Hand-Embroidered Valentine Heart

on January 27 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 13 Comments

Anita LeHay from Daydreams of Quilts has a quick embroidery project for you to stitch in a quiet hour or two before Valentine’s Day! This is a good way to work on your embroidery, or to try out something new. Your stitched hearts can be framed, used as a focal-piece in a small drawstring bag or turned into a special Valentine card. You decide how to make it unique and special!

Anita is giving away some DMC floss and fabric at Daydreams of Quilts! Hop over and check it out, and learn more about Anita’s work in her introduction.

Looking for more free Valentine tutorials? Here are some of our favorite embroidery tutorials too.


I wanted to create a project that can be accomplished in an evening (or two) or an afternoon of sewing. Valentine’s Day often sneaks up on us. We can find ourselves short of time, but with a desire to create something special for our loved ones to mark the day. I thought little treat bags would be a useful project. You can also use this basic little heart design to create many different things.

Originally I was thinking of just having the big heart on a white drawstring bag but then I saw the Mustang Arrows from Melody Miller’s line for Cotton + Steel sitting on my cutting table from another project, and they reminded me of Cupid’s arrows. I sewed 3 ½” strips on the top and bottom edges of the embroidery piece and 1.75″ pieces (half a 3 ½” strip) on the sides. This makes the bag quite a bit bigger so it can hold more than chocolates and candies. A DVD and/or a book would fit in there nicely with the candy.

I made a basic lined drawstring bag using Cotton + Steel basics for the back of the bag, the lining and the drawstring channels. This large heart pattern, which is about 5 ½” wide, would also be lovely on pillow cases, tea towels, a zipper pouch or a number of different items. There are many bag tutorials available including some on Sew Mama Sew, like here and here.

What if you want to sew a really quick project? A gift for a teacher, perhaps? Or maybe you just came across this tutorial on February 13th? This little bag is really quick to make. Just chain stitch around a small heart, sew a back fabric onto it and stuff it with lavender for a pretty sachet. It could also be a cute little pin cushion. Or you could fill it with small chocolates and candies. You can have this one done in an evening. A tip for the small bag: Hem your top edges first before sewing the back and front of your bag together; it’s too small to fit around your feed dogs on your machine. These smaller hearts would also be lovely if you embroider several in a row to border an item such as a larger bag, a pillow case or even the hem of a little girl’s skirt.

I created a sort of an ombre background look on my embroidery by sewing French knots at the top in dark pink embroidery thread and then glass seed beads in a lighter pink in the middle area.

The PDF pattern for these projects is available here.

Here are some tutorial photos for creating the basic embroidery stitches in these projects.

To create the split stitch (which I used to outline the large heart) bring your thread up on your starting point. Take a small stitch and pull your thread trough to the back of the project. Come up slightly ahead of your first stitch and split your original stitch with your needle, pulling your thread to the back of the project again. Come up ahead of your second stitch and split your second stitch. Repeat this all the way around your heart. (Some people come up from the back of the work and split the stitch but I find this gives the same look and I spend less time trying to get my needle in the right position working blindly from the front.)

To create the scalloped edge around the large heart I used the scallop stitch or open lazy daisy stitch. Bring your needle up from the back at your starting point on the outside edge of your split stitches. Take it back down about the width of two split stitches over. Don’t pull the thread all the way through. Leave a loop on the top. Bring your needle up in the middle of your loop as far out from the straight stitches as you would like your scallops to be. Your needle is now inside your loop and catching it. Pull your needle all the way up from the back but don’t pull to tightly so you maintain the curve of the scallop. Then take a tiny stitch on the other side of your scallop and bring your needle back down to the back. This holds the loop of your scallop stitch in place. Come up again right beside where you went down to make the loop on your first scallop. Take your needle back down about two split stitch lengths over and come up again to catch your loop as you did on the first scallop. Take your tiny stitch over your loop to secure it and carry on all around your heart.

To embroider the chain stitch, which I used on the small heart, it is very similar to the scallops. Come up at your starting point. Take your needle back down at the same point where you came up. Leave a loop on the top of your work. Come up inside your loop a stitch ahead of where you first came up catching your loop with your needle. Pull your thread until your loop is tight around the thread (but don’t pull really tightly because you’ll distort your stitch). Then take your needle back down where you came up inside this first loop leaving your second loop on the top side. Come up inside your second loop catching it with your needle, pull your loop slightly taught around your thread and then go back down inside this second loop leaving your third loop on the top and so on.

To stitch the stem stitch for the stems of the flowers, come up where you are beginning your stem. Take a small stitch and pull your thread but leave a little loop at the top so you can see what you’re doing. Next bring your needle up just slightly to the side and in the middle of the first stitch. Then pull your thread (gently) all the way until taught.

Take another small stitch straight ahead of your first on your drawn stitch line. Leave a loop again so you can see your needle coming up and come up again slightly to the side of your stitch in the middle and go back down in front on your stitch line. Continue along your line. By coming up slightly to the side and then back down right in front this creates stitches that wrap around each other sort of like a candy cane.

To make your flower petals on your flowers use the lazy daisy stitch. Come up at the bottom of your petal right next to the end of your flower stem. Create a loop and go back down where you first came up. Come up again inside the loop, pull your loop taught around your thread and take a tiny stitch over your loop and down again to hold your loop in place. Continue making as many petals as you want on your flower. I usually make three and go back in and fill in the spaces in between with two more to make five.

To make your French knots come up with your needle where you want your knot to be. Catch your thread in your pinkie of your hand that’s holding the needle to hold the thread taught. Wrap your needle around your thread three times. (This actually wraps the thread around the needle but it’s easier to move the needle around the thread than the other way around.) Draw your thread wraps down to the bottom of your needle and hold tight with your thumb on your other hand. Push your needle to the back and carefully pull your thread through your knot until you are happy with it. Come up at your next knot being careful not to pull to hard on your thread because you could pull your first knot through by accident. French knots are tricky. If you find you don’t like them you could use seed beads instead. Or use a polka dot print like I did on the smaller project and skip the French knots.

I hope this is clear. If not, I made a little YouTube video with my husband filming me on our tablet.


For these projects I used DMC embroidery floss in the following colors: 999-red, 700-green, 956-pink, 993-turquoise and 550-purple. I am having a little giveaway on my blog of these flosses and some white fabric to stitch on if you’d like to head over and enter. I hope you make lots of fun things with this tutorial. Please tag me @daydreamsofquilts on Instagram so I can see!

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13 Responses to Hand-Embroidered Valentine Heart

  1. Nakisha says:

    this is absolutely darling. Love love it

  2. Mia says:

    Great Valentine’s bags for gifts. Thank you for the tutorial.

  3. iola says:

    thanks for your tutorial it seems very easy

  4. Lori Morton says:

    Thank you for sharing this Tutorial with us!! Awesome job! Am pretty much a beginner…and this is so helpful! Ohio Hugs! 🙂

  5. Barbara W says:

    Love it. So pretty

  6. Doris says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful hand embroidered project for Valentine’s Day. The photos and the video tutorial are great. I do a lot of machine embroidery projects but I have a lot of interest in learning more about hand embroidery. I will have to give it a try. Thanks again !

  7. Anita says:

    You’re welcome Lynn. Winter evenings are the best time for embroidery projects. It just adds to the coziness. 🙂

  8. Anita says:

    Thank you Cassie. I am so happy I could help. 🙂

  9. Anita says:

    You’re very welcome! So glad you liked it. 🙂

  10. Hannah says:

    What a lovely project! The designs are really sweet x

  11. Lynn says:

    Anita is a fine teacher. I really appreciated the diagrams, suggestions for a variety of ways to use the heart motif theme and found the video tutorial really helpful. Thanks Anita, and thanks Sew Mama Sew!

  12. Cassie says:

    O my gosh! You’re method of split stitch may change my life lol. I never thought to do it like a back stitch. I am working on a very ornate border with split stitch (six months in and only a third done ugh) and am finding it to be very slow going with the come through the back method. This may make my work much faster! Thank you!

  13. Lynn says:

    Thanks for your lovely, easy tutorial! I really just needed a fun project during the winter evenings. You gave me great inspiration for something quick but adorable for Valentine’s!

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