With 21 seasons under its belt and still going strong, The Simpsons has a massive following (even if some of them hate the newer episodes), however there isn’t a great deal of cross stitch out there devoted to it.
As I pointed out in my trends of 2017 post pop culture like The Simpsons is on the rise. Here are the best so far…
Springfield: Home Sweet Home
Before we begin, please be advised this post is sponsored by Hank Scorpio (evil genius) and the Globex Corporation.
The Almighty Donut
Talking of Homer, where’s my donut love?
You can pick the pattern up of this awesome pattern on Etsy.
Old Man Yells At Cloud
But when it comes to the press, Grandpa Simpson has the record…
That’s a Paddlin’
Talking out of turn? That’s a paddlin’. Lookin’ out the window? That’s a paddlin’. Staring at my sandals? That’s a paddlin’. Paddlin’ the school canoe? Oh, you better believe that’s a paddlin’.
― Jasper Beardly
Pretty sure I’m not…
The Couch Gag
And finally, what kind of roundup would it be without a couch gag? Attempted a few times, PDX-stitch has got the furthest so far, with a 3 year stitch time…
I regularly get asked how I can cross stitch so fast, and whilst it probably has a lot to do with how many hours I stitch in, there are various ways to speed up your cross stitching. We’ll start off with some different techniques to try, before going into some tips for speeding up your cross stitch.
The Danish Technique
Traditionally there are two ways to cross stitch, the English technique and Danish technique. Generally people use the Danish technique, where you lay down a line of stitches in one direction, and then go back with the other direction. We use this technique in our how to cross stitch guide for a reason; it makes things far faster.
If you want to find out more about the differences between both, peacockandfig has a great guide.
Two Hand Technique
The two handed technique requires you to have a hands free frame. This means that instead of flipping the frame over to find the needle, you simple grab the needle with your otherhand and push it back up through the fabric. This means that you don’t have to put the needle far to straighten the thread, or take your eye off the fabric holes.
Double Sided Needle
One of the best ways to acheive the two hand technique is to change your needle to a twin pointed or double sided variety. Its basically a standard needle that you don’t have to swin around, cutting even more time off.
Sometimes refered to as the ‘sewing’ method, this technique requires you to not use a frame. For smaller projects, this is fine, however just not workable for larger ones. The idea is to pucker the fabric so you place an in and out hole in one go. The below video explains this process very well:
Have the right equipment
Whlist you can change your stitching style, or using fancy needles, there is always a need to have the right equipment, and regularly, without realising it, many people don’t have what they need to stitch fast.
There are loads of different fabric types you can use to cross stitch on, and due to their differences, some are easier to stitch on. If you want a fast project, use aida.
In addition, the count can drastically change the speed of stitching. Try using a larger count for faster stitching.
Stick with the same color
Another great tip is stitching with one color as long as possible. Firstly, this means no awkward thread changes, but also means you havelots of nearby references for where to stitch next (so no pesky counting).
One way to help yourself when sticking with a color is to prepare lots of needles. I regularly set up 8 needles with 8 threads ready to go, so I don’t have to keep start stopping to rethread. It saves far more time than you realise and makes use of all those needles you collect.
Use the correct thread length
Many new cross stitchers make the mistake of having a very large piece of thread hanging off the needle. In theory, the larger the thread, the less needle preperation. However, in reality, the larger the thread, the more tangles. Instead, you should have a smaller piece of thread. A good guide is measure from the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your elbow.
Organise, organise, organise
Finally, you have to organise. Whilst it can seem a bit tedious, this actually saves you massive amounts of time. I would suggest taking all of your skeins off and onto thread cards. By doing this your not only making it easier to grab the thread you need, but you’re untwisting the threads, making sure they don’t knot on the skein, and making selection easier. They also look super pretty.
So there you have it. Now you have everything in your disposal to cross stitch faster. However, as a final note, I would say that sometimes taking your time can have added benefits, such as curbing stress.
Following our super popular post on how to show cross stitch offline we’ve received a few comments about the best forums to display your work on. On the last count there were about 30 forums, and so we’ve reviewed and ordered the list from most active community to least active community, based on a test every day for 28 days.
In a stark contrast to cross-stitching.com’s forum, reddit’s /r/CrossStitch is far more contemporary (although there is a fair share of traditional in there), and MUCH more international. There are roughly 50 people logged into the forum at any time, and whilst that’s much smaller in size, the particiation is much greater, and often this is where the cross stitch masters hang their hat.
There’s a bit of a learning curve needed though, as each time you post, you have to add a code to the start of your message, but once you’ve picked it up, its actually super easy to navigate.
Starting to get on the less busy side now, we have the CrossStitchForum, who’s whole purpose in life is a forum for cross stitchers. Whilst it was extreamly popular back in 2007, its suffered with low figures for a while, and I think we may see the end of it soon. However, in those archives are some of the best cross stitch question and answers you’ve ever seen. Whenever I have a question I look up the answer here first.
A much larger forum, is craftster, which in itself is a massive beast, however the cross stitch and needlepoint section seems to have dwindled in the last 5 years. Whilst its a great place to show off your completed projects and WIPs, the community isn’t really there, and there isn’t much participation past the occassional “well done”.
The Cross Stitch Guild, unlike all our other entries, has never been a busy forum. However, the one saving grace, is anyone posting is likely been stitching for decades. This means that any questions you have will not only be answered, but be answered by someone who has gone through the exact same things thousands of times before. Not too busy, but worth its weight in gold; pun intented.
If you know of any good forums, even if they’re specific to certain parts of cross stitch, then drop me a line and I’ll review them!
It’s rare that I review a cross stitch book, and I know many of you want them, but there is rarely a reason. Most books are either mass patterns, which you will love or hate based on personal taste, or a historical tome, which either appeals or doesn’t. But this book review is different. Other than being written by my good pal Mr X Stitch (Jamie), the Mr X Stitch Guide To Cross Stitch book is not a normal cross stitch book. In my mind that should give you enough information to want to read it anyway, however, we got our hands on a pre-published copy, so onto the detailed review!
So the first thing to say is it has 20 patterns. These are all in the modern and contemporary style, such as small pixelated Mona Lisa, or a pineapple (actually three pineapples). The idea of the patterns, whilst being great projects, is to help explain the craft. And that’s because this book is about EVERYTHING cross stitch. It starts simple, instructions for basic patterns, and moves on to more and more complicated parts of the craft, including pattern making. But instead of stopping there Jamie goes from the very humble beginnings of cross stitch to some of the most extreme stitching around, with four key outliers of the craft (myself included), who push the boundaries of the craft. This is all backed with tips and tricks from decades of expert advice, add combined into one of the best looking cross stitch books around.
Jamie has always been someone to push cross stitch as an art form, and I’ve gone into some detail about is cross stitch is art or craft before (which includes a picture of Jamie stitching the Mona Lisa from the book), but instead of focusing on how people think about cross stitch, Jamie actively changes your mind. His tips of color blending and using materials such as glow in the dark threads shows you how being a little braver with your own stitches can bring a cutting edge twist to your art.
For many, cross stitch conjures up images of cute kittens and country cottages, but this book shows people that there’s a different side to cross stitching that it’s an art in its own right, and will encourage them to be a little braver with their art.
If at this point you’re not super excited, and convinced by the photos, then I don’t know what will get you excited. Frankly, I think this might be the best cross stitch book in existence.
You can pick up a copy from the publisher searchpress or your local book store.
A movement of men who cross-stitch or embroider. A subversion of a traditionally female art form.
Any piece of embroidery or cross-stitch done by a guy
We detailed in some depth about the role of women in the history of cross stitch, and its always been a female pursuit in popular culture. However that doesn’t mean men don’t stitch, as we discussed in our post about dudes who cross stitch , and it definitely doesn’t mean they haven’t stitched in the past. In fact male embroidery can thank cheap German wool, the industrial revolution and some prisoners.
The modern manbroidery movement, has brought a lot of men into the cross stitching and embroidery world, however there’s a lot more to the movement than men just started to stitch one day. In fact, it starts back in German some 300 years ago, when thread in Britain became a comodity most people could afford. Up until this time cross stitch was firmly a female pursuit, with young ladies creating samplers to prove they could run a household. However when this cheap influx of thread came into Britain, suddely it fell out of fassion to create samplers. This all came, as at a time of economic change in Britain; the Industrial revolution.
The first men recorded to move into embroidery were actually fishermen, used to knotting together fishing nets on mass. They realised that their skills weren’t transferable to the new industries, and so set up the Arts and Crafts movement.
We’ll fast forward over what was quite a termoil filled time, and start again in the 1960s with Lady Anne Tree who visited HMP Holloway women’s prison to help two female inmates. They started cross stitching and Lady Tree decided that the time spent in prison should be put to good use. She campaigned heavily for decades before the government allowed prisoners to earn money whilst in prison and finally in the late 1990s got exactly that. She created Fine Cell Work, which teaches male prisoners to cross stitch end embroider. These inmates were so good at stitching they have been featured in the Victoria and Albert, commissioned by English Heritage and been used by some of the worlds leading interior designers.
Finally, we get to the modern age. The rise of MrXStitch did a massive part to help push the 2011 craft push (helped out by the recession) and now we have flickr groups, designers creating patterns just for men, and the likes of Mr X Stitch holding the flag for all the male embroiderers.
This TEDx talk MrXStitch made actually features a lot of male embroidery, including my own stuff, it goes into detail on why cross stitch is important.
Title: Saturn V Blueprint
Date Completed: June 2017
Design: Lord Libidan
Pop Culture: Space, Apollo
I’ve been squirreling away doing a lot of secret projects at the moment, however following on from my feature in Mr X Stitch’s Guide to Cross Stitch Book I was contacted about a new type of cross stitch magazine, XStitch, which includes contemporary and unique cross stitch patterns. I knew I had to put an idea into the ring, and so I got to work.
I knew I wanted it to scream out my usual style, however wanted it to be roughly A4 sized, so it fit on the pages better. I threw some initial ideas down, all which seemed a little un-Libidan like. However, when looking through my back catalogue of stitches I came across some of my blueprint cross stitches, such as the ZF-1 blueprint cross stitch. An idea started forming in my head and I realised the shape of my lightsaber blueprint cross stitch was a perfect fit.
I guess its time to look at the elephant in the room now. I love space. I had just finished reading The Martian for my second time when I looked at this project and my mind instantally went to space, and a very specific bllueprint; the original Saturn V blueprints. There were actually a whole raft, all made publlic a few years ago, however their detail always amazed me.
The pattern developed and got picked for the first issue. So you can find this pattern in the first issue of the Xstitch Mag. Below are a few examples stitched by readers:
On our series covering the best cross stitch magazines we review the newest, and most contemporary mag, XStitch.
To do this review we’ve compiled a series of reviews from industry leaders, as well as feefo reviews.
Traditionally cross stitch gets the rep of being about teddies, flowers and all things cottage, however following the end of a few eminant cross stitch mags, Mr X Stitch, a previous pattern designer for the CrossStitcher magazine decided to take on a new challenge, and make a cross stitch magazine for all the young contemporary stitchers. As a direct result, the mag has a very different edge to its competitors, offering stylish pages, well written content, and a great heap of important cross stitchers (the first magazine had 12 designers from all over the world, including Jane Greenoff and Emily Peacock).
How has no one ever made a magazine like this before?! THIS is what I want.
Inside you’ll find only 20 patterns, but each will be crafted to a specific and topical theme each edition. Up to 50 designers submit patterns and only the best are chosen. These are then converted into 4 pattern types which are all downloadable with the mag. In addition to the usual content such as topical articles and reviews there is also an online playlist chosen by the designers to listen to as you read.
The biggest thing you’ll notice however, is there aren’t any adverts. The magazine has been put together for the readers, and its not full of filler.
As the only contemporary magazine on the market, it will either appeal or not, however I think that’s its charm.
$6 per quarter; digital version only, downloadable patterns in 3 formats and online playlist
✓ Loads of patterns ✓ Lots of mainstream patterns ✓ Large readership
╳ Not many modern patterns ╳ Digital only ╳ Not many freebies
As the Lord of cross stitch, its no wonder I wear cufflinks, but I feel all the manbroiderers and partners of cross stitchers should hold up the flag more often! Cufflinks are a great way to do this, but also pose quite a challenge to make in themselves.
The first pair featuring characters from the Cave Story video game, are fantastic examples of super tiny cross stitching; these are 42 count! By Benjibot
Alternatively you could lower the count and make something like these awesome Just Dance cross stitch cufflinks to show off that you can break into spontanious dance moves as soon as the suit is off.
If video games aren’t your thing, you can always use them to monogram your shirts on the cheap. These linen based cross stitch cufflinks ooze class.
Or, if you want hard wearing, how about resin filling a pair, like these from craftster?
Following on from our post a few weeks ago about the best cross stitch frame I’ve had a load of discussions on the best tools for cross stitch. So here are my suggestions for the 8 cross stitch must haves every stitcher should have!
We have a copy of the DMC shade card on our site to see at any time, however there is nothing quite like a real chart, with thread samples. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked a color and found it was too red, or too green and so changed it for a better one. Whilst a lot of cross stitch pattern software does a great job, there’s nothing quite like the human eye.
They cost about $20 for one with thread samples, and are definitely the one thing I would suggest EVERY stitcher gets.
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.
We recently posted about taking cross stitch on planes and public transport, and loved the thread cutterz for their ability to take them on international flights, however they’re just damn handy anyway. Far easier than scissors, they can be the quick cut you need.
They retail for $12-$15 but can only be brought from ThreadCutterz themselves.
Sure, cross stitch pattern software isn’t a glamorous item, and doesn’t seem like a must have item, however if you use a free online one, or work patterns out on paper, you REALLY need to update it. And if you’re struggling through, its probably time to update to a better one. We have a super post on which is the best cross stitch pattern software, and they can vary in price from free to $200.
No one NEEDS a needle minder, but if you have all the right tools, sometimes you need a little fun. Needle keepers just hold you needle whilst you’re not stitching, so you want a light weight one. Most are magnetic, and you can get some really great ones. The image for example is a 3D printed charizard for $6, which is about the going rate.
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, and getting a subscription to those. Prices vary, $20-$60 a year.
There’s nothing worse in cross stitch than Repetitive Strain Injury. It normally happens as a result of having to hold frames, so its no wonder that one of the best things you can get is a good frame. They vary in price from $2 to $30 depending on a lot of factors. We’ve made a post about the perfect cross stitch frame to help you pick.
I personally use a pair of Fiskars scissors, but I know many people prefer snip style scissors like the image, however there is one thing everyone agrees on, and that’s that some scissors just fit your hand better than others. As a cross stitcher you’re going to spend a lot of time with your hands in a pair, so make sure they’re the best ones for you. I would suggest specific thread or fishing line scissors, as they are sharper and have a small “snip” area. Also make sure to only use them for thread; scissors get blunt really easily.
YES! We do. In fact, there are a lot more men stitching than you realise!
We’ve shown off works by some of the greatest male cross stitchers out there, and whilst a lot of the traditional style and modern cross stitch doesn’t particularly appeal to men, a lot of custom patterns are being made by men. Its because of this that about 50% of the things we post are by men, including killer pieces like the fantastic Star Wars Tapestry that was even posted in a national newspaper.
However, despite this, many male stitchers still fly under the radar and go unnoticed by the public. But you know what, I’d much prefer to sit down in the evening with a cross stitch and a brew than off to the pub to watch a “game”. And others feel the same. MrXStitch even has regular posts on male cross stitchers, which in my opinion is some of the best stuff on the site.
There’s actually a lot of information out there devoted to male cross stitch, including a killer post on Cross Stitch for Men by Stitchtastic, and this video by Peacock & Fig below:
She also goes into more detail on her manbroidery blog!