OK, so I admit to loving handstitching on a layout but it takes a long time so I don't always put the effort in, but I have seen several stitched backgrounds recently and thought I'd give it a go...
To create my background I choose a word: 'lovely'. It's a script word I found in the Design Store. I re-sized it and thickened it up a little bit using the offset tool:
I then multiplied it several times and arranged the words in rows:
I choose a heart shape from the Design Store and ungrouped, then enlarged one of the hearts so that it filled the page. I rotated all the text as a group so they were slanted and added in a few more 'lovely's to fill in any gaps.
I then used 'Modify - Crop' to crop the 'Lovely's so they were only present within the heart (please ignore the large heart on the right, it's there by accident and isn't relevant).
Done! Background created. I then de-selected the text so only the heart was selected and used a sketch pen to draw the heart. Without unloading, I then deselected the heart and selected the text and clicked 'perforate' which cut little notches around all my Lovelys - ready for me to stitch.
The stitching took me around 12 hours. This is a lot of time to put into a layout and I'm still not quite convinced it's worth that amount of effort! I'd used a pink sketch pen to stitch the heart thinking that I would use gradients of pink threads to stitch. In the end I went for blues and gold so the pink didn't really go. I therefore poked my own holes around the heart and stitched that as well. After 12 hours of stitching, the card around the heart was a little beaten up so I cut it out and layered in onto a background. I also used gelatos with water to paint within my Lovelys to make the colours stand out a little more.
I clustered my layout down in one corner as I didn't want to cover up too much of that epic background and added a lot of coordinating small embellishments.
Will I do more stitching on layouts? Definitely, but maybe not on quite such a grand scale!