Thursday, February 4, 2010

Be my valentine

It occurs to me that this blog is called "Art With a Needle" but there hasn't been very much discussion of art with needles.  I will remedy that.

I was in the fabric store, bumped into a rack of tulle and remembered that Valentine’s Day is coming up – but still far enough away that I could sew up some hearts and get them to my assorted faraway loved ones before the appointed time. Usually I have these brilliant ideas the week after, so I was energized.

Making tulle doodads is the easiest sewing project you can possibly do. The only supplies you need are some tulle and some Solvy.

Cut a sheet of Solvy (I cut about nine inches worth off the six-inch roll) and three sheets of tulle a little bit larger than the Solvy. Put one tulle down on the table, then the Solvy, then another tulle. I used two colors of tulle, a red and an orange.

Now get a bunch of tiny bits and pieces of fabric, thread, lace, yarn, whatever you find on your work table or floor or miscellaneous drawer. I found some sheer fabric, some bits of gold cord, a piece of fancy netting with gold inlays, a metallic orange “raffia” cord, and a bunch of fabric snips in reds and purples.

Arrange the bits and pieces evenly over the sheets of tulle, then put the third sheet of tulle on top of everything. You may want a couple of pins to hold it all together and to keep the bits from falling out as you slide the package to the sewing machine.

The fun part: sew and sew and sew the layers together, trapping the bits and pieces inside the tulle sandwich. The Solvy holds everything firm while you sew. I used red cotton thread in the needle and metallic gold in the bobbin (my machine doesn’t like metallic threads on top so I humor it). Eventually you will get tired of sewing and will take the sandwich out.

I used a Sharpie to draw hearts on the sandwich, then switched to a darning foot and went around the outlines once or twice.  I cut the hearts out just outside the outline stitching.  Finally, you soak the hearts in hot water to dissolve the Solvy.

If you are making a lot of hearts, the second batch is even easier because you will save up the snips from the first batch and recycle them into filling for the second sandwich. I saved the snips from my second batch in a little plastic bag and stashed them in my miscellaneous drawer for next year.

One final construction tip: here’s how to put on the hanging cords most efficiently. Thread your needle with your cord of choice but do not cut the thread off the spool. Thread all the hearts onto the cord and push them a good ways up toward the spool so they don’t fall off. Now take the first heart, slide it back toward the end, cut off enough cord for its hanging loop, and knot it. Repeat with the second heart and all the rest.


  1. Cute idea, and very clear instructions. Thanks, Kathy!

  2. that is fantastic and they look great!

  3. Looks like a wonderfully fun project.

  4. Hey - I love it. I know how to do it but to associate it with a valentine is awesome! THX

  5. Great idea. I have some old library card pockets that I wanted to make some hearts to put in them after they are color washed. Your little hearts will be fantastic and I have all the supplies.

  6. Looks like a lot of fun - and a good use for leftover bits! We hate to waste anything.

  7. Linda's comment about leftover bits hits home with me. I have always loved to keep (and use) leftover bits, and over the years my standard for the minimum size of bit worth saving has gone smaller and smaller. Now it's so low that I have a huge plastic bag with just thread clippings. What's even more frightening, I actually do use all this stuff...

  8. What a neat idea I will be in the sewing room tomorrow and will have to try this . The females of the family would love it not sure about the guys. Thanks so much for the idea.