Step 4: Paint your frame (if desired) and start sewing!

If your frame is damaged/ugly, consider giving it a pop of color with some paint. If you want to paint your frame, you can do so now that you’ve decided on your composition.

In this example, I transformed the standard 70’s fake wood veneer of this frame to bright yellow with just two coats of acrylic paint. Make sure to sand it lightly (wear a mask or work outside to avoid breathing in particulates) so the paint won’t scratch off later and then apply the first coat of paint with a brush. Set aside.

Begin sewing elements on to your base fabric. I just set pieces to the side of my work space in the general positioning I’ve selected as I work.

*TIP* Have a camera phone? Snap a quick pic of your arranged composition and use it as a guide as you work so that you can remember where things go as you take them off.

Start by sewing together the layered bits first. Once your ‘vignettes’ are sewn together, work from your base fabric up to sew on the other elements. You will probably have some overlap, so pin on what you can of the bottom layer (shown in the first photo of this step) and go from there. Try to avoid pinning the paper pieces if you can.

*TIP* Switch up thread colors and stitches. I use a SINGER machine and in this example, I’ve used the straight stitch, the zig-zag and the scalloped edge. Go tone-on-tone with your thread color for a subtle effect, or use contrasting colors for more pop.

In this piece, I used mainly vintage elements, so I went with a retro-inspired composition and color scheme as well. Continue until all your flat elements are sewn on. Leave off buttons or other 3-D items for now.