So, here we are, February already and Valentine’s day literally just around the corner. Every year I struggle to be organised with this day and this year is no exception.
As you know, September to Christmas is my absolutely manic time of year and from January until at the very least the end of February I am still dealing with the aftermath of that frantic time. I have only just found a permanent home for my 4 very large boxes of Christmas Decorations which has caused bedlam – nothing new there then! We also launched full-scale into loads of work on the house the very minute all our guests went home but that is another story and a whole load more blog posts.
During last season’s events, I was approached by no less than 3 lovely WI ladies who run groups locally. I was so flattered to be asked to go and talk about myself (really it’s true!) and my creative life and perhaps do a demonstration. My first one was on Wednesday and I thought as Valentine’s day is almost upon us, and I create a lot of heart products, it would be rather lovely to do a tutorial for a pretty Patchwork Heart Valentine Card. The fabulous thing about this is, that it would look even better on fabric or even on a canvas and the process is exactly the same. What a lovely birthday gift it would make for someone special – I would be so touched if someone spent the time to make me one of these and I would keep it forever.
First of all, you need to choose your card. I love to make cards with a lovely scalloped edge and especially as it is Valentine’s day I feel this adds to the Romantic look and feel of this theme. I find it easier to work on it with the card open flat, as it won’t keep ‘bouncing’ open whilst you are working on it which is rather annoying, especially when it is so fiddly and time-consuming.
Secondly, either cut from paper or find a heart shape that works for the front of your card. Remember to allow a little space at the top for either stamping or hand writing your message. If your stamping skills are a little dubious to say the least, (you know who you are!) then do your stamping or message writing now, so that you do not ruin your beautiful card. If you have been on one of my workshops, then frankly you have no excuses whatsoever……….Hmmm.
I have chosen to use one of the wooden heart blanks I make a lot of, as it is the perfect size for my card. I sell a lot of these so if you have bought one from me then draw round the edge very carefully, making sure it is both central and there is room for your message.
Now we are ready to start applying the fabric. I have chosen, rather obviously, red. This is brilliant for using up your little scraps of fabric, of which I have far, far too many. This is just my ‘reds’ department, with a little bit of green sneaked in to the corner but I have a basket like this for each colour and 2 overflowing ones for pink!
The idea is to hand cut each patchwork piece in lots of different fabrics to fit your heart exactly. And no, you cannot cheat and just ‘stick and overlap’ each piece of fabric because it will look like your child has made it – you know I am right.
Here is a pink patchwork bird my now not so ‘little man’ Ben, made for me when he was around 7 and below is a red patchwork elephant Charlotte made for her baby sister when I was in hospital in labour with Ruby, she was 11 at the time. I think they are absolutely adorable, although I am somewhat biased, but I do think you can tell that they have been done by a child.
Try and pick co-ordinating fabrics whereby the ‘tone’ is the same – i.e; don’t put a deep raspberry or burgundy (no-one uses that word anymore but you know what I mean) with a scarlet or bright red unless of course you love it in which case, carry right on! Make sure you have a variety and bear in mind that if you use all different weights of fabric, such as cottons and canvas, it will have a much more uneven look and be a little more rustic. I do tend to use all different weights, generally because I love all the different fabric patterns that I have. I also try to ensure that I have a stronger piece like a dark background with a tiny dot next to a less strong piece such as a flower on a white background. If you follow this throughout, when finished, this will give a far more cohesive and even look. You could also just use say 2 or 3 different fabrics, say blue stripe and blue and white dotty and the simplicity of that design can look stunning. You could also use scraps of ribbon too if they work with your colour scheme. Always remember, it’s whatever makes you smile.
Here is a large patchwork elephant I haven’t quite finished!
I always start in the middle and work outwards. I tend to cut a few first, into little squares or rectangles and see how they gel together. Use little tiny ‘snips’, embroidery or very small scissors. Once you have quite a few cut and you are happy with the ‘flow’ of the colours then stick those down. You may need to lightly trim the edges so they sit neatly side by side. You are not necessarily aiming for them all to be the same size, just no overlapping and nice straight edges on the middle pieces of fabric. If a fabric piece overlaps slightly once glued, gently nudge it with your fingernail or something like scissors or the wrong end of your brush to move it over a millimetre or two so it lays nice and straight. Don’t put too much glue out at once, as you will soon realise, it is very time-consuming and the glue dries out.
Use a nice little flat bristled brush if you have one as it will be much easier to paste with. I tend to use this very sticky glue a lot as it is fab but any PVA glue is absolutely fine. Do not put too much glue on – use just a thin layer – as you do not want to soak the card as it will want to warp and bend. If that happens, keep it flat and put a book or heavy object on it whilst it dries.
I should make you very aware at this point, that it is far too easy to get lost into a rather lovely creative little world and you really could take all day to play around with the positioning of your little squares. It really is rather therapeutic and is now being widely recognised as such, especially when recovering from illness.
Once you get to the edges, place your fabric square onto your card and draw a pencil line onto the fabric so you know where to cut. Try to be as neat as you can but don’t fret too much if you struggle, as we will be putting a trim around the edge to hide any rather dubious cutting!
You will inevitably be left with some teeny tiny gaps which are minuscule to cut, as you can see on the bottom of my heart. Try to use fabrics which are a contrast to the pieces used around them as otherwise they will just blend in. You are best to apply the glue to the card when you do these and you may well need to get the tweezers out!! However, if you really cannot cope with these teeny areas then you could always colour them in with pen, however, practice really does make perfect.
Once your, now rather beautiful looking heart is complete, it is time to add a trim around the edge to finish it off. You really can use anything for this but one of the easiest trims to use is ric rac. Firstly, it is quite widely available in a large amount of scrumptious colours and indeed widths, secondly, due to the fact that it is ‘wavy’, it not only adds interest and depth but it is easy to bend and shape, particularly along the curved edges. It probably goes without saying that I have rather a lot of it so, after just a teensy amount of deliberation as to quite which tone of red I was going to use, out came the narrow crimson ric rac.
Again, start at the top in the centre and try to cut a nice mitred edge (as you would find on the corner of a picture frame) so that when you have gone right round your heart and you join the trim at the top it will sit nicely together. Whatever you do, do not cut at this stage, what you feel is the right length of trim, as it is far too easy to cut it too short, only realising when it is too late!
You might wish to change your brush at this stage, as your nice flat one will probably be too big. Choose a little pointed brush head no wider than your trim. Only glue approximately 2cms at a time, as the fabric trim will readily absorb the glue and dry really quickly, causing you to re-glue. When you lift the trim to glue the next section, hold the part you have just glued down with one or two fingers as it will want to lift. Again, do not use too much glue as it will squeeze out the sides. Try not to get it onto the card.
When you get to the bottom point of the heart you can either bend the trim into a v-shape and carry on or, if it does not sit well like this and the back is the same as the front, you can bend it back on itself so you are effectively now using the back as I have done.
Once finished, you can decide if you would like to add a little embellishment such as a button or a flower etc. Remember, if you are creating this as a card and you wish to post it, don’t choose an embellishment that is too high. I have chosen a tiny sparkly flower.
Finally, choose what, if any, message you would like to stamp or write on the top – or indeed wherever else you would like your message to appear. After deliberating over these stamps, as much as I love the top large stamp, I felt it was too fussy and would have detracted from the patchwork heart. Less is more!
So there you have it, I so want to make a pink one on fabric and put it in a little frame but alas, I must move rapidly on to Mother’s Day and Easter.
I would like to say a huge thank you to all the lovely WI ladies for having me. I was a little nervous that they may not find it interesting but I need not have worried, as they listened avidly and lots of sweet and delightful ladies came up to me afterwards and told me how fascinating they found my talk and demonstration. I could have stayed and chatted for ages………..Hmmm……..nothing new there then.
I am booked in to do another talk and demonstration to make little Handmade Christmas Trees in the Autumn with another group and I can’t wait!
I would really love to see your creations and see what you think.
Happy Valentines Day.