Family Tree Wreath Tutorial & Free Printable Vintage Photo Frames

If you're lucky enough to have a collection of old family photos, where do you keep them?  Have your photographic family treasures been secreted away to a chest, drawer or box?  If so, here's a way to bring them out in to the light of day for current generations to appreciate and enjoy...

These are all reproductions
...While designing the Family Tree Wreath I developed a simple way to make reproductions of vintage photo mattes that when paired with a photocopy of your family photos, creates a quality replica with which you can craft, create, and not fear the consequences of damaging an irreplaceable family heirloom. Just follow the links in the tutorial to download the vintage reproduction photo matte printables for FREE!


Canvas Drop Cloth
Freezer Paper
Leaf Template (download HERE, or freehand your own)
Fabric shears
Craft wire (approx. 22 gauge)
Sewing machine with black thread
Tacky Glue
Wreath form (mine came from the Dollar Tree)
Vintage Reproduction Photo Mattes (Download here:  Sheet 1, Sheet 2, Sheet 3)
3 pieces of 8.5"x11 heavy cardboard or chipboard
Spray adhesive (I used Elmer's Craft Bond)
Scanned images of family photos
X-acto Knife & cutting mat
Distress Ink (antique linen)
Glue Gun
Scotch tape or Glue stick

Step 1:  Create printable fabric sheets by ironing a sheet of freezer paper to your drop cloth (iron on "dry" setting, dull side of freezer paper facing up).  Once paper has fused to fabric, use a piece of copy paper to trace an 8.5"x11 rectangle on the dull side of the paper.  Trim along the traced lines with scissors.  You can now insert this fabric-paper in to your printer.

Step 2:  Download the Leaf Template or create your own.  Inside each leaf, print a family name from your heritage.  I included both the names of my ancestors and those of my husband in this wreath (I used the font "Beautiful ES").  I also searched the internet for family crests and symbols to include on some of the leaves.  

Step 3:  Print out your leaves on the printable fabric.  Remove paper backing, then cut out each leaf with fabric shears.  You will need to print as many blank leaves as you did printed ones, as each leaf consists of two pieces.  I recommend making approx. 20 leaves (requiring a total of approx. 40 pieces).  

Step 4:  Cut enough 6" pieces of wire so that you have enough wire "stems" for each complete leaf.  Run a strip of tacky glue down the center of one blank leaf.  Put wire in place.  Cover with a printed leaf.  This will help hold all the pieces together while you sew. 

Step 5:  Using black thread and a zigzag stitch, sew around the leaves.

Step 6:  Wire the leaves in to place on the wreath form (sorry, not pictured below).

Step 7:  Cut canvas drop cloth in to 4 strips (approx. 15' x 4").  Wash in warm water, then toss in the dryer.  Here's a before & after shot:

Step 8:  Wrap the frayed canvas strips around the wreath form.  Slightly overlap each end to hold the loose ends in place (you can later secure these with hot glue).  Wrapping after the leaves have been wired to the form will help hold the leaves firmly in place.

Step 9:  Prepare the vintage reproduction photos by printing Sheet 1, Sheet 2, and Sheet 3 on plain copier paper.  Spray an 8.5"x11" piece of heavy cardboard/chipboard  with adhesive and gently lay one of the copies on top, being sure to work out any air bubbles.  Repeat with remaining copies.

Step 10:  Using scissors or an X-acto knife, cut out the frames.  On a cutting mat, use the X-acto knife to cut the centers from the frames.

Step 11:  Antique the edges & corners of the frames by pressing and dabbing along the Distress Ink pad.   To antique the inside edges of the frame, dab your finger on the ink pad, then run along the inside edges of the frames.  

Step 12:  Decide which family photos you'd like to see in which frames.  Scan and resize (if necessary).  Then print and cut out.  Use Scotch tape or a glue stick to adhere photos to the frames.

Step 13:  Set matted photos in place, without glue, until you've achieved the desired layout.  When satisfied with your design, hot glue the photos in place.

Step 14:  Because the leaves are wired, you can bend and twist them to give them more character and dimension.


  1. This is such a wonderful project Jenn and a fantastic way to display family photos.

  2. Jenn, this is beautiful. What a lovely way to honor your family. Thank you for the printable frames as're a genius (and a generous one!). Have a great week, my dear!

  3. Hi, Jenn! Nice to meet you! :D This is a great idea! ;)

    Hope you're having a fun week!


  4. This is just so special and so very pretty. What a keepsake and gorgeous way to display family photos. I really love this. And a free DL as an extra bonus? You are just awesome.

  5. Such a great idea-what a great take on the "family tree". I wish I had some really cool old family photos.

  6. This is fantastic, Jenn! Such a unique twist on a family tree. I love it!

  7. What a fantastic idea!!!! It looks wonderful - love it!

  8. Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, under the Page 3 post on Oct. 06, 2011. Thanks again.

  9. i love this so much jenn! thank you!

  10. Jenn this is amazing! Wow! What a great gift for my mother next Mother's Day. Glad it is next year because it might take me that long to organize photos etc. Your tutorial was awesome. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  11. I thought this was so great-I featured it! Please come grab a button and link up antoher great project.

  12. This is fabulous! I might have to try it as a gift for my mom! Thanks for sharing!

  13. I love this, and I think my mom will too. She has done several books of her geneaology.

  14. That is such a sweet idea! We have tonnes of ancient carte de visites of people beyond living memory, a project like this would be an awesome way to use them! Bookmarking this for future reference! :D

  15. Oh my gosh this is so cool! I just came over from Dollar Store Crafts & I love it! Pinning to Pinterest right now :)

  16. OK, I am right in the middle of reproducing this awesomely cool project and I am looking for pointers on how to cut out the middle of your round frames. Any suggestions??? I keep messing it up. Help! Thanks!

  17. Hi Liz, I'm delighted that you've been inspired to make a family heritage wreath of your own.

    To answer your question, I found that the easiest way to cut the centers from the frames was to use a new blade on an X-acto knife. It makes really clean cuts and made it easy to pop the centers out.

    Hope this helps!

  18. I made this for my mom for Christmas, but was wondering how you hung yours on the wall? Did you attach something to the wreath to help you hang it? THANKS!

  19. Getting ready to undertake this project for my grandparents...are the four strips of canvas to be washed really supposed to be 15 feet by 4 inches, or 15 inches by 4 inches?

  20. Hi Jen, to answer your question about hanging the wreath, I threaded a small piece of ribbon under the cloth and through the grapevine to create a little loop that can be slipped on to a nail or wreath hook.

  21. Hi MSICHANA, the canvas strips should be 15 feet long by 4 inches. They shrink up considerably in the wash, and you need a fair amount of it to wind around the wreath. Hope this helps.


  22. I so love this and I am pinning so I can find it again. You would not believe the photos I have that need to be out and I love this idea...thank you....

  23. I love this idea!! It is such a fun and cute way to display some wonderful heritage photos! I'd love to do it... I tried to download the pages, but scribd wouldn't let me download them for free, it said I had to be a paying member. Any thoughts? Can I get them some other way?

    Thanks so much!

  24. This is my favorite "family tree" ever! Such talent :) Thank you for sharing your creativity with us. I will be creating this for my mom who is a genealogy queen!

  25. Hi,
    I was a little confused about printing the leaves. After you put the freezer paper on the fabric by ironing I didn't understand what you were doing with the piece of copy paper?

    1. Hi Nancy, great question! So, the copy paper is used as a template to cut out an 8.5" x 11 sheet of freezer paper. Once fused to the fabric and trimmed, you should have a semi rigid piece of printable fabric. After printing on the fabric, the freezer paper can be removed. Its only purpose is to make the fabric rigid for printing. I hope this helps! Jenn


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