How to Make a Valentine Heart Garland – and Other Holiday Garlands

January 19, 2020

I wanted to make some evergreen Valentine’s decorations (evergreen meaning they will stick around for awhile and not get ruined easily) with stuff I already had around the house/studio. I am fortunate to have a pretty well stocked studio full of almost everything you can imagine to do knitting, sewing, painting, drawing, scrapbooking, paper crafts, kids crafts, locker hooking, beading, blah, blah, blah.

I may or may not have a hoarding problem when it comes to supplies…

Do you have a bunch of supplies hanging around or do you need to go out and shop for projects like this? I have a bunch of upholstery samples from very generous friends over the years, I dug through and found a stack I thought would be good for Valentine decor. Know an interior designer? Ask if they have any old samples they want to get rid of and you might just find a treasure trove of inspiring fabric to play with!! Let’s move on to make our Valentine Heart Garland (or any other holidays)!

After trying to decide what direction to go in I decided to make some pretty hearts for a banner/bunting/garland type thingy. Whatever you want to call it… I put some hearts on a nifty burlap ‘ribbon’ and hung them around the house. I think we’ll go with the term garland, so here we go… How to make a Valentine heart garland!

Easy to Sew Valentine Heart Garland

Materials needed for your Valentine heart garland:

Valentine Heart Garland
Upholstery samples
  • Fabric – I used upholstery, you can use quilters cotton, felt, anything you want that you feel comfortable sewing with
  • Coordinating Thread – cotton or polyester, all purpose would be good
  • Sewing Machine – with a needle strong enough for your fabric
  • Scissors or Pinking Shears
  • Template for the Heart – Subscribe below for a copy
  • Marking Pen/Marker or Ball Point Pen (see below for explanation)
  • Straight Pins
  • Filling for the Hearts – I used some leftover batting from a quilt I made a long time ago (a sample of something I keep in my hoard of crafting supplies because it’s useful for little projects like this)
  • Some sort of ribbon/roping to put the hearts on when you are done
  • Optional Clothes Pins – I used regular sized, you can use smaller crafty ones, or whatever you want to hold your hearts to the garland
  • Optional Push Pins – I hand my garlands up with transparent push pins pushed into the top of the trim around doors and windows, transparent so they don’t distract from the garland
  • Optional Iron and Ironing Board – if your fabric is too wrinkly for you, it’s not completely necessary since we are going to stuff them and stretch out the wrinkles with the filling

Getting Started on Our Valentine Heart Garland

There will be some terms in bold face, these are what you would see in a ‘glossary’ of a book. Learn them a little at a time and you will be reading patterns much faster in the future. If you are a more experienced sewer, please ignore the things you already know and just keep sewing.

Iron the fabric if necessary. Only iron what you need on each piece, I’m not a fan of doing more work than I have to, no need to iron the whole thing…

Lay out the fabric and decide which pieces you want to use. I had tons of samples but I picked my favorites since I knew this decoration would last a long time. As with all sewing projects involving more than one fabric, make sure all your colors coordinate and there are no colors that stick out funny. I was working with muted reds and darker pinks but one of them that I really liked just didn’t want to mesh well with the others so I had to set it aside for another use.

Cut out the heart shape you want to use on some scrap paper or get it for free by subscribing for Stitch Clinic emails at the end of this post.

Heart Template Made out of Scrap Paper
Heart template made out of scrap paper

Trace the heart onto your fabric, I like to trace on the back side, just a good habit to get into. (The only time you really need to focus is if what you are cutting is asymmetrical, such as letters, and you have to have it a certain way. If you trace on the back, it might flip the pattern piece the wrong way.) I used a good old ball point pen on this project for two reasons: 1) it’s a very thick, textured fabric that doesn’t mark well with traditional air or water soluble marking pens AND 2) I was going to use my Pinking Shears (special scissors that have a zig zag cut instead of a straight edge cut like traditional scissors) and cut inside the line of the pen, meaning there would be no pen showing up on my finished project.

Why pinking shears?

They help keep woven fabrics from fraying. Help is the operative word here. Don’t go pulling on the edges to see if they’ll come undone. They will. But if you’re very careful they won’t. This would not work if this were a heavily used garment or bag. Since it’s being hung up for a few weeks once a year, this will suffice.

Tracing Heart Shape on Fabric for Garland
Tracing heart shape on fabric for garland

Now here is a term that is common in quilting but we can learn with this starter project. Fussy Cutting is a term used to describe putting a pattern piece over the part of the fabric you want to highlight in your project. One of the upholstery fabrics had a lot of Negative Space (background or area on the fabric where there isn’t any interest, the spaces between the elements that don’t grab your attention when looking at a fabric/design) and I wanted to use the red focal point parts of the design instead. So I put the heart pattern piece over the area I really wanted to show up on the heart.

Here are some examples of fussy cutting. I also wanted to use some solid to make it more interesting.

Fabric ready to sew into Valentine hearts
Fabric ready to sew into Valentine hearts, some are fussy cut

These two rather subdued patterned pieces volunteered to be the first ones sewn.

Two Halves of the Heart Ready to Sew
Two halves of the heart ready to sew

Preparing to Sew the Heart Garland

Line up the two halves, making sure the right sides are facing out.

When working with fabric, take a close look at both sides of the fabric, you might just like the ‘wrong’ side better than the ‘right’ side. I had an entire bedroom set of windows adorned with heavy tapestry-like fabric that was made with the ‘wrong’ side out, the ‘wrong’ side was ten times more amazing (to me) than the ‘right’ side.

Sewing Fabric Hearts Garland
Sewing habric heart, pretend there is a red ball straight pin marking where the needle entered the fabric

I like to put pins in all around the edge of my sewing projects of course, to keep the two sides together. When sewing something that requires you to leave a small opening (such as this case, it needs to be stuffed with something), I like to use two different kinds of straight pins. Use two straight pins that are different than the rest at the beginning and end of the opening that needs to be left unsewn. In the photo below you can see the red ball straight pin I used. It reminds me to stop sewing. I’m very much the daydreamer so I’ll just keep sewing, closing up the opening without thinking! I need these little tips and tricks to keep me sane!

Actually Starting to Sew

Sew around the edge, doing some backstitches at the beginning and end of the opening. Backstitches are simply a few extra stitches formed by going forward with your sewing for a few stitches, putting the sewing machine in reverse and sewing a few stitches back to where you started sewing. Then sewing forward again and going on your merry way around the project. When you get to the end, do the same thing. Stitch to the end, throw your machine into reverse for a few stitches, then go forward to the end again.

While sewing, you may find it necessary to pick up your presser foot and pivot the heart to get around the edge in a nice curve. Curved sewing can definitely be tricky, but going slow will help. Make sure you put the presser foot down each time you pivot, or else you’ll have an issue sewing – my machine yells at me and won’t sew if the presser foot is up. Your machine might do the same or go way off course acting like it’s drunk 🙂 since there is nothing holding the fabric down to keep it from going off course.

Sewing Fabric Hearts for Valentine Garland
Sew until you have a small opening remaining

I kept about a 3/8 inch seam allowance since this is thick fabric cut with pinking shears, I want to make sure both sides catch all the way around. Seam allowance is the distance from the edge of the fabric to the line of stitching.After doing your backstitches, cut your heart free from the machine.

Stuff your Heart

Stuffing your fabric Valentine heart
Stuff your heart, with as little or as much filling as you like

The first heart I made was stuffed really full, you might not want to fill yours as much. I liked using the leftover polyester batting (like this kind here) because it is in sheets which was easy to use on such a small project instead of a huge clump like what you would normally fill something with (like this). Take whatever filling you have and fill your heart to your hearts content. Ha. Couldn’t help myself…

Closing up

It was a little more difficult to sew the hole closed with so much filling, so for the rest of the hearts I did not use as much filling. Unfortunately I did not remember to take a photo of that step. You can use your imagination here, the filling wanted to push out of the hole so I needed to really hold it down as I stitched past it.

Try to line up your stitches again. Start a stitch or two in the line of stitches already there so there is no break in the stitching line. Go a stitch or two into the other side of stitching once the hole is closed, keeping your same seam allowance the whole time.

Fabric Valentine heart garland
This could work as Valentine decor too, if you get too lazy to hang them up!

I plan on making more to fill it in. I just wanted to get this posted in plenty of time ahead of the actual holiday.

Valentine Heart Garland
Hung up in the foyer, fooling everyone outside that it’s already fully decorated for Valentine’s day in here…

Hang them up wherever you like! I actually have transparent thumb tacks that always live on the tops of my door trim. I change out the garland depending on the holiday or occasion.

Like these:

Polka dot garland
From my daughter’s first birthday party, polka dot theme
Happy Birthday Garland
A burlap birthday garland, painted but still put on the same burlap ‘ribbon’

If you keep the decorations so that they can slide on and off the garland, you can use the same pieces of ribbon and same decorations over and over again. I really don’t like the idea of making a garland that only fits in one location. It may make your project a little more difficult, but it is so worth the flexibility later on. I made some amazing acorns with some burlap, brown felt and some beautiful purple fabics and no sewing, only iron on fusing. (Yes acorns, I LOOOOOVE THEM) I can’t find them otherwise I’d show you, I honestly looked everywhere I could think of… At least I have a few more months before Autumn comes. GET CREATIVE, do something for every season, event, holiday and so on.

If you are having any issues with your bobbin tension while making these hearts, check out this post about How to Check and Fix Bobbin Tension.

A little tidbit for you:

Have an old button up shirt that needs to be put out of its misery? Cut off all the buttons and string them on a piece of thread. When you are ready to make a project, you’ll have a bunch of matching buttons ready to go.

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  • Reply Priscilla February 6, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    The heart garland is a charming decoration! Using the hearts separately spreads the cheer around your home. One could be tucked into your child’s lunch bag for a pleasant surprise.
    Thank you for posting this heart garland.

    • Reply Marissa February 7, 2020 at 10:53 am

      Hi Priscilla! Great name by the way… Thank you for your comment. I was thinking about make some more to spread the love!

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