Introduction: Embroidered Vintage Wall Clock

About: I love creating. I love ART in all its forms. I am a daughter of the 50s, born in 1992. I had the pleasure to be a Featured Author on this fabulous site, and you can read my interview here: https://www.instr…

I have recently found a lot of old burlap in my basement (yes, old enough to be really vintage!).
For this reason I was thinking of ways to use it, when the idea of the clock came to my mind. Whether burlap is old or new, it always gives a "vintage feeling" to whatever it's used for.

For this project I had to make a stencil first, and for some reasons I always have a lot of fun with this technique. Making my own stencil is probably what makes it so fun, I don't think that using an already cut stencil would make it that good...there's so much more satisfaction in it!

But other than this, there's a whole new technique to me in this project: embroidery!
A painted clock was ok, but I wanted to make it special somehow...that's why I thought of embroidering on it.
I learned how to cross stitch when I was little and I tried to make something similar a while ago (not sure what it was, I kind of invented it), so this was the first time I made something like this*.

And you know what? I loved it!! :D

This clock can now be purchased here!

*jessyratfink's instructable "Embroidery 101!" taught me A LOT! I recommend you to read it too if you are a beginner :)


Materials and Tools:

  • Burlap
  • black acrylic paint, sponge and tiny paint brush
  • embroidery hoop (or anything similar)
  • embroidery needle and black cotton thread
  • paper
  • cutter or x-acto knife
  • cardboard
  • scissors
  • hot glue
  • scotch tape
  • pencil
  • clock mechanism with clock hands

Step 1: Prepare Your Burlap

Cut a piece of burlap that is bigger than how your clock will be. My clock (the circle) turned out to be about 25cm (9.84 inches) but my original piece of burlap was about 40x50cm (15x19 inches).

To be able to embroider well you need to put your piece of burlap in an embroidery hoop. Unfortunately, I don't have one because I had never embroidered before, so I found a scrap of wood with a large hole in the middle (something like a round frame) and decided to use it instead.

I laid my piece of burlap on my round frame and stapled all around it, keeping my burlap as tense as possible.
This way I made my own "loom" and I could finally work on it.

Step 2: Make a Stencil

Before making my stencil, I googled "clock stencils" to find the one I liked the best.
I chose this one.

Print your clock on paper and make it as big as you want. I could only print on an A4 sheet of paper so I decided to divide the picture in half before printing it, keeping the central part in both of them to have a point of reference for my stencil. This way I printed my two parts on two different sheets of paper.
Of course it is much easier if you can simply use a bigger sheet of paper and print the whole clock on it!

When you finally have your clock on paper, cut out all of the black parts using a cutter or an x-acto knife.
Make sure to be very careful while you do this, being accurate is very important while you make a stencil. Take all the time you need!

Finally stick your stencil to the burlap using some scotch tape and tap on the clock with black acrylic paint, to "stamp" your clock on the burlap piece. You can use a small piece of sponge or foam to do it.

Step 3: Adjust the Painted Clock

When you are done with the stencil, carefully remove it from the burlap. If you notice that there are some pieces that didn't turn out right, re-apply the stencil and tap some more paint on it.

There will probably be some lines that won't be visible. For this reason I recommend you to adjust it using a tiny paint brush and paint, like I did.
In my case, the thinnest circles and dots were mostly invisible on my burlap so I painted them by hand.

Note: making a perfect circle wasn't easy by hand so I decided to use a compass and dipped the tip of the mine into a little bit of acrylic paint from time to time. This way I was able to trace a perfect circle on burlap with a compass.
I finally scratched out the paint residuals from the mine and everything was alright!

Step 4: Embroider the Circles

It's time to embroider, so prepare an embroidery needle with a piece of cotton thread.

The first parts that I decided to embroider were the circles.
To do this:
a. pass the needle from the back of the burlap, starting anywhere on the circle;
b. insert the needle on the left (or the other way), not far from where it came from, and pull the thread from the back. This way you'll obtain a short segment;
c. insert the needle next to where the other came from, always on the left. It's just like before, the only difference is that it's done on the opposite side;
d. now insert the needle on the right instead, back to where it came from before, at the end of the first segment. This way you'll obtain a second segment.

Insert the needle on the left again, from the back of the burlap, and continue like you did before to make more segments one after the other, and complete the round. The segments need to be all about the same size.
Of course you must always follow the painted circle as guideline.

The biggest circle was thicker than the other so I made 2 rounds of embroidery next to each other, instead of one.

Everytime I finished the thread I simply made a knot and started with a new one.

Step 5: Embroider the Symbols

To embroider the symbols I made one segment after the other like I did in the previous step.
The only difference is that the symbols are thicker so I first embroidered their outline and finally made some more segments in the middle to "fill" the central parts.

Let's take the middle part of the symbol as example:

a. insert the needle from the back of the burlap into the pointed tip of the symbol;
b. embroider all around it going up to its top, and then back again to reach the beginning at the bottom. This way the outline is complete;
c. from the back of the burlap, insert the needle on the right of the outline and re-insert it on its left to create an horizontal segment;
d. keep making more horizontal segments one above the other to fill the whole symbol.

Do the same for the left and right parts of the symbol, and on all of the other 3 symbols.
Make sure to make a knot and cut the thread everytime you make a new symbol or anything that is not close to where the thread is, otherwise you end up wasting too much thread and the back of the work will turn out quite messy.

Step 6: Embroider the Letters

The letters are always straight lines so all you have to do is embroidering many segments one after the other following the lines.

Letter I: start making an horizontal segment, then make many vertical ones until you reach the bottom of the I.
Make another horizontal segment there and go up again to embroider a thicker line.

Letter V: it's composed of 2 lines. The first one is thicker than the other. So, start from the thinnest part and make an horizontal segment on top, then make the vertical segments on the whole line that goes down to the bottom.
At this point go up to the thickest line and make more vertical segments there until you reach the top.
Make another horizontal segment there and go down again to make the line thicker.

Letter X: it's just like letter V, so make one of the lines thicker than the other by simply embroidering it twice.
The easiest thing to do is to start from the top right and go up to the top left when you reach the middle of the X.
Go down again and proceed on that thickest line until you reach bottom right.
Go up again, stop in the middle, and go down to bottom left.

Step 7: Embroider the Dots

For the dots that are between the 2 circles above the letters I wanted to make French knots. I tried many times but I was not able to do them :(

I finally solved making simple separated segments.

To do this, insert the needle from the back of the burlap into one of the dots and make a regular segment.
Insert it on the left from the back as usual, but instead of going back to the end of the previous segment, keep inserting the needle on the left.
This way the segments will turn out separate and you can make all of them this way.

The embroidery part is done!
Remove your piece of burlap from the hoop, or whatever you used.

Step 8: Cut the Structure

The dot in the middle of the clock was left free from embroidery because that will be the hole for your clock mechanism.
Simply cut it with scissors to obtain a hole.

Now cut a square out of cardboard that is about 2cm (0.78 inches) bigger than your clock's diameter.
Make a hole in the middle (I used a pencil).

Let me say that I was very undecided whether to keep the clock round or make it square shaped. I thought a lot about it and I finally decided to make it square. I admit though that I'm not 100% sure about my choice yet.
Would it look better if it was round? Let me know! :D

Step 9: Glue the Burlap to the Cardboard

I glued a white sheet of paper on the back of the cardboard because it was not perfect, but you don't necessarely have to do this.

Lay your piece of burlap upside down and place the cardboard square on it, making sure that they are all centered. To keep them centered I inserted a pencil in both holes (cardboard and burlap).

Cut out the angles of your burlap piece around the square, and fold the sides on the cardboard, gluing them all around with hot glue.

Burlap tends to unthread on borders so cut the exceeding parts and fold the borders on the inside to hide them. Secure them with glue.

Step 10: Add the Clock Mechanism...

Insert the clock mechanism from the back of the clock into the hole.
Add the clock hands to the front and admire your "new" wall clock! :)

Featured Author Contest: DeandrasCrafts

Third Prize in the
Featured Author Contest: DeandrasCrafts

Vintage Contest

Participated in the
Vintage Contest

Epilog Challenge VI

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge VI