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3 Ways to Embroider a Heart

3 Ways to Embroider a Heart main article image
Posted on February 10, 2023 by Sophie Timms

Valentine’s Day is as good as a time as any to embroider some hearts! If you need some inspiration for what to create for the occasion, be sure to check out my previous blog post, all about inspirational mood boards for Valentine’s embroidery projects!

In that blog post I shared some ideas for embroidery projects you could stitch, and one of them was to embroider some hearts using different colours and different stitches. I decided to give that project a go and bring you along with me for the ride!

These 3 simple hearts are the perfect little motifs to embroider for Valentine’s Day, and are also a super easy and accessible project, even if you’re a total newbie when it comes to hand embroidery. In this blog post we’ll walk through the process from start to finish so that you can create them for yourself.

So, let’s dive right in with 3 different ways to embroider a heart for Valentine’s Day.

What will you need?

Here’s the basic materials you’ll need to complete this project:

  • 4” embroidery hoop (but any size you have on hand will do!)
  • Embroidery fabric (100% cotton or linen is best!)
  • Embroidery thread (I choose to use DMC thread, but any type of embroidery floss will work just fine)
  • Embroidery needle (super sharp with a larger eye)
  • Pilot Frixion heat erasable pen (but a pencil works too if you don’t have one)

Draw the pattern onto fabric

There’s lots of ways to transfer patterns for embroidery, but for the purposes of this project, we just want to draw 3 hearts straight onto the fabric.

  1. First, put the fabric into your embroidery hoop, pulling the fabric taut and tightening the screw until the fabric is drum tight.
  2. Hand draw 3 hearts onto the fabric. If you don’t want to draw freehand, you can trace a heart shape or draw around a heart-shaped cookie cutter!
  • I use a Pilot Frixion pen because it is heat erasable. This means that if I don’t fully cover over the lines with the stitches, blasting it with the hairdryer will make them disappear! But, if you don’t have one, a pencil works just fine.

There are a whole host of different ways you can embroider a heart onto fabric, but here we’re going to cover 3 different ways. Firstly, a split stitch outline, secondly a backstitch outline, and lastly a satin stitch filled heart.

Split stitch outline

One way to embroider a heart is to stitch around the outline. A great stitch for embroidering the outlines is the split stitch, because it leaves a nice clean edge.

I used 2 strands of thread for this outline. Here’s an example of how to embroider the split stitch.

  1. Bring the needle up at some point along the line, and then back down one stitch away. This is the same start as the ordinary backstitch.
  2. Bring the needle up through the fabric another stitch length away, and rather than putting the needle back at the point of the previous stitch like the backstitch, instead put the needle in through the previous stitch, ‘splitting’ the stitch. This is why 2 strands of thread works great – it splits it evenly!
  3. Continue this same process until the entire heart outline has been filled.

    If you like, you can leave the heart there. However, to make things a bit more fun, you can fill it with ‘confetti’ by using the seed stitch.

The seed stitch is basically a disconnected backstitch. Simply bring the needle up through the fabric and back down a stitch length away and scatter these stitches randomly. You can use more than one colour like I have to make it look like sprinkles!

Backstitch outline

Another way to embroider a heart is to stitch around the outline with a backstitch. This is a basic stitch and can be used for lots of different purposes!

As with the first heart, I used 2 strands of DMC thread here.

  • Bring the needle up at some point along the line, and then back down one stitch away.
  • Repeat this process until the entire heart outline is complete. You might find it easier to do smaller stitches around the curves of the heart, so that it doesn’t look so boxy.

If you like, you can leave the heart like this, with a backstitch outline. However, you can also ‘whip’ it, which is a stitch called the ‘whipped backstitch’. By using a secondary colour of thread, this can give a candy cane effect!

  1. To do the whipped back stitch, bring the needle up through the fabric very close to one of the backstitches. Slip the needle underneath the stitch, without going through the fabric.
  2. Repeat this, making sure that you always go under the stitch in the same direction. This has the effect of winding this thread around the original stitches.

Here is what it will look like once finished!

Even though this looks cute on its own, I decided to fill it with some french knots too. Also using 2 strands of thread:

  1. Bring the needle up through the fabric where you want the knot to be.
  2. Wrap the thread around my needle twice
  3. Put the needle back down through the fabric at the same point you brought it up, and the knot stays in place.

I used a few different colours so that it looks like polka dots.

Fill with satin stitch

A final way to embroider a simple heart is to fill it in, like colouring with thread! The satin stitch is one of the best stitches to use for this.

You may want to mark out some lines to follow so that your stitches stay straight!

  1. Bring the needle up through the fabric along the line of where you want to fill. I usually start in the middle, and use this stitch as a reference point for the remainder of my stitches.
  2. Put the needle back through exactly opposite, creating a straight line.
  3. Continue this process until the shape is filled.

And, voila, you’re finished! 5 simple stitches for 3 simple hearts so that anybody could give it a try.

Inspiration for other projects

With modern embroidery, it is common to leave your finished embroidered project in the embroidery hoop, as above. However, there are lots of things you can do with your finished embroideries.

These hearts would look totally cute on a t-shirt or sweatshirt, or you could embroider them onto a canvas pouch, a tote bag, or even some napkins to decorate a Valentine’s Day table.

Be sure to check out The Artistry for more heart-themed Valentine’s Inspiration for your projects.


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