Creating Embellished Mirror Backs

Debra Coon © 2004

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Here’s a quick gift for Mother’s Day. Unlike the finger paintings of our youth, your creation can be displayed without fear of it falling off the refrigerator door.

Supply List:

  • Hand Mirror (discount and dollar stores are a great resource)
  • 10 inch fancy fabric for the background of the embroidery
  • Acid free mat board or leftover cardboard
  • Thin craft batting
  • Pencil or marker for tracing
  • Cording and fancy flat trim to match the colors in the embroidered piece (Cut the cording and flat trim long enough to fit around the mirror back.)
  • Ribbons , 4mm, in the following shades (or choose some in Mom’s favorite shades):
    • Dark pink
    • Light pink
    • Lavender
    • Variegated green or olive green
    • Soft blue
    • Turquoise blue
  • Small pearls
  • Purple bugle beads
  • Options for added interest:
  • Embroidered Monogram-either by hand or machine
  • 2 different shades of green perle cotton threads in a size appropriate for the vine tendrils (instead of using ribbon)
  • Fancy flat trim to go around the back of the mirror back in addition to the cord

Begin by placing the hand mirror with the mirror side down on a piece of mat board or card board. Trace with a pencil from the top of the handle around the oval mirror back to the top of the handle on the other side. The traced mark should look like a “horse shoe” shape when you remove the mirror. Draw a straight line across the opening at the bottom. Cut the cardboard out . This is the template for your mirror back. Place the template on the batting. Trace all the way around it. Cut out the batting.

Mark the heart shape in the middle of the fancy fabric in a method that suits you. Begin the embroidery by placing the largest element, which is the roses, in the coordinating locations of the pattern. I used back stitched roses, but spider web roses would be beautiful too. Create the wisteria with Colonial knots. Continue by making the Forget-me-nots with Japanese ribbon stitches. Add the vine with outline stitches either in ribbon or in perle thread. Add the remaining leaves either in lazy daisy with ribbon or fish bone with thread. Finish with the pearls and bugle beads.

Once the embroidery is complete it is time to construct the mirror back. I first like to glue the batting to the cardboard back so it will not slip out of position during the construction process. If using scrap cardboard, please make sure there is no writing that will show through your batting and embroidery.

I then position the embroidered piece over the batting and cardboard back, centering the design. The batting should be in the middle of your stacked pieces. The next step is to determine how much fabric is needed to cover the cardboard and wrap to the back. The easiest way is to lay the stacked pieces face down on a counter with the embroidered piece, face down on the bottom. The blank cardboard should be showing on top. Cut the fabric around the cardboard adding a 2-inch seam allowance for wrapping and securing the fabric to the back. You can secure the embroidered piece in one of two ways. You can run a basting stitch around the cardboard and gather the fabric and then glue the excess material to the back side of the blank cardboard. (Do not glue the embroidered side of the fabric to the batting. It can seep through and ruin your beautiful work!!!)

The second is just gluing the excess material to the back of the cardboard. The easiest way to do this is to start with a dot of hot glue at the top of the cardboard and push the fabric into the glue. Stretch the fabric on the front side of the mirror and place a dot of glue on the bottom of the cardboard back to secure the excess on the back Now repeat with glue on the right and left, making sure your design is still centered on the front. With the fabric glued at top and bottom and on both sides you will have four puffs of fabric in between your secured areas. Clip 3 small straight cuts, evenly spaced, in each fabric puff (one in either side and one in the middle). The puff should start to lie down so that they can be glued flat. . Be careful not to cut too close to the front., or the cuts will show on the front side of your piece. Any small area will be covered by the cording, so this project is very forgiving.

Once that is completed, it is time to adhere the padded embroidered piece to the mirror. Place a bead of hot glue around on center back of the mirror. With the embroidered side facing you , center the embroidered piece on the back of the mirror and pushing it into the glue. It is okay that the edges are not secure. They will be when the cording trim is added around the outside edge.

Start at the bottom center of the embroidered piece just above the handle. Place a little glue on the end of the cording and insert it under the edge of the padded piece. Continue placing glue between the padded piece and the mirror edge. Work in small sections and press the cording in as you go. Finish by cutting the cord, leaving a half inch to tuck underneath the bottom of the padded piece next to the starting point.

Optional: For interest, add a flat braid just at the edge of the embroidered piece above the cording. (See pictures)

Finish with a bow, tassel, or charm at the point where the trim starts and ends to cover any unsightly ends.

Two versions of the mirror:

One with Crazy Quilting

One with Silk Ribbon.

This process can be used for jar lids, album covers, and journals.

Pattern for SRE Back is available for download in PDF Format.  You will need Adobe Acrobat to read and print this file.

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