Queen of Hearts

(I have edited this with some additional tips for success when making hearts-best wishes if you use these directions to make a heart!)

I’m the Queen of Hearts this weekend, making up all my heart shaped stitches for February. I dug through my finishes to come up with 6 hearts that wanted finishing, and since I find hearts to be quite difficult I just set out to do them all at once. I guess I’m hoping they will become easier, and anyway, want to get them all out of the way so I stop feeling guilty about them and can enjoy them!

On Saturday I got 2 assembled: Token of Love is a little pillow and was sewn on my machine. Sewn twice actually as I left too big a margin the first time and it didn’t look super. The second time turned out better with the seam in tighter around the stitching. It is still lumpy but the trim should cover the flaws well enough. It is stuffed with fabric scraps. I love what a firm, heavy weight that gives to a cushion like this, plus I am happy to know not one scrap of linen goes to waste. On the right, Louise from Atalie is put together, also needing trim. I’m using the same method on the rest of the hearts. (This method came with the directions for finishing a heart in my Atalie chart. But it was in French. Good thing I can read French! ) Here’s how I did it.

Start with making the forms out of mat board. (I traced about 1/4-1/2″ outside my stitching on a piece of tracing paper. Then I transferred that to the mat board. Mat board is hard to cut with scissors so I use these craft snips). It helps a lot of sand the edges to make them smooth. See? The one on the left is sanded, but not the one on the right. A few minutes of sanding makes a huge difference in how smoothly you can get the fabric to lay around the edges. (Sand the points off straight off the edge, which will leave a burr poking up. Then sand against that burr from the inside of the form to the edge to get rid of it altogether).

I put 3-4 layers of batting on the heart form, then pin the fabric in place sticking the pins right into the form. (I use the mat board and trace right on the batting with a marker. It is all inside but I used a pink Sharpie so no black might show through the light linen just in case. I used a combo of poly batting and Warm and Natural cotton batting. Poly batting is puffier but I prefer Warm and Natural on top to give a very smooth layer right under the stitching. Use as much batting as you need to make the heart as puffy as you like).

The pinning method works well although it is tedious. (At this point be very careful and precise to center your design. It is hard to stick pins into mat board so they kind of go all wonky, not neat like when you pin foam board for framing. It is ok if the pins aren’t straight but they need to hold you stitching securely for the rest of work so get them in tight. Round head pins are easier on your fingers but I didn’t get mine out from the bottom of my sewing basket. Use cheaper pins because they’ll probably get gluey.)

It helps to have a cute little person to hand you your pins. (My helper is my youngest, Natalie! She is 3!)

Then trim and clip, and glue down the edges. (You could trim before pinning but it’s just as well to wait so your border is even all the way around after you’ve centered your design. I left about 3/4″ fabric margin around the heart form. Then I snipped about every 1/2″-3/4″ inch. Be careful not to cut too deep. You don’t need to cut right up to the form. In fact don’t cut right up to the board. The clipping is just to help ease the fabric around the form. When I glued the tabs down, I started at the bottom point kind of folding the fabric over like then you’re putting sheets on a bed(?) and worked up the sides back and forth till I got to the center dip. The tabs overlap each other, and more so the more the form is curved. You will probably need more glue on the overlaps than just what you put on the form. Also check the design on the front periodically before it is too late to make adjustments! I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue. That worked great. But in this step the glue seeps right through the fabric so your fingers WILL get gluey and probably your pins too. Be careful not to touch the front of your work. Some fabrics grabbed better than others. I kind of had to stretch and pull on each tab and then hold it in place a bit so it would set and to get it stretched tight. This is why you want mat board (I’m talking about picture framing mat board-Jo Ann’s sells mat board scraps cheaply, maybe $2 a piece). Because if you pull tight against a thinner board you will warp the board. I have tried thinner board on some similarly constructed circle ornaments. It didn’t work very well. If you happen to have the perfect size wooden heart form like the wood blanks sold at some craft stores, that would work awesome but your ornament will be a lot heavier. When you get to the top, your clip does need to be almost to the form because otherwise the fabric won’t fold over. If a few stray threads of linen pop up, glue them down one by one).

Here you can see the sausage being made so to speak. It’s pretty messy. The key is not to let the glue that inevitably gets on your fingers get on a part that shows. (Now look below. The red fabric is real cotton velvet. It was shedding and fraying all over the place. It was also very resistant to being pulled into place. I didn’t stress! Just kept pulling it and pressing it down into the glue, easing out any bumps caused by it being thicker fabric. It held eventually).

The point at the top of the heart is nigh impossible. If you cut in too deep the fabric frays and the clip shows. Not deep enough and the heart doesn’t get a pointy valley between the lobes. How on earth do you do this? I can’t find any help online. So I am fudging it. It looks ok, but trim will help. (I decided to just be satisfied with a rounded valley and not risk too deep a clip. Trim will cover up and if you put a bow on the top too, for sure no one will see it anyway. )

You have to do all the steps twice for each heart so there is a front and back. That was a lot of heart forms to cut out and now I need to buy more mat board. Then at last you glue the fronts and backs together and let it dry under a pile of books. (It also occurred to me later that you could place a lace edge or rick rack between the layers for a trim at the time you are gluing the sides together. Or if your finish is perfect you could forget the trim and add your hanger at this point too.) I chose cookbooks as they were the heaviest books handy. (I love those little quilt clips but the problem with them for this project is they leave little poke marks in the linen.)

The last step is trim and a hanger if you want it! I see a lot of cording in my immediate future. (I hope you found this tutorial helpful! I didn’t really set out to write a tutorial but I guess I did! I can’t take full credit at this is basically the method from my Atalie Louise pattern! So thank you, Atalie!)

You will see these again, all trimmed up and pretty on the 10th for the Fully Finished Object Gallery. See you then!

16 thoughts on “Queen of Hearts

  1. This is a brilliant way to form a heart. I tried sewing them on the machine and made a huge mess of it, its near impossible to get a smooth edge. I am going to try and rescue my heart using this method. Thank you so much for your great explanation and photos. I love your hearts!!!

    1. I was so excited to see this heart finish I forgot to comment on your adorable little helper!! She is precious!!!

    2. Thank you! Good luck with your heart! I hope you can fix it to your liking! My first sewing machine hearts were an utter disaster. At least they were “prim” style so I can make their lopsidedness part of the “prim” look!

  2. Well, first of all your little assistant is cute as a button–can I borrow her?! Having never attempted a heart shaped finish, I truly appreciate your little tutorial, Mary. Thank you! Maybe one of these days I will get up my nerve and try one.

    Your hearts are so very pretty–hope you have a wonderful February! ♥

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this, I often wonder how other stitchers finish things, especially awkward shapes like hearts. I don’t think mine will ever be as neat, especially as I don’t have a cute helper like Natalie.

  3. That was a great unintentional tutorial! I’ve never tried a heart shape ornie either.
    I’ve also never used glue near my stitching, I tend to favour double sided tape but I don’t think it would work for a heart shape.

    1. Double stick tape might work! I also was originally very against glue on embroidery. But a finisher at a shop told me she uses glue on trim! I couldn’t believe it! And then a designer I met also talked about gluing on trim! And I took a class where glue was recommended! And the Atalie directions called for glue! I guess the main thing that changed my thinking, along with all these endorsements, is a little thing like an ornament has one particular use-to be an ornament. I would never glue a sampler or framed piece. But an ornament I figure is never going to be taken apart to be anything else, it will probably not be conserved as precious beyond the lifespan of the glue if it even goes beyond my lifespan! And I use the Aleene’s Tacky Glue because it is supposed to be ok for being acid free etc. I recently discovered book binding glue. Now that might be a good choice as I bet the standard for glues is even higher for people who do book repair.

  4. Thank you for the tutorial, Mary. I haven’t tried this method of finishing hearts. I love them but I’m not very good at finishing them. I tend to end up with with rounded dip at the top.
    You have a lovely looking helper.

  5. Natalie is beyond precious! I have finished quite a few hearts and have never been satisfied with them! It IS frustrating.

  6. The tutorial was very useful, thank-you! I’ve never finished anything in a heart shape but can appreciate how fiddly it all is. Your finishes all look wonderful, but I’m looking forward to seeing them all trimmed and even prettier! 🙂

  7. I love your hearts, and your helper of course! I don’t think I could manage the assembly though – I can’t be trusted with glue. Well done!

  8. Thanks for the tips Mary! They can see how they will very helpful.
    Special thanks to the lovely assistant also, I am sure she helped made the process much easier.

  9. They all look fabulous and thanks for a great tutorial on putting them together.
    I wish I had a helper like yours, she’s a sweetie!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *