Little padded hearts are a great first sewing activity – either for a couple of children at home, or an entire classroom. These pretty little hearts are great to make just before Mother’s Day or Christmas, and if you’re a teacher or child care worker you can encourage the children in your care to make them as a gift for someone special.
The beauty of this activity is its versatility. I used plain calico as it’s easy to source and fairly cheap, definitely a consideration if you’re working with a group of children. It’s also very versatile and can be decorated in many different ways and still look gorgeous. Embroidery looks very pretty on calico, while decorations made from lace, ribbon, fancy braids, beads and buttons can also look lovely.
Other types of fabric can also look great with these little hearts. A floral print could look very nice for Mother’s Day or a special festive design for Christmas. Although I’ve given specific dimensions in the following paragraphs, you could make these any size you like. Another variation could be to substitute the stuffing for dried lavender, and make a lavender sachet.
This activity is best for older children as it involves working with sharp scissors, needles and pins. If you’re working with very young ones be sure that they’re constantly supervised so they don’t hurt themselves and others. You could also pre-cut the fabric pieces.
Time: 90 minutes
Age: 5-10's, Over 10's
Quarter metre of cotton fabric - we used calico but printed cotton is also quite alright.
Quarter metre of stuffing – we used an affordable synthetic stuffing, easily available at most craft shops
Sharp sewing scissors
A spool of cotton in a matching colour to the fabric you’re working with. Thick embroidery cotton is best for very young children.
A sewing needle. Larger needles are best for very young children as they might struggle to use a smaller size.
Pretty lace, ribbon, braid, beads or buttons to decorate your heart
Embroidery cotton in various colours
Draw a heart shape on a plain piece of paper. Mine was approximately 18 centimetres high and 15 centimetres across. Allow at least another centimetre for hems and seams, so draw your pattern slightly larger than your desired size.
Cut out your heart pattern and pin it onto the fabric. Trace around the pattern carefully.
Unpin the pattern and place it onto another part of the fabric. Repeat the above process. You’ll now have two identical heart-shaped pieces of material – the front and back of your fabric heart. Although both sides of my heart have been made out of plain calico, you could also use different kinds of fabric, in contrasting colours, if you like.
Using the photo below as a guide, fold and pin the edges of both hearts to form a hem. This will help to avoid fraying.
Once again, using the photo below as a guide, stitch carefully around the edge of each heart to form a hem – removing the pins as you sew. Begin with a knot and stitch over a few times so that your sewing is secure. Then use small running stitches, as these are very simple to do – even for very young children who are just learning to sew.
If you would like to embroider your heart or decorate in some other way, it’s easiest to do so now. However, if you’re using printed fabric you may not want to do this. Simple rows of running stitch in different coloured cotton can look very pretty, but be sure to keep the stitches small and tidy. Alternatively, you could make a border of running stitches along the edges of the heart. Looping another contrasting colour of cotton through the stitches can look pretty too, although be sure to secure your sewing at both the beginning and the end or it will easily come undone.
Using your hemmed fabric hearts as a guide, draw another slightly smaller heart on a plain piece of paper and cut this out. Pin this onto the synthetic filling and cut it out.
Take one of the fabric hearts and place it on your sewing table, with the hemmed side up. Place the heart-shaped synthetic filling on top so that there is a small border of fabric all around it. Then place the second fabric heart on top, with the hemmed side down so it won’t be seen. Pin the fabric together with sewing pins.
Using small running stitches, carefully sew the two hearts together, with the synthetic stuffing inside. Remove the pins as you sew.
If you want to decorate your heart with lace, measure enough lace to sew around its border. Using running stitches, securely sew the lace around your heart.
A final decoration which you may want to add is a bow. Tie a small bow out of a matching-coloured piece of ribbon, and sew it onto the top of the heart. You could also sew a loop of lace or ribbon onto the heart so that it can be hung up as a decoration. Other bits and pieces you might want to include are pretty beads, braids or fancy buttons.