Remember when we were in elementary school and were given a piece of red construction paper and shown how to fold it in half and cut out a heart with our blunt tipped scissors. As children our cutting skills would result in very primitive hearts. Draft a heart using paper and pencil will result in a perfect balanced heart that will look great on your quilts.
To make a perfect and balanced heart, you will need a sheet of copy paper and a circle drawing tool or compass available in the school supply section of a variety or discount store. If you don't have a circle drawing tool or compass available, try a small dish or a round lid from a plastic container. You will need to draw a 4" diameter circle for the example below.
Useful definitions: Diameter is the distance across the widest part of the circle.
Radius is half the distance across the widest part of a circle or the distance from the center of the circle to the outside edge.
To draw a balanced and perfect heart think of your heart as a nine-patch. For example, draw a 6" heart using the following method.
1. Draw a grid of nine squares 2" x 2" each. You will have three 2" squares across and three 2" squares down for a total of nine squares with the dimensions of 6" on each side of the grid -- like a 9-patch.
2. Number the grid of three squares across and three squares down as follows:
3. Squares 4, 5, 7, 8 are the main part of the heart. You don't draw anything there -- leave the squares as they are.
4. Set your circle drawing compass to a 2" radius. (Radius is half of the diameter.) Place the compass point on the line between squares #1 and #2 where the line intersects with squares #4 and #5. In squares #1 and #2 draw a half circle making an arc from the lower left edge of square #1 to the lower right edge of square #2. This arc is a half circle.
5. Turn the drawn grid a quarter turn to the left and repeat with another arc. Place the compass point on the line between square #6 and #9 where the line intersects with #5 and #8. In squares #6 and #9 draw a half circle making an arc from the lower left edge of square #6 to the lower right edge of square #9. This arc is a half circle.
6. Cut your heart out discarding square #3 and the crescent shaped area outside the arcs made in step 4 and 5.
This drawing method will work with any size heart. Your limit is the size of your paper and your circle drawing tool.
Make A Large Circle Drawing Tool
If you want to make a very large heart, you will need to make a large circle drawing tool. You may make one using a large straight pin, a length of firm -- not stretchy -- yarn or string and a short pencil. Tie a loop of at one end of the string and place it around the pencil. Measure the string for the radius of the circle you wish to draw -- remember radius is half the diameter. Place the straight pin in the center of the paper. Tie the string around the pin. Hold the pin in place if necessary. Keep the string taught and rotate the pencil around the center of the circle. Be careful not to pull too hard on the string so the pin stays in place. You can draw a circle any size you wish using this method.
Hearts For Applique And Quilting
The hearts you draft using this method may be used for appliqué or quilting designs. You may cut a plastic template of the entire heart to trace on your quilt or to make patterns for appliqué. Make heart patterns in several sizes to have on hand for quilting and appliqué.
If you wish to use this pattern for piecing, simply trace templates from your uncut drawing. For our example above, you will need to rotary cut a 4 1/2" square of heart fabric for the main part of the heart squares #4, 5, 7, 8. You will need a 2 1/2" square of background fabric for square #3.
Half circle and arc -- make template of the half circle -- add seam allowance to the straight edge and the curved edge. Make a template of the arc -- add seam allowance to the inside curve and the outside straight edge. Cut two half circle from heart fabric and two arch from background fabric.
Use curved piecing techniques to piece the half circle of the heart to the arc background. Fold arc and half circle pieces in half and crease with fingernail to mark the center. Place the arc fabric on top of the half circle fabric -- right sides together. Pin at the beginning of the seam and the end of the seam. Also place a pin at the center. Stitch using 1/4" seam, easing the arc piece into the circle piece. Repeat for the other half circle heart and arc background. Simply stitch the circle/arc pieces to the heart square and background square as in your drawing.
You may also appliqué the half circle to the arc using the following method:
For our example above, cut your half circles using a template. Cut your background pieces 2 1/2" x 4 1/2". Use your preferred method of appliqué to stitch the heart half circles to the background fabric.
The heart shape is commonly used in many quilt patterns and the ability to make them any size you wish will open many opportunities to adding hearts to your quilts by appliqué, quilting or piecing.