Title: Nuka Cola Quantum Keychain
Date Completed: July 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
Video Game: Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, Fallout 76
I had an idea. Or more accurately; I have an idea. For the first time ever, I’m writing this post not only before I’ve completed the cross stitch, but before I’ve even planned it. Yes, you heard that right; at the moment, this is still, just an idea.
I was struggling for a new, small project to do before my next big one, and I started looking for inspiration. I’ve actually spoken about where to get cross stitch inspiration before, and I have a journal of half baked ideas. In there, I normally cross out things I’ve completed, but as I read through, sometimes I read the crossed-out ones too. And I noticed something. There were lots of mentions of glow-in-the-dark.
This wasn’t that shocking to me actually, I’ve stitched a glow-in-the-dark Assassins Creed cross stitch poster and a Bioshock Charge Vigor cross stitch poster, alongside writing a whole raft of posts like epic glow-in-the-dark geeky cross stitches and is glow-in-the-dark really here to stay?, but there was one post that stuck in my mind. It was a post I did as a follow up to my column in the XStitch magazine’s Green issue, and I spoke about glow-in-the-dark thread is green.
I won’t spoil that post for you if you want to read it, but in short; it doesn’t have to be. But its easier. That makes sense and all, but that got me thinking; what if I wanted a different color?
In my mind, when I think glow-in-the-dark, despite all of those posts I’ve written, isn’t cross stitch at all. Its Nuka Cola Quantum, a fake radioactive drink from the Fallout series. And it’s blue. So far, I’m 9 different supposedly ‘blue’ glow-on-the-dark threads down, but I think I’ve found a solution. I think I’ve found a way to make a Nuka Cola Quantum cross stitch glow, just like the game shows.
The trick is its implementation. Officially, its a thaumatrope, which is a fancy way of saying a spinning toy. A plate with one image on each side is spun, making it look like the two images are one. It’s been used in a few movies and games including Hugo, The Prestige, Sleepy Hollow and Bioshock Infinite. In fact, I referenced that last one in my Bioshock Infinite Heads or Tails cross stitch.
The idea of my Nuka Cola keychain is to do a similar effect, where one side is simply cross stitched in blue, and the other side is stitched in blue glow in the dark thread. It then spins on your keys, making it look like the bottle is both glow in the dark, but also gently moving around in the glass bottle. There is also a secondary effect caused by the clear plastic canvas, where you can see the glow in the dark through the blue stitched on the other side too!
Finding the blue glow in the dark thread was a lot of pain, but thanks to learning how to use metallic threads I used the same tips to great effect.
Sometimes you just don’t like working on a cross stitch pattern, or maybe you want to design a pattern of your own. So we’ve combined over 50 free cross stitch fonts and alphabets for you to download and use for free. Patterns increase in size as they go down the page. Just click the image to get a higher resolution version.
Most include upper case, lower case and numbers.
These alphabet patterns are provided for free private use. They can be used for any private pattern, however if you wish to use in a commercial setting, please contact me to ask permission (they’re free for commercial use too).
5 stitches high
6 stitches high
7 stitches high
8 stitches high
9 stitches high
10 stitches high
11 stitches high
12 stitches high
15 stitches high
16 stitches high
These alphabet patterns are provided for free and are under a creative commons BY-NC-SA copyright.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to have a whole pile of cross stitch patterns that I’ve never started. In fact, some of them are over a decade old. The thing is, whilst these patterns are great, there’s something slightly off with all of them.
Now, I don’t mean they’ve got something wrong on them, I mean they have something that doesn’t work for ME. I won’t name and shame any patterns here, but taking one of the tops, I have an issue with the color of the boat. It’s a green boat, with loads of greenery around it. It looks like it could do with a splash of color. And that’s what I’m going to talk about today. How to change colors on a cross stitch pattern.
Changing details on cross stitch patterns can make sure that what you’re stitching is suited to you, it can make it truly unique, and it can make it something you suddenly REALLY want to stitch.
So how do you start?
We’ll start with a word of warning; don’t go over the top. When you start out, its best to pick one element and change the color, rather than the whole thing. You might be called upon to do a few colors to make your new one match (we’ll get to that) but try to keep it manageable to start.
First off, you’re going to need a pattern, with the above advice, we should pick a small element to start. You then need to work out which colors are in that element based on the pattern. I’ve picked a bonsai tree with red leaves, and we’ll change them to green.
NOTE: The colors you are looking at might be used elsewhere in the pattern, so you may stitch need them to finish your cross stitch.
The Color Card
The next step is to pull up your color card. Ideally, you should have one of thread example color cards, however, you can use printed ones if you must. We have both the new DMC color card and the Anchor color card as a free download to look at. If you plan to do this a lot, we would STRONGLY suggest you get a thread example one, and we’ll be going over why why you need a color card in a few weeks.
Identify your shades
The next step is to pick your specific shades. In our red bonsai tree, we’ve picked out the 5 shades of red, and we’ve arranged the up in order. This means we can see they are a simple run of dark red to light red.
Pick the new shades
This is where we finally get to pick the shades we’ll be using, but the hard work has already been done. As we know its a run of 5 reds, we’ll need a run of 5 greens. On the DMC color card, the best options are on lines 10 and 11. Honestly, you could pick any 5 greens, however, each run looks slightly different. Those on line 10 look darker, so it might be best for oily leaves. We picked the first run of greens on like 11 as we have those in our collection.
We’ve helped you out with some great free charts for replacement skin tones and replacement hair colors in cross stitch if you’re doing those in your pattern, so you might be able make this step easier.
Swap the colors
Swap them. Its that simple. You could color in the pattern with pens or pencils, you could just change the number on the list, or just stitching with your new colors.
When it comes to geometric cross stitch patterns, most fit into two categories; super simple or super complicated. However, rarely, you’ll find a really special geometric pattern.
Today we’re featuring DominionSisters. When looking at geometric patterns, you probably expect the abundance of animals converted into geometric blocks, or even repeating patterns, and that’s exactly why I chose DiminionSisters. They don’t do that. Instead, they’ve looked at where geometric patterns exist in the real world.
This humble bumblebee pattern is like many patterns on their store; simple, but classy.
This pattern was found on Etsy.
As some of you may know, I received the Best miniature Cross Stitch award in the recent National Needlecraft Awards for my miniature pirate cross stitch samplers. This was my first foray into miniature cross stitch, and whilst I thought I was doing something new at the time, I really wasn’t. It turns out that not only are there loads of miniature cross stitches out there, but there is also a massive community devoted to only stitching miniatures.
So without further a due, we round up some of the best miniature and dolls house cross stitch from the web.
Tiny Fox Cross Stitch by Arachnoid
Whilst its hard to see from the image above, Arachnoid has not only stitched a super tiny fox, but they’ve included it in an embroidery hoop the size of a quarter!
Red Car miniature Cross Stitch by Victora Minaturas
How about something a little larger? Victora Minaturas from Etsy has made these four miniatures which not only have some great cross stitch work, but also go to show that miniature cross stitch can be super modern too!
Miniature Cross Stitch Slippers by miniricami
Looking for something a little smaller? How about these miniature slippers by miniricami? Stitched on silk, these slippers are only 2.5cm long, meaning it must be about 42 count!
Christmas Night miniature Cross Stitch by CS broderie miniature
Christmas is literally more than half a year away, however this christmas inspired miniature cross stitch is just too cute!
Lighthouse miniature Cross Stitch by Miniaturas Cubells
And finally, we come to the best miniature cross stitch I could find. Miniaturas Cubells sells nothing but miniature embroidery on Etsy, and you can see they’ve been at it a long time. This lighthouse stitch is clearly from a commercially available pattern, but instead of sticking to boring old 14 count, they went with 38 count. Yet they stitched it just like they normally would. I am so super impressed.
Title: Pink Ring Donut
Date Completed: September 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Canvas: Ecru (Double hoop)
After the success of my micro cassette cross stitch keyrings for issue 5 of the Xstitch Mag I didn’t submit anything for issue 6. The reason, was I had an idea for issue 7; a donut.
The issue theme was ‘food’ and I had known about this maybe a year in advance, and went through a whole load of ideas, however it wasn’t until I wrote my post on the weird world of cross stitched food that I realised that pink donuts were a MASSIVELY popular cross stitch item. In fact, I took the ideas of Nickel And Grace Studio’s pink donut and combined it with Namaste embroidery’s double hoop idea to come up with something trully unique.
If you’re looking for a sweet guide on how to do this yourself, Namaste Emroidery have you covered!
If you couldn’t tell, I love 3D cross stitch. I first dropped into the whole 3D thing with my transforming robot cross stitch, but it was afterwards that I found the person we’re featuring this week.
Yeh, you heard that right; instead of focusing on just one pattern this week, we’re focusing on Robin’s Design as a whole. You may have seen their work on the site before, as part of the best 3D cross stitch or maybe saw her listed as my inspiration for my Harry Potter Golden Snitch cross stitch.
Unlike anyone else I’ve been able to find in the cross stitch pattern community, Robin’s Design produces amazing, and complex 3D objects, like globes, animals, people, characters, dice and more, yet somehow always makes the patterns super easy to follow. If you haven’t already, you NEED to check out her Etsy, as frankly, it’s amazing. There are over 100 3D patterns!
This pattern was found on Etsy.
When it comes to finishing your cross stitch, there aren’t many things that go through your head other than “I need to show this to everyone!”, however, many people feel unsure or confused about framing. However, that really doesn’t need to be the case. We’ve got a detailed guide on how to frame cross stitch on the blog already, but there is one big question that keeps coming up; should I add glass or not?
Sadly, this is one of those questions that doesn’t have an absolute answer. Sometimes you should, and sometimes you shouldn’t.
When You Should
In most cases, when you frame cross stitch, you should use glass. There are loads of benefits, such as keeping it clean, stopping strong sunlight and making it look more professional. However, all of those things can only be achieved if you frame your cross stitch correctly. Let’s look at the parts of a frame to get a better look at this:
When you want to protect it
As you can see from above, there are loads of parts to a standard frame, and each of these has its own purpose. The big two we’ll look at though, are the glass (obviously) and the window mat. This window mat is often the thing people forget, however its purpose is to keep the work away from the glass. In most cases, this isn’t too important, but when it comes to cross stitch, where the stitches extend beyond the aida, it’s super important. Without it, the stitches get squashed against the frame.
When its required for the pattern
Sometimes, however, you might need to get rid of the matting. And that’s fine! Take my Star Trek Voyager LCARS cross stitch for example. I wanted to make it look like it was a computer screen on a wall, and as a result, putting in matting would ruin the look. But I still used glass. How did I get away with that? I used spacers. There are loads of different types, but they all work the same way; small bits of plastic that push the glass away from the cross stitch.
You don’t like the look of framed work
But what if you don’t like the idea of framed work? Well, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t frame it. Take a look at the example below I found on Reddit. It’s a Pacman screenshot cross stitch, fairly average (although well stitched) and when framing it, they added a bold yellow matting. The framing technique here has allowed the whole piece to stand out like a classic arcade cabinet. Now, bright yellow might not work for the cross stitch you’re doing, but by using clever framing, you can not only add to the cross stitch, but elevate it.
When You Should Not
Now, that said, there are times when you should ditch the glass. By doing this, you’ll lose the benefits of having a glass, so you need to be more careful (see our tips at the bottom of the page) but sometimes glass just won’t work.
When you don’t like the glass
Yes, you can have a glass preference. 😛
When it comes to glass, some people don’t like the shine it creates, and if your artwork is somewhere glare is a problem, then you might know what I mean. So glass companies came up with solutions. Two specifically. The first is a slightly bumpy textured glass, which in my opinion makes the artwork harder to see. If you had a small count, this wouldn’t work. Equally, there is another type with a green coating on it (like eyeglasses) which ruins the look if you’ve stitching with anything other than green.
The only solution? Ditch the glass.
When its required for the pattern
The other instance when you might not include glass is when it’s required for the pattern. Now, there really aren’t many patterns like this, so I’ve had to use another example of mine. In the below Pokemon 3D cave cross stitch you can see the cross stitch extends out of the frame, by nearly 30cm. There was no way I could frame this with glass, so I had to ditch it.
Tips for framing without glass
As seen above, sometimes there is a valid reason for not framing with glass, and honestly, that’s not a problem. However, there are impacts of not framing with glass. With these tips, you should be able to keep those to a minimum!
- Make sure its washed and ironed before you frame it; it’ll last longer
- Keep it away from direct sunlight; the threads will keep their color longer
- Use a special acid-free backing paper for framing to stop dust leaching into the artwork
When searching on Etsy we found a list of the most searched terms related to cross stitch patterns. Along side some obvious ones, we found something we were a little surprised by; coca cola.
Whilst there is a wealth of coke related cross stitch pattern goodness on Etsy, most are old adverts or christmas related. However most people search for Coke patterns in spring and summer. My memories of that time normally relate to cracking open a can. So of course, I had to pick a Coca Cola can.
DJStitches, who made this pattern, is a bit of a cross stitch can specialist, with all of the images made pixel by pixel. Whilst this isn’t particularly important normally when choosing the reds for the can, it’s super important. By handpicking colors you can ensure that the image you see above, is the image you’re going to get stitched, making it a truly wonderful example of that classic Coke.
More of a diet coke fan? He has one of those too.
This pattern was found on Etsy.
If you’ve ever inherited a stash of cross stitch supplies you’ll know that you’re both super lucky, and super confused. You see, most people cast off those little thread top labels, meaning you no longer know if the threads you have are generic, or specialist. Being able to identify these threads, or a too-good-to-be-true online sale is important. You could compare the colors to a color chart, you could look at the quality of the thread or even the label that’s left on it, but no one has time for that. Especially as there is a 100% guaranteed way to work out what brand your thread is; the barcode.
How to tell
I’m not going to go in-depth about barcodes here, but if you’re super interested, this is how barcodes work. The important bit of information for us is the start. Specifically the first 2 to 6 numbers.
The first two numbers state where the brand’s headquarters are. DMC is in the US. For Anchor its France, and for CXC (and generic threads) its China. The next four numbers are the brand’s own code. Now, whilst it would be great to remember all of these numbers, it’s frankly not going to happen. Lucky for us, there aren’t that many brands, and most have different head office locations, so instead, we learn just the first 2 numbers.
DMC – 07
Anchor – 71
CXC & generic – 69
It’s that simple. If you see a barcode starting with 71, you know you have Anchor threads. So now you can go out and
But what about generic and branded Chinese threads?
OK, so this is where it get’s a little more confusing. You see, almost all the embroidery threads that come out of China come from the same factory. Specifically, brand 69-4696. So if its Chinese, we need to do a little more digging. Now, we look at the end 2 numbers. There are two numbers that really matter, 14 and 41. You see each item made by a brand has a different number for each type of product. In the brand of importance, 14 stands for the CXC threads. 41 stands for Rosace threads. Now, I know you’re going to be asking one of two questions at this point:
Is CXC the same as generic?
What are Rosace threads?
Well, the answer to those is simple. The same factory produces LOADS of different threads. Some are made well, some are made cheap. CXC is the brand’s top quality product, even though they are CONSIDERABLY cheaper than DMC or Anchor. Rosace is their low tier product line. In fact, when you purchase generic threads, they’re almost always Rosace.
And its that simple. Now go out and identify those threads!