon in half to make a loop. Place this loop inside the 2” opening on the bookmark, approximately 3/4” into the bookmark. Pin the loop in place.

Stitch around all four sides of the bookmark, double stitching the top edge to securely fasten the ribbon to the bookmark.



NOTE: This pattern is a project from Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures by Amanda Blake Soule, to be released August 11, 2009. Visit www.shambhala.com or or the author’s website www.soulemama.com for more information.

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