How To Decorate Embroidery Hoops For Framing

Washi Tape Embroidery Hoop by sewpinata (Source: Instagram)

Every one of you has seen a completed cross stitch, even on this site, which is still in a hoop. There might be a fair few stitchers out there that really really want to take a photo of it before removing it from the frame, but the vast majority are already framed; in their hoops.
Sure, plain hoops look good sometimes, but for a more varied look, you can decorate. Today we look at the best ways to decorate your hoop for a fresh new look.

Pick Your Frame

The first, and most important thing to work out, is what type of hoop you want to use. You have three main choices and they all have different impacts.

Wooden Embroidery Hoops

The standard wooden embroidery hoop, made from anything from bamboo to pine (always softwoods) are great for stitching with as they have natural spring in them thanks to the wood fibers, but this spring gives way to splintering on the outside layers, easy damage and accidental staining (from finger oils). So whilst this is the best embroidery hoop to use for stitching, you may want to only use these hoops when covering the wood entirely, as splintering can still happen if they’re painted/finished.

Plastic Embroidery Hoops

Plastic embroidery hoops are also great for framing, but unlike wooden frames, they are usually colored. It might be that all you need to do is pick a nice color and you’re done! But the other side of the coin is that in order to paint these you need to rub them down, and prime them; so stay away from painting.

Aged Embroidery Hoops

The two other hoops we’ve mentioned are great places to start, but if you plan to frame your cross stitch in the hoop, we prefer ‘aged’ embroidery hoops. What we mean here is actually hardwood hoops. Unlike the standard wooden hoops and plastic hoops, these have no form of screw, and are just one solid hardwood hoop. The advantages are these are that they don’t splinter, you can paint them, stain them, even just varnish them, and they’ll look a dream. If you want to completely cover the hoop (we talk about that in a minute), then they’ll keep shape better than standard embroidery hoops too.
However, be warned that they are 3-6 times more expensive than the standard embroidery hoop.

Glow in the dark Journey Cross Stitch by Kay (source: google images)
Glow in the dark Journey Cross Stitch by Kay (source: google images)

Paint/Stain

OK, so now we have that out of the way, let’s talk painting. If anyone talks about decorating embroidery hoops, this is where most people go to, and for fair reason. Painting hoops, in either complementary colors (even matching the fabric to hide them) or converse colors can really make a project. In the two examples below we show a bright yellow, matching the writing, and dark black to make the colors stand out more.
The real advantage of painting though is you can’t go wrong. Matt paints, gloss paints, emulsions, or watercolors, or stain or varnish, painting a hoop is fair game, however, you want to do it.

Kreuzstich heart cross stitch (source: twitter)
Kreuzstich heart cross stitch (source: twitter)
Fallout 3 Home Sweet Home Sampler Cross Stitch (source: reddit)
Fallout 3 Home Sweet Home Sampler Cross Stitch (source: reddit)

Washi Tape/Decoupage

Next up we have washi tape, which to those who don’t know, is basically scotch tape with pretty patterns on it. Coming from Japan where its a seriously big deal, you can get washi tapes in patterns, colors, styles (including glow-in-the-dark), and even printed characters. All you have to do is wrap the outside ring. You can do this like our example with long straight stretches, or you can coil it around the hoop too. It gives you a slight bit of interest in what would normally be a boring old hoop.
You could also try decoupage, which is a very similar effect, but with paper instead!

Washi Tape Embroidery Hoop by sewpinata (Source: Instagram)
Washi Tape Embroidery Hoop by sewpinata (Source: Instagram)

Fabric Wrapped

Finally, we suggest looking into fabric wrapping. This one is slightly more difficult, as not only do you need to find an appropriate fabric (we suggest thin patterned cotton) you need to wrap your fabric in a way that doesn’t show fraying edges.
But, what a way to finish a hoop, than to use either the same fabric, hiding the hoop completely, or even wrapping the hoop in something truly unique.

Fabric Wrapped Embroidery Hoops (Source: Pinterest)
Fabric Wrapped Embroidery Hoops (Source: Pinterest)

How To Frame An Embroidery Hoop

So once you’ve picked your design and decorated it, how do you frame your embroidery hoop?

DMC Thread Cones: The Pros Way To Buy Thread

DMC Thread Cones (Source: DMC.com)

Recently we rounded up the best places to find DMC thread deals, and our first suggestion was thread cones. However, a lot of people started asking questions about these deals, and with a little digging, I found that a lot of cross stitchers didn’t even know they existed. So today, we’re talking nothing but thread cones.

What Are They?

DMC Six Strand Cross Stitch Cotton 500g Black Cone (Source: DMC.com)
DMC Six Strand Cross Stitch Cotton 500g Black Cone (Source: DMC.com)
Let’s start off simple; what exactly is a thread cone?
In short, they are the same DMC 6 strand thread you normally use, but around a cone, usually in 100g or 500g weights (which is 51 and 257 skeins worth). We spoke in our post about why do DMC threads vary in cost so much about where the threads we use are made. For DMC, all the 6 strand threads are still made in their French factory. In order to reduce the costs of sending threads to the US, they put this thread on cones and send them. The US factory then cuts the cones up into skeins to sell. However, DMC US also wanted to make these cones available to kit makers. This is where we come in; we purchase the cone before it’s been converted to skeins, saving us money.
They don’t come in the full range of colors, they officially only come in 22 colors now, but you can find a range of 35 online too. However, as you’ll see later, we’re only really interested in 3 colors.

Why Use Them?

I feel I might have just given the whole reason for buying cones away already there; you can save money. However, it has other uses too.
Firstly, let’s talk cash. A standard skein of thread can cost you anywhere from 50c to a dollar (on average, worldwide. It can be higher or lower depending on where you live). Cones cost, from the DMC US website, $70 for a 500g cone. To put that into perspective, that works out at 27c per skein. You just saved yourself a boatload. However, it gets better! Whilst the DMC website does sell the 500g cones for $70 if you search online, you can get them for anything from $20 to $50, making the saving even better. Sure, these cones are second-hand threads, but thanks to the cone having so much thread on it, you don’t have to be concerned with dye lot issues.

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

How To use Them?

This may seem a little confusing at first, after all, you know exactly how to use thread. But cones have one big limiting feature; they don’t come in the full range. However, if you had to buy all 500 threads at $70 a pop, it would be a long time before you collected a whole set of DMC threads.
So, how do we suggest you use cones? Simple; black and white.
 
In the last 5 years, I’ve only stitched one project (that’s one out of about 50) that hasn’t contained either 310 black, or B5200/Blanc white. As a result, with the exception of large blocks of color, you may have to stitch for a special project, black and white will be your most used colors. These are the ones we suggest you buy in cones.
However, let’s say you need a specific color, and you’ll need at least 20 skeins (you can use our skein calculator if you’re unsure), it makes more sense to buy a 100g cone (of 51 skeins) rather than buying the skeins separately. Sometimes, they won’t have the color you need, in fact, most of the time, but that one time they do; you can save yourself a lot.
I own 310 black, blanc, B5200 white, and 792 purple-blue.

DMC Thread Cones 100g and 500g in white B5200 (Source: DMC.com)
DMC Thread Cones 100g and 500g in white B5200 (Source: DMC.com)

Where To Get Them?

This, dear reader, is where things get a little complicated. As we said above, cones are actually meant for shipping between DMC outlets in different countries. Therefore; getting your hands on them can be difficult. If you live outside of the US that is.
 
The US DMC sells thread cones in all 22 colors, but only directly from their website. If you need one of the other threads in the range of 35, you need to look on eBay.
For those of us outside of the US, we only really have eBay to use. I personally also see them on Etsy from time to time as well. But I would strongly suggest avoiding Aliexpress to buy anything cross-stitch related, as its almost always fake. The good news, however, is that the stores on eBay usually sell for the same price as the US and include shipping, meaning you get just as good, if not a better, deal.

DMC Thread Cone Color Range:

#B5200, #White/Blanc, #Ecru, #221, #304, #310, #317, #318, #321, #413, #414, #415, #444, #498, #500, #550, #553, #666, #677, #741, #796, #801, #814, #815, #817, #820, #822, #841, #955, #956, #995, #3371, #3799

DMC thread cone color range
DMC thread cone color range

How To Keep Your Eyesight While Cross Stitching

Glasses with anti-glare coating (Source: youtube)

“My mum/nan used to do that” is a phrase almost all of us have heard before. Its the response people give when you say you cross stitch. However, that answer has always bothered me. Not due to their lack of knowledge, the idea that cross stitch isn’t hip, or how throw away it is. No, the thing I have an issue with is “used to”.
I go around a lot of conventions and cross stitching events and I’ve slowly been collecting up reasons why people stop cross stitching. And almost without fault, it appears to be their vision. To us cross stitchers our vision is one of the most important things to us (even if we don’t know it), however, it’s also one of the biggest reasons why we might have to give up cross stitching. So to help all of us, I’ve spoken to some opticians to get the best information to ensure we keep our eyesight as long as possible and keep on stitching.

Glasses with anti-glare coating (Source: youtube)
Glasses with anti-glare coating (Source: youtube)

Glasses/Tests

Let’s just get this straight out of the way; if you need glasses, wear them.
I’m always surprised at the number of people that have glasses but choose not to wear them while cross stitching. Trust us on this one and wear them. Not wearing your glasses will cause you compounded problems.
That said, you also need to make sure you’re wearing the right glasses. This might be as simple as getting your eyes checked often, but also choosing to have a pair of cross stitch/reading glasses instead of varifocals, or getting uncoated lenses.

Light

With that out of the way, let’s talk about what to do to help. We went through some of the best ways to work with black aida, and whilst that was more specific to a problem many people have, the advice there is great here also. The one big thing; light. An area without a lot of light will cause your eyes to strain, which over time damages them. If you want to really make a great place to cross stitch, find somewhere with lots of natural light.

Even More Light

But natural light isn’t the only thing you need. No, I’m going to suggest you not only have natural light, but also get a separate light. This could be something like a table lamp, with or without a daylight bulb, or work light, under light or headlamp. All of these options will not only allow you to see your cross stitch creation come to life better but will help your eyes work on the details.

Daylight Slimline Table Lamp (source: Amazon)
Daylight Slimline Table Lamp (source: Amazon)

Taking Breaks

The biggest bit of advice that our optician experts gave us, was take breaks. This seems simple enough, but when we actually got thinking about it, we stitch, and we stitch, and we stitch, and before you know it its been 4 hours and your bursting for a pee. But the suggestion of taking breaks is the same, if you’re cross stitching or using a computer (arguably more so with the detailed work of cross stitch). The 20, 20, 20 rule suggests taking a break of at least 20 seconds, every 20 minutes and to look at least 20 feet away. However, a longer 5-10 minute break is best (and allows you to make a brew!).

Be Reasonable

This one is a little harder to muster. We’re going to suggest you change the way you cross stitch, but only slightly!
It might be worth mixing up what hobbies you do, so you’re not cross stitching all the time. Or it might be worth staying away from those crazy 32 count miniature cross stitches in favor of the standard 14/16/18.
This idea does seem hard to take, and honestly, I’ve done my fair share of 32 count projects, like my Spring In Daigoji Temple miniature cross stitch, but thinking about the projects we choose, or more specifically the counts we use, can help us cross stitch for decades to come.

Use Magnifiers

However, if you really need to, use a magnifier; just don’t rely on it. We’ve investigated the pros and cons of using a magnifier for cross stitch before, and whilst they are a great tool to use when you need it, it’s not something you should always use. If you find yourself needing it all the time, try reducing the count of your projects, or get a check-up in the opticians.

Clip-on magnifier by 123stitch

Whats The Best Cross Stitch Thread Brand?

Full set of DMC threads

Finding the best products for you can be a challenge, so we’ve covered the best cross stitch needle brands and the best aida brands in the past. However there was always one topic we tended to stay away from, yet it was always the most requested. The best cross stitch thread brand.
 
We supplied 125 cross stitchers (ranging in ability, and current thread brand preference) with a selection of threads from 9 well-known thread brands, on unmarked bobbins (to remove bias) and asked for their honest feedback.
 
We tested five different variables; price, availability (both locally and online), quality, price, and a new category specific to this test; manufacture. This new variable is all about how the threads are made and include lots of factors such as environmental, tradition, thread make up and more.
 

Royal Broiderie Threads

Coming up in the last place on our test in Royal Broiderie threads. We actually praised the thread for its coverage in our post, testing to see if cheap embroidery threads are worth it, however, our testers found batch mismatches, the thread knotted more often, it split apart, and one tester reported color loss when washing. It should be noted that Royal Broiderie threads are such a low price point that many testers said they would still consider using the thread, even though it had its problems.
 

Range – 4/5
Availability – 2/5
Quality – 1/5
Manufacture – 2/5
Price – 4/5
Total – 2.5/5

 

Presencia Finca Coats

With 133 colors, Presenica Finca threads do offer problems when switching out DMC colors, although they do have the closest DMC code on their label. However, poor availability, highish prices, and the lower range meant Presencia Finca rated poorly, despite great scores for its quality and manufacture.
 

Range – 2/5
Availability – 2/5
Quality – 5/5
Manufacture – 4/5
Price – 3/5
Total – 3.2/5

 

Cosmo Threads

Never heard of Cosmo threads? Well, that’s not a surprise. Cosmo threads are often used by quilters, even though its a hand embroidery thread, it’s of great quality and they do carry 400 colors. This sadly, is where the problems start creeping in. Cosmo threads are seriously hard to find, often requiring a deep web search to uncover. They don’t even have a website. In addition, the price can be up to double that of DMC threads, making it a costly thread to procure.
 

Range – 4/5
Availability – 2/5
Quality – 5/5
Manufacture – 5/5
Price – 2/5
Total – 3.5/5

 

Appletons Wool

Appletons threads aren’t like the others on this list; they’re wool. At first, we were hesitant to add Appletons for that specific reason, but our Facebook group asked for it to be added, so we did.
Understandably, wool breaks apart easier than cotton, it’s not as smooth, and its slightly harder to deal with. Its range is a healthy 400, so you can use it for almost any cross stitch project, but with it being hard to find inside of the UK (its head office), let alone elsewhere, it sadly slips down our ratings.
 

Range – 4/5
Availability – 2/5
Quality – 3/5
Manufacture – 5/5
Price – 3/5
Total – 3.5/5

 

J&P Coats

J&P Coats, or Coats, or J&P as they are sometimes called, create high-quality products. But just because the threads are well made, doesn’t mean they are actually nice to use. Sadly, this is one of those cases. Our testers found knotting to be an issue, coverage to be an issue, and fuzziness to be an issue (especially as you go to the end of your thread). This, coupled with poor availability and fairly high prices means Coats weren’t as high as we thought they would be.
 

Range – 4/5
Availability – 2/5
Quality – 5/5
Manufacture – 4/5
Price – 3/5
Total – 3.5/5

 

Madeira Cotton Threads

In a not-a-huge- surprise, Madeira threads have done well. Madeira is a pleasure to use, and thanks to its unique skein storage reduce the likelihood of knotting and splitting while being used. Our testers also found it to be the shiniest to use, giving any project a slightly glam look. However, outside of the UK and Australia Madeira hand embroidery threads (unlike their machine embroidery threads) are hard to find, and when you do find them, they often come with a healthy price jump.
If you can find them for a good price, these are a great product. With just under 380 colors, conversion to DMC color codes is easy, even if you lose some slight shade differences.
 

Range – 4/5
Availability – 4/5
Quality – 5/5
Manufacture – 5/5
Price – 4/5
Total – 4.5/5

 

Anchor Embroidery Threads

Another well-known choice for embroidery threads, especially in Europe, is Anchor threads. Praised for their soft texture, and for not knotting, or splitting people loved the quality of the threads. Sadly, they’re a little more expensive than its competitors, and outside of the US and Europe, they are hard to come by.
The range is slightly smaller than DMC, but there is a whole raft of DMC to Anchor conversion tables out there, the threads are still interchangeable.
 

Range – 4/5
Availability – 3/5
Quality – 5/5
Manufacture – 4/5
Price – 3/5
Total – 4/5

 

Sullivans Threads

Sullivans threads are a delight to work with. Unlike many on our comparison test, Sullivans offers a standard 400 color range, and a further set of metallics, overdyed and variated, meaning its the largest range of any on our list, even DMC. However the manufacturers also know that DMC is the preferred option for many, so each skein is stamped with the closest DMC color code on the label, meaning you don’t need a conversion chart.
Sadly, sourcing these threads outside of North America or Australia isn’t easy, however, there are a few local stores taking up stock, so over time we expect this to alleviate and Sullivans should get easier and easier to find.
 

Range – 5/5
Availability – 4/5
Quality – 5/5
Manufacture – 5/5
Price – 3/5
Total – 4.5/5

 

CXC Threads

We don’t actually have a link to CXC threads, and that is the biggest problem. A Chinese copy if DMC threads, which come in all thread colors bar the new 35 DMC thread colors (although I hear they will do these colors as well soon), these threads were a key feature of one of our previous tests, are cheap embroidery threads worth it, and we found, not only were they worth getting, but thanks to their polyester construction, could actually hold up better than the competition.
One thing we didn’t talk about though, was getting your hands on these threads. Sold through Aliexpress, Etsy or other non-licensed reseller websites, theses threads are super cheap, but take ages to get to you, and are hard to find. Other than that though, they ranked very well with our testers.
 

Range – 5/5
Availability – 5/5
Quality – 3/5
Manufacture – 5/5
Price – 5/5
Total – 4.5/5

 

DMC Threads

DMC is for many, known as the golden standard for thread quality, but many have questioned its crown and wonder if it’s simply a case of DMC being the best-known brand out there. Our tests prove that DMC does still have fantastic threads. The range is copied by others on this list and is the most exhaustive by far, it’s available in almost every country on earth, and its made of traditional cotton in the same factory that has been making it for the last 500 years.
Those are the good points. However, there is a downside; cost. It’s a well-known fact that DMC threads vary in price by up to $5 a skein in some locations, but our tests proved that for the quality, people were prepared to pay the averaged out cost. That said, they still only tied for first place, with CXC threads.
 

Range – 5/5
Availability – 5/5
Quality – 5/5
Manufacture – 5/5
Price – 3/5
Total – 4.5/5

 
And there you have it, our round-up of the best cross stitch thread brands out there which will hopefully help you pick out a thread supplier for you! We should say though that there are lots of smaller brands out there which we haven’t included, but are great, including hand-dyed options. We also didn’t include any specialty thread suppliers that can really make a cross stitch project sparkle.
 
If you wanted to know, our choice is DMC threads. We prefer using pure cotton threads, and its widespread popularity, availability and color choices make it the easiest for us.

Full set of DMC threads
My full set of DMC threads ordered by number

Looking for a embroidery thread conversion table?

How Many DMC Threads Are There?

Clear Draws for Embroidery Thread Storage (Source: pinterest)

There are officially 500 different colors of DMC 117 Mouliné Spécial thread.

But…

That’s not the whole story. The US DMC website lists only 489, there are some region-specific “exclusive” threads, and there are Étoile, Coloris, Color Variations, Light Effects, and even some Special Embroidery threads available.
 
So let’s dive in and work out what’s going on, and how many threads you can collect.

So Why Does The US Site Only List 489 Threads?

The DMC US website allows you to buy 489 colors separately, but there are still 500 standard threads.
All DMC threads are made in the French factory and shipped around the world (which is the main reason DMC threads vary in price depending on where you live). For some reason, which I don’t know yet, DMC US gets individual threads for 489 of the colors. So while you can get the others in the US, you can’t buy them individually from the US site (although other retailers do sell them).
 
If you’re looking for the missing colors, you need to pick up 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 677, 734, 822 and 988. Sometimes you may also need to source 3856 too.

Full set of DMC threads
My full set of DMC threads ordered by number

What About Those US Specific Threads?

These 16 threads are mostly considered as discontinued DMC threads, as they are hard to come by outside of the Americas, and they’re rarely used in patterns. However, they are officially still in production.
Many countries have stringent rules on what dyes can be used in manufacturing, however, in America, these rules are slightly more relaxed. In 2013 a new set of 16 threads was made, using dyes that can only be sold in America. Whilst these threads were never brought into the official range (due to them being hard to come by outside the states), you can still pick them up on the US DMC site, and some resellers across the world.
 
3773, 3880, 3881, 3882, 3883, 3884, 3885, 3886, 3887, 3888, 3889, 3890, 3891, 3892, 3893, 3894 & 3895

What About The Other 6 Stand Threads?

Now the official 500 colors are done, we now need to talk about the other 6 strand threads. Whilst there are 500 solid colors, there are other threads that offer you a slight variation in your stitches, which might be worth picking up.

Étoile Threads

The newest threads to be added to DMCs range, the Étoile thread range. These 35 threads (not to be confused with the “new 35 DMC threads” which are included in the 500) are like any other threads in the range, but they have a slight sparkle running through them. Great for adding a subtle touch to any work, they’re a great range to collect too.
 
(C)ECRU, (C)BLANC, C310, C318, C321, C415, C433, C436, C444, C471, C519, C550, C554, C600, C603, C666, C699, C725, C738, C740, C798, C814, C816, C820, C823, C840, C890, C900, C907, C915, C938, C972, C995, C3371 & C3799

New DMC Mouline Etoile Threads In Silver Box (source: sewandso.co.uk)
New DMC Mouline Etoile Threads In Silver Box (source: sewandso.co.uk)

Coloris

Another fairly new set of threads from DMC, the Coloris range is made up of threads with 4 distinct colors in each thread. Like some of the other variations threads which we’ll speak about in a minute, these threads are great for making more interesting solid color patterns. However, unlike the variations, they change to a very different color every 5cm, rather than a complementary color.
 
4500, 4501, 4502, 4503, 4504, 4505, 4506, 4507, 4508, 4509, 4510, 4511, 4512, 4513, 4514, 4515, 4516, 4517, 4518, 4519, 4520, 4521, 4522 & 4523

Color Variations

The color variations range is a series of color-changing threads with each color varying slightly giving a faded effect. There are 36 in total, however, there have been more in the past.
 
4015, 4020, 4025, 4030, 4040, 4045, 4050, 4060, 4065, 4070, 4075, 4077, 4080, 4090, 4100, 4110, 4120, 4124, 4126, 4128, 4130, 4140, 4145, 4150, 4160, 4170, 4180, 4190, 4200, 4210, 4215, 4220, 4230, 4235 & 4240

Variegated threads

The variegated range of threads, which can be hard to find if you’re trying to find them on the official DMC websites, are 18 threads similar in nature to the color variations series, but the change of colors is slower.
In the past DMC have made a lot of variegated threads discontinued, and the arrival of the new Coloris range has made many to suspect they made do the same to these soon too.
 
48, 51, 52, 53, 67, 69, 90, 92, 93, 94, 99, 105, 106, 107, 111, 115, 121 & 125

Light Effects

The final set of 6 strands threads by DMC is the Light Effects range. This includes all their metallic, pearl, neon and glow-in-the-dark threads.
 
E5200, E130, E135, E155, E168, E211, E301, E310, E316, E317, E321, E334, E415, E436, E677, E699, E703, E718, E746, E747, E815, E818, E825, E898, E966, E967, E3685, E3747, E3821, E3837, E3843, E3849, E3852, E980, E990, E940, 5282 & 5283

dmc light effect threads (source: DMC.com)
dmc light effect threads (source: DMC.com)

Are There Any Other Threads?

Whilst those are the standard 6 strand threads cross stitchers can use, there are other 6 strand threads from different DMC ranges that can be used as well.

Satin Threads

The first range is DMCs satin range. Unlike its standard cotton 500, the satin range is made up of rayon fibers (shiny wool) but acts exactly like normal DMC thread. Most people forget these threads, and they really shouldn’t as not only is a project with purely these threads a delight to behold (especially a higher count project) but they are a great swap in for backstitching threads.
 
S5200, S211, S307, S310, S321, S326, S336, S351, S352, S367, S414, S415, S434, S469, S471, S472, S501, S504, S550, S552, S553, S601, S602, S606, S666, S676, S700, S702, S712, S726, S738, S739, S741, S744, S745, S762, S776, S797, S798, S799, S800, S818, S820, S841, S898, S899, S909, S915, S931, S932, S943, S959, S964, S976, S991, S995, S3371, S3607, S3685 & S3820

Diamant Threads

Somewhat different from the others on this list the Diamant range is single strand, but they’re the same as a single strand of the standard cotton. Diamant threads are a great DMC metallics alternative, as they’re softer and in my opinion don’t have anywhere near the same issues as the DMC metallics range.
 
D5200, D140, D168, D225, D301, D310, D316, D317, D321, D415, D699, D898, D3821 & D3852

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

Discontinued Threads

There are also a whole bunch of discontinued threads. There are so many here, from all types of ranges, such as metallics, variations and variegated, but you can still get your hands on good quality second-hand embroidery threads that include these.

So How Many Threads Can You Collect?

In total, you can get your hands on 667 different DMC 500 six strand threads.
 
500 solid colors, 16 region-specific colors, 35 Étoile threads, 24 Coloris threads, 36 Color Variations, 18 Variegated threads & 38 Light Effect threads.
 
You can also get your hands on 60 satin six strand threads, 14 diamant threads and 73 discontuined threads.

Looking for how to track your threads?

We have a great free spreadsheet you can use!
 

DMC thread spreadsheet free download by Lord Libidan
DMC thread inventory sheet free download by Lord Libidan

What To Do Once You’ve Finished Your Cross Stitch

childs play charity auction cross stitch quilt 2011 (source: spritestitch.com)

You buy a cross stitch pattern or kit, you stitch all day and night, you embellish, fix mistakes and wash your cross stitch (or maybe ask yourself do you need to wash your cross stitch) and you finally finish. You step back and admire your work and then… and then… and then you’re not sure what to do with it.
This is sadly something that people often think. As you stitch more and more, your pile of completed cross stitches steadily rises. But what do you do with all of them once you’re finished?
For many its a case of ignoring them in a corner, but you can use complete cross stitch in a whole slew of ways. We round up the best we know, and a few submissions from our followers.
 
We’ll start off with some of the more obvious, and then explore the more interesting.

Frame It

Yeh, that’s right; frame it. I know a lot of people that cross stitch, but not that many that cross stitch and then frame their work. To me, if you’re going to spend hundreds of hours on a piece of art (or craft), you might as well show it off.
 
You have two options when it comes to framing, you can either frame your cross stitch yourself, or go to a framer. A framer will do a nice job, but it’ll cost a fair bit. Framing yourself is almost free, but it takes a little more effort to get looking perfect, for example, you need to work out if you should frame your cross stitch with or without glass. But whatever route you choose, framing your work allows you to show it off (even if it’s just to yourself), and relish in your work.
However, also like me, you may have cross stitched so many things, and filled up so many frames, that there is no longer a place on any wall in your house. This is when I go back through my frames and update them. This might be harder for those of you who prefer to get their cross stitch framed at a framer, but for self framers, it gives you the option of always having something new up.

Self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)
Self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

Sell It

Let me answer a question that might have just had; people buy completed cross stitch. Sure, there isn’t a massive market, but people part with their cash and buy finished pieces a lot. In fact, so often we made a post on how to sell your completed cross stitch.
You can recoup the cost of production, and actually make yourself a fair bit of profit. You do have to part with your cross stitch though; however for many, that’s not too much of an ask.

Wake up and Make Money cross stitch by pxdstitchshop (source: etsy)
Wake up and Make Money cross stitch by pxdstitchshop (source: etsy)

Store It

This may seem like a crazy one at first, but hear us out; store it. Unlike every other option on this list, if you store it, you don’t get to see it, but it keeps it in perfect condition (so long as you store your finished cross stitch correctly). If you want to make a piece an heirloom, or at least keep it to frame at a later point, you need to store it in a safe place.

cross stitch storage
Lord Libidan’s cross stitch storage

Make a Quilt

So let’s get to making. We covered in a recent post other hobbies a cross stitcher would like and one of the biggest was sewing. The great thing about sewing is you can add cross stitch into it. One way is to make a quilt.
One of the first projects may hobby sewers learn is how to make a quilt. It’s traditionally done with patches of T-shirts, but you can change it up and add completed cross stitches without any fuss!

Childs play charity auction cross stitch quilt 2011 (source: spritestitch.com)
Childs Play charity auction cross stitch quilt from 2011 (source: spritestitch.com)

Make a Table Cloth

the second idea for a sewing project is a table cloth. It’s fairly similar in design to a quilt, but you wouldn’t stuff it. If you’re really creative you can make sure each seat at the table gets their own cross stitch, and if all of the designs are similarly themed (like Christmas) you can get it out on special occasions!

Make a Cushion Cover

Although you can buy hundreds of cushions and cushion covers, they’re rarely personal. However, with a simple sewing job, you can turn any cross stitch into a killer cushion. Add a backing piece of fabric, sew up the sites, and shove in a cushion and you’re sorted.

Harry Potter Crest Pillows Cross Stitch by Carlydx-x (source: Instructables.com)
Harry Potter Crest Pillows Cross Stitch by Carlydx-x (source: Instructables.com)

Make a Pencil Case/Sewing Case

Another idea I would suggest is the sewing case or pencil case. Depending on what you want to store (a project travel case would be larger) you can either use small or large finished cross stitch for this. Simply follow a sewing guide, but instead of using fabric, you use your cross stitch. You can have multiple designs or just the one, and make yourself something really handy.

Cross stitch Charizard pencil case by miloceane (Source: DeviantArt)
Cross stitch Charizard pencil case by miloceane (Source: DeviantArt)

Make a Glasses Cloth

If you’re a glasses wearer like me, you’ll know just how darn handy a glasses cloth is. But have you ever thought about a cross stitched one?
I’ll start by saying that you need to be selective here. Not only do you need a small cross stitch, but it needs to be on a soft cross stitch fabric like linen, and not aida (which will scratch the glass). But, embroidery on a glasses cloth actually helps clean the glasses.
Be aware though, that glasses cloths get a lot of wear, and are likely to be covered in grease (washing is a must here!) and likely to be washed often, so your cross stitch may not last forever.

Make Coasters

The sheer volume of coaster kits in cross stitch and craft stores should give you a heads up that cross stitch works perfectly for coasters. Once again, you need a smallish cross stitch, but the great thing here is that the cross stitch is held within the coaster, meaning it’s protected from all but the sun. You get to keep your cross stitch safe, whilst seeing it all day, every day.
You could also add some banding to the edge and just use the cross stitch itself, but I’d be worried about spilling tea…

Make Pins/Needle Minders

Going right down into the small cross stitch now, you can make pins and needle minders. You can use plastic canvas cross stitches (in fact you can finish plastic canvas a whole load of ways), small cross stitches, or (dare I say it) cut apart a sampler. This will destroy the whole thing, but if you can make something out of the smaller parts, but not the whole design, it might just be worth it.
There are a few different ways to make pins and needle minders, including some kits, so we won’t say how right here, but instructions aren’t hard to come by.

cave story cross stitch cufflinks by benjibot (source: pinterest)
Cave Story cross stitch cufflinks by benjibot (source: pinterest)

However, whatever intend to do with your completed cross stitch, just remember to remove your cross stitch from the hoop.

Double Eye Tapestry Needles – Perfect For Blending Cross Stitch

Standard tapestry needles next to double eye tapestry needles (Source: Pinterest)

Considering we use them so much, cross stitch needles or tapestry needles to give them their rightful name, are staples for our craft. Therefore, when I spoke about the best types of cross stitch needles in a previous post, I thought I had all of them covered. For a while, I thought there were no others. But when we started investigating who makes the best cross stitch needles we fell upon another type of needle. One we had never heard of before; double eye needles.

What Are They?

In essence, they are exactly what you expect, a standard tapestry needle with two eyes for threads. If we’re getting specific they actually take the standard eye and split it in two. This means that you probably have to use a needle threader to put the thread through the smaller eyes, but otherwise they act just like a normal needle.
 
The reason they exist, however, is slightly more interesting. The double eyes are meant to carry two different threads, allowing you to either blend threads, or add in metallics without putting friction on the fabric. This should result in a neat almost railroaded blended thread look.

Gold Double Eye Tapestry Needles (Source: grovesltd.co.uk)
Gold Double Eye Tapestry Needles (Source: grovesltd.co.uk)

How To Use Them

So how do you use them? In short, you put one thread in each eye and stitch like normal. As they are blended, you need to think about the ends of your thread (no using the loop method), but otherwise its just like you’d expect.

Are They Worth Getting?

So now you know what they are, and how to use them, let’s talk about their worth. Or more specifically, are they worth getting. We don’t shy away from speaking our mind here, and we’ve previously asked ourselves if self-threading needles are worth it, but double eye needles are different. They’re just for blending.
 
If you don’t blend, and you have no intention of doing so, don’t get these needles. They just aren’t for you. But what if you do blend?
In my mind, these needles make blending separate threads no easier. In fact, I tend to find the threads spin around each other much more, resulting in a worse look than a standard needle. BUT then we come to metallic threads. Without a doubt, it’s hard to use these threads and anything that can make using metallic threads easier, I’m game. And that’s where these needles really shine.
 
The extra eye means the effort associated with metallic threads is mostly avoided, making it a much nicer experience. In my mind, if you use metallics at all, even if you aren’t blending, these things are worth their weight in gold.

Standard tapestry needles next to double eye tapestry needles (Source: Pinterest)
Standard tapestry needles next to double eye tapestry needles (Source: Pinterest)

Where To Get Them

So, where can you get them? The fact that I wasn’t even aware of these needles, despite Bohin, Clover and Hemline making them just goes to show they aren’t easy to find. I prefer looking for them on Etsy as you can always find someone selling them, but other than that, local brick and mortar stores should be able to stock some in, even if you have to ask.

Bohin Double Eye Tapestry Needles (Source: stitchitcentral.ca)
Bohin Double Eye Tapestry Needles (Source: stitchitcentral.ca)

How To Organize Your Cross Stitch Patterns

Green Lake Reflected Color Cross Stitch Print (Source: solidrop.com)

I’m a big fan of keeping your craft space neat, tidy and organized. At any time, you might just want to go through your kit to find that one item you brought 5 years ago and will get around to using. In the past we’ve covered how to store cross stitch threads, and went into some length about why its important, and we’ve covered how to store your cross stitch needles too.
But there is always one thing we’ve shied away from. And frankly, if you’re anything like me, this will be the messiest part of your craft space. Cross stitch patterns.
 
Unlike any other tool in cross stitch, cross stitch patterns pose a unique issue. Firstly, you have tonnes of them. You see a pattern, be it a free cross stitch pattern or paid, and you just have to pick it up. In addition, you have all of those patterns you’ve completed, but want to hold onto. This is only exacerbated if you design cross stitch patterns as well, adding a third layer to your cross stitch collection.
And secondly, they aren’t the easiest things to store. Much like storing finished cross stitch you want to keep them in a good enough condition that they last, but they’re made of paper, which tends not to last.
So, we’ve scoured the internet and tried a whole series of storage methods to round up the best for you.

Digitally

We start with an obvious one, but one that doesn’t get that much recognition.
We would strongly suggest making a copy of any cross stitch pattern you have anyway, as the life of a digital file will be far longer than even the best-kept paper document. In addition, many of the patterns you see in places like Etsy are downloaded files, meaning many, if not all, of your patterns, are digital anyway. So why keep around the printed versions?
Don’t get me wrong, I also prefer a printed pattern when I’m actually using it, but with a great printer for cross stitch patterns, you can always print new sheets on demand (and depending on which printer you get, cheaply too).

Great For:

  • Large volume of patterns
  • Long term storage (and a saftey net)
  • Storing free/downloaded cross stitch patterns

Bad for:

  • Viewing cross stitch patterns
  • Easily using cross stitch patterns
  • Cross stitch kits
Green Lake Reflected Color Cross Stitch Print (Source: solidrop.com)
Green Lake Reflected Color Cross Stitch Print (Source: solidrop.com)

Binders

The second method we’re going to suggest is binders, portfolios or binder notebooks. The great thing about these babies is that you can store printed patterns in clear sheets, so you can see them (or at least the first page). They’re cheap, and if you use page protectors you can keep the patterns for a long time. You can store them in a filing cabinet too.
I personally keep all of my completed cross stitches in these too, meaning I can keep a copy of the pattern with the cross stitch itself.
There are downsides though. The biggest being what you do with digital patterns. With digital stores taking over the cross stitch world, and no sign of them slowing down, its likely that your digital stash is going to grow to massive levels. Unless you plan to print them all (think of the trees!) you’ll have to keep printed and non-printed patterns separate. And a smaller issue is epic patterns. Our epic all generations pokemon cross stitch pattern racks 210 pages. That’s bigger than a lot of novels. If you like epic patterns, you might want to stay away from this method.

Great For:

  • Printed cross stitch patterns
  • Viewing cross stitch patterns
  • Easily using cross stitch patterns
  • Cross stitch kits

Bad for:

  • Long term storage
  • Storing free/downloaded cross stitch patterns
  • Epic cross stitch patterns
A clear page protector art portfolio (source: Google images)
A clear page protector art portfolio (source: Google images)

Hangers

A new one on us until we started this post, was hangers. Yes, you read that correctly. Get yourself a hanging rail (or use a wardrobe), get some trouser clip hangers, and hang your cross patterns. You can even use clear pouches to keep them a little neater (and store threads if you have kits). You need to be a little careful you don’t overweight the hangers (some epic patterns are too heavy), and this only works if you have a smaller collection of patterns too. However that said, it’s also a great way of keeping track of patterns you’re halfway through!

Great For:

  • Smaller cross stitch patterns collections
  • Viewing cross stitch patterns
  • Easily using cross stitch patterns
  • Cross stitch kits

Bad for:

  • Large cross stitch patterns collections
  • Storing free/downloaded cross stitch patterns
  • Long term storage

Homemade Cross Stitch Pattern Holders by Ms_Pebbles (Source scrapbook.com)
Homemade Cross Stitch Pattern Holders by Ms_Pebbles (Source scrapbook.com)

What’s your preferred way to store patterns? We’d love to hear of ways we might have missed!

Are Cross Stitch Identification Cards Worth Getting?

Cross Stitch Gauge and Rule by Yarn Tree (Source: Stitched Modern)

I rarely talk about tools of the cross stitch world on this blog; we try to stay impartial at all times, however, that changed last year when I just HAD to tell you about tiny travel scissors. You can get them from loads of brands, so we weren’t playing favorites, but since then we’ve had a few people ask about different tools of the cross stitch world. Normally, those tools that people tend not to buy. Tools like identification cards.
 

Aida Gauge & Ruler

The first identification card we’ll look at is an aida gauge. Prior to knowing these things existed, I’d swear blind at a normal ruler as I counted stitches on a random bit of aida I hadn’t bothered to label correctly. Yes, I know you’ve been there!
You buy some fabric, bring it home, and it goes in a pile. Those piles somehow merge and you’re lost as to if its a 16 or 18 count. Well, that’s where the aida gauge comes into play.
 
Without even having to count, you can check the size of your aida, use the stitch markings to see how big a pattern of a certain stitch size will be on various fabric counts or even check your design is positioned correctly before you start stitching (that’s got me on more than one occasion).
The fact that these things are less than $5 and check aida from 11 to 40 just goes to show how awesome they are, and just how much you need one.
 
Worth buying – Average cost $4

Cross Stitch Gauge and Rule by Yarn Tree (Source: Stitched Modern)
Cross Stitch Gauge and Rule by Yarn Tree (Source: Stitched Modern)

Needle Identification Cards

Next up we have needle identification cards. These things use established sizes of tapestry needles so you can compare your needle to a set list of sizes. In principle, its a great idea, however if you’re anything like me, you’ll make sure you store your cross stitch needles properly. In that case, it might not be that helpful.
 
In fact, to us, it was helpful at all. Sure, they can check all types of needles per-say, but not different types of cross stitch needle. There was no petit needles, double sided needles, self threading needles or anything other than a standard needle.
 
Not worth buying – Average cost $12

Needle Identification Card (Source: Stitched Modern)
Needle Identification Card (Source: Stitched Modern)

Why You Should Try Gold Plated Needles

gold cross stitch needles (source: ebay)

We like needles here, and as a result its probably no surprise that we’ve come across gold plated needles before. In fact, we even mentioned them in our post about choosing the perfect cross stitch needle for you. However, a lot of people are skeptical of gold plated needles. There’s a good reason for this; they cost a lot more, and they’re often viewed as a luxury that doesn’t can you anything. But they can actually be fantastic needles, and we want to convince you to try them out.

Why Gold?

So we start with a simple question; why gold? Simply put, you’ll find claims about gold needles from improving your cross stitch, to stopping wrist injury and even more crazy claims. In short; they’re all lies. There are two reasons you might want a gold plated needle; allergies and smooth passing of threads. We’ll go into more details on those later on, but as a warning; don’t believe the crazy lies.

Type of Gold Needles

So now we have that out of the way, let’s talk about types of needle. Most people expect a gold needle to be solid gold, and I’m afraid that’s not the case; they are gold PLATED needles. But not only that, some aren’t even fully plated.
A lot of gold needles you’ll find are only gold on the eye. This is mostly to keep the price down, but the idea that the eye of the needle is the largest part, so you only really need to plate that. In my mind, I don’t agree and find these needles are normally the ones that aren’t worth the money. However, if you like the idea of a gold plated needle, but don’t like the cost, they can be a good alternative.

gold cross stitch needles (source: ebay)
Gold eye plated cross stitch needles (source: ebay)

Price

So let’s hit the biggest issue of gold plated needles on the head right away; cost. Gold is expensive, and yes, gold plated needles are more expensive, but they do vary in price. Realistically they can be anything from a few cents more expensive per needle, to double the price, depending on quality (which we’ll speak about later). This seems OK to start but bear in mind that gold plated needles don’t last as long as nickel-plated needles, meaning you go through them faster. I’m a big fan of getting rid of old needles, but let me tell you, you’ll be going through gold needles at a rate of knots (once again, we’ll say why later).

Allergies

So now we have that out the way, let’s talk about positives. The first is a nickel allergy. It actually affects more people than you think and can go undiagnosed for a while. You might get stiff fingers after stitching, slight swelling and redness. And for those people, gold needles are the only way they can stitch. You either have an allergy or you don’t, so that’s pretty much all there is to say about this.

Feel

For the rest of us non-allergic cross stitchers, the advantage of gold plated needles is the smoothness of stitching. Specifically, gold is a soft metal, but nickel is harder (but still fairly soft). This means as you push the needle through your cross stitch fabric the gold moves. Yes, you heard that right, the gold actually moves out of the way. We are talking tiny tiny tiny amounts here, but this allows you to have a smoother feeling stitch.
It might sound a little stupid, but it’s genuinely a great stitching experience. This is why I want you to try gold plated needles. There is simply nothing that compares to how nice it is to stitch with gold plated needles. I know a lot of people that swear by thread conditioners but gold plated needles are MUCH smoother.

Self threading needles pack (source: Etsy)
Self threading needles pack (source: Etsy)

Corrosion

But all this fancy gold does come with a downside; corrosion. Gold reacts far faster to things like hand oils that nickel, and thanks to the way the gold reacts to you passing it through the fabric, the gold plating does come off. In fact, it comes off far quicker than you think, realistically it starts being a problem at about 6 hours stitching. Gold plated needles in general last maybe 30 hours. This can be improved to 40 to 50 hours if you store your needles properly, but your gold needle will quickly become a steel wire before long.
We rarely have to speak about steel when it comes to cross stitch, nickel needles usually break before you expose the steel core, but steel does terrible things to your cross stitch. Its biggest problem is the tarnishing that can stain your work, or even rust it. And trust us when we say cross stitch stains can be a pain to get out. So you will throw needles out quickly.

Variations in Manufacture

But it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, the differences in supplier can be massive when it comes to gold plated needles. We’ve spoken before about the best cross stitch needle brands and we really mean it when it comes to gold. For example, most people plate their needles with 1 micron of gold, but cheaper manufacturers supply less than 0.2 microns of gold. The thicker the plating, the longer they’ll last. The best we’ve found are the cross stitch guild gold plated needles with 2 microns of gold.

Tulip Sashiko Needles come in a glass vial (source: sewandquilt.co.uk)
Tulip Sashiko Needles come in a glass vial (source: sewandquilt.co.uk)

Are They Worth It?

So now we’ve spoken about the differences, price, feel and how hand oils can impact them, the question remains; are they worth it? And that’s a hard question to answer. In short, it depends on you.
 
If you have an allergy its a no brainer; try them. But if you don’t they still might be worth getting. Everyone’s hands vary and the oils they produce do too, so for some, they won’t have the corrosion problem, for others, the smoother feel is worth the high price tag. But you won’t know, until you try them.

What About Platinum Needles?

I’ve had a few people mention platinum plated needles to me while I was putting this post together, and yes, you can buy platinum plated needles. But having tried them; they gain nothing more than a gold needle does. In fact, platinum is a softer metal so corrodes faster, and the price is 4 times more than a standard needle. If you want our advice; just stick with gold.