Continuing on the theme of my last three posts, albeit a little later than I had planned, I am now going to look at Christmas cross stitch ideas. I have recently received the latest “Fox Collection” catalogue (see “Are You On Track For Christmas?”) which had another full page of Christmas ideas in it.
I have included some photos I have taken of items in the two Christmas catalogues. I thought you might find some inspiration from some of them. In previous years I have stitched a few personalised cards for some close friends. There are some cute ideas in these photos along with a number of other projects.
Something I noticed for the first time in last year’s catalogues was the wine bottle aprons. These are just a bit different and would make a nice personalised gift for a special friend or family member, especially if it was on a nice bottle of wine. There are several different themes in my catalogues, but you could choose any design of your own that was a suitable size.
Christmas minis as decorations are always a popular idea, along with Christmas sachet bags. Sachet bags can be used to contain fragrant material such as lavender or pot pourri, or edible treats like chocolates or lollies.
Other cross stitch projects for Christmas include things like cushions, table runners, place mats, and tree skirts. These are all a bit bigger and probably not practical for the time frame left for this year. They would be good ideas to put on your “to do” list for next year though.
Happy stitching and best wishes for your holiday season preparations. I have included a list below of some of my affiliate sites if you would like to check them out for kitsets or more ideas.
Once your cross-stitched piece is completed it is time to share your hard work and artistic talent. Part of the fun of creating your cross-stitched piece is in the selection of a frame that will best display it. Depending on the piece itself, the right combination of picture frame and mat can turn it into a treasured heirloom or a cherished work of art. Follow these simple steps and you will have a cross-stitched piece you are proud to display in your home or give as a gift to someone special.
The first step is to select a picture frame and mat or mats that complement and enhance your cross-stitched piece and your decor. Does your piece lend itself to an ornate picture frame or would it have more eye-appeal in a simple picture frame? Let your personal taste, decor and the artwork itself guide you to the perfect picture frame and mat combination.
Now that you have selected your mat you will need backing on which to secure your cross-stitched piece. It needs to be the same size as your mat. Backing can be cut from mat board or foam-core. Once the backing is the size you need, cut a window that is a quarter inch larger than the mat window opening. Save the cutout piece to be used later. Now attach double sided stitchery tape to the edges of the backing piece.
The backing with the window cut out can now be mounted to the mat with double sided tape.
Center your cross-stitched piece in the backing window with the stitchery side facing out through the mat opening. Press the backing piece you cut out to make the window onto the back of the cross-stitched piece. Work with it until you have the stitchery centered.
Start with a corner and pull the fabric taut and press it onto the double sided tape. Continue around the stitchery until all the fabric is held by the tape and your cross-stitched piece is centered. It may take a few adjustments to get it fitted and centered properly. When you have it centered, tape the backing and window piece together with framing tape. Now, cut a piece of mat to fit over the back of the piece to protect and secure it.
Now you are ready to frame your matted piece. Place it into the frame you selected and secure. Cut a piece of Kraft paper to cover the back of the frame. To finish off, attach the hanger of your choice – sawtooth hanger or eye hooks with picture wire – and you are ready to hang your cross-stitched work of art.
To Glaze or Not to Glaze
Where you hang your piece and the climate conditions should determine whether or not you frame your cross-stitch under glass.
Dust: Use glass if you want to protect your piece from dust. Dust accumulation can cause serious damage to the fabric.
Humidity: Use glass if you plan to hang your piece in the kitchen or bathroom. High humidity can cause damage to the fabric. However, if it isn’t properly sealed, condensation could form on the glass and that could cause mildew and mold issues.
Living in a climate with few dry days and high humidity could make it extremely difficult to create a moisture proof seal. If you live in an area with high humidity, consider taking your cross-stitched piece to a professional framer for proper sealing or just leave it unglazed. Don’t hang it in your kitchen if you leave it without glass because airborne grease and oil could harm your fabric.
I am pleased to report that both the birthday cushions have been completed. (See “Two Extremes of Cross Stitch”.) This is the first time I have used this kind of kit and I have found it very enjoyable and satisfying. The coarse canvas and the printed design have made the projects easy to follow and quick to finish.
New kits or projects often come with learning opportunities, and these kits were no exception. My first surprise came when I opened the kit and took out the yarn. Previously I have used a number of counted cross stitch kits and have been used to the threads being sorted into colours, usually also organised on a card or cards. When I took out the bundle of yarn from the pony kit I found I had just that – all the pre-cut yarn bundled together.
This being the case, my first task was to sort the yarn into colours and tie them together for ease of use. This took a while, but was well worth doing.
Stitching the projects was relatively straight forward, particularly where there were big blocks of one colour. I did find, however, that I needed to be more careful with individual or small numbers of stitches. The much larger holes in the canvas meant that isolated stitches were more easily pulled out of shape if the yarn was pulled a bit tighter. I became more familiar with what worked best as I went along.
I hit a slightly steeper learning curve when it came to making the backings for the cushions. Again, this was something I had not done before. I managed to work out how to put them together without too many problems. I have made them with a zip running across the middle horizontally for ease of removal.
There were a couple of “note to self” moments during the process though. The first one came after I had successfully attached the backing piece to the first cushion. I turned it over to turn it out the right way and discovered that I had sewn the backing on with the zip fully done up. Note to self: make sure you leave the zip undone a couple of inches because it is very difficult to open it up otherwise!
The second “note to self” was a more general one. I got nearly three quarters of the way around sewing the backing on the second cushion when I noticed that the cotton was lifting behind the machine as I went. I discovered that the bobbin had run out halfway along the previous side so had to go back and repin it, then resew it after filling the bobbin.
I am very pleased with how these two covers have turned out. All I have to do now is buy some inners to go in them and wrap them up for the birthday children.
I currently have two main cross stitch projects on the go, not counting a couple that have been sitting around for a while. These projects are both intended as birthday presents for grandchildren, and they represent two extremes of cross stitch.
The one I am making the fastest progress with is a kit set cushion cover. It is the first one I have done and I am finding it very enjoyable to be able to race through it. It is worked on 4.5 mesh Sudan canvas using acrylic yarn. The design is painted on the canvas and uses only 13 colours. The big needle is easy to thread, and I seem to be flying through the pre-cut threads at great speed.
The second project is a huge contrast to the first. It is a birth date sampler which also came as a kit set, but is a counted cross stitch design worked on 18 count Aida fabric. The pattern is printed in a 10 page booklet, and the dozens of colours of pre-cut lengths of embroidery thread are sorted onto two cards. I am really enjoying this project as well, as counted cross stitch is a real passion for me, but I must admit that it is rather a challenge.
One of the things that the counted cross stitch project has confirmed for me is that I should really go and get my eyes retested. I am overdue for a check-up, and the tiny stitches and intricate design are definitely a strain. For this reason it has been great to have both projects on the go together as I can do the more difficult one in the more comfortable light during the day, and relax with the easier one at night.
So long as everything continues to go to plan, I should get both projects, plus a second cushion cover, finished by the middle of August. Fingers crossed!
Last month a friend of mine gave me a special book on knitting. It is called “Knitologie” by Lucy Main Tweet, and contains some pattern grids which I found really exciting. I have quite a variety of cross stitch alphabet patterns, but this book has two different sized knitted alphabets, one being 14 rows high and the other 28 rows high. This seemed to provide the perfect opportunity to do a comparison of pattern grids for knitting and cross stitch.
Knitting patterns are often published on square grids, but knitting stitches are not actually square. Tension guides indicate that the width of three stitches is equivalent to the height of approximately four rows. This means that a pattern represented on a square grid will appear shorter and wider in the knitted work.
I decided to use the 14 row knitting grid, then chose a fairly plain 14 row cross stitch grid to use as a comparison. The cross stitch was worked in red on some scraps of white 14 count Aida that I had, and I found some balls of acrylic yarn in red and white to create a similar effect.
The letter “O” seemed to be a good one to demonstrate the differences in shape, so I worked the capital version of that letter from both alphabets and in both mediums. This meant I ended up with four red “O’s” on white backgrounds. I have taken a number of photos to illustrate the different results created by knitting and cross stitch. It was great to be able to create such a clear illustration of something I had known the theory of for some time, but had not had a good mental picture of.
So what does this mean in practical terms? Is it possible to transpose knitting and cross stitch patterns to create your own unique projects? The short answer is “yes” but you do have to be aware of the distortion factor. You may be happy to accept the result of the pattern without any alterations, or you may want to try to compensate a little.
To modify a cross stitch pattern for knitting you will need to either insert a few rows evenly up the design (roughly one for every three rows of pattern), or decrease the number of stitches evenly across it (taking out approximately every fourth stitch). Obviously you will need to make these changes in a way that doesn’t change the overall look of the design.
To modify a knitting pattern for cross stitch you will need to use the opposite of the suggestions above. In other words, you will need either fewer rows or more stitches across.
Good luck and I hope you have fun experimenting with your patterns!
I am always fascinated by what I regard as the magic of outlining when it comes to cross stitch. I have recently finished a special project for a very special friend. We have been friends since just before starting high school. This year a group of us are turning sixty, so we have obviously been friends for a long time. For this reason I wanted to give her a personalised, handmade gift to celebrate her birthday.
When you finish the main stitching on a project, you usually end up with an attractive piece of work. I used my cross stitch software (see “Creating Cross Stitch Designs”) to design a simple birthday message. The alphabet I chose used colours that my friend likes and I complemented them by choosing some pale green Aida fabric to work on. I was really pleased with the effect.
This particular pattern really highlights the effect that back stitching can have when it is used to complete a cross stitch project. While the main body of each letter is worked in cross stitch, they all have connecting components done with back stitch. I took a series of photographs throughout this project to illustrate “the magic of outlining”.
The photo on the left shows the components of the project once I had finished the cross stitching. It includes all my pencilled in modifications to the pattern I printed out. The one on the right was taken after the back stitching of the letters in the first row had been completed. As well as completing the form of the letters, the outlining really lifts the letters out of the background.
This lifting effect is also shown in the photo where the flowers start emerging from the purple “blobs”. The final one in the series shows the finished piece after it has been washed, dried and ironed.
I really enjoyed giving this present to my friend and she was excited to receive it. It meant a lot more to put the thought and time into designing and stitching this present than it would have to go to a shop and buy something off the shelf. It will have lasting significance for both of us.
Cross stitching is a great way to exercise your creativity and produce amazing designs. There are several types of cross stitch kits depending on the method of stitching. You can choose your favorite among them or try your hand at each one. These are counted kits, stamped, embellished and no-count kits.
The counted cross stitch kit comes with a chart or pattern of the design you are going to sew, and you have to count the squares in your cloth or fabric to match those in the chart. It is quite easy to do this kind of stitching especially if you like a certain design and you want to replicate it exactly on your cloth, although it can be cumbersome if you lose count and stitch in the wrong square. This kit is perfect for beginners in cross stitching because you need to follow instructions to master the craft before you can make your own designs.
The second type of cross stitching kit is the stamped kit, which does not require any charts or patterns but the design is printed on the actual cloth. All you need to do is to stitch the cloth according to the colors printed on it. However simple this may sound, you may have a bit of difficulty getting the right colors if there are a shade or two similar to each other. Try stamped kits that have a simple design which will minimize the chances of error and accustom yourself to the color differences.
If you want a faster stitching project, the embellished stitching kit is just what you need. It is very similar to the stamped kit. The design is printed on the cloth but, with embellished cross stitching, the parts you stitch act as the decorative bits of the design. You need not stitch the entire design but only focus on the labeled parts on the printed cloth. Completing an embellished design is quick, but not necessarily easy. Some designs in embellished kits may require you to cross-stitch at a certain angle which may make it harder to match up the embellished part with the rest of the design. Take your time with your embellished kit to get the most accurate results.
Finally, the no-count cross stitching kit comes with a chart for the colors to stitch, but the outline of the figure or design is what is already printed on the cloth. It is easier compared to the counted kit because you are not strictly following the squares on the design, but on the downside, if the outline crosses the middle of a square, it becomes a little difficult to decide which color goes where.
Try out these kinds of kits and learn which cross stitch method works best for you.
Katie Thompson has more than 5 years experience in copy writing. Presently she is writing articles about cross stitch kits.