Introduction: Bead Embroidery Calico Heart

About: Retired techie in love with crafts, cooking, and all things creative.

If you love embroidery, this one's for you. No need to dig out your floss and embroidery hoop, though. You won't need it. This project uses seed beads and a basic needle and thread to add color and texture to these heart shaped pillows. Add a ribbon to hang on a knob, or use in a gift basket and give it to someone you love for Easter or Mothers Day.

This Instructable includes a downloadable and printable pattern for these 7 inch hearts. Watch the video to learn how to embroider and sew them. If you're like me, these will become your new addiction.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Besides a sewing machine, you will need the included heart template, scissors, seed beads, a needle and thread, a heat erasable pen, polyester fiber fill (pillow stuffing), and two 8 1/2 squares of printed cotton fabric.

For the seed beads, choose varied sizes and colors, or use regular beads with a hole large enough for your needle. I have a small stash of seed beads in size 8 and 11 and was able to use what I had on hand. The orange beads were reused from a necklace that a friend picked up from a thrift store and gave to me thinking that I could reuse it in some way. The hole was large and the bright contrasting color worked well with the assorted quilt fabric prints used for these hearts.

Choose a short needle with a small eye. I used a # 7 English Needle and it was easy to thread and comfortable to sew. Don't be tempted to use beading needles. These are used for bead stitching and are usually too long and flexible for bead embroidery. I recommend basic polyester thread. Don't worry about the color since it won't show.

My favorite marking tool for fabric is the Frixion erasable pen. It shows up well on the fabric. When ironed, it will disappear. If you don't have one, don't worry. Any marking tool will do. You can even use a regular ball point since it will be covered up by the beads.

Step 2: Trace Heart Outline

Use the template provided in step one. Print it on card stock and use paper scissors to cut out. There is an outer 1/2 heart and an 1/2 inner heart. The outer heart is used as a pattern to cut the fabric the inner heart is used to trace the embroidery line. Use your marking tool to trace it onto your fabric. Flip to trace the other side.

If you make your own template, make sure the inner heart is at least 2 inches from the outer edge so your sewing machine presser foot will be able to clear the beads.

Step 3: Cut Fabric

Cut your two layers of fabric along the outer traced lines. The two pieces will give you a top and bottom for your pillow. For this project, you will only need to add bead embroidery to the top piece.

Step 4: Plan Bead Pattern

Take a moment to plan how you will pattern your beads. You will want to use beads that have a good contrast to your fabric. I found that a simple pattern works best. Include at least one shiny bead in you pattern. It will give your piece bit of sparkle. I've included a closeup of my completed projects to provide some patterning ideas.

Step 5: Embroider Beads

Cut a 20 inch length of thread. Thread it onto your needle, and knot the end.

Pass your needle through the fabric from the bottom to the top along a side portion of your traced heart outline. Pull through. Use the instructions provided in the video to sew your bead pattern along the path of your traced heart.

Thread the first three beads of your bead pattern onto your needle and let it fall to the fabric.

Position the beads in place along your traced outline. Sew down through the fabric at the point where the 3rd bead ends.

Sew from the back and up through the fabric near the first bead. Take your needle and feed it through the beads you stitched in place. This will position your needle to sew the 3 beads of your bead pattern. Continue until you run out of thread, or reach the end of your heart path.

When you are nearing the end of the heart path, you may have to tweak your spacing a bit to fit the remaining beads in your pattern. When you have finished the bead embroidery, sew to the back and tie off. Secure well.

When you need to change thread, tie off and start a new length of thread. Pass the needle from the back of the fabric 3 beads from the end. Then, pass your needle through the 3 beads to position your thread for the next section of beads.

Step 6: Sew Heart

Take your top and bottom pieces of cut fabric and place right sides together. Pin in place. Use your sewing machine to sew a straight stitch along the edge of your fabric using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Leave a 3 inch opening along the side of the heart. This will allow you to turn the heart inside out.

If you want to add a ribbon hanger, fold the ribbon in half and baste it on to the top middle of the heart on the back piece with the loop pointing down.

Step 7: Prepare for Stuffing

Use an iron to press out any wrinkles and remove the markings from a heat erasable pen.

Trim the seam allowance and clip the points and curves. Turn inside out and tidy so the edges are smooth. Iron again if necessary.

Step 8: Add Stuffing

Pull small pieces of stuffing and place it into the opening of your heart. Continue to add stuffing until it is lightly stuffed.

Step 9: Hand Sew Opening

Use a needle and thread to whip stitch the opening closed. All done. Enjoy!

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