Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tutorial : "Vintage Hearts"...

Whenever we're out on a weekend drive and pass a small town market Mr E parks the Jeep and follows me along (wallet in hand) as I wander among the various stalls to hunt for treasure of the vintage kind.
Linens, china, picture frames and cookware are my favourite purchases, but occasionally I discover beautiful old buttons and sewing notions too.

 I don't mind if the linens are stained or damaged as long as there is a piece that I can salvage for a project or as a stitchery background. Such was the case with a lovely $1 table runner I found at the Ayr market last year. It had two pretty rose embroidered corners but plenty of rust spots scattered over the rest of the linen, however I could visualise two heart shapes featuring those roses so I rescued it right then and there despite Mr E's frown when he reluctantly handed me the dollar coin.

A few days later I cut out two hearts from the old linen runner and wrote the words 'so delightful' and 'old & lovely' around the embroidered sections of each heart.
Then I cut two heart shapes from some Whisperweft (a fabric stabiliser - see here) and fused it behind the linen heart shapes before embroidering the words in backstitch with a single strand of variegated thread which blended with the colour of the roses. 

At this point I had to try and match a backing fabric with the embroidery colours and fortunately found one fat quarter that would work. 
Today in hindsight I wonder why I didn't think to use more of the stained linen table runner?? 

Laying each of the linen hearts face down onto the backing fabric I stitched the fronts and backs together with a 1/4" seam, leaving a 2" opening down one side for turning out.

With any curved shape like this you need to clip along the edges every 1/4" or so before you turn the shape right side out. Once that's done, turn the hearts right side out and press the edges flat. 

PAUSE: This is where  the whole idea stopped for about four months. The two hearts lay on my cutting table waiting, patiently waiting, desperately waiting...until today. I was tidying the sewing room and about to pack them away in my unfinished projects box when I thought, "you owe them a chance to shine" and promptly cleared my diary and set forth with a bright idea!

So let's see what happened, shall we? Are you going to follow along with your own hearts-almost-made? Wonderful!

 Ladder stitch or slip stitch the opening closed on both hearts...

Gather an old photo frame, cream background fabric, scraps of lace, ribbon, beads, buttons, pretty pins, bits of bling - anything you think may look good with your hearts.

I collect old broken jewellery and beads so I always have 'something' I can use for a project like this...

...and in my plain fabrics box I found a long forgotten piece of Osnaburg that needed no auditioning  as my background fabric because it was perfect.

Remove the backing from your picture frame and dispose of the glass carefully.
Trace the shape of the frame backing onto a scrap piece of quilt wadding and cut it out.
Cut a piece of background fabric about 3" larger than your frame backing.

Spray baste the quilt wadding onto the centre of the wrong side of your background fabric...

 Now we have the fun part.
Place the empty frame over the front of the background fabric and start adding your lace, beads, hearts and other fancies, moving them around until you're happy with the display they make together...

Lift the frame away and carefully stitch the pieces in place from behind so that the sewing thread only catches the back of the hearts and appear invisible on your lace and other elements...

Once completed wrap your vintage hearts block around the frame backing and secure with wide tape.
I prefer this method to lacing with thread because it prevents dust from getting behind the fabric (I live in a very dusty/windy place)...

Pop inside the frame and you're done!

The pattern for the heart and words are a free download HERE in my shop.


Having a supply of old odds and ends like this will give you a wonderful treasure trove of gift and home decorating ideas that can be made for next to nothing but look truly lovely.

I wonder what you have on hand waiting for its Cinderella moment?


  1. That's so very beautiful. I have that exact same embroidery design on a pillow case!

  2. What a sweet project Jenny. Very appropriate for the time of year.


  3. That certainly IS beautiful Jenny ... my gosh, I have just read Leeanne's comment & I too, have that very same design on a pillow case. I might have to hunt it out & make up your frame idea.

  4. How lovely!!! So glad you finished this one, girl, it's stunning. I'm going looking for a frame later this week...for a stitchery project - I was going to make it a tiny quilt, but it kept asking for a "Jenny" frame!

  5. Very clever and quite pretty. Thankyou.

  6. Wow - you have a real knack for taking old and making new. What was Mr. E's reaction to this lovely finish? Love what you created! I'll have to look more closely at some of my little things past down, that I wasn't sure of what to do with.

  7. I absolutely love this idea. I have bits and pieces lying around too. This is beautiful!

  8. So beautiful ..thank you for sharing x

  9. That is just so beautiful Jenny, a great idea just before valentines :-)

  10. You are so creative and make such lovely things! Thank you for the pattern and tutorial....

  11. It is an excellent idea! Thank you for the pattern.
    I have an old embroidery buy for two euros last year in town market. It is a great piece, but it is a funeral piece. I can´t do nothing with it. I bought it because it is so well embroidered :)

  12. Good Morning Jenny! Your project post today is delightful! It something I have never thought about doing. Hubby and I go to thrift stores, garage and estate sales and so forth where linens are abundant, but very often not in perfect condition. Yet, your fabulous crafty mind looks past that and sees the prominent future and beauty! I am glad that you do and extra delighted that you shared a beautiful way to showcase them! Thank you for this tutorial and have a fantastic creative day!

  13. Jenny, This is just precious. I have quite a few linens that I should probably look at in this light. I inherited a number of linens from both of my grandmothers. My paternal grandmother especially was prolific. She used the pieces she made, and though beautifully embroidered and crocheted most do have stains. I could not part with them but they are languishing stored away. I see that I now need to look at them with a critical eye and see what I can salvage so that they will see the light of day. Thank you for turning my eye to getting them out. I won't be doing it this week though as the wedding looms and I am in charge of making the cake and all sorts of other sundry things in preparation for Sunday. Have a wonderful rest of the day.

  14. Thanks for the wonderful idea, Jenny. I have lots of vintage linens and am always looking for ideas on how to repurpose them. I would think that some of the stained parts might actually make good backgrounds too to give it that vintage-y look.

  15. Wow, that's gorgeous. I love what you did, and how you came up with the materials. You can turn anything into something. =)

  16. Quelle très jolie idée
    merci pour le tuto
    vraiment j'aime beaucoup ces ravissant petits cœurs
    douce journée

  17. Thank you they are very very pretty. Guida

  18. Oh Jenny - they shine so beautifully!

  19. Dearest Jenny,
    thank you for the tutorial. Your creation is so lovely! Love it so much.
    Many hugs,
    Karen B. ~ Todolwen

  20. I just love to see how you make something so beautiful out of older things. Your tutorial is easy to follow and as always, so generous of you to share.

  21. Beautifully created dear. I might add a little more wadding and use this open frame for special brooches I like to wear. This would be a very special and practical gift for loved family and friends. Embracing Creative Bliss...

  22. Awesome design. Pillow sizes are looking so pretty. Thank you.

  23. After finding a couple pieces of vintage embroidery in some things I stored away after my grandmother's passing, I 're-visited' this post from you. I recently married my highschool sweetheart...30 yrs later!!! This idea will be adorable with Grandma's linens, our names & wedding date on one heart, I Cor. 13:4-7 (just the Scripture reference & maybe 'love is...') on the second, & then finished with laces & 'do-dads' that I've saved over the years. Thanks for giving me a useful, creative way to re-purpose some badly stained/worn pieces that I really didn't want to part with as well as a unique way to record our wedding date. Keep up the good work!! I soooo love your ideas and designs! Blessings to you! Shiela (


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