How to Make a DIY Newborn Shadow Box

Display that special newborn going home outfit in a shadow box! This easy tutorial shows a step-by-step DIY process of how to frame baby clothes and make a special keepsake.

pink newborn baby dress framed in a shadow box on a wall.

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If I can do something myself (and actually do it well), I'm not going to pay somebody else to do it. That comes as no surprise to anybody who has read this blog for any measure of time. It's just one of my things.

I love taking on DIY projects. Yes, I have fails just like anybody else. But, there's something so rewarding about learning how to do something & creating projects with that knowledge that you can treasure for years to come. Today's DIY is no exception!

close up corner of a shadow box with a baby outfit.

I've always wanted to somehow display my kids' going home outfits from when they were teeny tiny newborns coming home from the hospital.

newborn baby in a pink dress on a bed.
newborn in a blue outfit.

These pieces are incredibly special to our family. My daughter's going home dress was my going home outfit (and she used my husband's going home blanket). My son's outfit was my husband's going home outfit (and he used my going home blanket).

I have had this idea of a baby shadow box to display the outfits in the back of my head for years. For some reason, I just couldn't get together exactly how to do it. One day, I stumbled on a random blog post that had the inspiration for this project. I modified from there to fit exactly what I needed!

I loved the simple look that really lets the outfit stand out (instead of the framing). Plus, it didn't hurt that I was able to make each of these frames for under $20 each.

blue baby outfit framed in a shadow box.

I had a few requests to document this project when I showed it in my Instagram stories. So sorry, for the most part the picture quality of the step-by-step tutorial isn't awesome – I really just shot it on my iPhone for Instagram.

Ready to display those baby clothes in a beautiful way? Let's get to it!

How to Make a DIY Newborn Shadow Box

supplies for a framed baby outfit laid out on a floor.

Project Supplies


  • Keepsake items
  • A sheet of 32×40″ acid-free foam board – I used 3/16″ thickness (available at Hobby Lobby – watch for half off sales)
  • One yard of background fabric of choice
  • One 16×20″ shadow box frame (again, Hobby Lobby – a half off sale is a must for this! At minimum, use a 40% off coupon to save lots…no need to pay full price.) Note: 16×20″ was perfect for our newborn outfits, but I recommend laying out your outfit before purchasing a frame to make sure it will fit.
  • Small pack of medium-loft quilt batting (Hobby Lobby – I found a pack that was only $1.99 on sale)
  • Dressmaker Straight Pins
  • Quilting Ruler (optional, but helps a lot)
  • Duct Tape
  • Box Cutter/Scissors

Step 1: Cut Foam Board

tracing outline of a frame onto fabric with a pen.

First, take the paper insert out of the new shadow box to use as a cutting guide for the foam board. Use your quilting ruler to ensure straight lines and 90 degree angles.

Trace around the paper insert. Cut out that piece of foam board with the box cutter just inside those lines (less than 1/4″ inch).

rectangular piece of cloth on a floor.

The edges don't have to be perfect – they'll be covered up! But you need to make sure the cuts are as close to the inside of the insert as possible. This will give you extra room in the frame for the batting and fabric.

Step 2: Cut and Secure Quilt Batting

batting laid on a floor.

Add 4″ (2″ around all sides) to the length and width of your newly cut piece of board and cut a piece of quilt batting to these specifications.

fabric duct taped onto a frame.
fabric duct taped onto a frame.

Wrap the batting around the back of the foam board and duct tape it pretty tightly. Do this on all 4 sides. (Remember, nobody will see the back.)

Step 3: Cut and Secure Fabric

brown fabric laid out under the back of a frame.

Cut fabric to the same specifications as the quilt batting (2″ around all sides of the foam board).

brown cloth wrapping the back piece of a shadow box.

Repeat the process of duct taping tightly around all sides. At this point, put your board in the frame to make sure it fits before pinning your outfit in place.

Step 4: Position and Pin Newborn Outfit

baby dress laid on a piece of brown cloth to be framed.

Now, lay out your outfit. Take time doing this – it's important you get the position correct!

pushing a pin into fabric.

If needed, carefully lift up all pieces of the outfit except for the bottom layer. Make sure you don't throw off the positioning you just set. Use straight pins to tack the bottom layer in place (in my case, the blanket). I put pins every 2-3″, hiding them behind smaller pieces of fabric if possible.

Carefully replace each layer and pin in place. With clothing, it's easy to hide the pins by pinning inside sleeves or necklines. A few times, I held the foam board up while pinning to ensure that the pins were holding everything in place when the outfit was vertical.

Step 5: Put Pinned Outfit Board in Shadow Box

framed pink baby outfit on a couch.

Then, simply put the foam board into the back of the frame! You won't need the original backer for the frame with the foam board. You should have a pretty snug fit without it.

Final Result

looking up on a pink baby dress hanging on a pink wall in a shadow box.

I did this same thing for both kids' going home outfits. They now hang in their bedrooms (and if I have it my way, will forever – check back in 10 years to see if I'm still winning 😉).

These make me smile every time I walk in the kids' rooms. They are so special and are an absolute perfect way to display any kind of baby clothes, not only going home outfits.

Additional Items to Add to Newborn Shadow Box

Make this DIY shadow box your own! A few ideas for additional items to add…

  • Handprints/Footprints
  • Hospital ID Bracelet
  • Ultrasound Picture
  • Socks or Mittens
  • Birth Announcement
  • Cradle Hospital ID Card
  • Special Picture
  • Cute Onesie

If you're adding something that can't be pinned, try using scrapbook glue dots or mounting squares to secure items in place in your shadow box. Just make sure they won't damage anything you're gluing.

FAQs

I recommend using acid-free foam board as a backer for your newborn shadow box. This helps ensure that any clothing won’t be damaged. Simply cut the foam board to the size of your backer and wrap in quilt batting and fabric, duct taping to secure.

The possibilities are endless! For my newborn shadow box, I chose to just display my kids’ going home outfits. You can also put handprints, ultrasound pictures, hospital bracelets – any special memento of your baby’s newborn stage. 

For this project, no, I wouldn’t recommend a standard frame. You want to give the items in your shadow box lots of room to groove without being crushed by glass.

I hope you love this DIY as much as I did!

xo, Leslie - signature at the end of blog post.

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One Comment

  1. sophie|baby shower gifts says:

    outfit sooo pretty.. .very informative post..I’m so very thankful for finding your blog.. its really helpful..