Make hand stitched greetings cards with free card stitching patterns and a step-by-step paper embroidery tutorial.
We are going “old-school” with these card stitching designs. You won’t even need your Cricut!
In this tutorial I’ll take you through all the steps for how to make prick-and-stitch cards from scratch, using the free patterns on this page.
This is a great technique to make beautiful, intricate cards for all occasions.
I first started making hand-stitched cards around 15 years ago. I love how they look with the pretty details and delicate threads. Recently I came across some of my older cards and got inspired to create some more designs. I hope you like them! 🥰
Paper stitching video tutorial
The video below shows how to make paper stitching cards and how to print the PDF patterns. Scroll further down this page to see the patterns.
A written version of this video is available further down the page too.
Free card stitching patterns
To get you started on your card stitching adventure, I’ve created a collection of free paper embroidery patterns for a range of different occasions.
Each pattern comes in two sizes: a smaller version that’s great for 5×7 inch cards and a larger pattern for A5 or Half-Letter cards.
You will need to register an account if you don’t already have one. Registration is quick and free!
If you already have an account, login to see the download buttons under each pattern photo.
Here’s a list of materials you’ll need for this project.
Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and make a purchase I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
- Card blank
- Embroidery thread in various colours
- Embroidery Needle
- Colour Printer
- Printer paper
- Washi tape, masking tape or similar
- Foam pricking mat or piece of old packaging foam
- Sticky tape
- Pricking tool or similar (a Cricut weeding tool would work well!)
- Brayer tool (optional)
- Glue or double sided tape
- Foam squares (optional)
- Patterned paper or coloured card
Card stitching tutorial for beginners
Here’s how to make beautiful card stitching cards, also known as paper embroidery.
Step 1) Download and print your chosen pattern
Download your chosen free card stitching template from the designs found further up this page (scroll up to find them!).
Head to your downloads folder and find the file you have just downloaded. You need to unzip the download folder that it comes in.
- How to unzip a folder on Windows computer
- How to unzip a folder on a Mac
- How to unzip a folder on an iPad/iPhone
- How to unzip a folder on an Android device
Each pattern comes in two sizes which you will see within the unzipped folder.
Choose from a 5×7 inch card or an A5 card. If you are in the USA, it’s unlikely that you will have A5 card so check the measurements on the bottom of the pattern when you click the file. Most of these patterns should fit on half of your US Letter paper.
The patterns come in PDF format. If you don’t have a program on your computer capable of opening PDFs then try you may need to install a PDF reader, for example Adobe Acrobat Reader (it’s free).
Print a copy of the pattern on your home printer from regular copy paper. You don’t need to print this onto cardstock.
You may have options to change the size depending on your printer. For example, I have the option to select Custom Scale or Actual Size. If I select Custom Scale it will try to fill the whole space which could mean that my pattern doesn’t fit on my 5×7 inch card. To avoid this, I selected Actual Size.
Step 2) Place the pattern on your card
Take your printed patterns and cut around it roughly.
You can stitch directly onto your card blank, but I prefer to cut a separate piece of card to stitch on, then glue that to the card blank at the end.
To do this, cut a piece of cardstock that’s smaller than the final card you want to make. I tend to make mine around 1 inch smaller in total than my actual card size.
Thicker card is better as it’s sturdier for when you are stitching.
Place your pattern onto the card and line it up centrally. Use washi tape to hold the pattern down on the card so that it doesn’t move about whilst you’re pricking the holes.
Place the card onto your foam and use a pricking tool to push through the pattern and the card using the dots as a guide.
Keep the needle upright and push through all the dots on your card.
When you’re pricking the holes, pay attention to any areas that have lots of holes really close together, especially if you’re cutting the smaller version of the patterns. If your needle is quite thick or you have printed the pattern smaller, you may find that some of the holes are too close together. If you were to prick every single one of them it might join together and break the cardstock. If you think this may happen, miss every other hole when punching.
Carefully remove the washi tape to reveal the holes pricked underneath.
Step 3) Stitch the paper embroidery template
It’s up to you how many strands of the embroidery thread you decide to use but I recommend that you don’t use more than 3 as otherwise it can get difficult to work with.
For the pumpkin design, I used 3 strands.
Cut an appropriate length of embroidery floss and thread it through your needle. We will be following the lines on the pattern with the thread.
The pattern shows which colours to use and where you need to stitch. It looks a bit like a dot to dot puzzle.
Choose a hole to begin with and thread your needle through from the back to the front. Pull the thread through until there is just a little bit left.
Secure the thread to the back of the card using sticky tape. Make sure it isn’t covering up any of the holes as you do this.
Turn the card back over and place the needle into one of the holes of the design. It may be a little bit stiff but be gentle as you pull the thread through so that you don’t rip the cardstock.
Continue to thread the needle through the holes, following the guidance on the pattern.
When you get to the end of your thread, secure it to the back of the card with another piece of sticky tape.
Continue following the pattern with a new piece of thread.
Once you have finished with one colour, move on to the next.
Don’t worry if your card is looking messy on the back where you have been securing your thread, we will cover this up later.
Some of the card stitching patterns have extra instructions written on them to advise on some of the steps to take.
Make sure you pay attention to the pattern to make sure you are stitching correctly.
For example, on this pattern I am skipping every other hole to create a more detailed “swirl”.
Step 4) Finish your handmade card
Use a brayer tool (or rolling pin) and roll it over the back of your stitch card to help close the holes, making them less visible. You can skip this step if you don’t have something suitable to use.
If your stitching is really thick, you may want to press it under a heavy book for a day or so to help flatten it out.
Glue or tape the back of your stitching to a slightly larger, coloured card to cover up the back and to create a border.
Or, if you stitched directly onto your card then glue a piece of card on the inside of the card to cover up the stitching that you can see on the inside.
Use foam squares (or glue) to attach the design to the card.
Make sure you use a good amount of foam squares to stop the cardstock “sagging” in the middle.
And just like that… your hand-stitched card is all finished!
You can embellish the cards however you like, with toppers, ephemera, sequins, stickers and more.
They are perfect for using up some of your patterned paper as the background for the card.
Beautiful handmade cards with paper embroidery
I’ve enjoyed having a break from the Cricut to do some crafting by hand with these card stitching designs.
I love that you can add beads and sequins to certain designs to add a beautiful “extra” touch to your paper embroidery cards.
Prick-and-stitch cards are bound to be gratefully received by your family and friends no matter which occasion you make it for.
Or why not craft one of the flower designs as a “thinking of you” or “just because” card. Getting a handmade card in the mail will put a smile on anyone’s face!