DIY: Embroidered Handprint Turkeys: A Collaboration

If you have some adorable little hands in your family, you might love this idea for your Thanksgiving tablescape … and you can use these one-of-a-kind napkins year after year …  long after the little hands are big enough to help make the pumpkin pie. “Wow, those were my hands? I was so little!”

Here are the super easy steps: Make sure your hand model is wearing a get-messy shirt. Then mix acrylic paint with water to a good consistency for print making. You can find lots of different non-toxic acrylic paints at your favorite craft stores. I will include a few links at the end of the post to several paints that we tested in the washer and dryer and they washed beautifully. You can also find blank napkins from the same craft or home stores.

If your little hand belongs to a toddler who might want to taste the art supplies, be sure to use your own loving, yet firm grip, to help place hand into the gooey paint. Have a wet cloth nearby to clean off hand before it goes into mouth. Paint that looks like chocolate pudding is just too tempting.

You can also paint the color directly onto the hand with a brush, especially if you would like to paint the four fingers with different colors than the thumb-and-hand turkey body. Next, press hand in the middle and toward the base of the napkin. Before lifting hand, make sure that you have pressed evenly and all the way to the tips of the fingers.

Let the handprints dry. Notice that we printed close to the edges of the napkins, but not too close, leaving enough room for little turkey feet. Also, the handprints might not be perfect. (As you can see above!) All the better. We found that this gave every turkey his or her own special personality when stitched.

Place the handprint in an embroidery hoop. We decided to personalize ours. I drew the names using the awesome Frixion pen, which you can get at any office supply store. When your project is completed, the linework just disappears with a blow dryer. (By the way, this is magic that little ones love to watch. And actually, I love to watch it, too.)

Since I wasn’t at home with my stash of embroidery floss when we made these, luckily I was able to buy the autumn colors of DMC threads at Walmart! I used the full 6 strands, because it’s just fast and easy … and I like its chunky hand-made feel. But you can make more delicate feathers if you divide your strands.

Next step: Just stitch away as much or as little as you like. I recommend limiting the amount of stitching on top of the turkey, so that you can appreciate the precious handprint of the little one who started this collaboration.

This is a great project for naptime. I finished each one in just under an hour. However, if you have 16 people coming to your Thanksgiving feast, you might think about making a few each year. Or, if you are going to visit Grandma’s house, just make one as a fun tea towel holiday present. Grandmas love that kind of gift. Just looking at these, made from my favorite fella’s little hand, makes me a little bit teary … those baby turkeys are growing up so fast!

So here are our first tries. We added a little hat to Mr. Dad Turkey, because it just seemed fitting. Feel free to add personal touches. If Aunt Margaret always wears a baseball cap, well then certainly her turkey might need one. Just have fun.

Here is my little hand model admiring our collaboration … and feeding a little bit of popcorn to the Dad Turkey … because, of course, Dad turkeys love popcorn. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. We hope you are surrounded by family and friends and lots of loving hands … little and big.

Cathy and all of us at Mej Mej and Cathy Heck Studio


Here are supplies you’ll need and just some of the places you can find them:

Blank Napkins or Tea Towels  – Jo-AnnHobby Lobby or Walmart

Non-Toxic Acrylic Paint – Jo-AnnHobby Lobby or Michaels

Embroidery Hoop (I like to use a 6″ or 7″) – Michaels or Walmart

Embroidery Needle – Jo-Ann or Michaels

Pilot Frixion Pen – Office DepotTarget or Walmart

Embroidery Floss – Jo-AnnMichaels or Walmart





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