How To Label Your Cross Stitch Threads

DMC bobbins labeled with stickers (Source: DMC)

We’re big fans of collecting threads here, and on our journey to ever DMC thread we’ve had to work out a few things, like making an inventory spreadsheet for tracking threads and looking at the best way to store threads. But one thing has always bugged us, regardless of what way you store your threads; identification.
 
Threads on their own do have a set order, numbers, but these numbers jump around all over the place, they aren’t in color order, and they aren’t even sequential. Therefore, if you choose to put your threads on bobbins, in bags, boxes, or any other means, you need a way to label them. But we’ve all heard about the pitfalls of trying to write numbers on those DMC bobbins, so what is the best way?
 
The examples we give below use bobbins as that’s the most popular way of storing threads, but all examples apply to all ways of storage.

DMC bobbins labeled with stickers (Source: DMC)
DMC bobbins labeled with stickers (Source: DMC)

Stickers

DMC thread on bobbin labeled with DMC number stickers
DMC thread on bobbin labeled with a sticker
The first method of labeling, is actually the one you’re meant to use. We say meant here as this is the solution supplied by brands like DMC. However it isn’t perfect.
You can buy DMC labels for attaching to their bobbins. Thankfully these do contain the 35 new DMC threads (but you need to be sure to pick up a new set) but they don’t include some threads thought disconunted, etc. Not only that, but the stickers aren’t the best quality and often come off the bobbins.
 
The upside of these stickers though is the speed and uniformity. They are quick to place, easy to read, and every single bobbin is nicely uniform. No miss reading of numbers or messy writing to deal with.

Pen

DMC thread on bobbin labeled with pen
DMC thread on bobbin labeled with pen
If you choose not to get the stickers, pen is an option, and for most, is where they start. However, this is also slightly problematic.
Whilst the pen does work so long as it’s permanent, the writing is often messy, too large (don’t do the same as us and use a normal sharpie, use a thin one instead), and it can sometimes come off. We’ve never actually seen it come off onto the threads, but the regular picking up of the bobbins can rub it off.
 
There is nothing wrong with this method, but considering how pretty all those threads look, it would be a shame to mess it up with uneven handwriting.

Tuck Technique

DMC thread on bobbin labeled with the tuck method
DMC thread on bobbin labeled with the tuck method
Now we’ve spoken about the obvious methods, we move onto the less obvious, but actually rather genious. Use the label the threads come with. Not only does this look nice and neat, but it cuts down on all the rubbish cross stitchers make, so is a win from us.
With this method, you keep the nice neatness of the stickers, but it requires effort. In fact, quite a bit. The idea here is you cut the number off the label, and tape it down onto the bobbin. You then have to cut away the excess tape.
 
This is a blessing and a curse though. The tape edges aren’t always perfectly cut (the image above shows the best one we have), and can sometimes stick to the threads, or gain fluff and discolor. At first, it looks great, but the stickers would be a far faster solution here. In addition, we’re aware that all brands of threads, but particularly DMC, have varied styles of numbers on their labels, so they might not be uniform either.

Under Tuck Technique

DMC thread on bobbin labeled with the under tuck method
DMC thread on bobbin labeled with the under tuck method
But there is a solution similar to the tuck method.
 
The exact method here changes slightly depending on what cross stitch thread brand you’re using, but as a standard, the numbers are on the bottom of the label. This means you can simply slot the label into the space between the thread and the bobbin. If you want a more permanent fix, tape it down. It really is as simple as that.
 
Not only does this method have all the advantages of the standard tuck method, but it also requires a whole lot less work to put together. But there is also a downside; the numbers are on the bottom. For some, this won’t be a problem, however, anyone storing threads in a box (in either orientation) will struggle to read the numbers. So maybe this is a solution for some, but not all.

Which Method Is Best?

This is hard to tell and is mostly up to your personal situation. However, we can say that we use the stickers, and those without stickers get numbers (like number 01 in the image below). They’re quick, they all match, and they’re easy to read. For us, it’s a win.
 
We should also say that if you display your threads, it might be worth labeling the back of the threads. The number will still be there, but the fronts will look a lot nicer without the numbers on them.

Different DMC thread labels on bobbins
Different DMC thread labels on bobbins

Happy stitching!
Lord Libidan

6 Tips for Stitching with Glow-In-The-Dark-Thread

kreinik glow in the dark threads (source: kreinik.com)

When it comes to annoying threads, metallics take the first spot. They plain suck, well, before we put together a list of how to make cross stitching with metallic threads easy that is. However there is one thread type that’s a close second, and whilst it doesn’t get as much focus, it has its own special elements that mean you can’t just pretend it’s like a metallic. We’re talking about glow-in-the-dark threads.

kreinik glow in the dark threads (source: kreinik.com)
kreinik glow in the dark threads (source: kreinik.com)

Condition, Condition, Condition

diy bees wax (source: etsy)
diy bees wax (source: etsy)
We really can’t state this enough. Conditioning your thread, will, without a doubt, help you. Unlike cotton thread glow-in-the-dark threads aren’t anywhere near as smooth. As a result, they catch on your fabric constantly. By conditioning the thread, using something like beeswax, you can solve most of your problems in one go. If you’ve not conditioned threads before, we round up the best thread conditioners.

Use Short Lengths

This one might be fairly simple, but reducing the lengths of your threads will help on a whole bunch of issues with specialty threads of all types. We’d even suggest using 6-inch threads when it comes to glow-in-the-dark, as the threads often get messy after this point. It might be a pain to keep threading your needle, and cutting new pieces, but I promise you, this will help.

Remove The Curl

The weird glow of glow-in-the-dark threads is the selling point. But it’s also the problem. Whilst the reason behind the green glow is rather interesting, for now, we’re just going to concentrate on the actual product; zinc sulfide. This chemical, which gives it the glow, has to be unfused into plastic then added to the thread. The problem with this process is that the plastic is now brittle to sheer forces. These forces come in the form of curls.
 
When you stitch on average you add a quarter turn to your needle, slowly winding up the thread. With normal cotton, this can lead to knots, but it’s otherwise not too problematic. Glow-in-the-dark thread, however, snaps. Not the whole thing, there is still cotton in there, but the fibers infused with the glow powder snap meaning the threads look torn and messy. By making sure you let the curls fall out every few stitches, you can stop this from happening, leaving you with nice, smooth stitches.

Double Eye Needles

Double ended cross stitch needle (source: reddit)
Double ended cross stitch needle (source: reddit)
One way of avoiding curling the threads is actually to change your needle. A double-needle can help with cross stitching faster, but it also stops the threads twisting. It’s a little love or hate to use long term, but for a short bit of glow-in-the-dark stitching, it makes things a lot easier.

Use The Right Needle

However, if you don’t like a double-needle, it might help to change your needle anyway. One of the biggest problems with specialty threads is the eye of the needle putting stress on the thread. By upsizing your needle (to give a bigger eye to use), or even using a gold cross stitch needle you can avoid the stress on the thread and save yourself a lot of ripping/catching.
Another tip is to make sure you thread the needle well. Using a needle threader makes sure that threads are always placed correctly in the eye.

gold cross stitch needles (source: ebay)
gold cross stitch needles (source: ebay)

Use A Railroading Tool

I’m not the biggest fan of railroading, but I have to admit, sometimes a laying tool is just what you need. By using a laying tool, you can allow the thread to lay better, but you also stop it curling, stop it fraying and stop it from catching. It should be noted that while you are using the railroading technique, thanks to the way the fibers make up glow-in-the-dark threads, you won’t get as neat a finish as if you were railroading cotton threads.

Rosewood Laying Tools (Source: Pinterest)
Rosewood Laying Tools (Source: Pinterest)

How To Hand Dye Aida (And Why You Should Try It)

Various Hand Dyed Aida Pieces (Source: Etsy)

There are a lot of cross stitch fabrics out there, and there are a whole bunch of cross stitch fabric brands, however, the color selections are a little… lacking. You might want something with a bright color, you might want something a little more patterned, or just something fun, but you can’t find any.
Thankfully, you can hand dye aida, and once you do, you’ll see that its something you just have to try!

Various Hand Dyed Aida Pieces (Source: Etsy)
Various Hand Dyed Aida Pieces (Source: Etsy)

Why Should You Try Hand Dying Aida?

There are two main advantages to hand-dying aida (or any cross stitch fabric for that matter); color choice, and color variation.
 
We’ll start simple with color choice. Companies like Zweigart and DMC do a large selection of counts and colors, but they all mostly focus on pale or light colors. And whilst they do have the occasional black aida their selection of deep colors, or unusual colors is limited. Ever wanted a bright orange piece of aida? Not going to happen. Purple? Nope. Not even bright yellows, pinks or greens outside of those deep Christmas colors. So what happens if your background is meant to be grass? Well, hand dye your aida.
 
Next comes color variation, and what we mean by that is not something a solid color. Now, you can buy some basic patterned fabrics, and you can even print on aida using a home printer, but sometimes you just want it to look organic. Below we have a photo of a mermaid on hand-dyed aida, which thanks to its undulating blues and greens make a fantastic, and realistic sea. This is how to upgrade your cross stitch.

Cross Stitch Mermaid on Hand Dyed Aida by pacrislopa (Source: reddit)
Cross Stitch Mermaid on Hand Dyed Aida by pacrislopa (Source: reddit)

How To Hand Dye Aida

Enough of the talk! Let’s see about dying this stuff. We do need to say that there are a few ways to dye fabrics and its dependant on the dye you use, but most fabric dyes are very similar.
 
What you need:
White aida cloth (make sure its white!)
Fabric dye (Rit dye is a common brand in the US, and Dylon in the UK)
Hot water
Salt
Gloves
Stirring tool
Bowl (the bowl may be permanently dyed and should never be used for food)
 
There are two really important things in the guide above. Firstly, the aida should be white to start. It might seem like a cool idea to use a colored aida and then dye it for funky results, but the dye won’t bond and you’ll end up ruining your project. The second is the bowl. It needs to be big enough for you to move the water around (without spilling any dye, trust us, you don’t want that) and it should NEVER be used for food preparation as fabric dyes are often toxic, harmful to health or just generally not something you want to consume.
 
So, fill your bowl with enough hot water to cover the fabric entirely (if you want a partially dyed effect you should have only enough water to cover 50% of the fabric), and then throw in salt. The salt actually helps the cotton bond to the dye and leaves you with a stronger color, and will bleed less. How much really depends on the amount of water you’re using, but we suggest half a cup for every 8 liters of water (the size of a washing up bowl).
 
Throw your aida in the water to get it wet. Then set it on the side. This might seem like an odd step, but the dye won’t absorb unless the aida is wet.
 
Add your dye to whatever recipe the dye bottle says. Many brands, like the ones we mentioned, have mixes on their website showing you colors you can achieve, but mixing them up yourself is half the fun in my book! Make sure to mix the dyes well, and shake the bottles if you’re only using one color to ensure its mixed (fabric dyes can split over time). It might seem like you’re using a lot of dye for your small amount of water and fabric, but you do need this much.
 
Now is the fun part. Add your fabric, and stir for 10-20 minutes. Regularly check the color by taking it out, you may find that a quick dip is enough to dye it to your liking (we once dyed aida for 30 seconds and it was the perfect color we wanted).
 
Remove your fabric and wash it a lot. You need to make sure there is no color runoff, and we suggest starting with warm water, but once there is no runoff, use cold for a few seconds. Hang your fabric up to dry (you don’t have to block your fabric). Some people like to use a dryer, and this can be fine, but we find the color tends to lighten a little this way. Once dry, give it an iron, and get stitching!
 
We’ve also found this great Flosstube video guide on how to hand dye aida which is worth checking out. She also shows you how to get funky dye patterns.

Want To Buy Hand Dye Aida Instead?

Hand dying aida might not be for everyone, and we know that. Luckily, cross stitchers are a wonderful lot and you can pick up some amazing hand dyed aida from Etsy.

How To Care For Hand Dyed Aida

Whilst it is super awesome, hand-dyed aida is also something you need to be a little warier of. We strongly suggest washing your aida before you use it as sometimes dyed can bleed out a little bit. You should be fine if you don’t, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
 
Other than that just make sure if you choose to wash your cross stitch once complete, you use cold water (warm water increases the chances of bleeding).

Are Online Cross Stitch Courses Worth It?

How to cross stitch animated gif illustration

There are frankly, hundreds of courses online, and with many aimed at cross stitchers, both beginner and advanced, I often get asked a fairly simple question: “Are they worth it?”
The question might be simple, but the answer isn’t. In short; it depends on what type of course is being offered.
 
We tried out 95 cross stitch courses and rated them all so we can tell you if they’re worth it or not. We broke them down into 4 separate categories (with rough price guides) to help you out!

Cheap Online Videos – Less than $30

Whilst we’re calling these “cheap” videos, we want to be clear that the production value is rarely cheap. In fact, of all the online courses we were most surprised by the quality of the lowest price offering.
These online courses are usually part of online repositories like SkillShare, Coursera, or the like. They tend to be about 10 videos long and are aimed at beginners. Nothing is particularly new about these videos, in fact, you can find most of the content of these videos on youtube videos, in books, or even on blogs like our how to cross stitch guide. However, as videos go, they are by far superior in quality. Therefore, if you are learning cross stitch, these are a great resource.
 
Verdict – WORTH IT
 

Cheap Online Courses – $30 to $300

The second category for courses is actually the most common one we get asked about. They tend to be online still, but are usually run by companies claiming to be accredited. We tried 30 of these courses, from a range of providers and we can say, without a doubt, we learned nothing more than we would have on the cheaper online videos. The content here is usually slightly poorer quality than those online videos, and they’re mostly built by people that don’t cross stitch. In fact, we found them hard to follow and we can only pray for those beginner cross stitchers who take these courses.
 
The higher price point of these courses is usually given thanks to the words “Certified Course” and “Accredited Course”. These are warning signs, not selling points. Starting with the certificate, you can, in most cases get a certificate, however, this is always an optional paid extra, which ranges from $15 to $100 depending on the course. However in order to get one of these certificates, you don’t have to prove your knowledge, you just have to pay. As a result, it offers nothing. Officially you can use the hours as CPD points, however, most CPD needs to be in a relevant field, so it’s irrelevant. Finally, “accredited” means that someone said its good. That’s it. There is no ruling to say who can and can’t accredit a course and in most cases, it’s shell companies that are set up just to slap their name on a course somewhere.
Another warning sign is terminology like “Chinese cross stitch”, which has just been made up. These aren’t intermediate or advance cross stitch techniques.
 
That might all sound like doom and gloom, but there are some courses of this type out there that are fantastic. The Royal School of Needlework has a series on non-cross stitch embroidery that we love. However, we weren’t able to find one cross stitch specific course that was any good. Be wary of spending your money here.
 
Verdict – NOT WORTH IT
 

Expensive Online Courses – $300 – $1000

Thankfully, we didn’t find many of these when we searched, but there are a few out there. Very similar to the lesser-priced online courses, these courses can range in price up to $1000 or more. Unlike their cheaper counterparts, they often have coursework and exams to take. That is, sadly, where the differences end. They are total scams. They’re just like the cheaper courses in their quality, they have the same content, and they’re just as hollow as the others. They’re often sold as “foundation courses” for universities but are offered online. The big warning light here is that foundation courses are put on by universities; if it’s not a well-known university; it’s worthless.
 
Verdict – NOT WORTH IT
 

Degree Level Courses – $1000+

Finally, we come to the degree level courses. There really aren’t many of these out there, and they’re usually embroidery courses as opposed to cross stitch courses. These are genuine degree level courses, these will add letters to the end of your name. As a result, they are actually accredited, they have more than a cheap certificate, and are well worth it as you’ll be spending years on them and learning things that only a degree level graduate would know.
But please be aware of what you’re buying here. If anyone offers you this type of course online, its probably a scam; these are courses that require in-person teaching, exams, and coursework.
 
Verdict – WORTH IT

You should wash your aida BEFORE you use it

Water samples from colored aida. Left to right; Cream Aida, Black Aida, Navy Aida, Moss Green Aida, Christmas Red Aida, Red Aida

I’m a big believer in washing my cross stitch after I’m finished, and whilst I know there are people out there that don’t wash their cross stitch, I recently started washing my aida before I cross stitch.
 
I know this initially sounds crazy, however there is a method to my madness, and washing your aida (or any fabric) before you start your cross stitch has one major benefit.

Why you should you wash it?

I short, dyes. Unlike problems with thread dye lot issues, this is a dye problem that goes under the eyes of many of us cross stitchers. In fact, it took a decade before I actually started to think about what was happening.
 
When you wash your fabric, the dye leaks out. And I don’t just mean a bit of leakage, I mean loads. And its not just black aida that has this either. We tested all of the best cross stitch aida brands using an inch by inch square in a pint of cold water for 10 minutes.

Water samples from colored aida.
Left to right; Cream Aida, Black Aida, Navy Aida, Moss Green Aida, Christmas Red Aida, Red Aida
Water samples from 1 inch squared colored aida in a pint of cold water. 
Left to right; Cream Aida, Black Aida, Navy Aida, Moss Green Aida, Christmas Red Aida, Red Aida

This dye on its own might not seem that problematic considering it’s only a little bit, but our test was using a 1 inch by 1 inch square in a pint of water. If you scale this up, its like stitching a 12 by 12 inch bit of aida in a whole bath of water. I imagine there are only a few of us out there willing to use a whole bath of water to wash our cross stitch, even if you aren’t an eco cross stitcher.
 
This dye isn’t going to totally change the color of your threads, however it will take that shine off, leaving you with something with a little less pop. This can be a serious problem with cross stitches of bright colors on black aida like my recent Star Trek Enterprise LCARS cross stitch, but it’ll even have impacts on smaller projects too.

How to wash it

Now we have the “why” sorted out, the solution is simple, wash your aida. And we don’t mean you have to go fancy like how you wash your cross stitch. No, you can just chuck the whole thing in a bowl of water for half an hour. Rinse once your done (just to make sure none of the dye is left on the fabric and dry). You don’t have to iron, blot or stretch the fabric either, as the cross stitch frame or hoop will do the work for you.

Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)
Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)

How To Mount Your Cross Stitch On Canvas

Finished cross stitch mounted to canvas on display (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

We’ve explored the blurred line between cross stitch as art or craft before, and wherever you stand on that issue, there is one thing that can elevate anyone’s cross stitch; framing.
 
We’re also no stranger to framing cross stitch either, we have a great guide on how to frame cross stitch. But this isn’t the only way to frame cross stitch, you can also mount them to canvas.

Cross stitch stapled to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)
Cross stitch stapled to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

The Benefits

There are many advantages to mounting cross stitch to canvas instead of framing them normally. Firstly, you don’t have to concern yourself with framing with or without glass, which is a headache on its own. The framing can all be done at home, is super easy and cheap and the results arguably look better than standard framing.
However, there are downsides too. The two main ones are that the cross stitch is exposed to the elements, meaning you have to be careful where you store it to keep it looking its best. Therefore, before you read any further, we suggest you go and wash and iron your cross stitch. But also, and this is a big one; its a permanent framing technique. Once mounted to canvas, removal can cause serious issues with your cross stitch, and stop you from framing it in the future.

How to Mount Your Cross Stitch

OK, so you got this far, you’ve heard the negatives, but you still want in? Great, now you need a canvas.
 
There are loads of types of canvases out there, and frankly, it doesn’t really matter which one you get. Just be aware that your cross stitch needs to have enough fabric around it to cover the front, sides and an inch or two of the back. If you’re really committed to having it mounted to canvas, but can only just cover the sides, that’s OK too, but you’ll need some type of cover for the sides to make them look nice once you’re done.
 
Next up, you need to position your cross stitch on the aida. This is a super important step, as, I repeat, this is a permanent thing. If you put it in the wrong place, fixing it is a real pain. There are loads of ways to do this, from simple measuring to using fancy middle finding rulers. I’m going to gloss over this though; as you’ve got this, whatever way works for you.

Back of cross stitch stapled to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)
Back of cross stitch stapled to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

Then, we staple. Start by taking a stapler and stapling the top center of the work (on the back). Then pull the aida tightly up from the bottom and staple there too. You should aim to get a nice tight bit of aida, but not distorting your cross stitch. This is, by far, the hardest part of the whole thing. I keep flipping from front to back to make sure its perfectly placed before I staple it. All that effort now will help it look perfect.
 
Once you have those staples in, repeat this process for all-around your work.
Folding aida corners on cross stitch mounted to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)
Folding aida corners on cross stitch mounted to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

Then comes the corners. For a lot of people, the corners pose a concern, but honestly, they’re easy to deal with. The first bit of advice I’ll give you is, do not follow a guide on how to make corners on canvas. These guides are specifically for creating the canvas you’re mounting to, and require the canvas to be stretched. Your aida won’t like you if you try to stretch it like that.
However, exactly how you want to do it, is up to you. I like Hannah Hand Make’s approach to tuck as much in as you can with your nail, pull the excess around the back, and stick a staple in that sucker.
Finished cross stitch mounted to canvas on display (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)
Finished cross stitch mounted to canvas on display (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

Once done, flip your work around, stand back and admire. You might also want to think about signing your cross stitch too.

5 Cross Stitch Tips It Took Us A Decade To Learn

DMC Thread Cones (Source: DMC.com)

We’ve always tried to stay away from blogs on cross stitch tips here on Lord Libidan. If you want those kinds of things, there are post all over the internet with the same basic tips repeated. But that’s the thing; they’re basic tips. What about the tips that it takes a decade to learn?
Today we’re looking into the tips and tricks we’ve seen online and in-person, hundreds of times, but ones we only actually took stock of after a decade of cross stitching.

Gridding

cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source: asatisfiedspirit.com)
cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source: asatisfiedspirit.com)

We start with something I actively avoided in the past. Gridding just looked like a load of effort, that I frankly, couldn’t be bothered with; I wanted to get into the cross stitching. However, miscounts happen, there is no way to avoid that. So for a while, I used cross stitch counting pins, which work, and I still use them for smaller projects, but there is nothing quite like having to frog out a whole section as you counted wrong 6 hours of stitching ago.
This is where gridding comes in. I had always thought gridding was a painful experience but with loads of different cross stitch gridding techniques its actually a breeze. It doesn’t take that long, and I can confirm that I have NEVER had to frog on projects I’ve gridded. Lifesaver.

Buy Cross Stitch Cones

DMC Thread Cones (Source: DMC.com)
DMC Thread Cones (Source: DMC.com)

Our second tip is actually about buying. Getting a great cross stitch thread deal is such a rush, and always helps us get closer to our journey to the complete DMC thread selection, but there is a better way to buy thread; DMC cones.
 
These cones are the way professionals by DMC thread, and there is a good reason; the sheer saving. Cones are either 100g or 500g weights (which is 51 and 257 skeins worth) but you can pick them up for as little as $20 a cone, which works out to 59c a skein, which is a price that none of the best online cross stitch stores can match.

The Drill Bobbin Trick


No one likes bobbin winders; no one. But with a lot of people choosing to store their cross stitch threads on bobbins, you have to know how to put cross stitch threads on a bobbin. This is where the drill technique comes in. You can actually use a sewing machine in the same way, we’re aware many cross stitchers also sew so you might have one of those too. This trick will save you hours and hours of effort and wrist ache – trust us!

Taking Care Of Your Stash

Clear Draws for Embroidery Thread Storage (Source: pinterest)
Clear Draws for Embroidery Thread Storage (Source: pinterest)

Next up we have storage. We’re mentioned in the past (more than a few times), that its important to properly store cross stitch threads and we’re firm belivers in this. You might choose to put your threads on bobbins, in bags, put them on show or whatever, but there is no reason to not take care of them. Threads really get effected by the sun, so much that we’re suggest not buying second hand threads, and there is good evidence to suggest the DMC dye lot issues people talk about are just due to poor storage. Its that important.
 
We would also include storage of completed cross stitch, storage of aida fabric and properly storing cross stitch needles as a trick definately worth learning too.

Finding The Perfect Pair Of Scissors

Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors (source: kreinik.com)

Let me tell you; there is nothing quite like finding the perfect pair of scissors. A tool that most of us don’t really think about, but a tool that we all use, all the time, is the humble scissors. I’m sure most of us started out using a random pair of semi-blunt scissors we found around the house and maybe upgraded to a fairly cheap pair of sewing scissors along the way. But if I were to ask you “do you love your scissors?” and the answer was no, then you need a new pair.
We spend ages with our scissors, from snipping threads to (annoyingly) frogging, our scissors journey with us through project after project. So why shouldn’t they be perfect?
 
I’ve written in the past about finding the perfect pair of cross stitch scissors in the past, and since then, I’ve still managed to find better and better scissors for me, like the amazing finger snip travel scissors. However, a great pair of scissors for me isn’t a great one for you. My trusted friend MrXStitch uses a rather stylish pair of scissors that I just cannot abide; but for him, they work. You deserve to find a pair for you.
 
I would actually go one step further here too. I love my thread scissors, but I also love my aida scissors. Yes, I have multiple pairs for different things. My aida scissors are big fabric cutting scissors with a diamond coating so they never get blunt (extreme overkill, I know), but they work for aida perfectly. But they would suck for cutting threads.

The Better DMC Metallic Threads: Diamant Threads

DMC Diamant Threads (Source: tattingcorner.com)

The question of how to use DMC’s metallic threads often raises its head. They aren’t as nice to use as the normal cotton range, but they give your project a little something more. No wonder cross stitchers look for a way to cheat the system, or at the very least, try to avoid all the pain and heartache.
 
But there is a better solution. A solution that has actually been around since 2013 when the sub-brand launched; DMC Diamant threads.
 
Unlike their metallic 6 ply cousins, the Diamant range is a viscose sheet wrapped with a metallic polyester coating and then covered in a thin layer of silicone. The advantage of this production method is that the thread at the end is smooth and supple. I’m going to repeat that in words a little nicer to hear; they aren’t like scratchy hard to use metallic threads.
Sadly, for a long time, these Japanese made threads were only really sold in Europe, but lately we’ve been seeing more and more of them in the US and Australia. And we propose, they’re better than any DMC metallic you can find.

DMC Diamant Threads in Presentation Box (Source: crossstitchworkshop.co.uk)
DMC Diamant Threads in Presentation Box (Source: crossstitchworkshop.co.uk)

The Benefits

The real benefit of Diamant threads is that they are a smooth thread. They act much more like a standard cotton thread (although slightly stiffer), and therefore, don’t have the same issues that normal metallics or light effects do.
Metallics tend to behave a bit like a wire with thorns all over it, whereas Diamant acts more like a thread that’s been starched too much. You can use smaller needles, it doesn’t catch on the needle or fabric, it glides through the fabric much easier, and it’s by far a nicer stitching experience.

The Negatives

Whilst I’m making out the Diamant threads to be amazing, there are two negatives to speak about.
The first is a simple size or gauge issue. Diamant thread is larger than the standard embroidery floss of DMC. This changes how you use the thread rather drastically, and we’ll cover that later, but just know that Diamant isn’t like standard

thread. But then again, DMC metallics aren’t really either.
The second big issue is the color selection. When Diamant first came out, it only had 4 colors, and whilst these have expanded into 14, there still isn’t a great deal of choice. Most are various shades of metal, which are nice, but limited in their use, with a black and white, red and green to round off the set. This doesn’t stop them offering a Diamant color card though. To me, the metallic range is much deeper in choice. I think this might change as more and more people use Diamant threads, but for now, its a little unloved.

DMC Diamant Threads (Source: tattingcorner.com)
DMC Diamant Threads (Source: tattingcorner.com)

How To Use Them

As I’ve already stated above, there is a different way to use Diamant threads. But before we say how, we need to talk about the two types of Diamant thread. Diamant, and Diamant Grande.
&nbps;
I want to be super clear here; you want to use Diamant thread; NOT Diamant Grande. In essence, the difference is that Diamant Grande is twice the thickness of Diamant thread. For cross stitch, it’s just not suitable.
 
So, with that out the way, let’s talk about how to use it. So Diamant thread is slightly thicker than a standard floss of thread. In fact, it’s twice the size. This means that when you normally stitch with 2 threads of floss, you will only use one thread of Diamant. Thankfully, Diamant flattens more than normal threads,

meaning the overall look will be very similar to using two threads anyway.
All the other ways to make cross stitching with metallics easier still apply, but with Diamant, it’s much easier from the get-go.

Kreinik threads in different thicknesses (source: Kreinik)
Different thread weights. Kreinik Very Fine #4 Braid, Fine #8 Braid, Blending Filament combined with floss, just floss. Source: Kreinik Threads (source: Kreinik)

The Alternatives

It would be remiss of me, in a post all about metallics, to not speak about alternatives. And whilst the metallic thread world at first seems narrow, there are some good alternatives that don’t get as much focus as they should.

DMC Metallics

We start with the standard for most cross stitchers when choosing metallics, with DMC’s range. We’ve compared the Diamant threads to these in the post above, but they aren’t all bad. Sure, they can be hard to use, they knot, twist weirdly, break needles, pull and cut fabric and feel rough in the hand. But they come in colors.

The biggest negative about Diamant threads is the lack of colors. I think as time goes on DMC might change the range to include more depth, but right now, it doesn’t have any. Therefore, if you want a colored metallic, DMC metallics are a good starting place. But maybe not the best option.

The DMC Golden Skein

Another option, all be it extremely unlikely, is the limited edition DMC golden skein. I used this thread on my Golden Zelda Cartridge cross stitch and I can tell you that it’s great to use. Sure, it costs an absolute bomb, its limited edition, and it looks the same as any other gold thread, but we like to cover our bases.

Kreinik Threads

However, the best option in my mind, by far, is Kreinik threads. This isn’t to say I’m a Kreinik fanboy or anything, in fact, I actually own more DMC metallics than I do Kreinik threads. The reason I’m saying Kreinik is better is down to their options, which you can see on our Kreinik color chart. Kreinik deals exclusively in specialty threads. This means that they not only produce a great product itself, but they understand the differences each project can bring. This means they offer different thicknesses of almost all of their threads, meaning you can do a straight swap, blend or even blend different metallics together. I’ve used a whole bunch before, and I can you from my Skyrim ruined lexicon cross stitch that a subtle addition can really make a big difference.
If you’re looking for a Diamant alternative from Kreinik, the best I could see was either Kreinik Metallics #4 Very Fine Braid or Japan threads #5.
 
Have you tried Diamant threads? What do you think?

6 Things To Do Before You Start Your Next Cross Stitch

Blanket Stitching Aida to Stop Fraying (Source: wikihow)

You’ve just finished your last project, it been nicely washed and ironed, and maybe even framed. So with an eager smile on your face, you pull out your next pattern, itching to get your needle into a new project. That ladies and gentlemen is when the fun police step in. “Stop what you’re doing, you need to prepare first!”
&nsbp;
Thing is, they kind of have a point. No one wants to go through a checklist of boring tasks before getting into cross stitching, but those tasks are there for a reason. With a bit of quick planning (and we mean quick) you can avoid a whole host of problems in your next project. Today, we go over 6 steps that’ll help you get right into stitching.

Plan Your Project

This one seems a bit obvious, doesn’t it? Well, it is, but there are a few things people often forget about that are important to consider.
First up we’d ask the question, where should you start your cross stitch? Almost every pattern you get has a center point, and most people start there. Nothing wrong with that. But is it the best for your project? In our epic Pokemon cross stitch patterns we see people cutting up the massive project into quarters, meaning they instead start in a corner. Or maybe you’re unsure if you’ll have enough fabric, so you start on one edge. It’s really up to you, but just because people tend to start in the center, doesn’t mean you always should. After all, no one wants to discover 90% of the way through their project that they’re not going to have enough fabric to finish.
 
Secondly, we want to ask another often ignored question: which direction should cross stitches lie? This seems a little random at first, so let me explain. Most people learn cross stitch in a specific way, meaning the top stitch of your cross goes from bottom left to top right. But your eye naturally follows this. This means that if you have a point of interest in your top left or bottom right, people aren’t looking at it. It might be worth changing the direction to get a better finish.

How to cross stitch animated gif illustration
How to cross stitch animated gif illustration

Buy Your Cross Stitch Materials

Next up, you need to buy your stuff. For most of us, you’ll have a bunch of fabric, threads, needles, and frames around you, so this is likely to be a small step, but it’s actually one of the most important.
If you use a lot of one color, specifically, more than one skein, in your project, have you thought about thread dye lot issues? It’s worth investing in all the colors you need before you start your project to ensure you’ve got the same tones throughout. We’d actually go one step further and suggest you buy cross stitch supplies online as there is a lower likelihood for dye lot issues (thanks to the way they store cross stitch threads).

DMC Thread Color 318 Old and New (Source: Facebook)
DMC Thread Color 318 Old and New (Source: Facebook)

Cut and Secure the Edges of Your Fabric

Next we suggest fixing the edges of your fabric. For those that stitch on evenweave or cross stitch fabrics other than aida this is even more important as your fabric has a tendancy to fray. You can stop cross stitch fabric fraying in loads of ways like hand sewing, stitching, gluing or using specific products however a quick wiz of a sewing machine will keep your cross stitch living a lot longer.

Blanket Stitching Aida to Stop Fraying (Source: wikihow)
Blanket Stitching Aida to Stop Fraying (Source: wikihow)

Wash Your Fabric

I’m firmly in the camp of those who think you need to wash your cross stitch however I’m actually going to suggest you wash it before you start too. There are two reasons for this. The first is simply a case of age. If you buy some fabric, how was it stored in the shop? How old is it? How dusty is it? By washing it before you start you avoid trapping any dust under your stitches that is really hard to get rid of once completed.
Secondly, your fabric can bleed. If you’re using dark fabric or even black aida bleeding is more likely. You can avoid the chances of this happening by buying a better brand of cross stitch aida, but its never guaranteed. Better safe than sorry.

Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)
Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)

Grid Your Fabric

I’m not actually telling you to grid your cross stitch. But I do want you to ask yourself if you should. Small projects don’t need gridding, but the larger and larger you get, the more and more miscounting can be a serious problem. Gridding is one, really good, way of avoiding that.
There are lots of ways to grid your cross stitch, some of which are super quick, so its really not as bad of a job as it at first seems.

cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source: asatisfiedspirit.com)
cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source: asatisfiedspirit.com)

Wash Your Hands

Finally, we end with a simple one; wash your hands. Oils from your hands RUIN cross stitch. Wash them before you start, every time, and you’ll stitch yourself an heirloom.

Where To Get Great Cross Stitch Alphabets

Mid Century Cross Stitch Alphabet Pattern Free Download by Lord Libidan

Last week we went over the best places to get free cross stitch patterns and we had a great response, but a lot of people were left asking “what about alphabets?
In a world where cross stitch generators are getting easier and easier to use, people are more often turning to making their own patterns. This, coupled with the rise of snarky stitching and phrase-based patterns often leads to people wanting to make text-based patterns. But unless you’re a secret font designer, people are left looking for alphabets and fonts they can use. So today, we round up where to get the best cross stitch alphabets for free, and paid.

Lord Libidan – Free

Yes, that’s right, we offer free cross stitch alphabets! In fact, 53 of them, in a range of sizes and styles to hopefully help you make an awesome pattern! But this post isn’t about what we offer, but about others, so let’s move on to other resources!

Mid Century Cross Stitch Alphabet Pattern Free Download by Lord Libidan
Mid Century Cross Stitch Alphabet Pattern Free Download by Lord Libidan

Online Generators – Free/Paid

The first place I would personally look are online cross stitch font generators. These awesome little tools allow you to search their font libraries, select a font, and type your words. They do all the work of making the pattern. They all have free and paid options, but if you intend to make loads of patterns, getting a subscription is a great idea.
There are two big ones out there to check out:

CrosStitch.com – Free & Paid
By far the largest is CrossStitch.com’s caption generator, with over 90 patterns and regular updates to add more. Only 6 are free, but at $12 for a year’s access, they’re a great resource.

StitchPoint.com – Free
Another option is StitchPoint.com’s offering, which is just as good but free. The downside is they only offer 7 patterns, so you’re a lot more limited.

Pinterest – Free

But what about something free I hear you say! Well, that’s where Pinterest comes in. Over the last few decades many cross stitch blogs, forums and designers have offered free cross stitch alphabets. These tend to disappear when the blogs/websites stop updating, but thanks to Pinterest, they’re all recorded to everyone to use. You can find specific boards purely saving cross stitch alphabets, or just go searching to find thousands of them for free.

Free Cross Stitch Fonts On Pinterest (Source: Pinterest)
Free Cross Stitch Fonts On Pinterest (Source: Pinterest)

Etsy – Paid

Sadly, whilst Pinterest does have a wealth of free patterns, sometimes they aren’t great quality patterns. This is where websites such as Etsy come in. Many people have lambasted Etsy in the past for its cross stitch copyright infringement, however, when it comes to cross stitch alphabets you’re free of copyright issues (by and large).
Thankfully the world’s cross stitch designers have put together cross stitch fonts on Etsy for you to browse and purchase. A quick search comes up with over 6000 different listings. What makes this even better is that most offer a pack of fonts for less than a few dollars, meaning you can stock up on as many fonts as you want for a low price.

Cross Stitch Generators – Paid

One of the most popular posts on this blog is our review of the best cross stitch software. Its also one of the main reasons we started writing this specific post, but many of the paid cross stitch generators offer free cross stitch fonts from within their apps. You do have to buy them in the first place to get access, but many cross stitchers have these already. You have to dig into the options to find them sometimes, but they all have them.
Our personal favorite is MacStitch and WinStitch’s font converter. It takes any font on your computer and converts it in real-time into a cross stitch pattern. This means you can find any font online you like the look of and it’ll do all the rest. Sometimes tiny fixes are needed, but for the most part, it’s fantastic. The whole cross stitch software is only $35, but the font converter is worth more than that in our eyes.

MacStitch Cross Stitch Generator Font Conversion Tool
MacStitch Cross Stitch Generator Font Conversion Tool