Embroidery Library

Sun and Surf Shadow Box


Free project instructions to make a shadow box

Shadow boxes are a hot trend, and a cool way to update decor in the bath, the bedroom, the hallway, the kitchen -- anywhere you'd like a bright splash of embroidery and eye-catching decorative elements.

Choose your theme then coordinate with colorful embroidery and other items such as buttons, shells, rocks, wood, and anything else you like. Let your imagination fly with all the possibilities!

Read on to see how to create stunning shadow boxes in just a few steps!


Free project instructions to make a shadow box

Supplies Needed:

**Shadow box frame (mine is 10" wide by 10" high by 2" deep)

**2/3 yard (total) cotton fabric (I used linen and textured canvas -- 1/3 yard each)

**Medium weight cutaway stabilizer

**Temporary spray adhesive

Supplies Continued: 

**Air-erase pen or dressmaker's pencil

**Decorative shells, starfish, rocks, driftwood, and net

**Hot glue and gun

**All-purpose permanent spray adhesive or double-sided permanent tape (fabric tape or all-purpose tape)

**Decorative tacks

Designs Used:

I used the 5" x 7" size of the Sea Shells and Starfish Silhouette Heart, and the 4" x 4" sizes of the Sea Life Square, the Ocean Fresh Sailboat, and the Ocean Fresh Lighthouse. The designs you choose will depend on the size of your frame. Explore Flowers and Gardens and Travel and Scenery for motifs that are a natural fit for shadow boxes.

Where to find shadow boxes and decorative elements:
I found the shadow boxes and decorative shells, driftwood, starfish, rocks, and net at Michaels. Check your local craft store for these supplies.


Free project instructions to make a shadow box

I began by embroidering my designs. First, I prepared the fabric by cutting one piece of cotton fabric (I used linen) a few inches larger than the shadow box frame (I cute mine to about 13" wide by 13" high -- my frame is 10" wide by 10" high).

I sprayed a piece of medium weight stabilizer with temporary adhesive and smoothed the fabric on top. Then I hooped the fabric and stabilizer together, and embroidered the design. When it finished, I trimmed the excess stabilizer from the backside of the embroidery.

Next, I hooped a small piece of fabric (I used a piece of textured canvas about 7" wide by 7" high) with cutaway stabilizer and embroidered the second design, trimming the excess stabilizer from the back of this design as well.


Free project instructions to make a shadow box

I removed the back from the frame, and laid the large embroidered fabric piece flat with the right side facing up. Then I laid the back of the frame on top of the fabric with the design positioned where I wanted it, with the design under the upper left corner of the frame back (with about 1" between the outer edges of the design and the edges of the frame back), and traced the shape.

Free project instructions to make a shadow box

I removed the frame back and cut out the shape. Then I trimmed the small embroidered piece by measuring and marking about 1/2" to 3/4" around the design, drawing lines connecting the marks, and cutting out the shape. I positioned the small piece on top of the large piece where I wanted it, pinned in place, and sewed a 1/8" seam around the entire outer edge of the small piece.

Free project instructions to make a shadow box

To attach the fabric to the frame back, I sprayed the front side of the frame back with permanent spray adhesive. You can also use double-sided tape to attach the fabric (use permanent double-sided fabric tape or permanent double-sided all-purpose tape). I simply added strips of tape along the edges of the front side of the frame and through the center, lined up the fabric, and pressed the fabric in place.

Free project instructions to make a shadow box

Using hot glue, I glued the decorative items onto the open spaces of the fabric. I used decorative net, sea shells, rocks, and driftwood.

Be sure to leave enough space between the items and the outer edge, so you can add the frame back onto the frame (I left about 1/2", but this will depend on your frame). I also added some decorative tacks to the corners of the small embroidered fabric pieces. Place the frame back on to the frame and secure it in place, and your shadow box is complete.

Shadow boxes are a fun way to bring a new look to decor with stylish frames, fabulous embroidery, and thematic decorative elements. They make unique gifts, too! I loved my first one so much, I made two!

Click here for a printable version of these project instructions.

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Products used in this Project:

Ocean Fresh Sailboat $2.49 - $2.99

Available in 2 Sizes:

4.23" x 5.51" | 2.96" x 3.86"

Ocean Fresh Telescope $1.99 - $2.99

Available in 2 Sizes:

4.86" x 4.01" | 3.86" x 3.18"

Ocean Fresh Anchor $2.49 - $2.99

Available in 2 Sizes:

4.86" x 4.78" | 3.86" x 3.79"

Ocean Fresh Compass $2.49 - $2.99

Available in 2 Sizes:

4.36" x 4.86" | 3.46" x 3.86"

Ocean Fresh Lighthouse $1.99 - $2.99

Available in 2 Sizes:

4.66" x 5.51" | 3.26" x 3.86"

Ocean Fresh Ship's Wheel $2.49 - $2.99

Available in 2 Sizes:

4.08" x 4.86" | 3.24" x 3.86"