My eldest Rosa has always loved hearts. In her first year of school, she told me seriously, “I love hearts. I just love everything to do with love, Mummy.” So I decided to make her a garland made from felt hearts, to hang on her bed. And of course having decided this, I knew I would need to make one for India as well.
In true real-life style, the period between having this idea, and actually hanging the garland up on the girls’ bunk beds was just over one year. A month or two to get to Hobbycraft to buy some felt and buttons, then six months whilst the supplies hung around in a carrier bag, and then six more months having my conscience tormented by a series of half-made felt hearts swilling around in said bag.. Is this the way of all craft projects, I wonder? Anyway. After such a long and carrier-bag dominated gestation, the much-anticipated garlands are now hanging proudly on the girls’ beds, where they look so splendid that all is forgotten.
Since I made this one up entirely out of my head, I realised I should create a tutorial. And I did! It’s here! Here is how to make your very own felt heart garland.
- Felt, of at least three different colours. I used five.
- Embroidery threads, of around four different colours. Or more. Go crazy.
- Buttons, in a range of different sizes and colours to go with your felt.
- Cotton (not pictured. This is used to sew the hearts together and is not visible.)
- Ribbon (not pictured. You will secure ribbon on each end of the garland so you can tie it up.
- A needle large enough to take embroidery thread.
- A normal needle for normal cotton.
Essentially, your garland is made from several separate felt hearts, each of which is made from three felt hearts sewn together with different stitches. Confused? All will become clear. Start by making the main body of your first heart. Cut out a heart, whatever size you would like your finished hearts to be. (I went for a range of different sizes, in random colours, because that my friends is just the way I roll. But if you like to plan, and you want to pre-plan colours and sizes of hearts in your garland then this would be the time to do it.) You don’t need me to tell you that the way to cut out a heart is to fold the felt in half, and cut out half a heart, do you? Well, that is what you do. Once you have opened it up, eyeballed it, trimmed it a little, and it’s looking right, get another colour of felt. Using your first felt heart as a template, cut out another in a different colour but exactly the right size. There.
Now you need to cut out yet another felt heart, in a different colour. This is the mini heart that will sit in the middle. I cut these out by eye, adjusting the size slightly depending on how my mini heart looked. I found through trial and error that I preferred putting the little heart not exactly in the middle of the larger base heart, but very slightly higher up.
Next, sew your mini heart into position with embroidery thread, using a simple running stitch. Keep your stitches a reasonably even size, but don’t stress too much, as a little bit of hand-made haphazardry is what will give the whole heart its rustic charm. Make sure you stitch your mini heart onto only the front big heart. In the picture above that would mean sewing the little turquoise heart onto the larger purple heart, and not at all onto the biggest turquoise one. This means the wrong side of your stitches will eventually be encased inside the heart and will be invisible. (Learn from my mistake, and do not try to sew on your mini heart at the end. Just take it from me that this is a bad idea.) Once you have sewn around the edge of your mini heart you can sew on the button embellishment. You will need to find a button that is the right size to look good against your hearts, but also one that your needle will fit through. Good luck. I found this search very frustrating.
Now you can start your blanket stitch around the outside! This is the best bit. If you are a bit blah about your hearts, and not quite ‘feeling it’ about the whole project, this is where it all literally and figuratively comes together. The first stitch in blanket stitch is one stitch in the same spot, as above.
Once you’ve done that, go through that first stitch with your needle. This stops your first blanket stitch from being an ugly diagonal that would ruin the look of your heart. Once you’ve pulled the thread through that first stitch, you are away. Just keep pushing your needle through the two hearts from back to front, and each time as you pull the thread tight, pull your needle through the loop of embroidery thread just before you pull it right against the felt.
There is a lovely rhythm to it. It stitches up quickly, and just like the running stitches you can keep an eye on your stitch spacing and your stitch length, but don’t go crazy over it. This is a homemade gift with love, not something that should look like it’s been made by a machine.
I photographed this bit from the top so that you can see the pretty kind of ‘ridge’ that the blanket stitch makes. It gives the whole heart a finished feel. I do find I have to tug each stitch into place very slightly – just to make sure that the top edge is visible from the front.
Here’s one finished. Sit back for a moment and admire your work! Then remember that if you want to have a garland, you are going to need to make a few more. I was making two garlands, so I needed to make lots more…
So once you have all your hearts done (I used 6 per garland), you can start sewing them together. Just stitch them together at the sides, using some plain old normal cotton. Put the two hearts you want to attach right sides together, and sew a few stitches on the backs of the hearts at the point where you want them to be attached.
Once they are all together in a string, you can attach a piece of ribbon (say around 25 cm) to each end. And you are done!
You can just about see here that I attached my garland to my daughter’s bunk bed shelf using little Command hooks. The tiny little clear ones that appear to have been designed specifically in order to hold beautiful things and decorative items. Mine have been pressed into service to hold heart garlands, tissue paper pom poms, and fairy lights so far.
And there you have it. Just in time for Valentine’s day. Or, if your crafty-timing is anything like mine, just in time for Valentine’s day next year. But let’s be honest, I think Rosa has a point with her obsession with hearts. So pretty! And rendered in felt with buttons, they become even more pretty. Surely these would look lovely at any time of year.
I hope you liked the tutorial. Please do drop me a line if you make one! I would love to see it.