How To Make An Embroidered Valentine

I first learned how to embroider cards at an Etsy craft night and fell in love instantly. This is an inexpensive and easy way to give your partner, BFF, or Mom something uncommercial and handmade on Valentine's Day.

What You'll Need:

Card stock or blank greeting card
Embroidery or Sewing Needle
Threader (optional)
Embroidery Floss (cotton preferred)
Bubble Mailer
Painters Tape
2-3 words to Embroider
Glue Stick
Decorative Paper for inside of the card (optional)

Once you decide what word(s) you want to use, the first step is to pick the right font to create your pattern. Type them into a Word program then play around with different fonts and sizes to fit your card. Keep in mind that you will be using simple, straight stitches to outline the word. Thin fonts are easiest to stitch, but you can also use a rotund font and stitch the outline. It helps to decide what will fit best by printing out a couple different choices.

Once you have picked the right font and size use a ruler to place your word and make sure it is straight. Once you are happy with placement, tape down the word to the front of the card with small pieces of painter's tape. Painter's tape will not stick to the front of the card so you can play with the placement if needed.

I have decided to add a simple heart cut-out to my card, then the embroidered word.

Next, open up your card and place the side you are embroidering on top of your bubble mailer.

We are now ready to punch the design into the card. This way, we can easily stitch the thread through the card all in one shot. I usually punch the holes about 1/8" apart, as evenly as possible. I am using a fat font, so I will do the outline of each letter. The hardest part of letters are in the curves. Around curves make the punches a little closer together to control the way the curve looks. You can always add a punch later if needed, so don't stress out about making this perfect.

To do the punch use a thin needle or straight pin to carefully push through the card to the mailer. It works best to hold the needle with one hand and push down the top of the head with the other. I like to wear a thimble for this to protect my finger.

Once you have punched all the letters carefully, pick up one side of your word pattern and make sure you didn't miss any letters. If you did, just tape it back down and keep punching. Once you are done, remove the pattern and you will be able to see the whole word clearly.

Woo hoo! Now we are ready to stitch, so let's talk about some basic stitches and thread options.
I recommend 6 string cotton embroidery because for about 39 cents you will use it forever and it works well moving through paper. This thread is made up of 6 strands and for outlining words you only need to use one or two strands. Cut off about 8 inches of the thread and separate out two threads and slowly pull down to completely pull it from the original strand.

Since we have separated the string sometimes it is hard to thread the needle. If you are a beginner I highly recommend investing a dollar for a threader to easily get the two strands of thread through your needle. Once you are threaded we are ready to stitch.

If you would like to do the whole word in one color use a backstitch. With this stitch you are literally going back through the hole of the last stitch you just did. Start by pulling your needle from the back of the card to the front. Leave a little bit of tail in the back of the card before you do your next stitch. Hold down the tail with your thumb for the first couple stitches. Do not tie a knot!

Back of Card:

Now you are at the front of card. Take your needle back through the next hole so your needle is now at the back of the card. Then from the back of the card come through the next hole to the front. Finally from the front, take the needle through the same hole where the last stitch was. You just completed a backstitch! Continue that same pattern through all the letters.

Another option is to do a straight stitch using two different colors to outline your word. With your first color threaded start at the back of the card and bring the needle through the front. Then bring the needle back through the next hole up and down through the card over and over again like below.

While you work, it is inevitable that you will run out of thread before completing the design. Some people recommend using a dot of glue or tape to hold down the ends, feel free to do that. I find it to be just as secure to stop the stitch at the back of the card with an inch or so left, then pull the excess thread through the stitches that you have already done in the back to hold down the end. All of the previous stitches will hold everything in place and it would be very hard for the ends to come lose through the front of the card.

Continue through all your letters until you have the word half stitched.

Now we'll thread our second color and do the same straight stitch. Start at the back of the card and pull the needle through the end of the first stitch. Then go back through the very next hole.

Back of Card:

Continue this way so the thread alternates in color.

Front of card:

When you first try this out, often you will get a dreaded knot in your thread. Don't freak! All you have to do is carefully push your needle through the knot and work it around in circles with a slight tug. Usually you'll be able to pull it out and happily continue on.

Another good tip is hold your thumb close to where you are pulling your needle through. This will help stabilize the paper and avoid tears. I usually keep my thumb a centimeter or so away from the hole I am pulling the needle through.

Once you are done, take a deep breath and enjoy your work. You just stitched a gorgeous handmade card. Nice! Some people choose to cover up the back of their card with decorative paper. If that works for you, go ahead and do that by gluing it on with a glue stick. I think it is awesome for people to see how the work is done. So instead of covering the back, I add some hand pulled paper on the inside but not over the embroidery. To do this just run a line of glue on the fold, press any decorative paper into the fold, then leave it underneath a pile of heavy books for 24 hours.

Finished card:
Have a lovely valentines day sharing your love with someone special.