Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How to make a heart

It's so long since I posted, I thought I had better make up for it somehow...
So I'm posting a tute on how you can make a little brooch just like this one.

       - fabric at least 18cm wide by 10cm (depends on the weight of your fabric and how many shapes you have to cut - refer below)
       - embroidery thread
       - dressmaker's pencil or carbon paper
       - fibrefill stuffing
       - needle and pins
       - scissors

1. If you are using average dress-weight fabric, cut five heart shapes 5.5cm high x 5.5cm wide (refer cutting diagram below, or I used a biscuit cutter to trace around). For very lightweight fabrics, you may need to use more layers to provide some substance to your brooch. If your brooch is too soft, it may lose its shape more rapidly over time.
(Click on this to get the printable full-size image at 150px/inch - the blue should measure 18cm x 10cm...
... I hope! let me know if it's not working)

2. Carefully pin three of the fabric shapes together, ensuring they align as closely as possible.

3. Using thread to match your fabric (not necessarily embroidery thread; I use normal sewing thread), stitch the entire perimeter of these three layers using a simple running stitch, at least 6mm from the edge. You may need to make this margin bigger, depending on how easily your fabric frays.
(You can judge this by cutting a circle of cloth about 5cm diameter and gliding the fabric through thumb and forefinger with a gentle grip. Most woven fabric will fray a little, but usually will not fray beyond a few threads. Check both warp AND weft (longways and sideways), as these can vary in tightness of weave and fibre composition.)
 4. Using a dressmaker's pencil, or dressmaker's carbon, transfer your embroidery design to the WRONG side (i.e. what will be the inside) of your fabric brooch. I use this technique so that there is never a trace of pencil peeking out from under your embroidery .... I find it doesn't brush off some fabrics so very well. This way, you use it as a guide, rather than something that needs to be covered.
(Click on this to get the printable full-size image at 150px/inch - the heart should measure 5.5cm x 5.5cm)

You can print the guide above and use carbon to transfer it to fabric; however, I like to draw my designs by hand, in pencil. I feel the natural variations that come with this method enhance the hand-made, warm qualities of the piece.

5. Using a double strand of gold embroidery thread, and a simple backstitch, work your design, using the drawing on the back as a guide.

6. Place the other two layers together with your embroidered section, and pin securely.

7. Using thread to match your fabric, insert needle through one of the middle layers, coming out the back of your piece. Stitch with running stitch through most of the layers, being careful not to catch through to the front, and stopping when there is about a 25mm gap along one edge of the brooch.

 8. Insert a small amount of fibrefill to softly pad your brooch, then continue stitching to close the piece, finishing your sewing on one of the middle layers.

9.  Finish your brooch by attaching a brooch pin to the back - I make my own sterling silver ones, but you can buy pre-made base metal ones from a large craft store or jewellery supplies shop. The roof (hook part) of the catch should be upper-most so that the pointy end of the pin has less chance of inadvertently coming undone; and as a general rule, the brooch pin should be attached about one-third from the top of the brooch. That way there is enough weight in the bottom of the brooch for it to sit properly when worn on clothing (unless it is particularly top-heavy).

Wear it well.

If you've got any questions, problems, or comments I would love some feedback on this (my first!) tutorial....I'm planning some more in the future, so anything/everything is helpful.


  1. Thank you for this tutorial!
    Now to get one of those pencils :D

  2. Great tutorial and very inspirational.
    thanks so much for sharing : )

  3. Very sweet:) I'm definitely going to make a few in the coming days. Thanks!

  4. I love this--thanks for the tutorial.

    Recently, I went to a neighborhood garage sale. Across the street, a woman in her 80s had set out a small table with just a few items on it. She was selling some red and white fabric for $2, which I bought.

    We got to talking, and she told me she had been in work camps in Russia when she was a child. She was able to leave, but left her sister behind. She was selling the fabric to raise money to send to her sister who still lived in Russia. I also learned that her husband was in the choir at the church I went to as a child. He was always a featured singer. She shared with me that he was dying from cancer.

    I think your brooch would be lovely to make as a small gift to her. Thanks again for the idea.

  5. Gracie's Eggies - wow! what a beautiful thing to do... thank you so much for sharing your story with me.
    tractorgirl x

  6. What a wonderful tutorial - your attention to detail will make this easy to do! I just followed your blog. Have recently updated our blog (nothing as neat as yours):



  7. This is just beautiful! Thank you so much for posting it, it makes me want to get out my needle and thread (which doesn't happen often!)
    The instructions great and the photos are superb!

  8. Hi Julie....Great tutorial...and a beautiful brooch! Thanks for stopping by our blog and following along!

  9. Dear Tractor Girl, thanks for posting - I did miss your posts : ) And wow what a beautiful sacred heart - I will look forward to having a go. Welcome back, and tks for popping over to visit my blog - glad you love the patterns an patterns.

  10. Thnaks for sharing the pattern - the brooch looks wonderful against the white blouse, too.


    well, you might like this one!
    scroll down a bit, and you ll be able to find
    THE HEARTS! ;)