Cross-stitched Valentine's Card

Introduction: Cross-stitched Valentine's Card

About: Maker and postgrad student researching gender and the maker community at University College London. I live in Brighton by the seaside.

I wanted to make a more personal Valentine's card for my significant other... with cross-stitch!

This card is super simple and suitable for absolute sewing beginners, but is also really effective. Combining sewing with papercraft is also fun :)

Step 1: What You'll Need

- Thin sewing needle

- Scotch tape

- Gluestick

- Pencil

- Scissors

- Ruler

- Piece of cross stitch fabric, 14 count, approximately 3" x 3". If you don't have any cross stitch fabric available, you can make you own grid guide by printing a grid of 14 x 14 pixels per square inch (this is where the "14 count" comes in)

- Embroidery thread / floss in three shades of red (light, medium and dark), plus metallic silver. Embroidery thread can be bought in most haberdasheries and fabric shops - you can't use sewing machine thread for cross-stitching as it is too thin

- Two pieces of A5 card in the colour(s) of your choice (one for the outside and one for the inside of the card)

For the outside piece, you will need card that is thick enough to hold the cross stitches without tearing, but not so thick that it's difficult to fold. Thin craft card works great for this, and art shops usually sell A4 and A5 sheets in a range of colours and textures. You can use something slightly thicker for the inside of the card to help it stand up. I used a piece of thin textured craft card for the outside and a slightly thicker piece of untextured craft card for the inside, in an identical colour.

Step 2: Cut Your Card to Size

Cut your outside and inside pieces of card to approximately 210mm wide by 115mm high.

Mark a vertical line down the centre of each piece of card, and lightly score along the line using a ruler and sharp pair of scissors.

Fold the pieces of card down the scored line - you now have the bare bones of your card!

Step 3: Make Your Stitching Holes

Draw a pixel heart on your small piece of fabric or printed grid. You can design your own or use the attached designs as a reference.

Tape the piece of fabric or printed grid to the outside piece of card using scotch tape, ensuring the heart is positioned in the middle of what will be the front of the card. Be careful with the type of scotch tape you use - regular sellotape (that we have in the UK) can cause marks when you remove it. "Invisible scotch tape" (available in stationery shops) is perfect for this.

Using a sharp sewing needle, poke holes through the card at each point inside the heart you've drawn (including the border of the heart) to make your stitching holes. Take a look at the second picture to see what this will look like. Make sure you place a piece of cardboard or soft fabric under the card to protect your work surface.

Carefully remove the piece of fabric or printed grid from the card.

Step 4: Cross Stitch!

Using your different shades of red embroidery thread, cross stitch your heart design right onto the card. You can use your own design or use the designs in the previous step.

Embroidery thread comes in 6 strands, but for this project you will only use 2 strands of thread so cut a short piece of thread (around 50cm of each colour) and separate out two strands from it. Thread the two strands through your needle and you're ready to go.

This tutorial gives you all the basics of how to make your first cross stitch:

After that, you just fill in the pattern - for larger areas it will be easier to do a line of cross stitches from one side of the pattern to the other and back again, but for smaller areas (such as the darker red line around the edge) it'll be easier to just wing it and do whatever's easiest to follow the pattern. It doesn't really matter what the back looks like as this will be covered by the inner piece of card, but the second photo shows what the back will end up looking like to give you an idea.

Step 5: Add Some Shiny

Adding some final details to the card in metallic silver thread really makes it stand out (the thread catches the light and sparkles!).

Again, separate out two strands of thread from the skein of metallic silver and thread your needle. We're not using cross stitches here, but as you can see from the picture we're going to add an outline around the heart and then add a few silver stars in the background.

There aren't too many rules here except sticking to one "pixel" at a time - trying to stitch across multiple holes will give you baggy stitches that easily get caught on things. Also make sure to tuck the start and end of you thread under the stitches on the back of the design to hold them in place.

For the outline around the heart you can use the existing holes that you made earlier - to round out the design a little you can use diagonal stitches as in the picture instead of following the outline of the heart exactly.

For the stars, poke a hole in the card surrounded by a circle of a further 8 holes (or you can use however many holes you want, but 8 is a nice easy number). Make your stitches from the hole in the centre to each of the 8 holes around the edge to make a star shape.

Step 6: Glue the Card Together and Tidy Up

Glue your inner piece of card to your outer piece of card using a gluestick (much less messy than PVA glue and won't warp the card).

It's likely that your outer and inner pieces won't be exactly the same size, so after the glue's dried trim a tiny bit off of each edge of the finished card to tidy it.

Add your message to your significant other, pop it in a handmade envelope and you're done!

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