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This thin blue line string art heart is the perfect Valentine’s Day decoration for LEO families. Make yourself with this easy free pattern and instructions!

I didn’t realize until this past year how few decorations we actually have for our house – especially for holidays.

I mean, we had a ton of Halloween stuff out in October because it’s my son’s favorite, but then we put it away and I said, “Let’s get the Thanksgiving stuff out!”

My husband pulled out a few less-Halloween-y pumpkins and said, “You mean these?”

Yeah, that was pretty much it.

Then Christmas came, and of course we had decorations for that – stockings, ornaments, the whole nine yards.

But then that got put away and I felt like – now what?

So I decided to make some decorations specifically for Valentine’s Day.  I thought it would be fun to incorporate the thin blue line into them, and I really love how they turned out – so I wanted to share with you how I did it!

I’ll also make notes of trouble spots and what I might do differently next time, plus some ideas to customize this project a bit more.

So without further ado, here’s how you can make some super simple thin blue line string art for this Valentine’s Day.

Thin Blue Line String Art: Instructions

Step 1: Gather Materials

Start by making sure you have all the materials you need so you don’t find yourself scrambling last minute.  I mean, none of the materials are crazy unusual, but still – better to be prepared!

What you’ll need:

Wood

You can get pre-cut wood panels for this project, either online or somewhere like Hobby Lobby, or run to Home Depot/Lowes and have them cut the wood for you.

I did my heart-shaped string art on a 10″ x 10″ piece of wood, and the “love” pattern (printed at 125%) on a 10″ by 7″ piece of wood.  I sized the words to fit on a 5×7 piece of wood, but I didn’t have that size!  I got my wood from a creative resale store in town then had the nice people at Home Depot cut it for me, so I had to fit it to a non-standard size.

The patterns can definitely be made bigger if you have/want to use a bigger piece of wood, but I wouldn’t recommend going any smaller, especially on the “love” pattern.  All the tight spaces can get a little fiddly!  But the bright side is, it doesn’t matter if the letters get a little fuzzy when sizing up.  You’re just going to nail around the edges anyway, so it doesn’t matter if it’s high-quality printing.

Depending on how you want your finished art to look, you may choose to stain the wood beforehand or paint it, too – up to you!  You could even Mod Podge some cute scrapbook paper underneath if you really wanted to.  The possibilities are kinda endless.

If you want to do something like that, make sure you get those supplies and make time for it to dry properly before you start hammering the nails in.

Or just get pre-stained wood from Hobby Lobby, as I said.  There are lots of options, depending on how much money you want to spend and how much time you want to take.

Nails

Back to that creative reuse store for a second: it’s awesome.  It’s basically an arts and crafts thrift store.  I got the wood there, but I also got the nails.  They were super cheap and perfect for what I needed, but they did have a few downsides.

See, I got black panel nails.  They look good and stay sturdily in the wood because they’re threaded, BUT because they’re threaded, I had a hard time pushing the string down once they were wrapped.  I was still able to do it on the heart pattern, but I had a lot more trouble on the “love” one.

I’ve seen people suggest different kinds of nails, most of which I’ve forgotten – ha.  But as long as they’re long enough, but not too long, and have a decently sized head, they’ll work.

The ones I used were about 3/4″ long, and that seemed perfect for what I had.

Note that if you want, you can use random nails and mix it up.  It’ll just give you a more “rustic” appearance in your final product.

You’ll need 106 nails for the heart pattern and I used about the same amount for the love pattern.  But again, this may vary if you change the size of the pattern, and depending on how detailed you want it to be in the end.

You’ll also, of course, need a hammer to put the nails in the wood.  I trust you know this, but I also wanna give you a list of ALL your supplies to make sure you’re prepared as possible 🙂

String

So, I used very thin string for these.  Like the black and white thread are crochet thread, the blue on the “love” one is cross stitch floss, and the blue for the heart is an unidentified thicker thread with less “give” than you would expect of say, yarn.

While I liked these, I later helped my son do a T. rex one and used thin yarn (fingering weight, for those familiar with yarn gauge – holla, fellow knitters!) which worked up a lot more quickly.

Here’s his finished project, for those curious – and yes, that’s his tiny Christmas tree for his room that hasn’t gotten removed yet.  Whoops!

I was able to cover the area more quickly – it didn’t feel like I had to go over and over and OVER to get good coverage.

Then again, I really like the crosshatched design I ended up with on the heart – so that kinda made the effort worth it.

In the end, it’s up to you.  So if you want to spend a long time doing this and have it look super intricate, crochet thread is the way to go.  If you want to bang it out and get a solid finished product regardless, try some fairly thin yarn 🙂  Or hey, thick yarn if you really wanna whip through this project.

Of course, if you want to make it super Valentines-y, you could always swap the black/white string for a light pink.  Or, again, paint the wood pink – whatevs!  I just made mine pretty basic/simple so that if I wanted to have it up year-round, it would be a viable option.

Pattern

The patterns I used for this thin blue line string art are available in the Love and Blues resource library (sign up below for the password!)  The heart one is a lot more clear-cut, a lot easier to follow.  I didn’t add the dots to the “love” one because, honestly, I wasn’t 100% sure how it would turn out – but I hope I’ll give enough instructions that you can follow without issue!

Of course, you can also just search for “(blank) outline” and use what you find on Google if you want a more customized one (like one of your state, one that’s more badge-shaped, or whatever).  There are also lots of other free options floating around Pinterest (like these free string art patterns – there are 30 super cute options!)

You’ll also need some tape to secure the pattern to wood so it doesn’t move while you hammer nails into it.

Step 2: Print pattern and arrange on wood.

Print out whatever pattern you’ve chosen and arrange it on your wood plank.  Remember, you won’t really be able to paint it or anything once the string is on, so make sure it’s sanded/painted/stained/whatever to specifications before this step! Even once the nails are in it would be kind of fiddly to do.  So make sure you get that done first 🙂

Gratuitous picture of my sweet little helper’s hands.  She doesn’t sleep, but gosh she’s cute.

Here are the patterns, all laid out and taped down how I want them.  Now comes the fun part!

Step 3: Nail around pattern.

Alrighty, I’m going to start with the less obvious of the two patterns.  I tried to take a healthy amount of pictures of the process (you know, enough to see what I was doing without overwhelming you.)

I didn’t mark out the blue line of this pattern before I started, so I used a ruler to mark it out.  I didn’t have a pen nearby (of course – baby girl probably ran off with it) so I just dragged a nail across the edge to mark it out.  This actually worked out pretty well, because when I went to mark it underneath, I could tear off just the “line area” so I knew exactly where to mark (more pictures of that later).

I started from left to right, from the most fiddly area to the least.  Side note, if you find you’ve put too many nails on or they’re too close together for your comfort, you can always take them out!  The string will mostly cover the holes and won’t affect the overall product too much (just see the T. rex for proof – I took a bunch out of its left foot because I got a little overzealous!)

Coming along nicely!  You can see the nails are pretty crooked.  I’m not sure if it’s because they’re the ringed nails and harder to nail in or because I suck at hammering nails.  Eh.  You can decide for yourself. 

The designs with the paper pulled off!  They’re starting to take shape.

Again, the heart pattern is pretty easy to follow, with the dots and all, so I didn’t take many in-progress pictures of that.  But notice, for a second, the sharpie marks I made to show where the blue should go.

I just made a few marks inside the nail line to help me remember where to wrap the blue string later, because my plan was to wrap it completely in black then do blue over the top.

*note!  If you want to do a different kind of wrapping pattern, feel free to nail along the edge of the blue line part, too.  It’s a pretty simple change if you’d like to switch things up.  But you can also do plan side-to-side wrapping, or whatever – there are lots of different ways to do this that all look pretty great!

Step 4: Start wrapping.

Okay, I know I said the nailing was the fun part.  It kind of is, but it’s also loud and tedious.  Now, the wrapping is pretty meditative and perfect for a binge-watching session of Snapped.

ready to start thin blue line string art!

I started with the love pattern simply because I knew it would be more complex.

I started with the blue here because it seemed easiest.  For each section, I wrapped the border, then filled in the middle.

Once the blue was finished, I repeated the process for the white.

Finished product, ta da!  Well, almost.

I decided I wanted the white part better filled in, but I had trouble scooching the string down the ridged nails.  So to fill it in, I ended up using a needle and thread – pain in the butt.  So be sure to start wrapping low on the nail so you don’t have the same problem!

Then I started on the heart pattern.

Here’s the fancy diagram I made to show how I wrapped.  I followed the border of the heart first in black (lower down this time to save me trouble later!! then at opposite angles for a nice crosshatched pattern.

Here’s a good picture of the heart finished in black.

Make sure that any time you change directions, you wrap the string around the nail.  It’ll keep your design nice and secure!

Then I wrapped the blue string side to side for the blue line… because as cute as the black heart is on its own, what’s thin blue line string art sans blue line?

I also added a little glue to the knots of the blue string because it felt slick to me.  I didn’t want to chance it coming undone!

For the thin blue line string art if you're using thread that's kinda slippery, make sure to add glue!

Step 5: Display proudly!

Add a hanger to the back or just prop against the wall, and you’re done!

thin blue line string art finished

And a picture of each on their own (yay!)

I’m so in love with how these turned out!  And beyond stoked for some actual Valentine’s Day decorations.  Ha!

Alternate ideas for thin blue line string art:

  • Make it with pink or white string instead of black (I would use a darker piece of wood for this personally for the extra contrast.)
  • Use a more rustic looking piece of wood for more rustic looking art.
  • Change from blue to red for a thin red line string art for firefighters
  • Change how you wrap it for a different pattern
  • Put it on a larger piece of wood with hooks for a good decorative entryway storage option (especailly for gear!)
  • Add extra nails along the border of the blue line so you can wrap in different more elaborate patterns.
  • Use for nursery art for a new LEO baby

 

However you do it, this is a really fun project that you can even do with kids!

If you follow these instructions, be sure to post a photo in the comments or tag me on basically any social media channel with @Lovebluesblog – I would love to see what you make!

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