Tutorial: draw a freehand heart for applique

Patterns and Templates

The heart seems to be one of the most enduring designs in patchwork and applique, but not the easiest to draw freehand so I thought I’d share how I go about designing my own. I love the process of drawing, and for me this bit is as much fun as the sewing!

Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio: Tutorial: make your own heart patterns for quilting, patchwork and appliqué


These gingham hearts are ready to be stitched using the needle turn applique method and the great thing about them is that they fit perfectly in the patches they were designed for.  It’s not always possible to get a perfect fit with bought templates, or those you find in the back of books, but it’s so simple to design your own and get the exact size that you want  I don’t know why you’d do it any other way!

You will need

  • Sheet of squared paper
  • pencil
  • flexible curve (available from haberdasheries – often in the dressmaking section)
  • sheet of thin card


1. On your squared paper, draw a rectangle or square the same size as your finished patch will be (in this case 12cm x 10cm). Divide the rectangle in halves as shown below and from corner to corner.


Preparing to draw a heart shaped pattern for applique. Stephanie Boon, 2012

Step 1.

2. Draw a second rectangle inside the first, where you’d like the template to ‘sit’. In this case I decided I wanted the outer edges of the heart to be about 1cm away from the outside edges of the patch.

Designing a heart template for applique. Stephanie Boon, 2012

Steps 2 and 3

3. Sketch half a free-hand heart within one half of the inner rectangle. If you study the sketch above you’ll notice how the top edge of the heart (in the top right hand quarter of the rectangle) is roughly parallel to the dashed diagonal line that crosses it. In the bottom right quarter you’ll notice that the right edge of the heart virtually creates a diagonal line across this quarter (and is also parallel with the dashed line above it). Once you’re happy with your rough sketch move on to step 4.

Designing a heart shape for appliqué. Stephanie Boon 2012

Step 4.

4. This step is about evening up your heart shape. Use your flexible curve to follow the free-hand sketch that you drew and then draw around it to smooth it out – you could use a different coloured pencil so that it shows up more if you wish.

Designing a heart template for appliqué. Stephanie Boon 2012

Step 4 completed


5. Now fold your template paper along the central vertical centre line, and cut along curved line that you drew, so you end up with a template as shown below.

Designing a heart template for applique. Stephanie Boon

5. Finished template

This is the finished size of your template, so what we need to do now is cut another template that includes a seam allowance (should you need it for needle-turn applique, etc).

6. Draw around your paper template onto thin card and cut it out. Mark it ‘finished size’. Draw around this template onto thin card once again (I used old card, which accounts for the marks on it in the photos!).

Designing a heart template for applique. Stephanie Boon

Step 6.

7. On this drawing you need to place the inside edge of the flexible curve around the outside edge of the heart. Now draw around it to give you a template with a seam allowance. You could mark this template ‘cutting template’ or something similar. Cut it out and you’re ready to go!

Designing a heart template for applique. Stephanie Boon 2012

Step 7.

Competed heart template with seam allowance, ready to cut out.

Designing a heart template for applique. Stephanie Boon.

The template with a seam allowance ready to cut out and use

8. Now all you do is draw round the ‘template with seam allowance’ onto a piece of fabric, then place the ‘finished size’ template inside it and draw around that, like shown in the first photo at the top of this post. This gives you a line to clip to and turn under before applique-ing to your rectangular (or square) patch.

Gingham hearts cut and ready for appliqué. Stephanie Boon 2012

Hearts cut and ready to stitch

I hope this tutorial is helpful and you have fun drawing your own hearts 🙂

My other tutorials can be found here.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

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