Nothing touches someone quite as much as a gift you've made yourself with love and care. Whether it's Valentine-red satin, girly pink, lumberjack plaid or silk and lace, a heart-shaped pillow looks far more complicated to make than it really is. Let your creativity run riot with ribbons, bows, buttons and trim and use a couple of pieces of second-hand duvet for the padding for a heartfelt gift that's good to go.
Draw a heart shape on a sheet of newspaper with a pencil. Make each side equal by folding the sheet of newspaper in two and drawing one side of a heart with the newspaper fold to the right or left. Keep the newspaper folded and cut around the drawn line. Open out the newspaper for a full heart-shaped template.
Fold fabric in two and place the newspaper template on top. Use dressmaking pins to attach the template to the fabric. Cut out the double layer of fabric using dressmaking scissors.
Pin the two halves of the fabric together, with the right sides facing each other. Sew long tacking stitches around the perimeter 6 mm (1/4 inch) from the edge with a needle and cotton. Remove the dressmaking pins.
Start at the bottom edge of the heart and, using a 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) seam, sew for 2.5 cm (1 inch). Reverse-stitch back to the beginning of the seam to strengthen the join and continue sewing around the heart. When you reach two-thirds of the way down the opposite side, leave the remainder of the seam unsewn and reverse-stitch for 2.5 cm (1 inch) to strengthen that side of the seam.
Remove the tacking stitches. Iron both sides of the heart, flattening out the fabric along the seams. Use the tips of dressmaking scissors to make small V-shaped clips in the fabric around the curves, at the bottom of the heart and around the dip at the top of the heart. Cut away some of the 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) seam at the top and bottom to make the seam less bulky. Clip close to the sewing line but do not cut it.
Turn the fabric heart inside out and smooth out the curves. Iron the fabric, easing the top and bottom of the heart into the smoothest seams possible.
Cut away 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) from around the newspaper template to reduce its size and place it on two layers of thin duvet. Fix with dressmaking pins. Cut around the template and remove the pins. Tack around the edges of the heart, joining the two pieces of duvet together.
Join the two pieces of duvet together and to provide a secure edge, using a 6 mm (1/4 inch) seam on a sewing machine. Remove the tacking stitches. Open out the bias binding with the folds facing you, unfold the top half and pin it along the fold onto the sewing line on the pad. Leave a 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) overlap on each end. Tack stitch the bias binding to the duvet and remove the pins. Stitch along the fold of the bias binding. Remove the tacking stitches.
Work on the other side of the heart and bring the bias binding over the top of the padding edge. Leave the binding folded and pin it along the sewing line around the pad. Tack stitch it into place and remove the pins.
Hand-hem or stitch the bias binding to the pad along the very edge of the bias binding fold. If you choose to stitch on the sewing machine, be aware that the machine stitches show on the other side, whereas hemming keeps both sides neat. Tuck one overlap of the bias binding under the other end, using a pin or a needle to poke it in. Fold the outer end and hem in place.
Slip the padding carefully into the cushion cover through the gap and smooth it out to remove bumps. Use a needle and thread and small, neat stitches to hem the small opening shut.
When drawing the template on newspaper, don't make the dip at the top too deep or too sharp, otherwise the seam will be tricky to clip and press flat. Before sewing the cover halves together, attach beads, buttons, contrasting fabric shapes and other decoration so any edges are caught in the seam when it's stitched. If you prefer to use a zip, sew this in before you sew the sides of the cover together. If you're making a ring-bearer's cushion, fill with cork granules or small plastic beads for a firmer surface in which to make a dip to hold the ring more securely.