Its Time to Improve your Backstitch Game

Star Trek Voyager Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section of ship

Backstitch is often the thing at the end of a cross stitch, and whilst you know it can make a big difference, you’ve not really thought any further than that, right? Well, it turns out that whilst backstitch is super simple, there a lot you can do to improve it. The smallest of changes in your backstitch can have a massive impact, and its as simple as changing the thread thicknesses.
 
In my recent Star Trek Voyager LCARS cross stitch I took backstitch to the extreme, and thanks to a few zoomed in shots of it at my Portal 2 Gun cross stitch, I can show you a few tips.

Thickness of different threads

On the example below you can see a series of different backstitches, and whilst stitching everything as 2 stands would have been fine, I decided to stitch the grid with a single stitch. Why? Because it makes the ship stand out more. The subtle change here hasn’t taken anything away from the cross stitch, but its clear that when looking at this section, the ship is the most important bit. Obviously you could go the other way around here, stitching the ship with 3 or 4 strands of thread.

Star Trek Voyager Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section
Star Trek Voyager Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section

Thickness of the same thread

Yeh, its a thickness thing, but this time we’re speaking about the same thread. In the example below I’ve taken wires coming out of my portal gun and instead of using the 2 stands it called for, at the tips, split it into one. The effect it has is super small, but anyone looking at the cross stitch quickly can see that they start off as two seperate wires, which come together, then split off again. Something small like this has added another layer of detail to a simple cross stitch.

Portal Gun Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section
Portal Gun Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section

Layering

Going back to Voyager here, I’ve taken to combining both thicknesses of threads, and layers. When you look at this image, the first thing that comes out is the outline of the ship, then the decks, and then the details. This was achieved not only by laying the stitches in the opposite order (details first), but also by making the thread thickness larger as I when up. The over all effect has now changed so that the image as a whole is a ship, then the details, and not a super detailed hot mess.

Star Trek Voyager Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section of ship
Star Trek Voyager Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section of ship

I’m not saying any of the above examples are perfect, however layering is an effective way to change the focus of your cross stitch, and might just be worth practicing.

Micro Cassette Keychain Cross Stitches by Lord Libidan

Micro Cassette Keychain Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Micro Cassette Keychain Date Completed: June 2018 Design: Lord Libidan Count: 14 Canvas: Plastic Colours: 5 Pop Culture: 80s Tape Cassettes
Title: Micro Cassette Keychains
Date Completed: June & August 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Plastic
Colours: 16
Pop Culture: 80s Tape Cassettes
 
I’ve written about how I create designs for the Xstitch Mag before, however in the most recent issue, the theme was ‘Mixtape’. This in essence meant I could stitch anything I wanted. I actually created a series of Gameboys based on a Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch, however I knew the editorial team liked litteral things, so I thought I would also submit a litteral mixtape.
 
This was the mock up of the designs to test viability, and I randomly picked one of 9 different styles. At this stage it was taken up for the cover for the Xstitch Mag! I designed a further 3 styles so there were 12 in total and stitched them up.

Xstitch Issue 6 Mistape featuring Lord Libidan (Source: xstitchmag.com)
Xstitch Issue 6 Mistape featuring Lord Libidan (Source: xstitchmag.com)

Mad Max Car Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Mad Max Car Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Mad Max Car Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Mad Max Car Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Mad Max Car
Date Completed: November 2018
Design: Lord Libidan & Petrick Animation
Count: 14
Canvas: Orange
Colours: 5
Video Game: Mad Max
 
Back in 2015 I fell in love with the Max Max game, and the movie Mad Max fury road. Not only were they both excellent in their own right, but the style betwen both games made it feel like they were from the same universe. That’s why when I found some super awesome animated Mad Max pixel art on behance by Petrick Animation I knew I had to stitch it. However, the pixel art caused some issues. Firstly, I had to remove the animation, and due to its size had to reduce the pixel count, and colors.
 
I created the pattern pixel by pixel over a month, and even purchased some awesome bright orange aida from Permin, but it sat there for more than 3 years while I stitched other things. However when recently going though my aida to find something for my Half Life 2 Gravity Gun cross stitch I found the old orange aida and knew it was time to stitch it up finally.
Mad Max Interceptor pixel art gif by Petrick Animation (source: behance.net)
Mad Max Interceptor pixel art gif by Petrick Animation (source: behance.net)

Mad Max Inteceptor On Set Image (Source: Imgur)
Mad Max Inteceptor On Set Image (Source: Imgur)

Minature Traditional Pirate Samplers by Lord Libidan

Pirate cross stitch samplers by Lord Libidan

mini pirate cross stitch samplers by Lord Libidan
Title: Minature Traditional Pirate Samplers
Date Completed: May 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 32
Canvas: Ecru
Colours: 8
Pop Culture: Pirates
 
Now that the new issue of Xstitch Mag is out I can finally show off a few of my recent pieces. The theme this quarter was ‘Heroes & Villans’, and I just just finished watching Black Flag, a pirate drama, and knew I had to do something with the idea.
 
As it turns out, Pirates were actually pretty nice people for the main part, and whilst they did steal, they were free men and freed slaves whenever they could. I wanted to look at the way that the East India Trading Company and pirates are often seen in contrary roles to how they actually were. To stitch them I decided on a period styled set of samplers, on ecru with limited pallettes. When looking through some reference material I saw the cutest little dolls house frames and the idea came to stitch them into doll house size. As a result I stitched on 32 count, which is by far the smallest count I’ve worked on so far.
 
You can pick up the pattern for both of these samplers in the newst issue of the Xstitch Mag, and if you’re interested I also have a companion piece for the mag on how close we are to a robot cross stitch artist.

EIC Pirate Sampler cross stitch by Lord Libidan

Harry Potter Golden Snitch Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Harry Potter Golden Snitch Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Harry Potter Golden Snitch Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Harry Potter Golden Snitch Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Harry Potter Golden Snitch
Date Completed: November 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Ecru & Plastic
Colours: 3
Pop Culture: Harry Potter
 
I’ve done a lot of 3D cross stitches in the past, and honestly, I’m probably still best known for my series of Transforming robot cross stitches, even though I first designed the first one almost 8 years ago. However when stitching up my free sashiko inspired biscornu I realised that all my 3D stitches had one thing in common; they were all on plastic canvas.
 
This really isn’t that surprising considering that’s what its used for, but I had some across the work of robinsdesign and her 3D work. I knew her mostly for dolls, but she also created a series of planets, which end up like completed globes. The way these were consrricted were frankly amazing, but I figured it would be too hard to make the sphere smaller; until she came out with a 2.5 inch moon:
Earth and Moon sphere cross stitches by robinsdesign (source: Etsy)
Earth and Moon sphere cross stitches by robinsdesign (source: Etsy)

In case you were wondering, this size interested me, as the Harry Potter golden snitch was 2 inches. I decided I’d have a go at replicating the style robinsdesign used to create a tiny golden snitch. I actually thought this was going to fail, and so decided I would only stitch the main part to test the idea. In fact, I even started stitching my Portal gun cross stitch whilst I was washing and ironing it, I had that much faith, but it came out better than I thought! It isn’t perfect, however I decided to add on some wings and it was complete!

Pikachu Pokemon Bookmark Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Pikachu Pokemon Bookmark Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Pikachu Pokemon Bookmark Cross Stitch vby Lord Libidan
Pikachu Pokemon Bookmark Cross Stitch vby Lord Libidan

Title: Pikachu Pokemon Bookmark
Date Completed: October 2018
Design: Lord Libidan & MokosMakery
Count: 14
Canvas: Pale Yellow
Colours: 4
Video Game: Pokemon
 
I don’t ofen give up on cross stitches, even if I think they’ve failed. My Harry Potter Golden Snitch cross stitch is a fantastic example of this, however with this cross stitch bookmark, I gave up. In fact, I completed it, and then threw it away as it was so bad, and didn’t work as it needed to.
 
Roll on 3 years; yes, that’s 3 whole years. Every time I looked at my aida stash I kept seeing that dang pale yellow aida and this pattern came to mind time after time. It honestly took me about 2 years before I realised what I had done wrong the first time, but honestly, shame stopped me going back.
 
The original idea for this stitch actually came from MokosMakery, who make frankly fantastic papercraft bookmarks of many pokemon, and the pattern is taken almost 1 for 1 from their paper model. I thought it was so good that I had to spend a few hours making one myself (even if I use a kindle…)
Pikachu paper bookmark by MokosMakery (source: Etsy)
Pikachu paper bookmark by MokosMakery (source: Etsy)

Expired Ramen Coupon Destiny Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Destiny 2 Expired Ramen Coupon Embroidery by Lord Libidan
Destiny 2 Expired Ramen Coupon Embroidery by Lord Libidan

Title: Expired Ramen Coupon
Date Completed: October 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Red
Colours: 1
Video Game: Destiny 2
 
I started my Star Trek Voyager cross stitch after months of perfecting the pattern, and was shocked that it was so quick to stitch. So less than half way through I started coming up with another idea, most probably a quick stitch.
 
This all came after I had just finished Destiny 2, along with its expansions. Therefore, it didn’t take me long to jump to the idea of stitching a sweet Destiny piece. I had seen The Crafting Geek’s awesome Ramen icon and my initial plan was to simply stitch hers up, after all, its great!
 
But that’s when I realised, what if I could do something a little more tangable? The Expired Ramen Coupon is basically an inside joke within Destiny 2 after Cayde-6 is lost at the start of the most recent expansion, and he sends you off to find a free coupon, some decades out of date. And when you get it? Not much happens, you simply get the coupon. So I wondered, how hard would it be to make a coupon?
 
Hard. Super hard. In fact, this is the ONLY image of it:
Expired Ramen Coupon Icon from Destiny 2
Tiny. However, that didn’t stop me, and I put something together in a realistic size using simple black back stitch in varying thicknesses.
Destiny 2 Expired Ramen Coupon Embroidery by Lord Libidan comparison
Destiny 2 Expired Ramen Coupon Embroidery by Lord Libidan comparison

Star Trek Voyager LCARS Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Star Trek Voyager LCARS Blueprint cross stitch by Lord Libidan

Star Trek Voyager LCARS Blueprint cross stitch by Lord Libidan
Star Trek Voyager LCARS Blueprint cross stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: USS Voyager LCARS Ship Blueprint
Date Completed: October 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Black
Colours: 13
Pop Culture: Star Trek Voyager
 
The idea for this project started nearly 2 years ago, when I had recently watched ‘The Martian’. I was instantly enthralled by the control screens on the spacecraft, on the Mars base, and in mission control. My initial idea was a reproduction of the ship schematic in smaller scale, however it just looked blocky. I knew I had to redo it, but fear of getting it wrong kept me back for a long time.
Control room image from inside the Hermes Spacecraft from the film 'The Martian' (source: space.com)
Control room image from inside the Hermes Spacecraft from the film ‘The Martian’ (source: space.com)

That was until I had to create a design for the first Xstitch Mag, which I decided to create a blueprint of the Apollo Saturn V, similar to my Lightsaber blueprint, ZF-1 Fifth Element gun blueprint and my Metroid Power Suit Cannon Blueprints. I realised that the element that I loved the most from The Martian screens was the ship systematic itself.
 
Move on a few months whilst I had to do some other projects, and I watched the new series of Star Trek Discovery. Finally, the whole design came together in my head. In the same way that The Martian had different screens for different ships/sections, so did Star Trek, with its LCARS programs. I had actually done some work with LCARS before in my Star Trek book, where I designed a LCARS interface, however it had a joke on it, and wasn’t something you’d see in real life. I decided therefore to have a second go, this time creating a fake panel, which you might actually find on the ship.
Star Trek Voyager Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section
My favorite Star Trek is Voyager, and when searching came across a wealth of screen used designs I could draw from. I also had a framed Pokemon triptych I had been meaning to update, which has a unique long frame. Therefore I started to design a screen that you might find through out the ship itself of a full ship wide schematic including a mini map, and basic ship updates. Effectively, a quick reference map, which plays into my well known love of maps, like my Pokemon region map.
 
This is also the first time I’ve used one of the new 35 DMC colors, specifically 03, the grey at the top and bottom.

Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Moon Light in Yasaka Pagoda Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Moon Light in Yasaka Pagoda Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Title: Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda
Date Completed: August 2017
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 18
Canvas: Cream
Colours: 15
Pop Culture: Japan
 
After the success of my Pokemon Great Wave cross stitch I knew I had to create another. Looking back on my previous works, its clear that Japanese art inspires me, and I’ve attempted many Japanese woodblock print style pieces before, such as my Japanese Gengar cross stitch. I wanted to continue this theme of adding a Pokemon addition into a traditional print, so went looking at famous Japanese woodblock prints.
 
This is when I came across the work of Asano Takeji. Whilst many of his later prints were humorous or risqué his earlier pieces blew my mind. His approach was to take urban landscapes in Kyoto (a city with traditional architecture) and create prints using interesting angles. Arguably one of his most famous works is Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda, where he uses an angle which cannot be met in real life. Having been to this Kyoto landmark I felt a real connection to it. In fact, the Yasaka Pagoda was a primary inspiration for my Minature Ecruteak City cross stitch.

moon light in yasaka pagoda inspiration
Inspiration: Asano Takeji’s Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda (left), Pokemon Tin Tower (middle top), Ho-Oh in Pokemon anime (top right), Tin Tower over Ecruteak City (bottom right)

In the same way as I created the great wave cross stitch pattern, I recreated the print using the style of the artist (which unlike the Great Wave does not have black lines seperating the different colours) in the same size as the original in 1951 was. I then took this and added a Pokemon element.
 
As I mentioned earlier, I always thought Yasaka Pagoda looked very similar to the Ecruteak City Tin/Bell Tower. The Pokemon fable is that the legendary Ho-oh sat on top of the golden tower. In addition to this in the Pokemon anime, Ash, the main character, searches out for Ho-Oh, convinced of his existance (when the rest of the world doubts him). I remember watching the very first epidode and seeing Ho-Oh, and telling all my friends about it, to also be shot down. I felt it would be a perfect connection to add in Ho-Oh in the same way Ash sees him in the first episode.
 
However, as I stitched what was the largest project I’ve undertaken (in size and stitches) I fell in love with the original print, and just couldn’t bring myself to add Ho-oh. Instead, I went for a faithful recreation.
Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda cross stitch by Lord Libidan comparison
Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda cross stitch by Lord Libidan comparison

Pokemon Mini Map Cross Stitch By Lord Libidan

Pokemon Mini Map Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Pokemon Mini Map Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Title: Pokemon Mini Map
Date Completed: May 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Plastic
Colours: 5
Game: Pokemon
 
Its really no secret that I love Pokemon, and I love maps. I even devoted a whole post to the best cross stitch maps. And honestly, about half of them were Pokemon. However, I wrote that blog after my own Pokemon map cross stitch, and whilst that map was created by me using 15 different reference images, these in game maps of regions stitched up by strangenessisconserved weren’t some of them.

Pokemon region maps by strangenessisconserved (source: strangenessisconserved.wordpress.com)
Pokemon region maps by strangenessisconserved (source: strangenessisconserved.wordpress.com)

Weirdly, the maps in game don’t match up to what we know about the Pokemon world, especially the Kanto and Johto regions (top left and right on the image above). So I decided to combine the images to create an in-style in game Pokemon map of Kanto and Johto.
 
You can see below how my two Pokemon maps compare:
Pokemon Mini Map Cross Stitch by Lord LibidanPokemon National Map cross stitch by Lord Libidan
 
Interested in seeing another cross stitch map? I stitched a retro video game invasion plan cross stitch on pre-printed world aida. It might be worth a look.