Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Scandinavian Christmas: Day 8

Today marks day 8 of Scandinavian Christmas, it's flying by and Christmas is practically here!  Remember to add your photos to the Scandinavian Christmas 2011 Flickr group here to join in the fun! Today we get to hear from a wonderful Danish blogger, Birgitte.  She blogs over at SewDanish where she shares a variety of crafts that focus primarily on Danish textile art.  She also has a great Etsy shop here where she makes a range of crafty items from handmade gift tags to origami Christmas stars.  Today she is here to share with us how to make these cute Danish heart ornaments!  To start, I asked her a few questions so we could get to know her a little more...

1. What is your Scandinavian heritage? 

I’m a 100% native Dane spending the first 3 ½ decades of my life living and working in Denmark. While working aboard, I met my American husband and for quite some years we have been living in England, which makes it very easy to nip over to Denmark to visit family and friends.
Usually we celebrate Christmas with my family in Copenhagen which is always a lovely time. Copenhagen is so beautifully decorated at Christmas time and it is such a special treat strolling the pedestrian zone in the city center, just taking in the lights and atmosphere.

2. What's your favorite Christmas cookie?

Oh that is a difficult one! I love the Danish traditional Christmas cookies and always bake between 3-5 different kinds during the month of December. Danish Christmas cookies are generally a lot smaller and very crisp compared to the huge American soft chocolate chip cookies.  I often try to add a new recipe and currently one of my newcomers is my favorite. It is a small round cookie baked with fresh orange rind and decorated with dark chocolate. Yummy.

3. What your favorite type of craft to do (knitting, sewing, embroidery...etc...)?

Over the years, since early childhood, I have touched base with a huge amount of techniques. I’ve always been crafting and creating things. Currently I’m exploring the borderline between art quilting and contemporary machine (free style) embroidery throwing in a bit of mixed media.
I belong to a contemporary textile art group called. ‘Fibrefusion’ where we are always working towards exhibition deadlines resulting in several machine and hand stitching  projects on the go. For mindless relaxing I do love a spot of either knitting or crocheting.


As a child my mother every year got my sister and I to make Christmas ornaments in the weeks leading up to Christmas. We had little store bought ornaments and I believe that my appreciation for unique handmade ornaments started there. I cannot help designing and making Christmas ornaments, and being able to list them in my Etsy shop: SewDanish has been great.  I love making the old Danish/Scandinavian traditional ornaments with an updated twist as well as designing new.

I developed the technique for the Christmas ornaments, when I was having fun experimenting and making samples for Fibrefusion' recently published book ‘Muslin’, which an inspirational and experimental work book about creating lovely fiber art using thin, inexpensive, loose weave fabrics. 
Start by layering 10 -12 layers of muslin/calico/turbin cotton in approx. 6 x 8 inch (15 x 20 cm) oblong. The muslin can be any colour you like.
If choosing white/off white you have the option of coloring the hearts after stitching.

Draw 2 hearts (or any other simple shape) on a piece of cartridge paper or ‘stitch and tear’. Don’t cut out. Pin the pattern along the 4 edges of the muslin bundle.
If stitching the hearts free hand on the machine, you may skip drawing a pattern.

Thread your sewing machine and stitch the hearts either by following your pattern or drawing the  shape in free motion on your machine.
When free motion stitching lower the feed dogs, release the top thread tension and zero the stitch length. Now you are in control of moving the fabric creating the stitched lines.
OR you can leave your machine ‘normal’ with the feed dogs up, normal top tension and stitch length 2.5 – 3. Both will work.
I prefer free styling it for a more relaxed look, but have a play and see what suits you.

Stitch, following your first out line, by going over it at least 4 times. You can stitch these bands as wide or as narrow as you like. The stitch lines need to be very close and partly on top of each other.  Now repeat these stitch lines inside the heart. Depending on the size of the heart repeat  once or twice (or more). 

Remove your fabric from the machine. With a pair of scissors cut very close along, but not into, the outermost stitched band.

 Now look at your heart and decide what areas you would like to cut away between the stitched lines. The aim is to create higher and lower areas. With a fine pointed pair of scissors carefully cut through only the 5-6 top layers of muslin. It is easier to cut a few layers at the time than doing it all in one go.

The heart can now be further embellished with hand embroidery and or beads. Add a piece of string, twine, raffia or ribbon to hang your hearts.

If you aren’t too keen on the slightly raw, frayed edges, you can seal the edges with a bit of acrylic paint like shown on the stars.

These stars have a different look to the hearts, as they were sewn on white muslin/calico and dyed afterwards. The stars were then embellished with hand embroidery and the surface was ever so lightly dry brushed with acrylic paint for added texture.

Please note the boring bits:

These instructions are for personal use only. You are however welcome to use a single photo and a brief description , linking them back to where you came across the instructions.
The instructions may not be republished in their entirety without the permission of me, the author, Birgitte Hendricks. I can be contacted through my blog http://SewDanish.blogspot.com 

A huge thank you again to Birgitte for sharing this great tutorial!  Be sure to stop by her blog and take a look around her Etsy shop!


  1. What a lovely serie providing glimps into the Scandinavian Christmas. I'm really enjoying reading the various posts!
    Thank you for publishing my article. I really appreciate it.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.
    Rigtig glaedelig jul og et godt nytaar :-)

  2. I enjoyed your blog Birgitte,the painted stars are so homey and pretty.

  3. I'm so glad you could join in the series this year, Birgitte! :)