A hand-made card is one of the sweetest (and most traditional) expressions of affection and love on Valentine's Day. We've taken inspiration from one of the biggest trends this season - ombre - and created a beautifully subtle gradient effect. The graphic heart shape also lends itself beautifully to this simple but effective hand-stitching. Read on for the step-by-step tutorial.
- Heavyweight paper, about 300gsm or cardstock.
- Utility knife.
- Thread in three to five colours. Select gradient shades from burgundy to tangerine.
- Thread cutter.
- Sewing needle.
- Sewing machine (optional).
Step 1: Cut the Cardstock
Choose your paper and colours. For this project I've used a deep red heavyweight paper for the card base and a much lighter shade in mint green for the top layer. Make sure your paper tone is lighter than your thread so that your design stands out. Cut one rectangular shape measuring 9cm x 13cm from the paper you are going to embroider, and another rectangular shape measuring 20cm x1 4cm from the base card.
Step 2: Draw a Heart
Draw a heart shape on heavyweight paper and cut it out. If you're not confident with drawing free-hand, download a heart shape and trace it. Use the heart pattern to draw the shape on your paper. This drawing will be the guide line for embroidering on the back side (wrong side) of your design.
Step 3: Thread the Needle
Pick the darkest colour of thread and thread the needle. Make a little knot at the end, including both ends. Use your needle to make a tiny hole at the bottom edge point of the heart. Feed the thread all the way through the hole. Pull very gently, to avoid your knot sliding through the other side. Hold your knot about 5mm away from the hole and secure it in place with some tape.
Step 4: Make the Base Stitches
The needle is now on the front side. Leave about 3mm and push your needle back through the paper. Make sure you are following the guide line. Then go to the left side of the heart, at the same height and push the needle through. Turn the paper to the front and push the needle through the previously used hole, on the opposite side.
Step 5: Start Stitching
The needle should now be on the back side and the thread coming through the left side of the guide line. Go to the right side of the heart and insert the needle about 3mm away from the previous stitch. Turn the paper and go through the previously used hole on the opposite side. Turn the paper again. The thread will be coming through the left side. Stay on this side, leave about 3mm and insert the needle through the card. Go to the front and push the needle through the previously used hole on the opposite side.
Step 6: Change Thread Colour
Once you have stitched about one third of the heart, you need to change the thread colour. Tie a tight knot and cut the excess thread. Use the next gradient of colour and thread the needle. Tie a knot at the end. Make sure you are working the wrong side of the paper. Put the needle through your last stitch and make a loop around the end knot. Put the needle in the loop and pull to make a knot.
Step 7: Repeat Step 5
Now you have secured your new thread, repeat step 5 until you have stitched two-thirds of the heart design. Change colour again to the lightest thread. Keep stitching until you reach the point where the two top curves of the heart meet.
Step 8: Stitch Top Sides Separately
Use the meeting point in the middle of the heart to divide the stitches on two sides. Stitch one side to the top of the heart and then use the same middle point hole to stitch the other side of the heart and finish it off. The wrong side of the card should look like this:
Step 9: Attach The Card
Fold the card base paper in half . Glue the embroidered paper on to the front of the card. Make sure you have centered your pieces.
Step 10: Finishing Touch
Use a sewing machine and straight stitch around the edge of your embroidered paper on to the card. Leave about 5mm allowance. You can also hand-stitch it and use any kind of decorative stitch you like. Tie the end and cut the excess thread. Your ombre Valentine's card is ready!
Are you going to make this card? Leave any questions or tips in the comments section below. And we'd love to hear about your own Valentine's Day projects!