Friday 11 March 2011

How To: Embroidered Faux Bois Heart

A fun embroidery project - sew a faux bois (fake wood) picture of a romantic carving of a couple’s initials in the trunk of a tree.

This project would make a special gift for weddings or anniversaries, or for Valentine's day - personalise it with the couple's initials and perhaps also a special date.

You will need:
Templates (at the bottom of this post)
Dark brown felt (approx. 40 x 46cm)
Dark brown embroidery thread (1-2 skeins)
Pale brown embroidery thread
Dark brown sewing thread
White or other light coloured sewing thread.
Thin quilt batting (approx. 23 x 23cm)
Twine or brown cord (approx. 18cm)
Greaseproof paper or thin tracing paper (approx. 12 x 14cm)
Needles, scissors, pins

1. Cut two pieces of dark brown felt each approximately 23cm square, and a piece of quilt batting the same size then make a “sandwich” of the three pieces with the batting in the middle. Pin the picture template provided in the centre of the square, pinning through all three layers.

2. Sew around the outside of the template with white or other light coloured sewing thread, sewing long stitches as close to the edge of the paper as you can to accurately mark out the shape. Finish your stitching loosely so you can easily unpick it later, and remove the pins.

This line of stitching holds the three layers together, and also acts as a guiding “frame” for your embroidery.

3. Trace the heart template provided onto a piece of greaseproof paper or thin tracing paper and add the initials of the couple you’re making the picture for – or draw smaller initials and add a date below them. Remember these letters are supposed to be carved in a tree trunk so draw simple letter forms.

Position the paper in the centre of the stitched “frame” and pin it in place.

4. Using a large needle and pale brown embroidery thread, sew along your traced design using back stitch and small even stitches. Then carefully tear away the paper to remove it, using a pin to remove any small fiddly pieces.

5. Fill the empty space in the picture with freeform faux bois embroidery with dark brown embroidery thread, using half the number of strands. Start by sewing the “knots” in the wood (swirls and rings of ovals) and then add slightly wobbly lines around them to build up a fake wood effect.

Either use backstitch or sew even running stitches and fill in the gaps sewing back in the opposite direction, whichever you prefer. Make sure you leave a gap of a few mms around the pale brown stitching and around the edge of the picture.

The faux bois embroidery is quite time consuming but it’s a very relaxing project you can do while watching TV, and you can speed it up by sewing fewer lines with larger spaces between them.

6. Following the lines of the stitched “frame” cut away the excess felt and wadding to leave a neat square, taking care not to accidentally cut any of the embroidery in the process.

Remove the large stitches and use the embroidered square as a template to cut a backing piece of matching dark brown felt.

7. Cut a length of twine or narrow brown cord about 18cms long. Sew this in place with whip stitches to the back of the embroidery so the ends overlap the felt by a couple of centimetres.

You may want to add a card insert to help stiffen the picture. To make this, draw around the picture template onto some scrap card and trim it by approximately 5mm all the way round the edge to make a square slightly smaller than the template.

8. Pin the back and front pieces together (with the card insert between them if you’re using one) and sew around the edges with neat blanket stitch in matching dark brown sewing thread. Finish your stitches neatly at the back.

If you're giving this picture as a gift, you could even continue the woodland theme with the gift wrapping! (click HERE for the full gift wrap tutorial)

Here are the templates for this project - double click to view full size and print out. If you print at 100% your picture will be the same as mine, just change the % to make a smaller or larger picture (at 100% the template sheet will print out as A4 size).

This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it for as many fun craft projects as you like and to make gifts for friends but not to make anything which you then sell. Please feel free to borrow photos if you want to blog about it but remember to credit me and link back to the original source, and do not reproduce my entire tutorial on your site. Thanks!

Enjoyed this free tutorial? Buy me a "coffee" and help support my blog!

Buy Me a Coffee at

Subscribe to my newsletter for a monthly free pattern and visit my crafty tutorial archive for lots more free projects.

Visit my shop to buy my printable PDF sewing patterns:


Chloe said...

such a cute idea & well presented Tutorial =) really love the woodland theme packaging, especially the cardboard leaves, very eco =D

thankyou for sharing!

Chloe x

Unknown said...

i love it;d this idea is really great!

Anonymous said...

This is just adorable. I love the wrapping.

con il ♥ e le mani said...

using tracing paper is such a smart tip! thank you for sharing!

Rebekah said...


lisbonlioness said...

This is WELL neat, thanks so muchfor the inspiration!

Fiona said...

What a lovely idea.

Renee@Rustic Crafts said...

I love this and you have such clear cut instructions! Well done.

Anji* said...

LOVE this project! said...

That is soooo pretty! I love your tutorials, you explain things so well! I'll be adding this to my own gotta-make-it list and spreading the word.

mama k said...

This is awesome! I think I am going to use your tute to make an annversary gift for my DH. 10 years this year! ;)

Clotilde M. said...

Very cute and ingenious!

Kattuna said...

Thanks for the tutorial! This is so cute! I love it! Can't wait to try it :)