#51 Blogging 0 – Wedding planning 1

I’m a firm believer in if you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all, which might explain why I’ve been missing from the sewing scene of late. Sorry!

Well, that, and I’ve been planning a wedding.

This point leads me nicely onto the title and content of this particular blog.

Call me crazy, but from the moment I shared #47 Pop, I’ve been certain about of one detail about our wedding: It would involve as much sewing as my fingers and imagination would allow.

Let’s be honest, it’s the little things that make the day a truly unique and personal experience, and what would it be without a little needle and thread magic? So – I thought I’d give you all a sneak peak as to what I’ve been up to so far.

Guest table place cards:

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I’ve set myself the rather ambitious task of sewing everyone of our guests’ name cards that will be placed on the table for the meal.

70 names.

Yes, you read correctly, 70.

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Easy, right? Not really when you’re have no pattern to follow and you’re essentially making them up as you go along.

Top tips – start them early, do little and often and ENJOY IT!

I’ve had a blast choosing the different skeins to go for and had a blast researching calligraphy to turn into a pattern that fits in with the rest of my our day.

If that wasn’t enough, I’m also designing and sewing our full seating plan for the wedding breakfast and I’ll be honest, I can’t wait to start it.

The idea of having a one-of-a-kind seating plan, handmade, framed and hung on my wall for the rest of our days together is pretty special and keeps me inspired when the fingers are hurting and I can’t quite get the ‘d’ just how I want it in ‘bride’…

I guess if that’s the only hiccup I experience during the wedding planning process, I’ll be one happy briDe! (Get it?)

Watch this space…

J x

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#49 All sold out, now taking (peculiar) orders!

In just three days I sold all my Christmas cards, making £100 for Cancer Research UK.

Colleagues, family and friends have all been incredibly supportive and generous in buying my cards, so much so, I think I may make it an annual event.

It seems I didn’t make enough (as Mr XStitch is taking perfect delight in telling me), as I’ve taken orders for five more of the Scotty Dogs, which I’ve spent most of my Saturday doing.

I also received an unusual request / order from a colleague.

I’ll be very impressed if you can guess what it is…

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I’ll give you a clue, it’s not a Christmas Tree!

Have a happy weekend!

J x

#15 My Everest: A cross stitch tale, part 1

I love a challenge. Speak with any cross stitcher, and I’m sure they’ll tell you the same thing.

At the moment I’m attempting what can only be described as my Everest – an afghan, even weave, Tiny Tatty cross-stitched baby blanket for Mr XStitch’s best friend. Oh, and did I mention I’m on a tight time limit too?

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In theory this project is no more or less challenging than the ones I’ve completed in the past: the designs are simple enough, the characters are enjoyable to watch come to life and I love the colours and skeins I’m working with. BUT… I still have my reservations:

  1. Firstly, you can see the back – this is the first project I’ve completed where you can actually see the back of the canvas and there’s no getting around that. On the one hand, it has made me think really hard about each and every stitch I sew and I’d say it’s as neat as can possibly be, (judge for yourselves) but on the other, I don’t like how exposed the work is – call my crazy, but it’s like I’m baring my sewer’s soul!
  2. Secondly, this is my first experience using even weave fabric and I’m still wondering – despite my lengthy research – whether I can use a hoop to hold the material taut and, should it make a mark that will require ironing out, can I iron it? At present, I’m loosely holding the fabric in a large hoop and hoping for the best. Any advice would be welcome on this.
  3. Finally: tassel-making. The last stage in creating little baby’s blanket is pulling the ends of the material to make tassels. The instructions make perfect sense, and I’m sure it’ll go fine, I’m just a little nervous that I fall at the final hurdle and ruin the piece at the very end.

All the above means I’m afraid I’ve been lacking the enthusiasm I usually have at the start of a project. Christmas projects have been a welcome distraction of late.

But, time’s running out and soon the bun will be cooked and ready to leave the oven and of course, she’ll need her blanket when she arrives in the height of a good ol’ English winter, won’t she?

So, here it is, so far…

Front

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And back

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My thinking behind this step-by-step series is that it will help me conquer my Everest. Hopefully, you’ll all enjoy the views along the way.

J x

#11 Waste not want not – creating a winter wonderland

So, the second of my Christmas cards is complete. And this one is a little bit special…

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I have, for the first time attempted to use my own skeins rather than use those supplied in a kit as I usually do. The pattern is one taken from a little book of 20 mini cross stitch designs by Michael Powell, which I have to say are pretty cool – simple yet colourful.

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Rather than use the DMC skeins as advised in the book, I’m using ones I was given for Christmas last year. So, my task was made more tricky in that I didn’t have a colour chart to refer to. Instead, I looked at my bounty of colours and attempted to work out which shades best reflected the design.

I’m really pleased with the result, especially the dual-coloured stitches, which required a lot of forward planning. My advice if you’re working on a similar project is to work out your darkest and lightest shades of skein before attempting any cross stitch – that way you’re better equipped to shade and know your colour limitations.

I also enjoimagey the fact that this cross stitch can be different each and every time – different coloured baubles, a quirky coloured star, even a border or two – nobody will ever know the difference!

As you’ll see, the card is finished off with a little ribbon and a seasonal Christmas fairy. I contemplated adding more, but I’d hate to detract from the centrepiece.

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The cat even seems to like it too…

J x

#10 It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…(sort of)

I’m not usually one for Christmas festivities, but this year I’ve been well-and-truly bitten by the bug.

I think it’s down, in the main, to this wonderful blogging community I’m now part of as I’m surrounded by such beautiful Christmas (and non-Christmas) creations on a daily basis. I’m getting so excited to see all the cross-stitched advent calendars and stockings and don’t even get me started on a crocheted Christmas tree I read about today.

So, with an abundance of albeit slightly premature festive cheer, I thought I’d share my first homemade Christmas card of the year. This little guy is heading off to my 80-year-old Granddad’s house, where I’m sure he’ll be given a good home.


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I’ve gone one step further than buying just little kits this year and decided to make my own cards. I settled on reds, tartan and traditional embellishments.

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I ponder now, as I usually do with my finished pieces, should I have perhaps done something different: in this case I mean sew a Christmas greeting below Ted?

Well, that’s one card down…several to go. I’ll be sure to share once complete.

For now, what do you think of the little chap?

Happy C….ross stitching (nearly had you!)

J x

#3 Graduation ‘Me to You’ Bear

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Cross stitch details

Name: Graduation ‘Me to You’ Bear
By: Anchor, ‘Me to You’
About: 16 count Aida, 8cm x 11cm
Time to complete: 4 days (completed June 2014)
Enjoyment (out of 10): 9/10
Difficulty (out of 10): 6/10

There’s something about a ‘Tatty Teddy’.

I’ve loved them since I can remember. So when my sister graduated from University this summer, I knew this was the keep-sake cross stitch I wanted to give her.

Don’t be fooled by the size of this cross stitch kit – there were some elements that were harder than they look..

The bear itself, what felt like 50 shades of grey, took some getting used to as I found myself questioning the pattern given the skeins were almost all the same colour. It sounds such simple advice, but you can’t check your colour charts enough times when working on a project with a single colour pallet.

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The other aspect to this cross stitch was a little tricky to navigate was the outline of the bear (see above). The back stitch was no trouble, but the little strands of fur coming off the bear to make it ‘tatty’, were impossible to get completely accurate. Nevertheless, I had a good go and made sure that the prominent, longer strands, particularly on his head, were correct. I filled in the gaps for the smaller strands as I felt looked best.

As per my last post, I’m pleased to say that the pattern took the complexity of the outline into account and had a separate pattern for back stitches and embellishments.

My favourite aspects to this cross stitch are easily his little eyes and feet. The french knots (wrapped 4 times around the needle) really do give the bear added personality, while his big fluffy feet look so realistic.

Not a bad result for 4 days work…

J x

#2 Relaxing in a Tree

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Cross stitch details

Name: Relaxing in a Tree
By: DMC
About: 14 count Aida, 39cm x 38cm
Time to complete: 10 months (completed Nov 2013)
Enjoyment (out of 10): 8/10
Difficulty (out of 10): 7/10

If you’re anything like me, there are some cross stitch kits that – as soon as you see them – you have to complete them.

This was the case for me for the piece you see above.

I actually have a Bengal cat, who’s the double of this beauty, so you see – I just had to make it for her.

I’ll admit that when I purchased this particular DMC kit, I was somewhat rusty at cross stitching having moved onto knitting for a few years. Flicking through the 6-page pattern booklet, I was convinced I’d bitten off more than I could chew.

When I opened the ‘moderate difficulty’ packaging last February, I was met with approximately 40 shades of similar shaded cotton, a good quality canvas, 2 needles and a short novel of instructions.

While I must say I’m pleased with how the finished piece turned out, there are some aspects to the cross stitch that I didn’t particularly enjoy or I’d do again differently, now I’m more experienced.

I’ve jotted a couple of them below:

As I mentioned, this was my first decent-sized cross stitch project in a couple of years and, I’ll admit, I made a few errors (hopefully none noticeable enough to ruin the piece, but I know they’re there nevertheless) however, these errors weren’t bad enough that I should run out of a couple of colours. This was the case for the mid-brown shade used for the branches, which meant I had to improvise with the pattern somewhat.

I also found the pattern to be quite confusing to follow – a multi-coloured pattern and a free-for-all of cross stitch and back stitch on the one page – I prefer a black and white pattern with a separate page to include the back stitch, French knots and embellishments. Ultimately, this makes for a neater, more-efficient completed cross stitch as you can clearly see each symbol and nothing can be misinterpreted from a stray back stitch line.

You’ll see that the back stitch on this piece is a combination of colours and so plays a fundamental role in shaping the outline and bark of the tree. A separate pattern would have really helped even the most seasoned of cross stitcher to better navigate this element of the piece.

Finally, I’m a fan of a neat back-of-canvas; it shows your technical accuracy, patience and saves your cotton. Unfortunately, again due to my rustiness, this piece’s backside is not as neat as I would have liked (I can’t bring myself to take a photograph of it) – but since completing it, the backs of my recent pieces have been getting better to the point I’ll share a back of one in an upcoming post.

It may not be technically perfect, but I’m proud of every stitch of this piece. All I need to do now is frame it and put it over one of my cat’s many beds around the house.

On another note, the piece in my inaugural post is now complete – but I’ll be waiting until after Christmas to upload this as I don’t want to ruin the surprise for the recipient.

Look forward to sharing again soon, in the meantime, if anyone can recommend any good cross stitching blogs to follow, I’d much appreciate it.

J x

#1

Work in Progress

Welcome to my blog – a portfolio, if you will – of my completed and work-in-progress cross stitch pieces.

As often as I can, I’ll be sharing photography and reviews of my favourite patterns, threads, techniques, kits and designers. This blog will also feature the technicality behind pieces I’m working on, as well as any challenges I face.

I’ll also share any tips that I think may come in useful for future work.