Title: Micro Cassette Keychains
Date Completed: June & August 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
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.
Normally I write about how to improve your cross stitch, and how making a simple change can have a massive impact and make your work truly unique. However that advice is only good if you can see the effect it has. As a result I wanted to go over my personal favorite glow-in-the-dark, metallic and french knot cross stitches to show you that sometimes just choosing a different thread can have a MASSIVE impact on your work.
I’ve had a few people ask me about how to use these threads, but fear not you can find out how to make using speciality threads easy in a previous blog I wrote.
The Best Metallic Cross Stitch
I’m a big fan of The Crafting Geek, however this collaboration with Spykles is one of her best. Not content with a great little pixel art Wonder Woman, The Crafting Geek incorporated metallic florrishes throughout the piece, on Wonder Woman’s sword, shield and headband. Small changes that just make it pop.
The Best Glow-In-The-Dark Cross Stitch
Glow in the dark thread is an odd thread. Not only is it a serious pain to use, but its always white. So you need to make sure whatever you’re doing, the color is white in the day. Most people, myself included, take this as a white element, with a hidden message. But StitchFight takes this to a whole new level. A seriously cool Iron Man cross stitch by day suddenly turns extra cool in the night.
The Best French Knot Cross Stitch
I want to be clear here; my french knots are terrible. However, I think my poor attempts make anyone that uses french knots infinitely more impressive. This example by Peakcock & Fig is a fantastic example of how french knots can add something special to a normal cross stitch. The plain black tree trunk is actually quite plain, but a series of pink and white french knots on the top need no explination. All of a sudden a plain cross stitch has been completely changed, and now invokes Japanese cherry tree blossoms.
Title: Mad Max Car
Date Completed: November 2018
Design: Lord Libidan & Petrick Animation
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.
Right now you probably have a quizical look on your face, afterall, you know what plastic canvas looks like, how can there be different types? Well, actually there are three different types, used for three different purposes, and most of the time, people use the wrong one. I stitch a lot of things in plastic canvas, and I’ve sold patterns and kits all over the world, however I regularly get asked about the type of plastic canvas. In reality, there is only one cross stitch plastic canvas.
This isn’t due to stupiditiy or anything, but more a case of cheap fakes. In fact, ever since 1973 when plastic canvas first came to market, people have been ripping it off. You see, plastic canvas is super easy to fake and as a result most stores hold ’14 count cross stitch plastic canvas’ which are actually, not cross stitch plastic canvas. Confused? Let me explain…
Needlepoint Plastic Canvas
The most common type of plastic canvas people see has small squares in it, similar to the above image, and mostly comes in 5, 7 and 10 count. I say mostly, as the most common producer, Darice, ONLY produces those sizes. The reason is that needle point yarn can’t go any lower than 10 or 12 count. But when fake canvas makers come in, they copy this style, and make it 14 count.
In itself, this isn’t massively problematic, however due to the shape of the cut-outs, your cross stitch will have holes in it where the stitches don’t fully meet. Instead, you should be looking for actual cross stitch plastic canvas, which is slightly different.
Cross Stitch Plastic Canvas
Cross stitch plastic canvas has one main difference; circular holes. It emulates aida and looks a lot like perforated card, and comes in loads of stiffnesses. This is the stuff that you should be cross stitching with as it makes sure your cross stitches lie in the correct way, filling the whole space without letting massive areas be uncovered. It also has shaped holes meaning your thread won’t catch, the count is actually 14 count, and unlike any fakes, comes in a variety of colors.
Perforated Plastic Canvas
If you want to get really fancy with your plastic canvas, you can also look into perforated plastic canvas. It works in exactly the same way as perforated card, however the varied types of plastic mean not only can you get a massive variance of stiffness, but you can also get custom shapes made. We’re not just talking about cirles here either, you can get a series of weird and wonderful shapes like purses and wallets.
Plastic Aida Canvas
There is also another type of plastic canvas. I mention this as its essentially aida, and sometimes sold as that, but NEVER use it as plastic canvas. Not only does it look like fabric, but acts like it too. if you want a waterproof aida, you can use it, but it won’t hold a shape and won’t work in any 3D projects.
Title: Half Life Gravity Gun
Date Completed: November 2018
Design: Lord Libidan & Petrick Animation
Video Game: Half Life 2
After finishing my most recent Portal Gun cross stitch I knew I had to do another. I decided that the two most well known guns out there had to be the Portal gun and the Half Life 2 gravity gun.
The Portal gun patter wasn’t solely my own, so for the gravity gun I needed to copy the style and sizing of the Portal gun, so working from prop images I recreated the gravity gun. I also decided to change the background slightly. With the Portal gun, the background was a grey, however as I wanted to stitch it on 18 count I had to use a slightly bluey grey. This didn’t impact the design much as the background for most of the Portal games is grey, and the blue from the light tube worked with the background. However for the gravity gun I thought I would do the same, but on purpose, so I decided to use a slightly orangy ‘stone’ aida instead.
Title: Miniature Traditional Pirate Samplers
Date Completed: May 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
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.
Title: Harry Potter Golden Snitch
Date Completed: November 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Canvas: Ecru & Plastic
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:
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!
In our deep dive into threads, we’ve covered two points, how DMC threads are made and why some DMC threads were discontinued. The reason we’ve covered those two points first, is the answer to this weeks query; what are those dots and marks after thread numbers?
You may have noticed when picking colors, or using them, that there are a variety of dots and marks before and after some cross stitch numbers. These are those marks if you’re unsure what we mean:
Thanks to the new DMC color chart that came out thanks to the 35 new DMC threads, DMC make more of these dots, and if you have a keen eye, you’ll notice the pre-2018 color card has different dots to the post-2018 color card.
So what are they? Basically, they’re changes in formula to avoid using nasty chemicals. In the EU dye usage is highly monitored and as a result they’ve required suppliers of threads to make sure they use only friendly dyes. This has happened in two stages; firstly in 1994 when a lot of greys were changed to fit in with new laws, and again in late 2017 when lots of the reds were affected.
Well that’s interesting, but why do I care?
I’m glad you asked. Dye lots. And its actually quite a problem. You see, they couldn’t just change the color fomulation and keep the colors perfect, and as a result we now need to monitor which version of the threads we’re using; old or new. An example of how different they can be is below on some of the 1994 color changes:
In fact, DMC even carry the warning on their color charts:
Do not mix with the original colours without the dot.
That’s just how serious this problem might be, so from now on, keep your eye out for those dots of colors 304, 321, 498, 815 and 816.
My thanks to DMC and Sidar who supplied information, along with Martha Beth.
Title: Portal 2 Gun
Date Completed: November 2018
Design: Lord Libidan & AngryBetta
Canvas: Pearl Grey
Video Game: Portal & Portal 2
Sometimes, patterns take AGES to make, and for my Star Trek Voyager LCARS cross stitch that was definitely the case. However thanks to a lot of it being backstitch I rocketed through the pattern, meaning I didn’t really have anything to move onto next. This was far from something that happened before, in fact, I’ve written a post on how to get over a creative cross stitch block, and one of my favorite ways; look up portal stuff.
I know that seems weird, but the portal community has a massive breadth of fan art styles, and normally this means I’ve picked up an idea or two, however this time I came across a portal gun cross stitch by AngryBetta on reddit and knew I had to stitch it too. However, I also knew that stitching someone else’s pattern was a departure for me, and thanks to my recent Harry Potter Golden Snitch cross stitch taking a lot of time, I had some time, so I took inspiration from Portal 2 itself and decided to add a GLADOS potato to the arm of the portal gun.
There are also a few small adjustments on the orginal to make it look slightly closer the the real Portal gun.
Our selling cross stitch patterns on Etsy series has gone over many of the key elements of HOW to sell, but I get one question far more than any other:
How much can I make?
Sadly, there isn’t a hard and fast rule for this, however over the last 2 years I’ve been compiling data to give you an idea on how much you can make.
The answer isn’t as obvious as you think either. Thanks to Etsy’s rating system, which replies on SEO, store ranking, title, and most importantly ‘freshness’ stores can have really varied success. As a result I set up a three new stores; all selling the same patterns, with the same descriptions, costs, names, and we gave the stores zero marketing. I used a series of $5 patterns (giving $3.80 profit per sale).
Store 1 – Set it and leave it
For our first store we created a batch of 10 patterns and put them up to sell. On average we sold 4 of each pattern across the whole year. This means we got $152 in profit.
For most stores starting out, this is exactly what happens. The initial idea of pattern creation seems OK but after the first ten, people give up and wait to ‘see what happens’. Sadly, due to the low return, most people give up at this point.
Store 2 – Set it and add a pattern a month
Much like the first store, we put up 10 initial cross stitch patterns, but we then added an additional pattern every month for the remaining 11 months of the year. This extra work (12 hours at our count) not only gained us a further $152 from the new patterns, but thanks to Etsy’s freshness rating increase each patterns sales to an average of 8 each. This means that our end of year total was $669 in profit.
Considering that it was only 12 hours work, the additional patterns basically allowed us to increase our profit by 440%. TOTALLY worth it.
Store 3 – Set it and add a pattern a week
But does this increase in work always pay off? For our third store we added an extra pattern every week. 52 extra patterns was actually rather time consuming, and the constant pressure was always on us. However, the increase in ‘freshness’ rating paid off to some extent. We increased our pattern sales average to 12 of each pattern. This means that we made a shocking $2827 in profit.
Store 4 – Set it and add a pattern every day
And we took it one step further. To top this whole experiment off, we added 2 patterns a week. Yes. We really tried this. We couldn’t keep it going however, and gave up after the 6 month point. However the results were clear. We made no additional sales per pattern within the year. In fact, the mass of patterns actually had the opposite effect; we sold LESS of each pattern.
We’re not sure if this was down to a posisbly decreased quality of patterns, however we think that the extra work just wasn’t worth it.
So what does this mean? Well as far as we can tell, uploading a new pattern every 1 month or 2 weeks is the best bet. It’ll get you the biggest return on your time, and increase sales all over. However, you really need to think about the timings here. We did a few shorter tests to see if you could add a block of 12 patterns at the start of the year went and its clear that you need to post regularly through the year to keep up your freshness rating.
What about patterns that cost more than $5?
Yeh, we expected you to ask that. In fact, we did some research into exactly that. It appears that up to a point ($18 per pattern, as far as we can see) the decrease in purchases is equal to the increase in price. What that means if you’ll still make the same amount of profit, just on less pattern sales.
We’d like to thank the pattern creators that allowed us to test with their patterns. All profits were given back to the original pattern creators; Lord Libidan took none of the profits.
If you’re struggling to hit these figures, it might be worth checking out our guide on why your cross stitch patterns aren’t selling.