Posted in How To

How to kit up a cross stitch project from scratch

Hi Everyone

If you’re like me and started your love affair with cross stitch with kits helped a lot with learning to stitch and see the finished project. So, progressing to kitting up your next project yourself seems like the next logical step!

What you need

Some of these things may seem blatantly obvious, but can easily forgotten in the rush and excitement of starting a new project. I’ve also purposely not talked about scissors, lighting, stands, hoops, frames, needle minders or any other tools of the trade that can be used while stitching a project. If you are curious about these things, check out some of my previous posts!

The pattern

Many patterns, regardless of where you’ve gotten them from, have some really handy instructions for all stitchers. I strongly recommend you have a read through them, just in case there’s something special you need to pick up from your local craft store. The instructions will tell you what the stitch dimensions are of the finished piece and many of the designers will recommend what fabric size to stitch the project on. Sometimes, the designer may suggest what needle size to use for the corresponding fabric count.

The other component of the pattern is the key that lists all of the threads you need and how much of each colour you will need to complete the pattern. This can be in the form of number of skeins or metres. Below is an example from one of my own patterns I’ve converted from a photo I’ve taken. This is only a partial list:

Example of floss list for a cross stitch pattern, minus the symbols for each colour

The numbers you see in the column for number of skeins, shows that you would need a partial of each skein. By memory, each skein comes in 8 metres in length and you may need about 1 metre of each skein. So you will have quite a lot left over with the exception of black, where you will need the full skein / 8 metres.

I strongly recommend that you take this page of your pattern to your local craft store and use it as part of your shopping list and tick or mark off each colour as you put it into your basket.

Fabric

Sometimes the designer may not state how much extra fabric you will need to stitch your project. They will just state how big the project is and recommended fabric. For example, the stitch size may be 289w by 250h on 14 count navy blue Aida. This is where a fabric calculator can be helpful to calculate how much you will actually need. The website Crosstich.com has an awesome calculator that’s very easy to use. Below is an example of how it works, using the dimensions I’ve used in this paragraph:

Snippet from Crosstitch.com website calculating how much fabric is needed

You may also see in the above snippet, is the option to select how much extra fabric you want around the edge of your project. I’ve selected 2 inches/5 centimetres. There is the option to have 3 inches/8 centimetres. This is your personal choice and potentially how much you can afford to pay for fabric.

The additional reason why I’m talking about the amount of extra fabric you need, is to help with stitching the project and finishing it. The extra fabric will mean that your project can be snugly in a hoop or stand or whatever you choose to keep the fabric taught and your stitches neat. If you choose to frame your project, there’s enough fabric to stretch it into place so that it looks just the way you want it!

It’s also your choice for the numbers you enter for the number of strands for your project. This won’t have an impact on the size of fabric the calculator recommends for you. It may have an impact on how many skeins per colour you choose to purchase!

Purchasing your fabric

In this digital age and the internet at our fingertips, we can choose to purchase our supplies online or we can find out where our local craft store is that sells the fabric we want and need. In Australia, the two major craft stores closest to where I live are Lincraft and Spotlight. From there I can purchase pre-cut Aida in a some colours, counts and dimensions. I can also go in store and purchase some fabric off the roll in a size that I need. The fabric they have on rolls will vary from store to store. Thankfully, there are smaller business that I can purchase other fabrics from and they have a wider variety of fabrics, count size and dimensions.

I’ve also really enjoyed going to craft shows and checking out the fabric section of store to see if they have any off-cuts I can purchase for potential projects down the track. I find that they have many fabric colours that I haven’t seen on the internet.

Preparing your fabric

Some people hate it when the edges of their fabric start fraying while they’re working on their project. I’ve seen on some American floss tube clips that the edges of their fabric already have been serged as part of the process that American shop owners choose to do. If you have an overlocker or know someone who has one, you can use it to go around the edges of your fabric. Another option is to use your sewing machine and use the zig-zag stitch or you can hand sew the edges.

Example of serged edge – image from Google search

If you are choosing to use Aida, some people have complained about how stiff it can be when they start using it and it’s turned them off from wanting to use it ever again. I’ve certainly experienced some stiff Aida and it has been annoying to get it into the hoop. I have found that over time, the fabric softens as I continue to work with it. I’ve also heard of people washing it before they use it and trying to soak it with fabric softener or similar products. How successful they are, I’m not sure. All I can say is do what works for you!

Floss

The size of your project will depend on how many colours you need to purchase. If you’re needing to purchase a lot of colours, you could:

  • purchase a few colours at a time and stitch with them until you need to purchase some more
  • purchase all of the colours in one go
  • raid your stash to see if you have some left overs from previous projects
  • have a chat with stitchy friends and family who may be able to give you some of their left over colours

Tip: If you’re purchasing your floss from a craft store, I strongly recommend you include in your basket some floss holders (aka bobbins) and a storage container to hold all of your colours. The image below is an example of what you can purchase.

Plastic Bobbins – image from the DMC.com website

You may hear of people talking about ‘bobbinating’ their threads. What they’re doing is winding their threads onto the bobbins, like the image above (that come in plastic and cardboard) and writing on the bobbins or using stickers like the ones you can purchase in the image below. If you conduct a search in your preferred search engine, you should be able to come up with some stores who stock these awesome stickers!

DMC Floss Stickers – image from Google image search

Needles

The size of the needle you use for your project will depend on the size of fabric you’re using. Using the right needle size will mean you’re stitches will be neater and there won’t be any obvious holes from your needle. Below is a table of what needle size you’ll need for the fabric size you may be stitching on:

Needle and fabric chart – information from the websites DMC.com and mystitchworld.com

Another thing to consider with your needles, is whether they’re silver all-over or have a gold or brass colour around the eye of the needle. This comes down to personal preference. Some people find that the needles that are gold plated move through the holes in the fabric smoother than the silver needles. Some people also find that the silver needles tarnish over time from the oils and other excess moisture and crumbs from our fingers, and may impact the ease of the needle moving through the fabric and thread on their projects.

Armina from Stitch Floral wrote a great post about ’10 things to remember about hand embroidery needles’ and suggests the use of ‘a strawberry cushion filled with gritty emery powder, pull the needle all the way through it in one direction.’ The aim of this is to sharpen the needle and remove any moisture on it, resulting in your needle remaining sharp and moving through your fabric smoothly.

Admittedly, I’ve been pretty lucky with my needles in the sense that they have tarnished a bit over the years through wear and tear and moisture on my fingers. The only adverse affect my projects have had from me using these needles is me using the wrong needle for the size of the fabric I’m working on. More often than not, I’m using needles from previous kits I’ve stitched or snaffled out of my sewing box.

That said, I agree with Armina from Stitch Floral when she says that needles are inexpensive. It’s possible to pick up a pack of needles from your local craft store or online for a few dollars. If you’re not sure on what to do with your old needles that you don’t want to sew with anymore, check out the post by Superior Threads in the related reads at the end of this post!

Putting it all together

Thankfully there are many, many Flosstube clips from a variety of stitchers who have been wonderful in sharing how they organise their projects. Hopefully you find some of the clips below of use and interest!

‘How I Approach My Cross Stitch Projects’ by CatCrazyCreations. Uploaded on 13 October 2015
‘Floss Tube 8: How I Setup and Start Large Cross Stitch Projects’ by Stitching Jules – Uploaded on 2 March 2017
‘How I do large cross stitch projects’ by Stitching Jules – Uploaded on 5 December 2017
‘Tutorial – How to start a cross stitch project’ by Stitchin’ Mommy – Uploaded on 20 April 2017

Final thoughts

I hope this post has helped you with kitting up your own project. It’s been a long time since I’ve started a project that’s been kitted up for me and I find kitting up my own project can be rewarding and it can show me where the gaps may be in my collection. My boyfriend has been amazingly patient when he’s been with me in the craft stores and I’ve been busy finding all of the threads I need. He’s also started helping with finding the threads as well and that’s helped a lot!

At the end of the day, the strongest recommendation I can provide you is do what works for you. If a pattern recommends the use of linen, but you find that the count size is too small, use the calculator to find out how much fabric you need for a smaller count size. If floss bobbins aren’t your thing, floss organisers like the ones you get in your kits can be re-used. Have a chat with fellow stitchers and find out what they do. They may have a different system to what I’ve suggested in this post that works really well for you.

Until next time, happy stitching!

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Posted in Uncategorized

Do your cross stitch patterns and projects have a shelf life?

Hi Everyone

Have you ever considered if your crafty collection has a shelf life? For example, the patterns or kits we purchase to stitch and create, state that we can make one copy of the pattern to use as our working copy. When I’ve done this, I’ve held onto the original copy I purchased and put the working copy into the shredder or recycle bin. That way I’ve got a reminder that I’ve done this project – especially if I forget to take a picture of the finished project and have given it away to friends or family. Alternatively, is it your changing tastes or preferences in what you want to stitch that end up dictating the shelf life of your patterns and projects?

Professionally…

Professionally, a part of my role is to appraise information (with the use of resources that has been created by internal and external stakeholders) that has been created by the organisation I work for, to determine how long that information needs to be kept for. The aim of the appraisal is to ensure we are keeping the information that is necessary for the organisation to aid current and future decision making. The retention of the information can also aid the telling of the social history of the organisation and its impacts on the world around it. The outcome of the appraisal can mean the information is ready for destruction now, in months to come or years to come or it needs to be kept forever

Personally…

I’ve never done a formal stock take or inventory of my personal collection of patterns and kits. The closest I’ve gotten to conducting a stock take or appraisal of my collection, has been when I’m looking for something new to work on or when I’m purchasing something. What I have found however, is that my tastes or interests in what I’m stitching has changed from when I first started stitching to now. For example, the first kits and books I’ve purchased were teddy bears and faeries. Partly because I like both of these themes and I had special people in mind when I bought the kits and books, thinking that I would be able to stitch cards and similar gifts for them. I’ve certainly done that and as the years have gone on, I have found my own interests kicking in and I’ve purchased patterns and kits that I want to stitch for myself. These themes include horses, Christmas, myth and magic, and more recently, quotes I’ve seen on the internet and converting photos I’ve taken to cross stitch patterns.

Are there any consequences?

Professionally, if organisations don’t conduct regular appraisals of the information they hold, then there can be significant issues which include, storage (digital and physical) costs, increased scrutiny from internal and external sources, deterioration of information and loss of control of knowing what is in the collection to name a few.

Personally, the consequences aren’t as significant – i.e. internal or external scrutiny. However, the money you have invested in your collection and to some extent, your health can be affected. You do need to be aware of how your storing your collection and where its stored to ensure you can continue to access it without any issues. And that your collections lasts for as long as possible. For example, have any of your patterns or kits been affected by sunlight, heat, dampness, mites or rodents? If you’re not sure, have you noticed your patterns or books being brittle, discoloured or the texture of them being warped? Alternatively, have any parts of your collection (including works in progress) started growing mold, or do they have little bite marks in any areas?

How do you go about appraising your collection?

There are many different ways you can go about appraising your collection and the aim here is to suggest a few different ways that I’ve found on the Internet and what works for me.

Consider it as a spring clean…

Like you might do it for your wardrobe or on a grander scale, your home, pulling out your entire collection and laying it all out in front of you. You may get a lot of grumbles from your family and friends. If you have pets, they may want to try and ‘help’! Group your collection by patterns, books, threads, fabric, hoops, lights, scissors etc. and putting it into sub-groups such as fabric colours and counts, themes/subjects of your patterns and books and any multiples of your threads. This can give you a visual of what you have in your collection. You will be able to see if you have any gaps in your collection and you will be able to refresh your memory regarding any parts of your collection you haven’t seen or used for many years. From there you will be able to gauge how much of it you really need or want and start moving those parts of your collection to the side.

Another consideration is whether any parts of your collection have started deteriorating because of the way they have been stored, and disposing of those parts of the collection as a result of their deterioration.

KonMarie your collection

Earlier this year there was a lot of hype about the Marie Kondo way of organising areas of your home. This may be a way of helping you to determine if there are any areas of your collection you need to dispose of (if none of it has been affected by the way it’s been stored).

10 Amazing Tips from Tidying Up with Marie Kondo – posted on YouTube on 16 January 2019 by Ms Mojo

Disposing of your collection

Are there any crafty people in your life who could benefit from your collection? What about charity stores, schools, or community groups? You could also begin considering if there are any other crafty people you know who could benefit from your collection that you no longer need or want.

Keeping tabs of what you’ve got

If you’re unable to part with any area of your collection and you’ve found things you’ve completely forgotten about, it may be worth improving the way you store your collection and how you keep tabs on it. Thankfully there is no shortage on how you can organise your collection and the tools you can use to keep yourself organised.

Organizing your crafting supplies and creating a stamp inventory using Evernote by ScrappyDiva – posted on YouTube on 27 August 2018

I use a combination of open bookshelves, boxes, bags, my laptop and a four drawer filing cabinet to store my collection. If I’m running low on any area of my collection – especially threads and fabric, I write them down on my hand or a post-it note so that I can pop down to the shops or order what I need on line. Occasionally I’ll have the pattern I want to work on with me to ensure I don’t miss anything and a pen or pencil to tick off what I’ve gathered.

Storage considerations

As I’ve hinted at earlier in this post, if any areas of your collection have been affected by the places you have stored your collection, before you put away your collection, consider if there are any other areas of your home you could store your collection. For example, are there other cupboards, rooms, boxes or shelving you could use to ensure the longevity of your collection? For your patterns, is it possible for you to scan them and save them to your preferred IT device?

Final note…

I hope that there are elements of this post that helps you with your collection or at least, provides you with some things to think about if you want to update the management of your collection!

Happy Stitching!

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Posted in Uncategorized

What type of stitcher are you?

I have a love hate relationship with running. I love the excited feeling I get before a run – especially if I’m competing in an event – and the exhausted feeling or feeling of achievement after an event. It’s just the actual act of running I’m not always fond of – especially when various parts of my body are whinging or I’m just not feeling it and I end up walking more than I do running.

My reason for talking about running, is that I’ve come across a few articles over the years about the different types of runners in the community, and it got me thinking about those types could relate or be converted to our world of stitching.

In terms of running, I’m a little bit of everything. I have about 3 different apps going during my run, plus the fit bit on my wrist. I need to listen to music if I’m running on my own. If I’m running with others, I really don’t like talking to others unless it’s before or after the event. I’m competitive and will compare my times from previous events for the same course with current times and use that as my motivator to do better next time. I’m also a fair-weather runner and I will use the weather as an excuse to not go for a run if I’m really not feeling it. My stubborn determination has also gotten in the way of this logic and the reasoning that I paid to participate in the event (even though under any other circumstances I wouldn’t run in 20 to 40-kilometre winds with rain) because it’s for a good cause. Usually it’s the Mother’s Day Classic that has this kind of weather and I’ve inevitable caught a cold as a result!

So with no further delay, I present to you, my version of ‘What Type of Stitcher are You?’:

Social Stitcher

As a social stitcher, your energy and enthusiasm comes from stitching in a group environment. At times you can stitch alone, but feel lonely and drained as a result. By stitching in a group, you’re able to laugh, share your triumphs and struggles with life and your projects. Because stitching and enjoy other people’s company is what it’s all about.

Trend setter

Are you breaking all the rules and setting up new ones? Are you getting the rest of us to rethink the meaning of being a stitcher? So many questions with so many more answers! Being a trend setter means that your finger (or needle) is on the pulse of the stitching world. You know what patterns, threads, fabrics, accessories and kits have us begging for more and trends that have us chomping at the bit to try. Which may include an unconventional way of expressing yourself through cross-stitch. An amazing example is Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene’s embroidery like the image below:

Image from online magazine dontpaniconline.com. Artwork by Sevrija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene

Lone Wolf

Gray Wolf emoji – free download from http://www.kisspng.com

“Introverts unite…alone at our own homes”. Stitching-wise, being a lone wolf means that you’re happy to be where you’re most comfortable – regardless of what your family, friends and the stitching community may expect of you. You have no need to follow trends or try to keep up with Jones’s. You just do what feels right to you and stitch whatever patterns you want (which really is what all of us do anyway 😊).

One project at a time

You find it easier to stitch one project at a time rather than having multiple projects on the go at the same time. By working on one project at a time, you are able to focus all of your attention and resources on it and it’s a project that you absolutely love! For some of you it may be a Heaven and Earth Designs (aka HAED) or a similarly full coverage piece that will take you years to complete, but it will look absolutely amazing when you’ve finished it. For others, you may have a lot of things happening in your life and you’re unable to spend as much time as you want on cross-stitch.

So many projects. So little time.

You have many projects on the go and at times you feel like you don’t have enough time in the day to stitch all of the projects you want. What doesn’t help is that you are regularly searching the internet and attending craft fairs that have even more projects that you fall in love with and must have then and there! With so many projects you’re working on, you may then find yourself searching the internet for a variety of suggestions on how to manage all of your projects and have a rotation schedule.

Cross Stitch Planning and Organization by Stitchin’ Mommy, published on 14 May 2018 on YouTube.

The Overachiever

Yellow smiling emoji with stars as eyes.
Smiling star-eyes emoji from http://www.kisspng.com

As an overachiever, you have a number of projects on the go and you get them all completed within the time frame you have assigned yourself and you have gone above and beyond to make them look Ah-may-zing! You may also find yourself staying up quite late or getting up super early to finish off that project or page that has been your ‘bug-bear’. You have more than likely timed how long it takes you to stitch in an hour and you try to better it each time.

The Accessoriser

In order for you to get comfortable and commence your cross-stitch, you need to have your needleminder, support gloves, stitching stand, special scissors, scissor-minder (I’m not sure if they exist, but I’m sure they do!), hoops, spare scissors, highlighters, pencils, erasers, pattern – physical and digital versions… Have I missed anything? Oh! Lighting – natural light through the window as well as your over the top light and magnifier glass and regular glasses. You’re regularly on the hunt for any other accessories that may help you with your stitching, whether it be to make it more comfortable for your or stitch quicker.

Embroidery toolbox by Milsey – published on YouTube on 18 June 2017

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