I mentioned about a month ago that I sent in my 23andMe kit and that I was anxiously awaiting the results. (see the post here if you missed it!) Well, I got my reports back and I want to share my findings with you. The 23andMe DNA service makes the most amazing Christmas gifts if you’re still struggling to find the perfect thing! I got these for my parents, and they absolutely loved them!

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

If you’re new to 23andMe, it is a service that helps you understand more about your DNA. It allows you to see which regions your ancestors come from and how your DNA can influence facial features, taste, smell and other traits. In other words, it provides some amazing insight into who you are! Some of which proved to be very surprising for me. Just receiving the email with the word “results” in the subject was cause for nerves. What was I going to find out! Give me something spicy, please!

I’ve been a long-time fan of family history, ever since discovering a 7-inch thick family tree book. I would spend hours flipping through it looking at every name and location. I found it fascinating. Now that it’s so much easier to know EXACTLY where our ancestors are from and how much of them lives in us (isn’t that a crazy thought!). Well, the results I’m in and I’m…

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

…100% European. Ha! I wasn’t super surprised there, although it’s always a fun idea to think that there’s something out of the blue in my background. Nope! I’m 65% British/Irish. I’d LOVE to find out exactly what that means because my grandmother is from Ireland but I’m sure with a name like Watson, it’s a mix of Scottish and English too.

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

I had hoped I’d be a bit more Scandinavian than I am. I’m 15% percent. I had gifted these tests to both my parents in the past and I knew that theirs was also slightly lower than expected so I was prepared for something lower than I thought. So, right on point!

My husband also took the 23andMe test, and surprisingly he is somehow only 22% Scandinavian? Yup. I don’t quite know what happened there, but he’s 26% French/German, which is a lot stronger than I thought. His mom is from Canada, so we had assumed that there would be some French there, but I didn’t realize it would be that much.

 

As I mentioned in my last post, using the 23andMe service has gotten me even more interested in my family history and past relatives. This time of year always tends to be a bit nostalgic and I wanted to create something by my recent findings concerning my ancestry. These Heirloom Family Photo Ornaments were the result. I collected some photos of my family members, including great-grandparents, parents, and even Jasper as it would be his first official ornament! Then we figured out an awesome way to transfer images onto fabric. I wanted a little something extra on the ornaments and I’ve been spotting the technique of adding embroidery onto photos so we decided to try it out on these plush ornaments. I absolutely love how they turned out! It’s literally…a family tree!

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

On a more sentimental note, I love that the ornaments serve as a reminder of those I love throughout the holiday season! These are perfect heirlooms to pass down each generation, and I’m planning on making new additions each year.

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

My Christmas tree becomes a literal family tree, decorated with all my ancestors!

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

Family Photo Heirloom Ornaments

Materials:

  • Cotton or linen fabric in a light color. The lighter colors will show your photos better. We got 1.5 yards for 10 ornaments.
  • Freezer paper
  • Bubble Jet Set 2000 (This solution helps set the ink and keep it from smearing. You could try and do it without it but I’m not sure how vibrant it would turn out!)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Ink-jet printer
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Embroidery floss in various shades
  • Hand needle
  • Poly-fil
  • Straight pins
  • ¼-inch ribbons to act as ornament hangers. We used Studio Carta Ribbons.
  • Sewing machine, optional but speeds up the process

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

Instructions:

  1. Cut your fabric into 8.5 by 11-inch pieces. I made 5 pieces for 10 ornaments with a little extra leftover.
  2. Cut your freezer paper into 8/5 by 11-inch pieces as well.
  3. Cut your ribbon into 8 to 10 inch long pieces and set aside.
  4. Pout the bubble jet set 2000 solution into any empty paint tray, just enough so that a piece of fabric could be submerged.
  5. Place each piece of fabric into the solution and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove and let air dry
  7. Take a fabric piece and a freezer paper and align the pieces together, making sure the shiny side of the freezer paper is kissing the fabric.
  8. Iron the two pieces together so that the freezer paper sticks to the fabric, making a stiff sheet. This will allow the fabric to run through your printer
  9. Repeat with all your pieces of fabric. Trim any rouge threads around each piece so they don’t get caught in your printer.
  10. Size your family photos appropriately and space them out on your word document so there’s enough room to cut each out with a 1-inch border around the image.
  11. Make sure you have an ink-jet printer (laser won’t work!), and plenty of black ink.
  12. Print off your images onto your fabric sheets. Cut out each image with an approximately 1-inch border around each photo.
  13. Lay each photo onto your extra fabric (the back fabric does not need to be treated) and pin in place to cut the backsides of the ornaments. Cut out around the photo so you have a back identical in size to the front.
  14. Embroider designs onto each of your photos. We liked to emphasize accessories: glasses, purses, jewelry, etc. See our embroidery guide to learn a variety of stitches!
  15. Sew the front to the back once you’ve finished adding the embroidered details.
  16. Fold your cut ribbon pieces in half and pin in between the front and the back piece of your ornament at the top, with the cut ends of the ribbon lining up with the edges of your fabric, and the loop falling straight down into the body of the ornament.
  17. Pin the two pieces together with the ribbon inside, all around the outer edges, but not along the bottom.
  18. Make sure your fabric pieces are right-sides-together, meaning the photo will be facing away from you.
  19. Sew around the entire ornament with a ¼-inch, leaving the bottom of the ornament open so you can stuff it.
  20. Flip the ornament right side out and iron flat
  21. Stuff with poly-fil so the ornament is firmly filled but not overflowing.
  22. Stitch the bottom of the ornament closed–Iron the open flaps under by ¼-inch to match the rest of the ornament and stitch closed by hand or with a machine.

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

If you haven’t tried 23andMe yet, be sure to check out their kits! Go to 23andMe.com/HouseLarsBuilt to learn more about their Holiday promotion! They make wonderful Christmas Gifts, are easy to use, and the results are so fascinating and make great conversation starters! My family and I end up talking about our reports for hours on end! Just the type of thing you want for holiday gatherings.  

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

This post was sponsored by 23andMe. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Lars thriving!

Photography by Jane Merritt