7 Awesome Gift Ideas For Cross Stitchers

DMC complete thread card (small)

Finding gifts for the people in your life that like things outside of your normal is hard, and so we’ve put together 7 awesome gift ideas for cross stitchers.

Fun Needle Keeps – from $5

chapelviewcrafts polymer cake needle minder by chapelviewcrafts (source: etsy)
So tasty you could eat it!

The great thing about needle keeps, other than how cheap they are, is the awesome volume of different designs. Pick something their interested in, and BOOM! You’ve got yourself a super personalised gift for under a fiver! They can even become a bit of a hobby in themselves; I have a charizard, a cup of tea, the cake design you see here and a book. I would look on Etsy first as they have a whole wealth of handmade ones.

ThreadCutterz – $12-15

Thread Cutterz (source: threadcutterz.com)
Thread Cutterz (source: threadcutterz.com)

How about something a little more practical? These ThreadCutterz are an awesome alternative to scissors, which sits on your finger like a ring, meaning no more swapping out to go for a pair of scissors. Just for an added bonus they can be taken on international plane flights too!

A Good Pair Of Scissors – $30

Cross Stitch Japanese Style Scissors (source: ebay)
Cross Stitch Japanese Style Scissors (source: ebay)

I know, I just said about replacing scissors, but in reality, a lot of cross stitchers like a good pair of scissors. In fact, I’m a believer that you always need another pair of scissors. You can choose practical scissors, fancy scissors, or even super colorful ones. We’ve even got a guide for finding the best cross stitch scissors if you’re not sure what type to get.

Thread Shade Chart – $20

One of the best gifts I’ve ever recived is a thread shade card. They simply show you how all the colors look, and how they sit together. DMC (the most common thread company) do a version with thread samples ($20) including the new DMC threads, which is far superior. We have a copy of the DMC shade card on our site to see at any time, however we know from experience that there is nothing like the real thing. A steal at $20 too.

DMC Thread shade card with new colors with logo by Lord Libidan
DMC Thread shade card with new colors with logo by Lord Libidan

Magazine Subscriptions – $20-60 a year

CrossStitcher Magazine Cover Issue 317 (source: crossstitchermag.co.uk)
CrossStitcher Magazine Cover Issue 317 (source: crossstitchermag.co.uk)

What about a gift that keeps giving? There are loads of cross stitch magazines out there, including a whole raft of modern, traditional, kid friendly and international ones. The great thing however is it keeps being delivered month after month! They’re fantastic for giving you patterns, inspirations, fiding out about new products and a lot give away free gifts too! Prices vary, $20-$60 a year.

Threads! – $20-200+

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

As a cross stitcher I know too well that there is a super warm fuzzy feeling that comes from owning a full set of cross stitch threads. Now this might seem like a big cost, $200 or more for DMC. However just a pack of threads, such as metallics or the new coloris range are an awesome way to bring a bit of flair into someone’s cross stitch for a really reasonable price. As a bonus, they come in nice gift boxes too!
It’s also worth noting that there is a cheaper brand of threads which are surprisingly good, and can cost as little as $40 for the whole set!

Great Cross Stitch Software – up to $50

PCStitch Cross Stitch Software (source: PCStitch.com)
PCStitch Cross Stitch Software (source: PCStitch.com)

How about something slightly more expensive? A time comes for every cross stitcher when they want to make their own patterns, and whilst you can do this online, they all have their limitations. As a result you often see a cross stitch pattern creation program on the wish list of many cross stitchers. You can choose from frankly hundreds of them, with prices ranging from $20 to over $200, however the ever popular WinStitch or PCstitch are the best bets, for $50. You can find a comparison of cross stitch programs here.

How to use metallic threads – and make it super easy!

dmc light effect threads (source: DMC.com)

Let’s face it, you’ve used metallics at some point, but you’ve not touched it in a LONG time, right? Simply put, speciality threads are hard to use.
But they don’t have to be. With a few simple changes to the way you work, metallics suddenly become super easy and a fantastic way to make your projects more interesting. We spoke to a few major players using metallic threads, including kreinik threads to see what they suggest.
 

Pick the right thread

If you’ve picked up a metallic thread from the shelf, you’ve either picked up a thick thread (like DMCs metallics) or a super thin blending thread. Neither are useful. In face DMCs metallics are so thick they can only be used on 10/12 count and not 14. Instead look to get a thin braid specifically designed for set count aida.

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

 

Remove the curls

Metallics knot. A lot. So so much… But there is a good reason! As they’re held on the spool the metal parts stiffen into the shape, meaning when you pull it off, there are curls. We tend to want to straighten the thread with twists of the needle, which leads to more knots. BUT if you dampen a small sponge (make up sponges work well) and pull the thread you’ll find it straights right out. No more knots!
 

kreinik threads off spool with a curl (source: Kreinik Threads)
kreinik threads off spool with a curl (source: Kreinik Threads)

Don’t seperate the threads

This is SUPER important with other speciality threads such as glow in the dark threads, where the threads are actually made up differently, meaning you might strip the threads apart. If you’ve picked the right thread, as per above, this shouldn’t be an issue.
 

Don’t stitch 2 over 2

OK, so I know I keep going on about picking the right thread, but if you’ve picked the right thread; stick with it. That means you shouldn’t split the thread apart, and you shouldn’t combine the threads together to make a ‘double thread’. Metallics are made to be used as one thread only.
 

Make the thread ‘slide’

There are parts of the cross stitch world that simply haven’t come to terms with the closure of thread heaven. Simply put, the stuff make working with metallics a breeze in itself, however they are no more. But that doesn’t mean other alternatives don’t work. I personally wouldn’t use the likes of beewax for cotton threads as it clumps up, but metallics slide so easy its crazy. Even better news? Bees wax is super easy to get hold of.
 

Slow down (and calm down)

Finally, with one simple thing you can improve any metallic stitching session; remember metallics aren’t like cotton threads. They’re different in pretty much every way, and whilst they kinda look the same, so long as you take your time, any problems are easily fixed.

How To Sign Your Cross Stitch

I want to belive cross stitch signature by PDXstitch (source: pdxstitch.wordpress.com)

You spend hundreds of hours cross stitching a project, and perhaps a few more making the pattern. You make sure the stitches look pretty, you’ve not made mistakes (or fixed them at least) and you’ve already thought about how to frame it. But there is one last thing. One thing you’re not too sure about.

To sign, or not to sign?

Its a thought that goes through every cross stitchers head, and without a doubt you’ve seen some online like it, but you’re just not convinced. So I’ve decided to wrap up some of the ways you can sign your work that doesn’t look distasteful.

Stitch it on the front

Let’s start off by addressing the elephant in the room; when we mentioned signing cross stitch you automatically assumed we meant stitching on the front of it. Now there is a good reason for this; you can see them online all the time. The simple reason for that is people copying. I have had, just like many other cross stitchers, people take my images and pretend they’ve stitched them themselves, so putting a signature is a nice nod to make sure that happens. However, if you use a watermark on online images, you don’t have a problem. As a result, feel free to add a signature to the front of your stitching, only if you WANT to.

Cross stitch signature by Whatever James (source: whateverjamesinstitches.blogspot.com)
Cross stitch signature by Whatever James (source: whateverjamesinstitches.blogspot.com)

There are loads of different ways of signing your work, from unique pixel blocks, like above, or an initial or two. However, they normally stick out something aweful. But they don’t need to. Take the below example, which has a small “SK 14” hidden in plain site, thanks to a clever use of almost aida matching thread.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cross stitch by Sieberella (source: reddit)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cross stitch by Sieberella (source: reddit)

Write it on the front

There is another way of thinking about this though. You’re an artist. Sign your work with pride! And frankly, you want it to be visable. Heck, make it huge!
But be clever and use a fabric pen/sharpie.

shiroikoumori cross stitch with IGAs signature (source: pinterest)
shiroikoumori cross stitch with IGAs signature (source: pinterest)

Write it on the frame

But lets say you don’t way to shout from the rooftops, and your happy with using a watermark online. Then I suggest putting it on the frame. I choose to attach buisness card size stitchers to the backs of my frames detailing when I made it, the count, etc. As I’m the one that’ll end up enjoying it (or a select few family/friends) then there isn’t a great need to shout about it.
You can even do this in hundreds of ways. I found a great example on reddit:

If I am displaying the piece in a wooden hoop I sign and date the wooden hoop with a permanent metallic marker on the top next to the metal thingy.

Hide it

Before I started researching this article, I thought the above options were it. Simply no choice other than that. But my friend advised me to take the cross stitch he gave me out of the frame. And what do you know, there was his signature. Turns out this is done a lot, as not only does it have a record of who made it and when, but you can hide it behind a frame if you want. It is about time to put that excess aida to good use.

I want to belive cross stitch signature by PDXstitch (source: pdxstitch.wordpress.com)
I want to belive cross stitch signature by PDXstitch (source: pdxstitch.wordpress.com)

So there you have it, everyway I’ve found online and off on how to sign your work. Heard of any other ways? Drop me a line below, I’d love to know!

Do Daylight Bulbs Actually Make A Difference?

Tracing pad (source: Amazon)

I recently moved house, and with it came a slew of stitching station opportunities, however there was one big problem; super thick walls. Our two foot thick walls cut pretty much all the light out, and as we moved North, there was less light anyway. So it was time I found a solution.
 
Initially I jumped into looking for daylight bulbs, afterall everyone goes on about them. However all isn’t as it seems.
 

Benefits

Daylight bulbs are a great tool, and I’m not here to say otherwise, in fact for a lot of people getting a daylight bulb is a matter on health (yes, you squinting at your aida).
Daylight is a lot easier to take in with your eyes and when working with detailed things, like stitching, lighting your area and aida is super important. You could just save your eye sight.
There are loads of reasons you might want a daylight bulb other than saving your eyes though, such as great color matching of threads or a strong light that doesn’t heat or take too much energy. In addition most don’t need replacement bulbs that often (or at all).

Problems

This is where you probably expect me to mention getting your hands on bulbs? Nope. In fact, before I started looking into getting a daylight lamp I had the impression they were super hard to find replacements for. Turns out, they’re everywhere (in the EU at least). Due to 2000’s legislation over fluorescent lights, all bulbs in the EU need to be energy saving or LED. Those lights are mostly daylight bulbs. But even so, most LED lamps don’t even need replacing!
And let me guess, you expect me to talk about heat? Wrong again! There are some bulbs that heat up, I won’t lie, but most are LED based, which are completely heat producing free (well, not completely, but they aren’t like normal bulbs).
 
So what exactly sare the problems? Well, its two fold:

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

Not all lamps are created equal

I said earlier that some bulbs heat up, adn they do. Some bulbs use a lot more energy, and some bulbs just aren’t what they say they are. In truth, not all lamps are created equal. There is a huge difference in price of these lamps, and some of them are terrible. Finding the right one for your needs is actually super hard. I have some tips down below from my struggles, but its not an easy thing to get into (much to my annoyance).

It interferes with sleep cycles

I love my sleep, in fact other than cross stitch its my prefered use of time. But daylight bulbs do have an impact.
The red light receptors in your eyes pick up on subtle changes in light levels, which in turn puts you into a sleepy mood (in a similar way to fluorescent lights do). Daylight bulbs effectively copy this, making you go through the same cycles. The problem is it also works the otherway, meaning if you use it late at night (like much of my stitching time is) you feel more away, meaning you struggle to get down.
You can negate these effects by only using the lamp in the daylight hours, however you should be using real light whenever possible, so it kinda makes the point of the lamp worthless (unless you’re working on detailed work). However without me realising it I stumbled upon a fix that isn’t mentioned in many places. LED lights don’t create red light. I’ll spare you the boring details, but what that means is it doesn’t impact your sleep. YAY!
 
However, that said, the benefits FAR outway the problems, and with more and more lights becoming LED and daylight bulbs, I decided to stick with my daylight lamp.

Cost

Finally, cost is a big problem. My favorite sewing supplier has lamps ranging from $20 to $250. Initially they don’t seem too different, so working out if one is better than another (I remind you that they aren’t all the same) is only made harder thanks to weird pricing.

This is an advert, but shows off the lamp fantasticly!

Tips

But not all in in vein! I have some tips to make purchasing your next daylight lamp a little easier.
Get the right lamp for your craft – Daylight lamps are made for different crafts, so find one specific to needlecraft. A simple way to find one is to use an online retailer specialising in your craft, however if you go ‘in store’ check with the clerk for some expert advice.
Get the right lamp for your situation – Stitch in your living room? Then a USB powered lamp is not going to be much use. And in the same way, having a lamp meters above your head isn’t going to be helpful either. Pick a floor lamp that sits at chair height.
Do you need magnification? – Some lamps come with magnifying sections for ease, however this raises the price by some way. Think about if you actually need one or not. In most cases it might be easier, cheaper and more effective to get a seperate magnifying glass.
Don’t get confused with the fancy looks – Everyone wants something that looks good, but there is a definate premium for fancy looks. Normally these fancy lamps aren’t great at shedding light and aren’t fit for purpose.
 
If you’re interested, I went for a Daylight Slimline.
 

How about an alternative?

It might surprise you, but there is an alternative that might help; a tracing pad. It light from the table, meaning light behind your project, and normally they’re pretty cheap.

Tracing pad (source: Amazon)
Tracing pad (source: Amazon)

Embroidery thread or floss?

6 stands of cross stitch embroidery thread illustration (source: DMC)

I’ve been part of many conversations about cross stitch in events and in almost every conversation something simple is said that raises a question; is it embroidery floss or thread?
This appears to be the biggest misunderstanding in cross stitch, so we’re going to look into which, and why.

The Answer

You cross stitch with two strands of embroidery thread; these strands are called embroidery floss. The skein is also called embroidery floss.

Floss or Thread?

We’ll start by talking about yarn. Yarn is fibers spun together to make a tight bound material. The way that you construct this spin is the route of the issue. Yarn can be spun two ways, S and Z.

Yarn_twist_S-Left_Z-Right
S- and Z-twist yarn (wikipedia.com)

The Z twist is used in sewing machines as the twist causes less fraying and unravelling. However S twist is used for threads specifically meant to come apart. This is where we get down to the brass tacks of the issue.
Embroidery floss (yes, floss) is made up of 6 stands of embroidery thread. The 6 strands are spun with a z twist. These are then combined using a S twist, made to come apart. As a result, when you stitch you take out 2 stands of THREAD from the embroidery FLOSS.
6 stands of embroidery thread
6 stands of a standard embroidery thread (source: DMC)

You’ll notice if you look closely though that DMC strands (and Anchor) are also spun together in a Z twist. So does that mean those are still threads? No. They’re still designed to come apart, so are classed as embroidery floss.

So what should I say?

Either!
Circling back to my first sentence, in every event I’ve attended someone always says “actually its embroidery floss”. Turns out that its interchangeable as you stitch with embroidery floss and thread.

Embroidery floss or stranded cotton is a loosely twisted, slightly glossy 6-strand thread, usually of cotton but also manufactured in silk, linen, and rayon. Cotton floss is the standard thread for cross-stitch.

Guide to buying the Best Cross Stitch Scissors for you

Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors (source: kreinik.com)

A few weeks ago, I did a guest post on the Kreinik blog about finding the best cross stitch scissors and since then a lot of people have been in contact to get my low down on the best pairs of scissors. So I’m going to go through the process for picking the best scissors for you.

What are you going to use them for?

This might seem a little strange at first, considering you’ve been using scissors already for ages, however that trusty pair you have might not be the best for all situations.

The All-Purpose Thread Snipper

This is probably the pair you’re thinking about right now, and you really need a trusty pair. If you’re looking for one of these, after you’ve made your selection, check out the other pairs I suggest you buy, as using these scissors for anything other than standard threads, you’re going to blunt them FAST.

Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors – $22

Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Everyone has heard of Gold Stork scissors, however thanks to a market full of fakes, its rare to find a good, sharp pair. Instead think about investing in a funky pair such as these Premax ones.

Double Curved Sewing Machine Scissors – $22

Premax Double Curved Machine Sewing Scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Premax Double Curved Machine Sewing Scissors (source: kreinik.com)
I know this will initially sound crazy, after all these are called sewing machine scissors, however the double curve design allows you to get right into the threads without casting shadows, brushing the threads, or obscuring your view. Also they totally make you feel like a surgeon.

The Speciality Thread Snipper

We said above that a thread snipper is a pair of scissors no stitcher should be without, however for many, that’s as far as it goes. But in reality, threads such as glow in the darks, or a metallic (a scissors worst enemy) blunt or gouge sections out of your thread snippers, meaning you’ll get bad cuts. In addition, due to the extra force needed to cut them, these special threads pull the scissors apart, meaning they’ll sit poorly in the hand.
Therefore, in addition to your trusty standard pair, get one of these:

Sodial Metal Grip Shears – $3

Japanese style cross stitch scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Japanese style cross stitch scissors (source: kreinik.com)
These traditional Japanese shears don’t peel apart like other thread scissors, and their low price means you can change them often (which you’ll have to) without much pain.
Pro tip: you can find black tipped pairs; don’t get these, they are for bonsai, and have a coating on them that can stain threads.

Premax 4″ Weavers Scissors – $6

Premax 4 inch weavers scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Premax 4 inch weavers scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Alternatively you can get a pair of plastic handled Premax scissors which are much more expensive, but you can purchase replacement heads at $2 each time. They’re nicer in the hand, and easier to snip for people with stiff fingers.

The Fabric Cutter

Thirdly, you need a good pair of scissors to cut all that aida fabric. Most people use their desk scissors, or (I really hope this isn’t you) their kitchen scissors. I don’t have to tell you that those scissors are coated in all kinds of nasty stuff, and if you use desk scissors are usually blunt as well. Therefore, invest in a good pair of fabric scissors and keep them for fabric only.

Fiskars Fabric Scissors – $15

Fiskars 4 inch fabric scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Fiskars 4 inch fabric scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Fiskars fabric scissors (unlike many other brands) are made from titanium. This means that firstly they’ll last forever without the need for sharpening, however they’re also capable of cutting through thick aida fabric. Their formed handle is also a great fit (they come in right or left handed).

The Plastic Canvas/Waste Canvas Cutter

Finally, spare a thought for waste and plastic canvas. These plastic-coated fabrics will blunt any scissors, so you need to be prepared with a serious solution.

Fiskars RazorEdge Soft Grip Scissors – $15

Fiskars RazorEdge Soft Grip Scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Fiskars RazorEdge Soft Grip Scissors (source: kreinik.com)
You ideally want something razor sharp, so these Fiskars RazorEdge pair really work wonders, however any stainless-steel pair will work, just remember to sharpen them often!

X-acto Z Series Number 1 Knife – $8

X-acto Z Number 1 Craft Knife (source: amazon.com)
X-acto Z Number 1 Craft Knife (source: amazon.com)
Alternately, pick up a quality craft knife instead. With easy swap out blades, and a trusted brand like X-acto, this Z number 1 blade will last you a long time!

Download our free 35 page Ultimate Guide to Selling Cross Stitch Online!

the ultimate guide to selling cross stitch patterns on etsy

Selling the cross stitch patterns you’ve created is one way of the best ways to get money for your hobby. With years of past experience and success, we’ve worked together to offer a FREE guide to help anyone that needs it called “The Ultimate Guide To Selling Cross Stitch Patterns Online”.
 
The guide has been created over the last 6 years by three cross stitch pattern sellers on Etsy, with the specific focus on selling cross stitch. Unlike other guides on the internet we’ve made sure that every word is valuable to you. This includes over 40 tips from other Etsy stores, setting up your own store, checklists, examples, best practices, copyright issues, creating patterns, marketing, advertising, and much more.
 
the ultimate guide to selling cross stitch patterns on etsy
 

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The guide is beginner friendly and covers everything you need to know selling on Etsy, from the very basics to the most effective SEO techniques. Here are a few topics from the book:
 

What it includes

Introduction
Why Etsy?
How much time does it take?
How much does it cost?
How much can you earn?
Creating a brand
Setting up a store
Make a pattern
List an item
Future Designs
Ongoing actions
Future Development
Issues you might have
Etsy seller tools
Tips from Etsy store owners
Quick answers
Checklist for opening a store
Checklist for each new item
Item description example


 
This is everything you’ve ever needed if you were thinking of setting up an online store to sell cross stitch patterns. Just throw your email in below (just to stop those pesky robots) and download your free 35 page guide.
 

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