How To Combine Cross Stitch And Interior Design

Large Cross Stitch Art in a study (Source: CBC.ca)

You can get cross stitch inspiration pretty much anywhere, but after hitting a few dozen massive projects, you sometimes want a change. And whilst looking for unique cross stitch ideas I came across people who mixed cross stitch with interior design.
 
Unlike other projects, which are destined to go into cross stitch storage, by making something to do in your house, you’ll always be able to enjoy it.

Peg Board

The easiest way to get into interior design cross stitch, or super massive cross stitch for that matter, is peg board. It comes in loads of different sizes and its rather cheap. You can paint it, stain it, or cross stitch on it. It might not be the most traditional cross stitch fabric, but it sure works for a great addition to any room. You can also turn it into things like stools for an added factor.

Large Cross Stitch Art in a study (Source: CBC.ca)
Large Cross Stitch Art in a study (Source: CBC.ca)

Ikea Hacks

If you don’t want to make something the the wall however, you could always pop down to your local Ikea. Not only is it stocked full of items with regular holes in them (think chairs, floor mats, lamps, etc), but there are items made from peg board, meaning you can have a functioning bit of furnature with a sweet cross stitch edge.

Ikea desk chair cross stitch hack (Source: Pinterest)
Ikea desk chair cross stitch hack (Source: Pinterest)

Paint

How about something a little more refined? By ditching the needle and thread and picking up a paint brush you can add a cross stitch design to literally anything that takes paint. You can find a great guide from homeheartcraft if you’re interested.

Painted Wall Cross Stitch Rose (Source: homeheartcraft.com)
Painted Wall Cross Stitch Rose (Source: homeheartcraft.com)

Fences

But just because the inside of your home can be cross stitched up, doesn’t mean it has to stop there. By using gardeners yard you can use things like fences to add cross stitch characters. It’s actually been seen in big cities before with the illegal cross stitch movement. Maybe its safer to stick to your own garden though.

Pacman Cross Stitch Graffiti in Milan by Miss Cross Stitch (source: sayraphimlothian.com)
Pacman Cross Stitch Graffiti in Milan by Miss Cross Stitch (source: sayraphimlothian.com)

Cross Stitch On Anything!

However, let’s be honest here, you can actually cross stitch on anything, and we mean anything. Cross stitching can be done with something called waste canvas, or you can even cross stitch without waste canvas by drilling holes. The great thing about this is that you aren’t limited by size or count, you can do your own thing.

broderie-objet-metal-16 by Severija Incirauskaite (source: mrxstitch.com)
broderie-objet-metal-16 by Severija Incirauskaite (source: mrxstitch.com)

Frame It!

We however, quite like the old fashioned framed cross stitch. You can get really inventive with framing with bright matting and frames, and as it goes up in your own home, it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes it or not. You could even not put glass in your cross stitch frame.

Pacman screenshot cross stitch in frame by gmatom (Source: reddit)
Pacman screenshot cross stitch in frame by gmatom (Source: reddit)

The Orville Blueprint Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

The Orville Blueprint Embroidery by Lord Libidan

The Orville Blueprint Embroidery by Lord Libidan
The Orville Blueprint Embroidery by Lord Libidan

Title: The Orville Blueprint
Date Completed: May 2020
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Black
Colors: 3
Pop Culture: The Orville
 
Like many people, my favorite cross stitch changes a lot. It tends to be the last one I’ve stitched or the last big one at least. However for some time now, it remained as just one. My Star Trek Voyager Blueprint/LCARS cross stitch completed over a year ago. I think there were a few reasons for this. I’d worked on LCARS cross stitch before for both my Star Trek cross stitch book and my LCARS what happens on the holodeck cross stitch however I was never really sold on either of them. So when I was able to do another LCARS cross stitch, with a realistic screen, I really felt I’d captured its essence. It felt like I’d managed to complete it in a way that really looked right.
 
I think part of this was I was able to take a real screen (or my impersonation of one anyway). What I didn’t realize at the time is that I liked the UX (user interface) of the LCARS system, and liked the actual screens themselves. When I started stitching my matrix code cross stitch I really understood this and wanted to do more. This is where the Orville project started. I was watching the most recent Star Trek and had heard of The Orville is Star Trek-like, and thought, why not? I gave it a try, and frankly, I think it’s better than Star Trek Discovery. But there was a screen that kept coming up. I won’t spoil why, but a main character is often shown, and he’s a science officer. His screen on the deck is in front of him and clearly visible from the camera angle. Normally I would ignore this, but it had an element at the bottom that looked a lot like a macOS dock. Needless to say, I wanted to do something with it.
The Orville Set Photos - Science Officer Screens on the Main Deck (Source: Wikipedia)
The Orville Set Photos – Science Officer Screens on the Main Deck (Source: Wikipedia)

 
The second thing I noticed about the computer screen was the big old starship blueprint right in the center. It was VERY similar to my Star Trek one, and I just had to take that element as well, after all, I love blueprints. As you can probably tell from my lightsaber blueprint, ZF-1 Blueprint and Metroid Suit blueprint. But all of those are real blueprints. I wondered how a science officer would look at the ship, and wondered if I could make it more… real. I threw some ideas around, but the original image formed most of my plan, with overlays and more detail on science elements, and little in the way of room detail.
 
This also allowed me to do the same thing I had with my Star Trek cross stitch, and that was backstitch variance. What do I mean by that? Well, basically the number of threads when doing backstitch. By using three sometimes, 2 others and 1 for fine detail you can create a design that looks fairly plain from a distance, but then as you come closer gives you more and more detail. Unlike the Star Trek blueprint, the Orville’s computers mostly use blue, so this became really important.
 
So, I started making a pattern. It wasn’t a cross stitch pattern that took me 100 hours, but it sure took a long time. I tried adding the original MacOS dock style thing, but it just didn’t work. However, I came up with about 30 inspiration shots from the show, including this one, and knew there were elements I could add. I put everything together, and finally got stitching.
The Orville Screenshot - Computer Screens (Source: Google Images)
The Orville Screenshot – Computer Screens (Source: Google Images)

This is where I would normally stop, showing you the complete thing. But as I stitched, the less sold on the idea I was. Looking back, the whole reason I wanted to stitch this was the macOS style screen, that I failed to make in the pattern. Then, on top of this, is the fact that I had just completed my Futurama ship blueprint embroidery and was about to start on another one (more on that once I’ve finished it). This pattern just didn’t click in the way those did. So I changed the pattern while stitching to remove the outside, leaving just the ship itself.

Futurama Planet Express Ship Blueprint Embroidery by Lord Libidan

Futurama Old Bessie Blueprint Embroidery By Lord Libidan

Futurama Old Bessie Blueprint Embroidery By Lord Libidan
Futurama Old Bessie Blueprint Embroidery By Lord Libidan

Title: Old Bessie Futurama Blueprint
Date Completed: April 2020
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Green
Colors: 2
Pop Culture: Futurama
 
When it comes to blueprints, I’m sold. I’ve made a light saber blueprint cross stitch, a fifth element gun blueprint cross stitch and loads of others. So when I started watching Futurama again (the best cartoon ever by the way) I started getting itchy to do a cross stitch. Then, when watching an episode where the ship gets dismantled (screenshot below), I knew I had to do a blueprint of the ship.
Futurama Dismantled Ship (Source: theinfosphere.org)
Futurama Dismantled Ship (Source: theinfosphere.org)

The thing that makes it so perfect is that the ship is constantly changing, you see in almost every room, yet there aren’t any plans. Others have put things together in the past, but I wanted to do my own take. In my previous blueprints, I had only shown the inside or the outside, but with the ship, I really wanted to combine the two, so I have a cutaway style blueprint.
 
In my research I found a great poster by Volpin Props, and whilst the image was rather small (the quality below is the best I could find), I based my blueprint on it. I also threw in loads of little details the Volpin Props one didn’t have, things that you only pick up on if you’re a Futurama fan, much like the Star Trek Voyager Blueprint cross stitch did. What makes this even better is that much like Volpin props I’ve hidden most of these details away in a Futurama language you need to translate.
Planet Express Blueprint by Volpin Props (Source: volpinprops.com)
Planet Express Blueprint by Volpin Props (Source: volpinprops.com)

This wasn’t as easy as I had planned, however. Much like my Matrix code cross stitch I needed to recreate a whole language in tiny form. The original alien language that Volpin props used was way too hard to convert, so I changed it for the newer alien language Futurama uses (which is much more complicated to translate).

Morning at Hot Spring Resort in Arayu Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Morning At Hot Spring Resort In Arayu By Lord Libidan

Morning At Hot Spring Resort In Arayu By Lord Libidan
Morning At Hot Spring Resort In Arayu By Lord Libidan

Title: Morning at Hot Spring Resort in Arayu
Date Completed: April 2020
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 16
Canvas: Cream
Colors: 27
Pop Culture: Japan
 
By now you might realize I’m on a massive Japanese print kick. I’ve stitched up Moon Light in Yasaka Pagoda cross stitch, New Moon on Tokyo Tower cross stitch, and a miniature Spring In Daigoji Temple cross stitch too. And I haven’t stopped. For my recent XStitch magazine pattern, I made a new Japanese print, this time all my own, and for it, I had to get inspiration. I normally use the work of Asano Takeji as he’s a modern artist with a style I like, however when looking for inspiration I found Hasui Kawase.
 
He was working at roughly the same time as Asano Takeji, but was a prolific traveler, with many of his works being from around Japan, and America. He even added Western elements to many of his works, including Santa, however, his works from around Japan really excited me. When I traveled there I took in many of the tourist sights, including many that Hasui had created prints from. One in particular that really interested me was his hot springs at Arayu. Whilst I didn’t go to Arayu, I did go to another hot spring resort, and it was one of the most relaxing days, and possibly one of the best days of my life. The feeling of warmth and the calming ways of the hot springs are a real juxtaposition against the super high tech cities of Japan.
Morning at Hot Spring Resort in Arayu, by Hasui Kawase 1946 (Source: JapanObjects.com)
Morning at Hot Spring Resort in Arayu, by Hasui Kawase 1946 (Source: JapanObjects.com)

This was the first of these patterns that I turned into a cross stitch (yes, there will be more), however, I created it about 6 months before I could start stitching. This meant that by the time I went back to it, I fell in love with it again. However, due to magazines and other life-things, it took 6 months to stitch as well, meaning it may be my longest project to date. Thankfully, due to all the time we’ve been spending indoors lately, I’ve had some more time to stitch and finished it up.

Namaste Paper Fortune Origami Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Origami Paper Fortune Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Origami Paper Fortune Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Origami Paper Fortune Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Namaste Paper Fortune Origami
Date Completed: August 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: White
Colors: 5
Pop Culture: Origami
 
You may know, but I often supply patterns for the XStitch magazine. In the past I’ve supplied a pattern for every issue, but not only did that mean I didn’t have much time to make the patterns truly awesome, but I also write for it, meaning I was in everyone multiple times. So recently, I’ve been in fewer and fewer. But that means I can be a little more… adventurous.
 
My last pattern for the magazine was New Moon on Tokyo Tower cross stitch and it had a lot of blue. In fact, it had a whole lot of stitching. So I knew I wanted something a little lighter on actual cross stitch, but something that was still awesome. So I looked at ‘my book’. Yes, that’s right, I record every idea I have down in a little journal. It has WAY too many bad ideas, but there are some gems in there that just don’t work out.
 
One of those gems was an origami crane. I have always loved Japan and put it in my cross stitch whenever possible, but there has always been one Japanese thing I’ve wanted to try out, but failed at. Origami. I’ve always loved 3D cross stitch, and like to push boundaries a bit, but there is one thing that always gets in the way when making cross stitch 3D, and its something I worked out when I was making my first transforming cross stitch; angles. Thanks to the structure of aida, 90 degrees is a breeze. In fact, 45 is OK too, but anything else just gets hard. I tried to work around this when I did my 3D Pokemon cave cross stitch, which is at 67.5 degrees, but it made the joint huge. Therefore an origami crane with hundreds of different angles was out.
 
But as always, I couldn’t quite shake the idea. I looked up as many origami animals as I could, trying to come up with a shape that would only use 90 or 45 degrees but couldn’t find any. Until my niece brought home a paper fortune. It wasn’t a type of origami I was thinking about, but actually, its probably most people’s first foray into origami. I had only just written my post on the best cross stitch toys and loved the idea of something people could actually use. And wouldn’t you know it, it has 90 and 45-degree angles.
&nsbps;
After I mocked something up I realized that the design was only just going to work; aida doesn’t fold well multiple times and in different directions, but it worked! In order to theme it better to the magazine issue ‘namaste’, I added different greetings into the insides in multiple languages.
Origami Paper Fortune Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan 2
Origami Paper Fortune Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan 2

Where to Find Super Sized Aida

Zweigart aida (Source: backstitch.co.uk)

We like epic cross stitch patterns here, and we’ve helped on how to tackle epic cross stitch projects, but one big thing is getting the aida. With epic cross stitch patterns covering meters and meters, finding someone that sells good quality aida, that is huge, can be a struggle. Until now…

Simplify What You Need

First thing first, what do you actually need? Now, I know the obvious response here is a big piece of aida, but if you’re attempting an epic cross stitch project, you’ll need to work out two things. The first is color, and the second is count. And once you’ve done that, we have some bad news.
High count (higher than 14 count) aida doesn’t hold together as well as lower count aida. In short, it’s about the levels of starch in the fabric, but it means that in very large sizes high count aida breaks apart. This means that you’re going to need to stick to 14m or 11 count aida.
Secondly, finding large sections of aida in a specific color can be hard. So you probably want to buy a white piece.

If Needed; Dye The Aida

But what if you want a different color I hear you say! Well, dye it. In fact, dying aida really isn’t hard at all. Unless it’s ironed, you can use any normal fabric dye to change the color of your aida to whatever you want. Buy it white, and make it whatever color you want.

Black aida (Source: Etsy)
Black aida (Source: Etsy)

Look For Fabric Stores

So now you know that you’re probably looking for 14 count white aida, its time to get your hands on some. The fact that you’re reading this means you might be struggling to find someone selling some large enough. Well, I have the answer for you! Fabric stores.
Yes, we mean brick and mortar stores selling fabric to sewing enthusiasts. It turns out that aida, sometimes called “Java Cloth” (its original name) is a common fabric used for stitching in curtains and upholstery. Because of this, fabric stores often hold stock of white aida you can buy by the meter. The usual brand they hold is Zweigart too, meaning its good quality.

Contact The Manufacturers Direct

It might seem a little odd, but you can contact manufacturers of aida directly. Sure, it’s not a mainstay of their business, but I’ve heard of many people getting large sections of aida direct from the manufacturer. It costs a little more money than you would buy from a store, but you can get MASSIVE bits of aida this way.
Worst case, manufacturers can help find a reseller who can supply it for you.

Zweigart aida (Source: backstitch.co.uk)
Zweigart aida (Source: backstitch.co.uk)

Do You NEED A Massive Piece?

Ha, I know, this seems similar to the first point; but it’s not. You see, if you can’t get that huge piece you need, you can actually use smaller pieces. Before I tell you how, I will advise that there is an issue with this, and you should only use it in the worst of situations; always try to find a single bit first.
You can’t frame it. Yes, that’s right. Once you try to frame joined aida, it will open up in a way that will be obvious. So as long as the thing your creating won’t be stretched, made into a throw for example, you can attach aida.

So how do you do it?

Well, in short, you place two bits on top of each other. So long as you line up the holes in aida, you can stitch through both pieces at once and the cross stitches will naturally hold the two bits together. So long as you have a full coverage pattern, it will be fine.

Which direction should cross stitches lie?

How to cross stitch animated gif illustration

Having been a cross stitcher for over a decade and a half, not much surprises me anymore however, I recently saw a poll on a facebook group that had me speechless.

Facebook poll - Which way do you guys cross your stitches
Facebook poll – Which way do you guys cross your stitches

It turns out, that not only do people have a preference on which way to cross their stitches, but there is a massive 73% who do it one specific way. A way, which is basically irrelevant, yet has somehow permeated as the main way of doing your stitches.

Why do it that way?

The first question I had was a simple one; why did everyone pick that specific way, from bottom left to top right first? Well, I did some research. And it comes down to two points. The first is that most people learn cross stitch from a pattern, or from an online guide. You can see that even our own animated gif uses the same direction as the poll:

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

The second is that when printing, at least in English, you right left to right, which is why so many people designed their cross stitch instructions in that order.
Looking at the data, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that people stitch this way. Or should it?

Is it the right way?

I guess the second thing that shocked me was that people had a preference that they stuck to. For me, I always do it specific to the pattern. If there is something in a corner I want to draw attention to, I tend to make the top stitch point towards it. Does it make a difference? Well, that’s up for debate, to be honest. In most cases, once you wash and iron your work you can’t tell. However, I also found out recently that a lot of people don’t wash their cross stitch at all, so for them; I guess it would make a difference.
I guess, for the first time ever, I’m going to have to leave this one open. I’m not sure that changing your stitch direction has a big impact for those who wash and iron their work, however for that 73 % of people that stitch that way; try changing it. Just because you do something a specific way in the past, doesn’t make it the best way. In fact, the direction seems terrible for a left-handed stitcher…

Where should you start your cross stitch?

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

I saw a facebook poll recently. Its principle was sound; it was just asking where people start their cross stitch. But actually, this brings up an interesting point. Is there a best place to start your cross stitch from?

Facebook poll - Where do you start your cross stitch
Facebook poll – Where do you start your cross stitch

Dead Center

The dead center was the out and out winner in this poll, and for the best part, is where most patterns tell you to start. The reason is pretty simple; you can move in any direction and it normally means you can start with any color you choose.
However, there are issues. In fact, there is one big one; what happens if you don’t get the dead center? I’ve regularly stitched from the center to find out I was off, meaning my cross stitch got really close to the edge of the fabric. Its clear this happens to a lot of you guys too. In fact, that’s why I created a great free aida dimensions calculator. I now add a lot more fabric than is actually needed to avoid this problem, however, I still find myself being slightly off-center. I’ve never been in a position that this has been a massive problem, but I’ve seen people online having to restart their own pattern due to this before, and the worst thing, is that you can’t find out until you’ve almost hit the end.

Top/Bottom Corners

I personally like starting in a corner. It’s absolute, it gives you a place to work out from, and you can make sure to place it exactly where you want on the fabric.
But there lies the problem. By starting on a corner, you’re not thinking about the other corner, and you might find out late on that you won’t have enough space (although sooner than starting at the center)

Center Upper Left/Right

These options kinda surprised me at first. I was trying to work out why someone would combine the issues of both starting in a corner and starting in the center. However, that’s when it struck me that they’re trying to solve the problems caused by both.
I thought about this, and then I even tried it out, and personally; I think this is an OK way to start. However, it still means that if you’re counting is off, you might run out of fabric. I think it’s better to start in a corner.

Varies

This is crazy. 😛 I just can’t bear with the random nature of why you would start in one place instead of another on a whim, but not everyone is like me it seems! The problems starting are going to plague these people as they’ll constantly be changing, however, if they can count like a dream, then I’m all in favor of the anarchy!

So which is the best place to start?

It seems like there is no best option out there, however, it’s actually all of these. I know doesn’t make sense, but you can actually start anywhere and it not be a problem at all. So long as you grid. There are loads of gridding techniques for cross stitch, but so long as you grid, you’ll never have a problem running out of fabric or miss-counting!

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

How to pull a skein of thread without it knotting

DMC 743 thread with labels marked

The vast majority of threads for embroidery come in skeins, or more accurately, ‘pull-skeins’. However, not many people know that, as a result, people often ask me how to make sure they can get the thread out, without it knotting. Now, I know Christmas is a time when a lot of people gift and receive threads, in fact, we even mentioned it in our Christmas gift guide, and so now is a great time to finally put this to bed.
The thing is, there IS a way to remove the thread without it knotting.

The clue is in the name; Pull Skeins

Every skein and thread you pick up for embroidery has two labels. These labels are there to hold each loose end of the thread down. Normally, you’ll see one thread is covered by the brand label (DMC and Anchor threads are like this) meaning one end is ‘loose’ down at the other end, by the number and barcode label.

DMC 743 thread with labels marked
DMC 743 thread with labels marked

Well, as the name ‘pull skein’ suggests, pull your thread from that side. Skeins come off the packing machine in a set order, meaning if you pull from one end, you’ll unravel the thread, which is what you want, but if you pull from the other side it’ll knot!
DMC thread 3820 with ends of the threads marked (Source: reddit)
DMC thread 3820 with ends of the threads marked (Source: Reddit)

Is it really that simple?

Well, sadly not. You see, DMC threads have the long end by their number and barcode label, but this isn’t the case for other brands. Both Anchor and Cosmo have the “perfect end” on the brand label side.
Thankfully though, CXC and Sublime stitching following DMC’s way.