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Stitching to the Plan verses Making Alterations. What do you do?

One of the many things that I love about cross stitch, is that it enables me to be creative in so many ways. This ranges from adjusting the colours in a pattern through to fudging parts of the pattern when I’ve made some minor mistakes. Then there’s the swapping out of French Knots for beads because I’m avoiding doing the French Knots when all I really should do is practice them!

Changing colours

In earlier blog posts when I’ve talked about my WIP (work in progress) I’ve nicknamed Jingle Bells (because I keep forgetting the official name which is Christmas Toys, designed by Irina Zagorodskaya), I’ve swapped out a couple of colours for two reasons – 1. because I thought that the silver thread highlights would add a different dimension or flare to the picture and 2. I didn’t have the shade of blue that the pattern required, so I went through my stash and found another one that seems to work just as well!

Blue Swap and Metallic Highlights

Sometimes when my friend and I talk about swapping colours around in cross stitch patterns, she says that the idea of it freaks her out. She’s worried about getting it wrong and that she would rather stick to what is on the chart and go out and buy any threads that she’s missing. All of that is totally fine and plausible. I worry about getting the colours wrong sometimes as well – especially if I don’t have the colour at all and I have no idea what it should look like. Saying that, I should just look it up on the Net and all would be well!

Things to remember if you’re going to change colours

  • Keep within the same brand of thread you’re using. Over the years I have found that whilst other brands have tried their best to provide us with a conversion chart from their brand to DMC, the colours don’t always match up the way that I at least would like. Which means that if I’m stitching a pattern using DMC threads, I’m going to stick with that brand, regardless of what colours I use. This ensures consistency with the feel of the cotton and vibrancy of the colours. Additionally, if I run out of a DMC colour, I’m going to make sure I purchase the same colour from DMC and not interchange it with a similar shade from a different brand.
  • Sometimes the brands get it wrong. When I was stitching the Fire and Ice horse (pictured below), I was using DMC threads and I ran out of a particular colour. Also, it had been a while since I’d picked up the project to stitch, so when I got around to stitching it again and purchasing the colour I needed, DMC had slightly altered the shade as part of the dying process. Which meant that the colour I had purchased was slightly lighter than what I had previously stitched with, even though it was the same number! This completely threw out the appearance of the picture and by luck, a vendor at the Canberra Quilt and Craft Fair was able to supply me with the colour I needed, because she had a few skeins left over.
Fire and Ice – Designed by Dyan Allaire – produced by Kustom Krafts
  • Limit the amount of changes you’re going to make and use a colour chart. Peacock and Fig wrote a fantastic article on changing colours in a pattern and they strongly recommended limiting the number of colours that are changed. To aid the changes made, they also recommended the use of a colour chart. Especially if you’re not quite sure on how to go about it or what colours would work well in place of the charted colour.
  • Note down what colours you have changed. The point is particularly important so that you don’t get confused and waste a lot of your time, energy and thread.

Fudging a pattern

In a recent blog post titled ‘The Top 5 Cross Stitch Things I’m Yet to Perfect (and 5 I probably won’t!)’, I talked about my need to go back to school and learn how to count. I’ve never really kept count of the amount of times I’ve “stitched myself up” and needed to undo parts of a project because I’ve been completely out with my counting. Regardless of whether I’ve stitched too many or not enough, I try to find a way to fudge it in a way that means it won’t be too obvious what I’ve done and doesn’t throw the rest of the project out of balance.

For example, the most recent fudging I’ve had to do is stitch an “extra” four lines for the Four Season Kittens project because I hadn’t stitched enough. Unfortunately this is a significant muck up and I’ve already stitched a significant amount of the Winter quarter. So in my mind, this is too much for me to go back and figure out where I’ve gone wrong and frog it (another ‘formal’ term meaning to rip it all out, or ribbit like the sound a frog makes!). Now, if I don’t show people what the final picture looks like, it shouldn’t be too obvious. However, if you take a look at the pictures below, you’ll see what I mean…

Swapping types of stitches and embellishments

In a recent blog post titled ‘The Top 5 Cross Stitch Things I’m Yet to Perfect (and 5 I probably won’t!)’, I talked about my ability to do French Knots. In many projects that have called for French Knots, I’ve used the small Mill Hill beads for the eyes of teddy bears, embellishments on flowers and buttons on outfits to name a few.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been known to adjust the way that I do my back-stitch on pictures like the teddy bear one shown above. In some parts of the picture, you’ll see that I’ve stitched around most sides of the cross and when there has been more of a straight line longer than one cross, I’ve gone from point A to D without stitching point B and C. For short distances, I think that this has worked well as it has not diminished the finished piece in any way and it’s saved me a little bit of time.

There’s no right or wrong…be aware of your intentions

The aim of this post has been to let you know that it’s okay to make alterations here and there and that mistakes are okay as well. You will need to remember why you bought the pattern or kit and what you intend to do with the completed project. The point here is that making an alteration to a project – intentional or not – does not then mean you can claim it to be your own design – especially if you’re going to broadcast it to the world and attempt to make money out of it. If you are wanting to broadcast to the world the alterations you have made to any designs you’ve purchased, make sure you do it legally.

What do you do? Do you stick to the pattern or make your own adjustments?

If you have made any adjustments to your projects, what have they been? Did they work out the way you wanted them too?

In the meantime, happy stitching everyone!

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Top 5 Cross Stitch Things to Perfect (and 5 I may never)

This post reminds me that mistakes are a good thing, as it means that I’m still learning and that I have the ability to do what I love and share these things with like-minded people. I also accept that I may never perfect these top 5 or they may be replaced with a new 5!

5. Keeping track of needles and pencils

Prior to receiving a needle minder as a birthday gift, I was regularly dropping needles and jumping up from the couch or chair to look for the needle amongst the cushions and dust and dirt on the floor. I would be doing a similar thing with the lead pencils when the couch would eat them or I’d accidentally drop them on the floor.

4. Counting Crosses

Every so often I joke with family and friends that I need to go back to school and learn how to count and get my eyes checked. This is based around me miscounting how many stitches I need to do and tracking where I am in the pattern when I’m tired or distracted, resulting in me needing to unpick parts of the picture and re-stitch it. I’ve also been clever enough to mark off parts of the pattern that I’ve not even stitched yet!

3. Getting my measurements right

If you’re anything like me, you’ll love to make the most out of your fabric stores that have been built up from trimming up other cross-stitch projects. This means that at times I come up a bit short when I’m trying to find the right amount of fabric for a project I’m working on or I have just completely misread the measurements at the front of the pattern.

White Horse

This has often left me stressing as I’m stitching, whether or not I’ll have enough fabric to fit the design on it. I’ve even made the mistake of stitching a picture around the wrong way! This happened when I first started the picture and didn’t pay enough attention to which way I had the fabric in the hoop. Which meant that I stitched a landscape picture in a portrait view and I give full credit to the professional framers who framed up this picture for me. They have done an amazing job with the product I gave them.

“Catch of the Day” by Bryan Moon – published/distributed by Dimensions

2. French Knots

When done well, French knots can really add that extra bit of detail to a picture that other types of stitches may not. It is also the one type of detail/stitch that I’ve never mastered! Admittedly, I’ve not practiced them much to help my cause. If anything, I’ve either avoided or delayed stitching some patterns that have this stitch or I’ve used beads in their place.

One of the things that I love about living in this day and age, is having IT devices and an internet connection at my finger tips and being able to look up anything that I need to. Which means that I can watch numerous YouTube clips on how to do French Knots. I’m also able to purchase a variety of needle minders and related tools to help me keep track of my lead pencils. I also love that technology enables me to have digital cross stitch patterns and digitally mark off the areas that I’ve stitched.

1. Cutting/Sewing Straight

For many years I’ve joked with family, friends and colleagues that if I can’t walk straight when I’m sober, then so help me when I’m drunk! This inability to walk straight extends into my ability to cut straight, sew straight and draw a straight line. This is causing me headaches, as I’m attempting to make a quilt out of the various country themed cross stitch pictures I’ve stitched over the years. I’m not following a specific pattern or plan which is adding to the fun of trying to cut and sew straight! Instead, the images below are what I have in my mind of how I want the quilt to look – both images I came across on Pinterest.

With these two images in mind, below is progress to date for my country quilt and you’ll see that sewing or cutting straight really isn’t my thing!

Country quilt progress as of April 2019

What I’m really excited about with this quilt is that I’m getting closer to finishing it. Also, by not strictly following a pattern, I’ve been able to problem solve on the go and talk with a variety of people to try and figure out how I can get past my creative blocks. Which means, watch this space to see how I fix the blue borders around the cross stitch pics!

Until next time, happy stitching everyone!