This is the template I use. I chose to cut out the inside of the shape to trace and then I've saved it and re-used it many times.
I chose a pretty white fabric that has a white floral print on it. I liked it because it feels lace-like and since it will be a Valentine's heart for the Valentine's Day Heart Swap over at Hand Embroidery Yahoo Group it fits nicely. This swap is for a 6 inch unfinished edges heart.
Also I cut a nice generous size square so I have room to hoop my heart without worrying about hoop marks, pinching or dimpling the fabric. It also makes it easier to finish the heart if there is excess around it as well.
I used a water-erasable ink pen to draw out the heart shape. Later on I will baste the shape with some contrasting thread so that I can rinse off the ink but yet the basted thread will mark the shape for whoever receives it so that they can finish the edges the way that they would like.
Next I found some floral motifs I liked and put them on tracing paper. I got this rose and leaf from Decorative Floral Designs and Motifs CD-ROM and Book.
I'm planning on using the water-erasable pen to write 'Love' in between the rose and the leaf.
Next I pinned down the tracing paper with my motif on it. I thought about turning it into an iron-on transfer, but I think I get more detail if I just embroider through the tracing paper. This rose has a lot of intricate spots that I didn't want to lose in the tracing and ironing process.
Next I hooped it with a spring type hoop. I'm using the stem and outline stitch so I like my fabric to be loose for those stitches. Otherwise it is too hard to work them, and the spring hoop gives what I want...to hold it up but give me loose fabric.
Next I chose my floss colors. I picked 3 shades of a rose color DMC floss, so that I can get a feel of depth to the rose instead of just one solid color.
Then I started my embroidery. I used the darkest shade floss for the center flowers. I used 1 strand DMC in the stem and outline stitches. I switch between the 2 stitches as I need to for the direction to be going left to right, that way the lines look more neat when finished.
Now I took the medium color floss and stitched in the middle petals of the rose.
After that I took the lightest shade floss and stitched in the remaining outer petals.
Then I took tweezers and pulled out the tracing paper from around the stitched rose.
Next I will be stitching in the leaves...to be continued...