Title: Home Sweet Home Futurama Cross Stitch
Date Completed: October 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
Pop Culture: Futurama
Before I started cross stitching back in 2001, I knew of cross stitch. This was before the big cross stitch revolution in England, and I didn’t have anyone I knew cross stitching, or even crafting. So how did I know about it? Futurama. Yes, the sci-fi cartoon.
But I want to go slightly further back to tell this story. Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons and Futurama, has regularly made nods to needlework in the past. In fact, Marge Simpson cross stitches, which we covered in our Celebrities That Cross Stitch post, but it was always something that someone was doing. It was never a main joke itself. But then Futurama comes along.
As you can see from the above screenshot, Futurama made a simple joke using the ‘home sweet home’ cross stitch in its first season when Fry and Bender get an apartment. But teenage me, who fell head over heels for Futurama didn’t quite get it. Clearly, it was a joke. Clearly, you were meant to understand. But I didn’t. Until a lot of lewd jokes that might go over your head, this was a joke that was clear as day, begging you to laugh.
Well, I looked it up. I saw the cross stitch, but I still didn’t understand. I ended up learning to code from that Futurama code, and now I get the joke, and in fact, I can see the error in the programming now too, but it was the first time I saw cross stitch, and understood it was a thing.
I’ve taken on the joke, and I’ve even stitched a Pokemon Home Sweet Home Cross Stitch in the past, like many cross stitchers and made a free pattern of it too, however not the version that first showed me cross stitch. Some 20 years later, when rewatching Futurama I knew I had to stitch this up.
Sadly, despite the many patterns out there for this, none were perfect. This is mostly due to the fact that its a cartoon and pixels mean nothing, so its impossible to make it perfect, but I made my own and tried to be as close as possible without ruining the overall look.
Christmas is nearly upon us, and we all know how hard it is to buy gifts for hobbies we don’t know much about. So here’s an updated holiday gift guide on what to buy the cross stitcher in your life. They’re arranged by price lowest to highest.
Cross Stitch Gifts Under $25/£20
Fun Needle Minders – from $5
Christmas is mostly about fun gifts you might not buy yourself, and something many cross stitchers never buy is a fun needle keep. You can get them in thousands of different designs, and there are a lot of custom made ones out there like this 3D printed Pokemon charizard for $6 from Etsy. They’re a little bit fun, and you can combine other things together, so if their other favorite hobby is reading, get a book based one, etc. There are a lot of options here, so we also made a guide on inding the perfect needle minder that you might find helpful!
ThreadHeaven Alternatives – from $5
Sadly this year we lost one of the most beloved cross stitch companies, ThreadHeaven. For those who don’t know, they produced a fantastic thread moisturiser that makes cross stitching MUCH easier. A great gift this season might be the last of the stock avaliable (if you can find it) or one of these ThreadHeaven alternatives.
Canary Micro Snips – from $7
ThreadCutterz – $12 to $15
Cross stitch takes time, and a great place to stitch is on planes and trains, however with security being tightened all over, ThreadCutterz have come to the rescue with a plane safe alternative to scissors.
They can only currently be brought from ThreadCutterz themselves.
Thread Shade Chart – $20
We have a copy of the DMC shade card on our site to see at any time, and we know that a lot of people use it on a day to day basis, however on screen images aren’t always that reliable, and having the read threads in your hands are a much better alternative. As a result one of the best tools I’ve ever picked up is a cross stitch thread card. We’ve even detailed why you need a DMC thread card. DMC (the most common thread company) do a version with thread samples ($20) including the new DMC threads, which is far superior. Think about getting a metallic shade card from Kreinik too ($36).
Scissor Sheaths – from $5
There’s nothing more fancy than covering the sharp ends of your scissors with a nicely made scissor sheath. Not only that, but it has a practical benefit of keeping the scissors sharper much longer, by reducing dust build up. You can pick up a nice cover for under $5, so you might want to combine this with a nice fancy pair of embroidery scissors too.
The Perfect Frame – $12 to $30
I know a lot of people thing cross stitch is a bit simple, but in reality RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) is a real issue. The best way to solve this is a suitable cross stitch frame. The best one in my mind is a EasyClip frame ($20), but you can see a roundup of cross stitch frames on my recent post about the perfect cross stitch frame.
A Good Cross Stitch Book – $20 to $30
This year has seen some of the best cross stitch books ever published, and I would personally buy all of them. However, for the cross stitcher in your life books offer both patterns, and a fresh look at the hobby. We’d personally suggest Criss Crossing Paris ($22) but you can also check our run down of the best cross stitch books out on the market.
Cross Stitch Gifts Under $50/£40
Travel Cross Stitch Kit – $30
This might not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking for gifts for cross stitchers, however many stitchers either stitch when they travel, or wish they could. Finding a great, small, cross stitch kit featuring everything they need is a great gift, and probably not something they’d think of (so you get brownie points). You can either buy pre assembled kits, or make one yourself. A pair of Canary mini snips, needle minder, needle tube and a seam ripper are all you need. And you can fit them all into an Altoids tin.
Magnifier – $30
A magnifier might seem like something an old person might want, but when it comes to cross stitch, a magnifier can be a massive help. In fact, we detailed why magnifiers are worth getting a few months ago; we’re big fans. You can get a whole set of different options here, from ones that light up, to ones that click onto your embroidery hoops. I would try to get one with a 2.5x zoom as this is the most useful for cross stitchers.
A Good Pair Of Scissors – $30
Scissors might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but you send a lot of time snipping things, and frankly, a poor pair of scissors get blunt quickly, fraying ends. Get a nice pair of Fiskars ‘snipping’ scissors, or ones like the image (a Japanese embroidery scissor), or another specific pair for embroidery/cross stitch or cutting fishing line and you’ll see the difference straight away.
You can even get a super awesome pair of frogging scissors, which solves the worst thing about cross stitch (frogging is incorrect stitches that need to be removed).
If you’re not sure what type of scissors to buy, check out our guide on picking the best cross stitch scissors.
Magazine Subscriptions – $20 to $50 a year
Magazines are fantastic for both giving you patterns, giving you inspiration, finding out about all the new products, and reading up on all the happenings of the cross stitch community. There are frankly a shocking amount out there, so its best to pick one or two you like the most, you can find our cross stitch magazine reviews here, and getting a subscription to those. Prices vary, $20-$50 a year.
Monthly Subscriptions – $20 to $50 a month
Nothing is quite like getting a gift in the post month after month, stuffed full of awesome cross stitch prizes. You can pick up a whole load of different monthly subscription boxes that make every month a gift month. Prices vary, $20-$50 a year.
Full Set of CXC Threads – $40
Full Set of CXC Threads – $40
CXC is a fairly new brand to the world of cross stitch, but they’re making massive moves. They produce threads, which match the DMC colors exactly, however they make them using a polyester blend, meaning they can reduce costs considerably. In fact, you can pick up their full range of 447 threads for under $40, compared to $400 for DMC threads. But don’t let the price fool you, CXC threads are just as good as more expensive brands in our tests.
This year has been big for DMC threads (the most used cross stitch threads). Not only have the new 35 DMC threads started to be used in commonly found kits and patterns, but they also launched a sweet new set of DMC etoile threads, which are super sparkly threads. You can pick up these new threads in fancy packed sets for under $40.
The natural progression for a stitcher is to go from kits, to patterns, to making their own patterns. Most choose online programs, but they all have their own limitations, so spend $20-$200 on the perfect one. I would personally suggest KG Chart or PC Stitcher for $35-50. Or you can check out our cross stitch pattern generator comparison page.
Cross Stitch Gifts Under $100/£80
Day Light Lamp – $50 – $100
We can tell you, for sure, that day light lamps do make a difference to cross stitch. Not only do they add a massive amount of light to the area you’re working in, which can be super helpful when working with black or dark aida but they help your eyes deal with the intense focus you’re putting them through. We belive that everyone should have a well lit cross stitch area, and day light lamps, or bulbs are the best way to get that necessary light.
Cross Stitch Gifts Over $100/£80
All The Threads! – $200+
The only thing better than owning a thread shade card is owning the threads themselves. I always kept using the threads I had on hand, and until I got the whole set, I didn’t realise just how much I was making compromise; my colors have definitely got better. You can see how much a full set of DMC threads has helped us with our blog post about our journey to a complete set of cross stitch threads.
Not the cheapest thing in the world, wait until you can buy a whole set in one go on an offer. The price can drop from $450 to $200. Just don’t be tempted by those cheap Chinese deals to see on ebay.
My niece LOVES to pick up my cross stitch. Doesn’t matter if its half completed or not, she wants her hands on it. So I thought to myself; maybe there is cross stitch out there, specifically made to be played with. Today, we run down the best cross stitch toys.
OK, so I lied already. Thread Maniac hasn’t just created a maze, they’ve created a whole series of cross stitch you can frame and then draw on using dry erase markers. From mazes to tic-tac-toe and the obligatory black board, kids can go nuts drawing and never damage the cross stitch. Very neat idea.
What about omething more tactile? Well, we have those in bunches. First up is BlackMageHeart’s Harvest Moon Playset. Complete with 24 crops, a house, farmer, cow, chicken, chick, duck and two ducklings its a full on farming set, that kids would LOVE to get their hands on. The best thing about it however is that the floor, a perfectly stitched farm, is in a frame, meaning it packs up nice and neat once they’re done playing.
Next up we have the figures section. Move over Barbie and Action Man, now we have cross stitch guys. Or more specifically, these two. By stitching simple boxes out of plastic canvas you can make pretty much anything you want. In this instance we both made characters, with my cross stitch being about to transform from robot to truck.
Robin’s Design is one of our all time favorite cross stitch designers. We’ve highlighted her work loads of times in the past including using it as the posterboy of our best 3D cross stitch and even trying to copy the style with my own Harry Potter golden snitch cross stitch. As you can probably tell then, we’re in love with her 3D work, which includes everything from dice to people, to animals, and planets. Best of all, its all made from traditional aida, so is soft like a cuddly toy.
It’s really important to us that we use non copyrighted images for our cross stitch pattern spotlight, so when we were given the task of finding a killer Futurama pattern, we thought we’d have a struggle on our hands. However in our search we found some really great patterns, with no copyright, but still, clearly Futurama.
We’ve decided to post two patterns this week. Its actually the same pattern, but in different colors, something that the designer, PatternArtCollection does a lot. It’s in the designers typical style, which at the moment is super in; a silhouette front with a detailed, but small color palette. I’m a massive fan of their work, having stitched up three of their patterns myself, so I know that they’re great to stitch, as well as great looking in the flesh.
The funky colors, day and night feel, with Fry under Bender’s legs gives a real feeling of how Bender thinks of himself in the Futurama episode ‘Obsoletely Fabulous’ whilst the forest background also plays off the Forbidden Planet; a massive influence of the series. Truly a great pattern.
This pattern was found on Etsy.
When it comes to washing cross stitch you’re either in the “always wash it” camp, or the “do I really NEED to wash it?” camp. Today, we’re going to try and answer that question, and see if washing cross stitch is a requirement, or just a good idea.
The case for NEVER washing it
Washing and drying cross stitch is a bit of a pain, however that isn’t the reason people don’t want to do it. Its mostly fear. Fear of threads bleeding, or the piece reshaping. These are founded fears as well; threads do occassionally bleed, and threads of poor quality will bleed a lot more. Aida returns to its original shape when washing, and can sometimes tighten threads (again, mostly those of poor quality). As a result, washing can seem like a crazy thing to do if you’ve just stitched for 100 hours.
The thing is, you’ll find loads of people online who have never washed their cross stitch, and they’ve been doing it for 40 years. I’m yet to see any proof, but I honestly belive them. If your hands are well washed, you come from a smoke and pet free home, and you only work with high quality materials, there is no reason to suggest your cross stitch is dirty.
Does that mean you shouldn’t wash it though?
The case for ALWAYS washing it
Fingers are dirty. The air is dusty. Accident’s happen. There are loads of reasons why your cross stitch might be dirty, and as a result, washing it removes all of that. Not only that, but ironing it afterwards will stop the dirt getting worse.
I personally, always wash my cross stitch. And that is a direct result of two cross stitches I did when I was learning, when I didn’t wash them.
The first is a retro trio cross stitch that I have simply never washed. I was worried that the threads might bleed (I’ve since checked, and even cheap threads don’t bleed). As time went on, and sun took its toll, brown spots appeared. I’ve tried washing these out, but I can’t, these are perminent.
The second horror story, is my second ever cross stitch, my Fire ‘n’ Ice cross stitch. In this one, I made a different mistake; I didn’t clean my hands when stitching. There are now, LOADS of brownspots..
OK, both of these could have been improved had I framed my cross stitch properly, but the marks would come eventually. I’ve since learnt my lesson on why you should both wash your hands, and your cross stitch, but even if you do, stains might come afterwards.
I’ve tried to remove cross stitch stains before, and I can tell you it is a LOT easier when its been ironed.
Wash or not wash?
So, I guess the answer is a “probably”. Washing your cross stitch will significatly help reduce issues, and will mean its easier to clean in the future. However, if you’re 100% sure your hands were clean, and you aren’t too invested in keeping your cross stitches for the future, you don’t have to wash them.
But from personal experience; I always do.
Title: New Moon on Tokyo Tower
Date Completed: June 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
Pop Culture: Japan
When the editor of the Xstitch Mag announced the new theme for issue 9 was going to be orient; I knew exactly why. A few months before I have shown him a preview of my Moon Light in Yasaka Pagoda Cross Stitch (just before I decided to remove the Pokemon from it), and showed him what an awesome theme it could make.
However, that turned out to be a little problematic. The piece of art I used to make that cross stitch was still under copyright, meaning I couldn’t give the pattern to the Editor. Instead, I had to make my own. Now, I loved Asano Takeji’s work, and thought I could riff on his style, whilst bringing it slightly more modern. To do this I researched when the ukiyo-e style went out of fashion. It was roughly the 1870’s. That meant that none of the modern Japanese buildings would be captured in the form.
Having visited Tokyo a few years prior, I also felt that the new Tokyo Skytree overshadowed Tokyo’s previous iconic tower; The Tokyo Tower. Following the American occupation of Japan, in the 1950’s, Japan wanted to celebrate is new found freedom with a new and audacious tower. Based on the Eiffel Tower they constructed a new tower, which was originally planned to be painted Bronze, but due to height regulations at the time had to have a red and white candy stripe paint job.
The tower, when completed would have been a becon to all of Japan that they were back in charge, and were once again, ready to enter the world stage. However, at the time, modernisation hadn’t come to a lot of Japan, meaning a lot of streets were traditional in design. I really wanted to combine this design to show both the new Japan, and traditional Japan side by side.
To do this I combined images of Tokyo Tower, and a preserved traditional street in Tokyo, ironically next to Yasaka Pagoda, Sannen Zaka Street. I then lowered the tone of color to show a deep night sky, free of moon light, to differentiate it from my previous Asano Takeji piece.
With sites like Etsy pumping out cross stitch patterns by the thousands, finding a quality cross stitch pattern can be hard. We helpfully went over a few tips for making sure you get a good pattern, however one of those points was about copyright. Copyright in cross stitch is a massive issue, and if you haven’t yet been involved in something to do with copyright, you’re lucky. However the biggest issue, is with selling patterns.
Why Should You Care?
This is probably the big question we need to look at first, after all, why should you care about copyright in cross stitch? and I’m not going to say you should (even if I think it). Instead, I’m telling you its in your best interest. If the pattern you’re looking at is copyrighted, its either going to be bad quality, putting the real designer out of buisness (and stopping them creating more patterns you love) or its a trap.
What do I mean by trap? PDFs are a great way of spreading malware and viruses on your computer. Downloading a pattern that abuses your desire to get a cross stitch pattern is just one way of giving you a virus.
Does It Only Matter When Its A Known Character/Theme?
Whilst the vast majority of copyright infringement happens on well known characters, etc, this advice is actually a good tool generally. By following it you know you’re going to get a good pattern, and aren’t going to get the stiff end of the deal.
– Is it a well known Character?
As we said above, well known characters are a big issue, and if you’re seeing things like Disney characters on sites like Etsy or Ebay; its copyrighted.
There are outlets for well known characters, but these are sold in legitimate shops, or are turned into books. I even wrote one myself for Disney, Star Wars, Star Trek and Hello Kitty. However all of these books cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase the rights. Etsy stores just don’t have the capital to afford that.
Disney Classic Cross Stitch Book Kit & Star Wars Book Kits by Lord Libidan
– Are there loads and loads of patterns in different styles?
One of the first things designers work out, is their signature style. If you see a website with loads of different styles, its a dead giveaway that there isn’t one designer involved. The source of these patterns, is probably stolen.
– Are the cross stitch patterns super cheap?
Price is an interesting point for cross stitch patterns. Places like HAED can charge a big sum for patterns, however you can pick up some for less than $10. However, if you ever see a pattern for less than $5; buyer beware. These margins make it almost impossible for sellers to make money, so if they’re charging for less than that, then you know selling quality cross stitch patterns isn’t their goal.
– Is there licensing information?
If someone is using a great looking piece of art to make a pattern, they need to say who did the original art. Now, if a pattern doesn’t say any licensing info, then the likelihood is that its being used without the original artists consent. From the artist’s point of view, this is annoying, but for the buyer, it means the pattern designer is willing to cut corners, and give you a cut rate cross stitch pattern.
“Octopus” counted cross stitch pattern. Designed by Vik Dollin.
– Is it clearly scanned/photocopied?
You actually find a lot of these type of patterns spread across sites like Pinterest and eBay, and yes, the patterns are probably good, they come from great designers. However the photocopied version is not only an illegal copy, but its putting the designer out of buisness. If you like their pattern; buy it from them. Otherwise they’ll have to stop making awesome patterns.
– Is it from a questionable website?
The last tip is probably the biggest one. There are loads of websites out there that just deal with a lot of copyrighted patterns. Only use the ones that are well know, and other cross stitchers use.
Places like eBay, Etsy, AliExpress and Amazon have MASSIVE issues with copyright. That isn’t to say every pattern on there is bad, but you need to be careful. Checking to see that sellers are well known, they have good ratings on the sites, and they aren’t breaking any of the other rules above means they’re probably OK. But you need to be careful when purchasing from these places.
In addition, you can find massive online stores that look to be from China or Russia selling super super cheap cross stitch patterns. Its a good chance that these are built to spread malware. Whilst that is a very general term, I am yet to find a website like this that isn’t just spreading malware. If you’re ever unsure; check with other cross stitchers on Facebook groups, or cross stitch forums.
A month ago we gave reasons why you need a DMC color card and since then we’ve received a lot of emails and comments about how to use one properly. There can be quite a knack to it, but once you get it, its super simple!
Understanding color runs
The biggest thing to get your head around on a color card is the colors runs (sometimes called color families). In the example below you can see 20 rows of colors; these are the basic color runs, split from red to grey, and everything inbetween.
However in addition to these rows are smaller runs. Below we’ve broken out the smaller color runs within row 1 of the DMC color card; red. In it, we can see each color run goes from light to dark, however each smaller run changes in color slightly too. The first run is more pinky, the second more christmas red, the third blood red, and the last dark red. Now; here’s the biggest tip I can give you; never choose colors from more than one run. If you pick colors, you need to choose colors from the same run. And that’s it!
How to find a color by its number
Lets say you want to look up a thread. Due to the way the color card is set up, in color runs, the numbers are all out of order. So you have to look on the table in the back to check the row. In the image below er can see thread 3840 is on row 6.
Other information on a thread card
There’s actually a whole wealth of other information on color cards too, which can be super helpful if you want to know it; however its only on a need to know basis. If you don’t care; you can easily ignore it!
The first of these is the types the threads are sold in. For example, on the image below we can see that the new DMC threads 14, 15 & 16 come in ‘117’ only. This is the basic 6 strand floss you stitch with normally, however 704 and 703 come in a whole range of other types, like pearl cottons.
Then you have speciality threads. Unlike the standard threads, these aren’t arranged in color runs, but are instead just shown in number order. It allows you to see what makes up a variegated thread, or what the metallics look like.
Dots on DMC labels
We’ve written about the purpose of those dots on DMC labels and the dots are also in the shade book, meaning you know which threads are which.
Finally, on the back page are care instructions. These are pretty standard for most threads at the moment, but these are a great tool to refer to if you have a stubborn cross stitch stain you can’t get out, and need to know how to give them a good wash.
Title: Spring In Daigoji Temple
Date Completed: August 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
Canvas: Antique White
Pop Culture: Japan
The idea for this project was a simple one, but as always, wiht simple projects, it turns out much more complicated than you first had in mind. To go back to the start of this project, we need to talk about my Miniature Pirate Sampler Cross Stitches. I was asked to do a ‘heroes and villans’ themed pattern for the XStitch magazine, and to match the nature of the theme, and magazine itself, I wanted to do two things. But with a standard sampler, it was going to be too big. So I changed the count to 32.
It was the first time I’d ever stitched on anything smaller than 18 count, and whist it was a great task, I wasn’t convinced to change my standard 16/18 count preference. The mag went out, the patterns were liked, however almost exactly when I got them back I was able to submit something for the National Needlecraft Awards 2019. I submitted them, and I won.
This was a super pleasant suprise and I thought to myself, it was easy enough, how about I make something for next year? So I decided to bring out the 32 count again. But this time, I wanted something a little harder. I’m in a big Japanese print kick at the moment, with my Moon Light in Yasaka Pagoda Cross Stitch and my New Moon on Tokyo Tower Cross Stitch, so I thought it would be good to do something similar. But with this, comes full coverage and changing colors a lot. I new it wasn’t going to be too easy, so I stitched up a Miniature Pokemon Card Cross Stitch to try it out.
I then wanted to do something a little more special, so decided to do the whole piece using cut offs (meaning I had to delay this project while I got enough of them stored up). But, finally, I was ready to make the pattern. This, also caused issues.
Unlike smaller counts, the 32 count requires a fairly simplified pattern to work. This means any Japanese print I could find had details removed from it. So, after a lot of back and forth and false starts, I finally picked Spring at Daigoji Temple by Asano Takeji (the same artist as the previous Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda cross stitch).
Title: Miniature Pokemon Card
Date Completed: August 2019
Canvas: Antique White
Pop Culture: Pokemon
I rarely stitch up other peoples cross stitch patterns, however it does happen. But in those instances, like the Portal Gun cross stitch, I like to edit the patterns slightly. It might be adding something new, or in this case, just doing it on a different count.
I originally found this pattern on instagram over a two years ago, and I put it in my pile for cross stitch patterns I wanted to stitch, but probably wouldn’t do. I honestly expected that to be the case for ever and never thought about it again. However I happened on someone else selling small pendants of the same pattern. It was cute. But once again, I just didn’t feel right. With the way the pokemon card has been reduced down in size, the over all thing seemed a bit too large. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Roll on 2018 when I stitched up two miniature pirate cross stitch samplers for the XStitch Magazine. I got these back from the publisher and chose to submit them into the National Needlecraft Awards. I didn’t expect to win, but I did. In fact, I won the Best Miniature Needlecraft award. It came as a bit of a shock, but the whole process really made me appreciate getting crosss stitch recognition. I decided to make another one for this year, and whilst you’ll see that one shortly, I decided to go full coverage.
This was something I decided to do after I put together a round up of the best miniature cross stitches, but I hadn’t done it before. This is where the pokemon card came back. I thought that to both test the full coverage, and to make the pokemon card even more miniature, I could stitch it in 32 count as a tester.
Sadly, by this time, the instagram post and Esty sale had both ended so I no longer had access to the original artist or pattern. However I recreated it and stitched it up in 32 count. Its now smaller than my thumb nail!