We’ve explored the blurred line between cross stitch as art or craft before, and wherever you stand on that issue, there is one thing that can elevate anyone’s cross stitch; framing.
We’re also no stranger to framing cross stitch either, we have a great guide on how to frame cross stitch. But this isn’t the only way to frame cross stitch, you can also mount them to canvas.
There are many advantages to mounting cross stitch to canvas instead of framing them normally. Firstly, you don’t have to concern yourself with framing with or without glass, which is a headache on its own. The framing can all be done at home, is super easy and cheap and the results arguably look better than standard framing.
However, there are downsides too. The two main ones are that the cross stitch is exposed to the elements, meaning you have to be careful where you store it to keep it looking its best. Therefore, before you read any further, we suggest you go and wash and iron your cross stitch. But also, and this is a big one; its a permanent framing technique. Once mounted to canvas, removal can cause serious issues with your cross stitch, and stop you from framing it in the future.
How to Mount Your Cross Stitch
OK, so you got this far, you’ve heard the negatives, but you still want in? Great, now you need a canvas.
There are loads of types of canvases out there, and frankly, it doesn’t really matter which one you get. Just be aware that your cross stitch needs to have enough fabric around it to cover the front, sides and an inch or two of the back. If you’re really committed to having it mounted to canvas, but can only just cover the sides, that’s OK too, but you’ll need some type of cover for the sides to make them look nice once you’re done.
Next up, you need to position your cross stitch on the aida. This is a super important step, as, I repeat, this is a permanent thing. If you put it in the wrong place, fixing it is a real pain. There are loads of ways to do this, from simple measuring to using fancy middle finding rulers. I’m going to gloss over this though; as you’ve got this, whatever way works for you.
Then, we staple. Start by taking a stapler and stapling the top center of the work (on the back). Then pull the aida tightly up from the bottom and staple there too. You should aim to get a nice tight bit of aida, but not distorting your cross stitch. This is, by far, the hardest part of the whole thing. I keep flipping from front to back to make sure its perfectly placed before I staple it. All that effort now will help it look perfect.
Once you have those staples in, repeat this process for all-around your work.
Then comes the corners. For a lot of people, the corners pose a concern, but honestly, they’re easy to deal with. The first bit of advice I’ll give you is, do not follow a guide on how to make corners on canvas. These guides are specifically for creating the canvas you’re mounting to, and require the canvas to be stretched. Your aida won’t like you if you try to stretch it like that.
However, exactly how you want to do it, is up to you. I like Hannah Hand Make’s approach to tuck as much in as you can with your nail, pull the excess around the back, and stick a staple in that sucker.
A few months ago we looked into how cross stitch could be bad for your health and featured a few ways to help you keep healthy while stitching. This went down well, however, there was one area people wanted to know more about; their back.
When sitting and stitching there tends to be two positions people naturally fall into; the ‘lean over your work’, and the ‘slouch’. Neither of which are great for your back. Now, we could just say “watch your posture”, but being frank, that’s annoying and unuseful advice. So we’ve put together the ways you can improve your cross stitch, whilst also helping you avoid back problems!
We start off with chairs, or more specifically the single chair you probably stitch on. For most, you either have something like the above chair (with or without cross stitching) or you sit on the couch. Depending on which of these you use, you can vary in issues and solutions.
Desk chairs or dining chairs are naturally hard backed. This allows you to sit upright, where your back is helped to be straight, but many of us lean forward to counteract it. This has its own problems, which is why we suggest getting back support. This somewhat uncomfortable item (at the start at least) forces your back into the correct curve. Most chairs aren’t rated for long periods of sitting (in fact, most are only rated for 2 hours or less), but back support will increase the time you can sit without having issues.
For you couch sitters, be wary. A couch is comfortable as it allows you to slump, this isn’t a position your body wants to sit in, and if you add leaning over cross stitch into the mix, it only gets worse. You should consider moving to a more upright chair, such as a desk chair or dining chair, however, if you don’t want to, it might be worth investing in a lumbar pillow. These pillows sit behind you and offer your back support to stop you from slumping, easing the pressure on the spinal cord. Some people choose to just put a pillow behind them, but spending £20 on a proper lumbar pillow will save you a lot of pain here; literally.
Next we talk about a tool you use all the time; frames (or hoops). We’ve spoken about the best cross stitch frames before, however personal preference is only one thing to talk about. Depending on what type, and size, of frame you use, you can drastically change the curve of your back. The larger the frame the more this is a problem (Sorry to all of those people tackling epic cross stitch projects).
Think about using an appropriate sized frame for your sitting position. This may mean using a smaller frame, or hoop, or it could mean purchasing a standing frame or sitting frame to keep you working with the right form.
Something not that many people think about, but the needle you use can help.
Specifically, double needles. These needles require you to use a standing or chair frame for your work as you’ll be using both hands to stitch with, but the form you need to take to use the needle is actually a perfect back position.
Some people don’t like double needles, and we do suggest finding the best cross stitch needles for you, but a double-ended needle can also help you cross stitch faster.
Take A Break and Stretch
Finally, let’s talk about taking a break. It doesn’t have to be a long break either! Go make a brew every half an hour, or sort the washing. So long as you regularly change positions and give your back a quick rest, you’ll find you have fewer problems. It might even help to stretch out your back and arms every so often just to keep the blood flowing!
We hope one or more of these helps you keep stitching for a long time yet, and hopefully stops you from having back issues!
Title: Okumiya Omamori Cross Stitch
Date Completed: September 2020
Design: Lord Libidan
Pop Culture: Japan
In Japan, religion is everywhere. It may not have as many followers as it used to, but Shinto and Buddhist shrines dot the country at a shocking intensity. At each shrine, you can purchase small objects, known as omamori, that give good luck. In most cases, these are small fabric pouches with wooden talismans inside. However, in recent times, these omamori have become a little more interesting. From small metal keychains to wooden pencils, to modeling clay foxes, giving not only luck but specific help, with love technology and beyond. But a new trend has started, one of small enamel pins.
I’ve seen a few of these pins in peoples cross stitch kits, converted to really interesting needle minders (I really need a frogging one). However, another trend in Japan is also crazy and interesting manhole covers.
This might seem a little strange, however, Japan has always had a strong relationship with illustration. I decided to combine these two for my recent pattern in the next issue of the Xstitch Magazine.
Combining a view of Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms, and a torii gate, I’ve created a small omamori good luck charm for “courage”.
We’ve always tried to stay away from blogs on cross stitch tips here on Lord Libidan. If you want those kinds of things, there are post all over the internet with the same basic tips repeated. But that’s the thing; they’re basic tips. What about the tips that it takes a decade to learn?
Today we’re looking into the tips and tricks we’ve seen online and in-person, hundreds of times, but ones we only actually took stock of after a decade of cross stitching.
We start with something I actively avoided in the past. Gridding just looked like a load of effort, that I frankly, couldn’t be bothered with; I wanted to get into the cross stitching. However, miscounts happen, there is no way to avoid that. So for a while, I used cross stitch counting pins, which work, and I still use them for smaller projects, but there is nothing quite like having to frog out a whole section as you counted wrong 6 hours of stitching ago.
This is where gridding comes in. I had always thought gridding was a painful experience but with loads of different cross stitch gridding techniques its actually a breeze. It doesn’t take that long, and I can confirm that I have NEVER had to frog on projects I’ve gridded. Lifesaver.
No one likes bobbin winders; no one. But with a lot of people choosing to store their cross stitch threads on bobbins, you have to know how to put cross stitch threads on a bobbin. This is where the drill technique comes in. You can actually use a sewing machine in the same way, we’re aware many cross stitchers also sew so you might have one of those too. This trick will save you hours and hours of effort and wrist ache – trust us!
Taking Care Of Your Stash
Next up we have storage. We’re mentioned in the past (more than a few times), that its important to properly store cross stitch threads and we’re firm belivers in this. You might choose to put your threads on bobbins, in bags, put them on show or whatever, but there is no reason to not take care of them. Threads really get effected by the sun, so much that we’re suggest not buying second hand threads, and there is good evidence to suggest the DMC dye lot issues people talk about are just due to poor storage. Its that important.
Let me tell you; there is nothing quite like finding the perfect pair of scissors. A tool that most of us don’t really think about, but a tool that we all use, all the time, is the humble scissors. I’m sure most of us started out using a random pair of semi-blunt scissors we found around the house and maybe upgraded to a fairly cheap pair of sewing scissors along the way. But if I were to ask you “do you love your scissors?” and the answer was no, then you need a new pair.
We spend ages with our scissors, from snipping threads to (annoyingly) frogging, our scissors journey with us through project after project. So why shouldn’t they be perfect?
I’ve written in the past about finding the perfect pair of cross stitch scissors in the past, and since then, I’ve still managed to find better and better scissors for me, like the amazing finger snip travel scissors. However, a great pair of scissors for me isn’t a great one for you. My trusted friend MrXStitch uses a rather stylish pair of scissors that I just cannot abide; but for him, they work. You deserve to find a pair for you.
I would actually go one step further here too. I love my thread scissors, but I also love my aida scissors. Yes, I have multiple pairs for different things. My aida scissors are big fabric cutting scissors with a diamond coating so they never get blunt (extreme overkill, I know), but they work for aida perfectly. But they would suck for cutting threads.
I have a railroading tool, or to give it the correct name, a laying tool, in my cross stitch kit. And I use it all the time. But I don’t railroad my cross stitches. Perplexing, right?
Whilst a laying tool can be used to railroad, it can also be used for a whole bunch of other uses that make it one of the most underrated cross stitch tools out there. Considering they can be picked up from a dollar (but be warned they can also be really expensive depending on the type) I think they’re worth picking up, even if you don’t railroad. So, let’s go through their various uses.
Well, it was obvious we were going to start with railroading, wasn’t it? Laying tools are used to help place stitches nicely, and while this is mostly used in other embroidery stitches, you can use it to lay cross stitches perfectly. This has a whole bunch of advantages, but many people ask if they should bother railroading at all. Whilst that’s a discussion for a different time, the laying tool can still be used for it if you’re so inclined.
Not sure how to use a laying tool? Check out the video below:
The second advantage a laying tool brings is somewhat similar to the first. Metallic threads and glow in the dark threads are a pain to use, and whilst there are ways to make using metallic threads easier and tips for using glow-in-the-dark threads neither are as easy as simple cotton. By using the laying tool in exactly the same way as you would if railroading, you’ll have a much more pleasant experience and better final product. I should say though that you will probably struggle to railroad the threads, even if you do the same technique, specialty threads are just a pain like that.
The third use is another “official” use; blending threads. In the image below you’ll see someone combining two threads to blend them, however, if you look at the stitching, it looks a bit…blotchy. Now, that could be the style they were going for, however if you use blending thread to make a color DMC haven’t got yet, or trying a dithering technique then this just won’t do. This is where the laying tool comes in.
You will be railroading here, but you don’t need to railroad your whole project, just the blended threads. Trust me, if you’ve ever blended, its worth it.
This is the actual reason I use my laying tool, and why I wrote this post. Knots suck, but they do happen, even if you’re doing everything you can to avoid them.
Most knots can just be pulled out, but this has two issues. The first is how you pull the thread. By pulling the knot out, you pull on the aida and thread, making the whole you just stitched through larger, and sometimes even warping the fabric. By using the laying tool with one hand you can pull the knot with the other (or visa versa) and be sure not to cause undue tension on the fabric or thread.
The second issue is fingers, or more specifically the oil on your fingers. We tend not to touch our cross stitches, only the needle, and while washing your hands is (hopefully) a major part of your stitching process, the needle only transfers a little bit of oil. However, if you get your hands right in there and touch threads and knots, expect oil transfer. The laying tool takes over the job of your fingers and avoids the nasty oil getting on your work.
Poking and Prodding
Sometimes threads just need a poke. It’s as simple as that. Maybe it doesn’t want to go in the hole? Poke the fabric to make the hole bigger. Maybe it just isn’t sitting right? Push it over. Whilst you can do both of these things with your cross stitch needle, needles are meant to go through things. A laying tool isn’t. That’s why its the perfect tool to push something around and make sure your stitching looks neat and tidy.
The question of how to use DMC’s metallic threads often raises its head. They aren’t as nice to use as the normal cotton range, but they give your project a little something more. No wonder cross stitchers look for a way to cheat the system, or at the very least, try to avoid all the pain and heartache.
But there is a better solution. A solution that has actually been around since 2013 when the sub-brand launched; DMC Diamant threads.
Unlike their metallic 6 ply cousins, the Diamant range is a viscose sheet wrapped with a metallic polyester coating and then covered in a thin layer of silicone. The advantage of this production method is that the thread at the end is smooth and supple. I’m going to repeat that in words a little nicer to hear; they aren’t like scratchy hard to use metallic threads.
Sadly, for a long time, these Japanese made threads were only really sold in Europe, but lately we’ve been seeing more and more of them in the US and Australia. And we propose, they’re better than any DMC metallic you can find.
The real benefit of Diamant threads is that they are a smooth thread. They act much more like a standard cotton thread (although slightly stiffer), and therefore, don’t have the same issues that normal metallics or light effects do.
Metallics tend to behave a bit like a wire with thorns all over it, whereas Diamant acts more like a thread that’s been starched too much. You can use smaller needles, it doesn’t catch on the needle or fabric, it glides through the fabric much easier, and it’s by far a nicer stitching experience.
Whilst I’m making out the Diamant threads to be amazing, there are two negatives to speak about.
The first is a simple size or gauge issue. Diamant thread is larger than the standard embroidery floss of DMC. This changes how you use the thread rather drastically, and we’ll cover that later, but just know that Diamant isn’t like standard
thread. But then again, DMC metallics aren’t really either.
The second big issue is the color selection. When Diamant first came out, it only had 4 colors, and whilst these have expanded into 14, there still isn’t a great deal of choice. Most are various shades of metal, which are nice, but limited in their use, with a black and white, red and green to round off the set. This doesn’t stop them offering a Diamant color card though. To me, the metallic range is much deeper in choice. I think this might change as more and more people use Diamant threads, but for now, its a little unloved.
How To Use Them
As I’ve already stated above, there is a different way to use Diamant threads. But before we say how, we need to talk about the two types of Diamant thread. Diamant, and Diamant Grande.
I want to be super clear here; you want to use Diamant thread; NOT Diamant Grande. In essence, the difference is that Diamant Grande is twice the thickness of Diamant thread. For cross stitch, it’s just not suitable.
So, with that out the way, let’s talk about how to use it. So Diamant thread is slightly thicker than a standard floss of thread. In fact, it’s twice the size. This means that when you normally stitch with 2 threads of floss, you will only use one thread of Diamant. Thankfully, Diamant flattens more than normal threads,
It would be remiss of me, in a post all about metallics, to not speak about alternatives. And whilst the metallic thread world at first seems narrow, there are some good alternatives that don’t get as much focus as they should.
We start with the standard for most cross stitchers when choosing metallics, with DMC’s range. We’ve compared the Diamant threads to these in the post above, but they aren’t all bad. Sure, they can be hard to use, they knot, twist weirdly, break needles, pull and cut fabric and feel rough in the hand. But they come in colors.
The biggest negative about Diamant threads is the lack of colors. I think as time goes on DMC might change the range to include more depth, but right now, it doesn’t have any. Therefore, if you want a colored metallic, DMC metallics are a good starting place. But maybe not the best option.
The DMC Golden Skein
Another option, all be it extremely unlikely, is the limited edition DMC golden skein. I used this thread on my Golden Zelda Cartridge cross stitch and I can tell you that it’s great to use. Sure, it costs an absolute bomb, its limited edition, and it looks the same as any other gold thread, but we like to cover our bases.
However, the best option in my mind, by far, is Kreinik threads. This isn’t to say I’m a Kreinik fanboy or anything, in fact, I actually own more DMC metallics than I do Kreinik threads. The reason I’m saying Kreinik is better is down to their options, which you can see on our Kreinik color chart. Kreinik deals exclusively in specialty threads. This means that they not only produce a great product itself, but they understand the differences each project can bring. This means they offer different thicknesses of almost all of their threads, meaning you can do a straight swap, blend or even blend different metallics together. I’ve used a whole bunch before, and I can you from my Skyrim ruined lexicon cross stitch that a subtle addition can really make a big difference.
If you’re looking for a Diamant alternative from Kreinik, the best I could see was either Kreinik Metallics #4 Very Fine Braid or Japan threads #5.
Have you tried Diamant threads? What do you think?
You’ve just finished your last project, it been nicely washed and ironed, and maybe even framed. So with an eager smile on your face, you pull out your next pattern, itching to get your needle into a new project. That ladies and gentlemen is when the fun police step in. “Stop what you’re doing, you need to prepare first!”
Thing is, they kind of have a point. No one wants to go through a checklist of boring tasks before getting into cross stitching, but those tasks are there for a reason. With a bit of quick planning (and we mean quick) you can avoid a whole host of problems in your next project. Today, we go over 6 steps that’ll help you get right into stitching.
Plan Your Project
This one seems a bit obvious, doesn’t it? Well, it is, but there are a few things people often forget about that are important to consider.
First up we’d ask the question, where should you start your cross stitch? Almost every pattern you get has a center point, and most people start there. Nothing wrong with that. But is it the best for your project? In our epic Pokemon cross stitch patterns we see people cutting up the massive project into quarters, meaning they instead start in a corner. Or maybe you’re unsure if you’ll have enough fabric, so you start on one edge. It’s really up to you, but just because people tend to start in the center, doesn’t mean you always should. After all, no one wants to discover 90% of the way through their project that they’re not going to have enough fabric to finish.
Secondly, we want to ask another often ignored question: which direction should cross stitches lie? This seems a little random at first, so let me explain. Most people learn cross stitch in a specific way, meaning the top stitch of your cross goes from bottom left to top right. But your eye naturally follows this. This means that if you have a point of interest in your top left or bottom right, people aren’t looking at it. It might be worth changing the direction to get a better finish.
Buy Your Cross Stitch Materials
Next up, you need to buy your stuff. For most of us, you’ll have a bunch of fabric, threads, needles, and frames around you, so this is likely to be a small step, but it’s actually one of the most important.
If you use a lot of one color, specifically, more than one skein, in your project, have you thought about thread dye lot issues? It’s worth investing in all the colors you need before you start your project to ensure you’ve got the same tones throughout. We’d actually go one step further and suggest you buy cross stitch supplies online as there is a lower likelihood for dye lot issues (thanks to the way they store cross stitch threads).
Cut and Secure the Edges of Your Fabric
Next we suggest fixing the edges of your fabric. For those that stitch on evenweave or cross stitch fabrics other than aida this is even more important as your fabric has a tendancy to fray. You can stop cross stitch fabric fraying in loads of ways like hand sewing, stitching, gluing or using specific products however a quick wiz of a sewing machine will keep your cross stitch living a lot longer.
Wash Your Fabric
I’m firmly in the camp of those who think you need to wash your cross stitch however I’m actually going to suggest you wash it before you start too. There are two reasons for this. The first is simply a case of age. If you buy some fabric, how was it stored in the shop? How old is it? How dusty is it? By washing it before you start you avoid trapping any dust under your stitches that is really hard to get rid of once completed.
Secondly, your fabric can bleed. If you’re using dark fabric or even black aida bleeding is more likely. You can avoid the chances of this happening by buying a better brand of cross stitch aida, but its never guaranteed. Better safe than sorry.
Grid Your Fabric
I’m not actually telling you to grid your cross stitch. But I do want you to ask yourself if you should. Small projects don’t need gridding, but the larger and larger you get, the more and more miscounting can be a serious problem. Gridding is one, really good, way of avoiding that.
There are lots of ways to grid your cross stitch, some of which are super quick, so its really not as bad of a job as it at first seems.
Wash Your Hands
Finally, we end with a simple one; wash your hands. Oils from your hands RUIN cross stitch. Wash them before you start, every time, and you’ll stitch yourself an heirloom.
Last week we went over the best places to get free cross stitch patterns and we had a great response, but a lot of people were left asking “what about alphabets?
In a world where cross stitch generators are getting easier and easier to use, people are more often turning to making their own patterns. This, coupled with the rise of snarky stitching and phrase-based patterns often leads to people wanting to make text-based patterns. But unless you’re a secret font designer, people are left looking for alphabets and fonts they can use. So today, we round up where to get the best cross stitch alphabets for free, and paid.
Lord Libidan – Free
Yes, that’s right, we offer free cross stitch alphabets! In fact, 53 of them, in a range of sizes and styles to hopefully help you make an awesome pattern! But this post isn’t about what we offer, but about others, so let’s move on to other resources!
Online Generators – Free/Paid
The first place I would personally look are online cross stitch font generators. These awesome little tools allow you to search their font libraries, select a font, and type your words. They do all the work of making the pattern. They all have free and paid options, but if you intend to make loads of patterns, getting a subscription is a great idea.
There are two big ones out there to check out:
CrosStitch.com – Free & Paid
By far the largest is CrossStitch.com’s caption generator, with over 90 patterns and regular updates to add more. Only 6 are free, but at $12 for a year’s access, they’re a great resource.
StitchPoint.com – Free
Another option is StitchPoint.com’s offering, which is just as good but free. The downside is they only offer 7 patterns, so you’re a lot more limited.
Pinterest – Free
But what about something free I hear you say! Well, that’s where Pinterest comes in. Over the last few decades many cross stitch blogs, forums and designers have offered free cross stitch alphabets. These tend to disappear when the blogs/websites stop updating, but thanks to Pinterest, they’re all recorded to everyone to use. You can find specific boards purely saving cross stitch alphabets, or just go searching to find thousands of them for free.
Etsy – Paid
Sadly, whilst Pinterest does have a wealth of free patterns, sometimes they aren’t great quality patterns. This is where websites such as Etsy come in. Many people have lambasted Etsy in the past for its cross stitch copyright infringement, however, when it comes to cross stitch alphabets you’re free of copyright issues (by and large).
Thankfully the world’s cross stitch designers have put together cross stitch fonts on Etsy for you to browse and purchase. A quick search comes up with over 6000 different listings. What makes this even better is that most offer a pack of fonts for less than a few dollars, meaning you can stock up on as many fonts as you want for a low price.
Cross Stitch Generators – Paid
One of the most popular posts on this blog is our review of the best cross stitch software. Its also one of the main reasons we started writing this specific post, but many of the paid cross stitch generators offer free cross stitch fonts from within their apps. You do have to buy them in the first place to get access, but many cross stitchers have these already. You have to dig into the options to find them sometimes, but they all have them.
Our personal favorite is MacStitch and WinStitch’s font converter. It takes any font on your computer and converts it in real-time into a cross stitch pattern. This means you can find any font online you like the look of and it’ll do all the rest. Sometimes tiny fixes are needed, but for the most part, it’s fantastic. The whole cross stitch software is only $35, but the font converter is worth more than that in our eyes.
Wanting to get your hands on a cross stitch pattern for a low cost, or even free is something we all feel. However, getting your hands on both a quality cross stitch pattern, but also a cross stitch pattern that isn’t copyrighted can be very hard when your budget is low. But that doesn’t mean its impossible. So today, we round up the best places to get free cross stitch patterns, and the places you should avoid.
Places To Get Free Patterns:
Finding free patterns really isn’t that hard on the internet, but finding quality free patterns is a different ball game. We reached out to our social media followers for their suggestions and we checked out the quality of the patterns ourselves to make sure they’re the best of the best.
Unlike many other suggestions on this list, we’re being very specific in the place to go here. DMC threads launched a section on their website about 2 years ago now with over 1000 free patterns. They’re a combination of DMC made patterns, designer collaborations, and paid patterns that they are now making available for free. They’re constantly adding more, and they range from small motifs to large cross stitch patterns.
Slightly less specific is our suggestion to go to your favorite designers’ own websites. Whilst you can pick up a branded pattern from a whole host of retailers, designers often give out free patterns on their own websites. The reason for this is that they’re either too small for a chargeable pattern, or they just want to get people onto their website. We could list a whole raft of designers that choose to offer free patterns, but award-winning designers such as Caterpillar Cross Stitch and Tiny Modernist are on the list.
You do need to have a favorite designer for this to work, but if you don’t right now, you can search any of the retailers out there for patterns you like and look up the designer (they should always be listed).
Just because designers offer free patterns on their own websites, that doesn’t mean online stores don’t have free patterns as well though. Major retailers such as Heaven & Earth Designs have free patterns on their site. These patterns are to the same standard as their other patterns, but they have an agreement with the designer to offer them for free.
We should note though, that you need to make sure they’re a quality retailer.
Places To Avoid:
Sadly, for every great place to get free patterns, you can also find ten that are not so great.
The first on our list is Etsy. Whilst we’ve spoken about Etsy in the past and how its a force for good in cross stitch that doesn’t mean its perfect. More often than not Etsy features copyrighted patterns for sale. However, a recent trend is charging a few cents for up to 20-30 patterns, effectively making them ‘almost’ free. These pattern packs are always filled with copyrighted patterns, so stay clear!
Another site with cross stitch pattern copyright issues is Pinterest. Whilst the site does offer many free patterns that are fine to use, it contains lots and lots of patterns that are direct copies of designers works, or in breach of copyright. However, we would say that you can find some great free cross stitch alphabets on the site!
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.
One of the most under-rated cross stitch tools out there, many people are unsure if aida gauges are worth getting and so don’t buy one themselves. However as something that now lives on my desk, being used at least once a week, I’m a total convert! And at under $5 you can’t go wrong!
Every cross stitcher has had the hell that is frogging invade their life. Not only do you feel a goof for counting incorrectly, but taking the stitches out is painful. That is, until now. We found out about surgical scissors a while ago and they make frogging easy. Trust us on this, get yourself a pair as you’re bound to need them in the future.
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!
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 moisturizer that makes cross stitching MUCH easier. A great gift this season might be the last of the stock available (if you can find it) or one of these ThreadHeaven alternatives.
Cross stitch takes time, and a great place to stitch is on planes and trains, however, with security being tightened all over, ThreadCutterz has come to the rescue with a plane safe alternative to scissors.
They can only currently be brought from ThreadCutterz themselves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most us of buy thread in skeins, and whilst this is great for 90% of our needs, colors like black and white are constantly on our “to buy” list. But with a DMC cone, you can buy DMC thread like a pro. These cones come in 500g weights and are equal to about 257. If you do the math, thats only 27c a skein, which is a lot cheaper than anywhere in the world. Trust me, we know how much DMC skeins cost across the world.
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 WinStitch/MacStitch or PCstitch for $35-50. Or you can check out our cross stitch pattern generator comparison page.
A tracing pad might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of cross stitch, but there are two great reasons to get one. Firstly, any addition light will help you keep your eyesight while cross stitching, but secondly, and most importantly, it cross stitch on black aida by lighting under your work. You can keep it on your lap or table depending on how you stitch, and they don’t get hot!
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.
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 realize 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.