project // english paper-pieced heart mat
I heart english paper piecing. I really do. I heart it so much that I just had to make some hearts using this technique!
After I had created a template and made my hearts, I wasn't quite sure how I would use them, and really, you could do a lot with these I'm sure. I opted to stitch them down onto linen and make a little mat. At my house it will probably get used for a variety of things: mug rug, candle mat, trivet, or quite possibly a Frisbee. Hopefully not that last one...
Here's what you need:
Valentine fabric - scraps for five hearts, plus 12x12 inches for backing
Linen - 12x12 inches
Batting - 12x12 inches (I used cotton, but you may want to use Insul-Bright for heat resistance)
Needle and thread
10-inch Embroidery hoop
Heart EPP templates (download my PDF) - printed on card stock
A note of thanks: Most of my Valentine fabric was a generous gift from Nicole of Modern Handcraft! I made this mat in the light colors, but I plan on making a darker one too. Thanks, sweetie!
Download and print the template, then cut out all of the pieces. They are similar to the jewel shapes that you can buy pre-cut, but I didn't find ones that made the design I wanted...hence my own template!
To make each piece, pin the template to your fabric and cut around the shape leaving a 1/4-inch border.
Baste the top edges down as you would for making EPP hexagons.
The long edges can be a little funny to work with, but fold them down around the template as best as you can and tack the point as shown.
Finish with a stitch at your starting point, just to help hold that last side down. You can also take a stitch through the fabric and paper on each of those long sides, just to hold it better. Later, you'll need to cut away those stitches before removing the papers.
For each heart, you need two halves (I recommend using the same or very similar fabric), and you need five sets of these all together.
Hold each pair of heart halves with right sides together and stitch the seam. I used ladder stitch, but you can join them with whip stitch or running stitch too. Just do your best to have the points match up, and to hold those long sides down along the edge of the template. This will prevent weird puffiness. Because who wants weird puffiness, right?
Oh hey! It's a heart! Now make four more of these.
Oh hey! It's five hearts! Arrange them how you want them, then get ready to put them all together. And don't worry about those flappy "tails" at the points just yet.
Start joining the hearts just as you did the heart halves. This time, you really want those points to match.
Speaking of points, you'll find that all of those "tails" will start to stack up in the center. I suppose there are some cases where this wouldn't be an issue, but if you want your work to lay flat, you'll need to trim away some of the seam allowance. It's scary, but just take a pair of scissors and carefully cut. Don't take too much off though, or you'll be sad. My center still has almost 1/4-inch of fabric.
And here's the center when it's flipped over. One big goal with something like this is to have perfect points in the center. But to me, a second big goal is to enjoy the process and not make yourself crazy over points. Ten points is a lot! Do your best, but don't over-stress!
Remove the papers from the backs (remember that if you basted through the papers at all, you'll need to trim those threads!) so you can stitch them down onto the linen.
Place the batting and linen in your embroidery hoop and lay the pieced hearts on top. You may want to pin this in place, but I found that once I got stitching, it was easier to work without the pins.
Use perle cotton to stitch around each heart with running stitch. Keep close to the edges! After you stitch the first heart, stitch one on the opposite side of the circle to help hold things evenly. Again, this helps avoid weird puffiness.
After you've sewn down all of the hearts, use the center ring of the 10-inch embroidery hoop to trace a circle on the linen, and also on the backing fabric. Cut these out (you'll be cutting the batting at the same time as the linen), then pin the backing and linen/batting with right sides together. I find it easier on my machine to sew with the batting up.
Sew around the circle, leaving a 2-inch opening for turning and backstitching at the beginning and end. I used a 1/8-inch seam allowance, but you can use a 1/4-inch allowance and trim it down when you're done. The small seam allowance gives this a nicer curved edge.
Turn the mat right side out and use ladder stitch to close the opening. Do your best to make that closure blend in with the curve!
Now, use perle cotton to add a line of running stitch about 1/4-inch in from the edge.
Now you can enjoy your heart mat! Along with the crush I have on english paper piecing, I also adore these big running stitches on linen. So zakka!
Another fun variation would be to make these hearts in conversation heart pastel shades. Hug me!
Happy stitching, friends!