Things to consider when choosing a cross stitch design
Choosing a cross stitch design is a very important part of the whole sewing process. Each piece whether big or small is an investment in time, materials and patience so starting out with the correct pattern for you will set your stitching off on the right path.
So here are a few questions to ask yourself when next choosing a cross stitch pattern, kit or even designing your own chart. Of course you may already have some ideas about your next project meaning you will have already answered some of these questions so you are already halfway there.
What is your finished piece going to be?
There are many great projects you can make with a finished cross stitch design. For beginners you may want to try something simple like a card or a nice framed piece but those more confident in general sewing may want to try cushions, quilts, biscornu, gift bags and many many more ideas to turn your stitching into a treasured gift, ornament or heirloom.
Having an idea of what your finished cross stitch may be used for at the end of your project will help you choose a design or a kit to work from.
A cushion will allow you to use a larger design than for example a card but a card or a framed piece will allow you to use a range of embellishments, beads and metallic threads that perhaps may not be suitible on a quilt or a cushion due to being a bit scratchy on the skin. This is particularly true for cushions for young children.
Whatever you choose to make you finished item into carefully check the size of the pattern you can have and take extra care to check how much seam allowance you need for sewing your finished piece perhaps a little bigger to make extra room since it is easier to cut away extra than add more.
Who is it for?
Take a moment to consider who the design is for. I know many stitchers who always start a project with someone in mind to receive it. One obvious consideration is to make a pattern they will like either in colour or subject matter. To make the gift even more special consider what they would find useful too, there are many great kits or patterns for turning your cross stitch into a variety of objects such as bookmarks, tea cosies or even clothing patches.
If you are still a beginner you may want to go with a simpler option and frame your stitching at first but as you become more confident with your sewing you can branch out into more and more items.
With a good idea of who the finished stitched item is for you may find that you see a pattern or a kit and know your special friend or family member will just love it.
What is your time limit?
If you are sewing a project for a particular person you may wish to give it to them for a Christmas, birthday, wedding or other special event. This gives you a certain time limit. Be careful to keep in mind how long you need to sew a piece and in fact how much time in each week can you scrape up to sew?
If you are stitching for yourself, friend who understands just how long stitching can take or something else where you can afford to take a little longer this won't be so much of a concern.
What is your skill level?
With this question it is important to be honest with yourself. Ambition can sometimes overwhelm the most patient of people leaving a project you simply have to put down and in some cases never to pick up again. A cross stitch unfinished project can be avoided when you realise that you are not quite ready for a very major project and instead work your way up to it instead. Try increasing difficulty a bit with each project instead of one big leap.
Where are you going to sew?
One wonderful thing about holidays is extra time to relax and very importantly cross stitch. (which in my mind is the same thing). Are you picking a kit or packing some threads for a holiday, if so be careful to consider where you are going to sew.
An idyllic villa or even a relatives house does not pose too many issues however a beach holiday or a camping trip could make sewing difficult. When camping try staying away from designs with beads or embellishments since once tiny beads are lost in the grass they may never be found again.
Additionally are you going to sew on a plane?
When you are stuck on a long flight it will be tempting to get out your latest project and start stitching. Well, at least it is more entertaining than the in-flight movie.
However remember to look up what airlines will allow in hand luggage as you may not be allowed scissors. Additionally a seat on a plane does not normally have a great deal of space around you, a large chart or large piece of fabric may cause discomfort to the person you are sat next to.
Preferably pick a smaller chart on paper since some airlines will request that mobile devices or even laptops and netbooks be turned off during the journey. If the chart you have picked is from a book you may want to photocopy the page (for your own use) so you don't have to take the whole book and save space for more souvenirs.
For more information on what you can take with you in your luggage or hand luggage it is best to contact the airline you are travelling with before you travel. This will save having to leave some of your cross stitching kit behind.
What material are you going to Cross stitch on?
If you are buying a kit you will find that a piece of fabric will come with it. It is best to take note of what fabric you get. Some kits can come on different sized Aida or evenweave to the one you regularly work on.
If you have never used the material supplied in a kit you really want to stitch don't forget you could always obtain a small piece of it to try it out first.
Its not only the difference between Aida and evenweave that can catch stitchers out but differences in count (thats how many holes per inch the fabric has) or even colour. A black piece of Aida can pose difficulties if you have trouble seeing the holes in such a dark fabric.
Try asking a stitching friend if they have a small piece spare also local craft shops sometimes sell small strips off a roll you can use. If you feel comfortable shopping on-line some crafters sell small pieces of scrap aida on Ebay or other places on-line.
I recommend sewing a small design or card which when completed you will know if you are put off from that particular fabric or are ready for the challenge.
Either way this little test can help save frustration and money preventing you from starting a kit on a fabric you find to be fiddily or just too difficult to use and give you the chance pick another kit or swap for another fabric you prefer to sew on and get stitching.
I hope you have found this article useful. Have fun and Happy stitching with all your upcoming projects.
For more crafty musings here are some links:
Using paint for cross stitch design
Cross stitch kit review: Camper vans by Fido Stitch Studio
Things to consider when choosing a cross stitch design
Upcycling worn out Christmas baubles
My Stitching New Years Resolutions
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