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This post is part of our #stayconnected series. Rediscover the joy of sending a handmade card in the mail with tutorials inspired by the Cultural Centre’s collections

Tutorial by Shannon Quigley,
Curatorial Programming Assistant

Inspired by The Collection

This delicate embroidered card is the inspiration for our first tutorial. These cards were made in France during the First World War and mailed to loved ones all over the world. This card has the message ‘To my dear Children’ stitched on the front, with a card inside reading ‘Love to all at home’ – signed ‘Daddy’. A lovely and touching piece of history.

Tips for stitching with kids

  • If you have kids at home, work together to make a card by picking out materials together and helping each other stitch
  • Stitch on top of a child’s drawing – with permission of course! Adding stitches on top of a child’s drawing is a great way to work together. Sew on some sequins or beads for added sparkle and texture
  • Use a sharp needle to pre-punch holes and then use a blunt kid friendly needle to do the stitching. Tapestry or darning needles work well and are available at stores like V&S in Minden or Haliburton
  • Take turns holding the card while the other person stitches. This frees up both hands for the stitcher, which makes things a bit easier
  • This photo is of me stitching a felt Christmas ornament with my cousin Victor, age 3. I held the felt and we took turns with the needle. I poked the needle up through the back and he took it and poked it back down, creating long stitches of different lengths. Then Victor picked out some beads and decided where they should go. His sister Galya (age 6) also made an embroidered ornament by drawing a butterfly onto fabric with markers and then stitching on top of her drawing. Notice how her hoop is wedged under a stack of books to keep both hands free for stitching – a great tip for adults too!

Make your own embroidered notecards


  • recycled cardstock or thick paper
  • regular paper for lining (optional)
  • pencil
  • eraser
  • two needles – one bigger than the other
  • embroidery floss / thread
  • scissors

Step 1:

  • Cut out cardstock to the size you’d like the card to be. I used a plain piece of paper as a guide
  • Fold it in half and score the fold so that the card lays flat

Step 2:

  • Write your text onto the card. Use a pencil so you can erase lines later. I’ve used a light pencil, so the letters are a bit hard to see
  • Feel free to practice writing out the letters on plain paper to test out the spacing

Step 3:

  • Pre-punch the holes using a large needle. Save the smaller needle for stitching (if you have two sizes)
  • Erase the pencil marks and get ready to stitch! 🙂

Step 4:

  • Stitch your letters. Cut off an arm’s length of embroidery floss. If your thread is too long it will get tangled
  • Thread your needle, tie a knot on the end and start stitching!
  • This stitch is called chain stitch, which is great for cursive letters and flowing lines. Scroll down to see examples of backstitch and cross stitch cards

Five Tips for stitching

  1. If you’re doing cursive letters, stitch over top of a line when two lines meet
  2. Change your thread where there is a natural break at the beginning or end of a letter, so it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the line. You can also change threads without breaking the chain stitch pattern – see Mary Corbet’s website for instructions.
  3. When you have about four inches of thread left, whip stitch it on the back to finish it off and start a new thread
  4. If threads give you trouble on the back – put masking tape on the back so they don’t unravel
  5. If your thread is getting knots in it (this happens because the needle naturally twists as you sew) hang the needle down and straighten the thread out like an old telephone cord (remember those?)

Step 5:

  • Add a liner to the inside of your card (optional). If you’re using recycled material and the back side doesn’t give you space to write your message, add a liner:
    1. Cut out a piece of paper, slightly smaller than the card
    2. Poke three holes along the spine
    3. Stitch through the holes and tie it off in the centre

More stitches and patterns you can try

Backstitch Fern Card:

  • Now that you know the basic techniques, you can stitch any pattern you like!
    1. Draw your design on with pencil
    2. Pre-punch holes with a large needle
    3. Stitch with a smaller needle
  • Sky is the limit!
  • The fern is stitched with backstitch, but any number of stitches would work

Cross stitch card:

  • Print out a pattern
  • Pre-punch holes with a large needle, going through the pattern and the card
  • Use a smaller needle to stitch

Combine stitches with paint, collage, drawing and more!

  • Experiment with different materials you have at home. Stitch on some buttons, sequins, leaves from outside or whatever materials you have on hand! Try to find something that’s meaningful to your recipient
  • Try adding a few stitches to a drawing, photograph, or magazine cut out to add a splash of texture and colour!
  • This lovely card is from a friend, and has a great combination of collage and stitching. Thanks Jennie for allowing me to post a photo of your handiwork 🙂

Share a picture of your handmade card!

We’d love to see what you make! Email a picture to Shannon at, tag us on facebook or use the submission form on the #stayconnected page.

All handmade cards welcome!