Stitchcraft Articles


  1. Transferring designs to fabric for surface embroidery
  2. Seasonal Blooms by Brittercup Designs
  3. Witching Hour Ornament by the Prairie Schooler
  4. Milkweed Butterfly and Flower
  5. Embroidered Table Covers
  6. Rico Design Hooded Baby Towels
  7. Easter Rabbit by Eva Rosenstand
  8. Iphone 5 Phone Covers by Anchor.
  9. Flexihoops
  10. Review of Little Owl, blackwork kit by Classic Embroidery
Earlier Stitchcraft Articles

Transferring designs to fabric for surface embroidery

We were recently asked how to transfer your own design onto fabric to embroider.

There are various methods:-

Iron-on Transfer Printer Paper is available for A4 printers at larger stationary stores. This is useful if you have your design as an image on your computer. You can easily 'flip' your image before printing to make it come out the right way on the fabric. This is semi-permanent so when embroidering you must take care to cover the outline with stitching.

Embroidery Tranfer Pencils can be used to sketch or copy a design outline onto tracing paper. This can then be ironed onto your fabric. These lines will usually wash out and may even wear off as you stitch.

Dressmakers Carbon Paper available in blue for light fabrics and white for dark fabrics may be used like ordinary carbon paper. Put the carbon between your paper design and the fabric, making sure it's very flat and weight around the edges. You have to lean very heavily with a pencil and this image is also temporary.

Perforation or Prick and Pounce is useful if the design is to be used many times, perhaps on napkins or at each corner of a table cover. Trace the design onto heavy tracing paper and with a thick layer of material behind, prick through the outline with a blunt needle making the holes as close to each as possible. When complete mount over your fabric and using a felt pad or blackboard eraser, rub powdered charcoal through the holes. Then paint around the outline with a fine brush and watercolour paint.

Basting Stitches in a contrasting shade can be used after first drawing or tracing the design onto very fine fabric. The fabric is pinned to the wrong side of the material to be stitched and the stitches worked through both layers leaving the design on the front of the fabric. Or work it through tracing paper and cut away the paper.

Tissue Paper with the design marked in felt tip pen may be used by attaching it to the fabric and embroidering through it. When finished the paper can be torn away.

If you want to work a counted cross stitch design on plain fabric, there is the option of using Waste Canvas which is removed by pulling out the individual threads when complete or Water Soluable Canvas in the same way which dissolves by soaking in warm water and makes a neater finish.
by Anne Peden on Tue, 26 Jan 2016, 12:00
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Seasonal Blooms by Brittercup Designs

I've liked these designs ever since I first saw them so took this opportunity to try Winter.

I used Permin of Copenhagen 32 count linen in Optical White which is a bright white as I thought it would contrast well. It's available in a fat quarter and a smaller useful size.

The pattern gives several floss options. It can be worked entirely in hand dyed fibres, seven Gentle Arts, one Classic Colorworks and one Weeks Dye Works, entirely in stranded cottons DMC or Anchor or in any combination.

I first worked the glass outline in Classic Colorworks black coffee. As this is an overdyed floss I worked both legs of each cross stitch before moving on. There seems little variation in the colour of this floss so that wasn't entirely necessary, but fitted in quite well with the shape.

I worked most of the colours in Anchor stranded cottons so I was able to work back and forth with the blocks of stitching. The red of the Poinsettia is in Weeks Dye Works Turkish red so I again I completed each cross stitch as I went. The complete design probably took under twenty hours to stitch.

Mounting the finished embroidery was a but tricky. Because of the dark central line, it really has to be very precise, straight and in the exact middle.

I'm pleased with the Art Deco style of the finished picture. Winter
by Anne Peden on Thu, 03 Dec 2015, 12:01
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Witching Hour Ornament by the Prairie Schooler

This cute design took only a couple of evening to stitch. Since I wanted to make it into a Halloween card, I used 28 count 10 centimetres wide linen band by Rico Design in natural. The edges are already finished so less of a problem to mount.

It's stitched in only two shades of DMC stranded cottons, very dark brown and orange but I decided to replace the orange with glow-in-the-dark DMC Light Effects floss E940. It's a little more difficult to work with than stranded cottons but I only used it for a few stitches. It does glow slightly but it has to be in the pitch black.

I hope our granddaughter likes it.

halloween card
by Anne Peden on Fri, 30 Oct 2015, 18:25
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Milkweed Butterfly and Flower

I have stitched some Thea Gouverneur designs before from her two lovely books The Secret Garden in Cross Stitch and Flower Portraits in Cross Stitch. Of course then I could choose my own fabric and it's many years since I worked on anything as fine as 36 count. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 36 count linen in this kit had clear holes and is easily stitched over two. Perhaps I shouldn't have avoided linen for so long.

I wasn't sure about the instruction to ' use the floss sparingly' Since floss numbers aren't given, it might be a problem to run out but we sell many Thea Gouverneur kits and have very few complaints. To be fair if I have ever requested extra threads for customers, they have arrived with our next order. The floss is in 80cms lengths, not ideal because it's easy to tangle such a long length but I didn't want to halve them as it would waste more thread and after I while I got more adept at not tangling the cottons. However in the end there was ample floss.

milkweed butterfly and flower

These are computer generated designs and use a lot of different colours, often quite close in shade. On the flowers and stem each colour is grouped without too many single stitches and so the pattern isn't too difficult to follow. However, the butterfly is a bit more complicated and uses lots of shades. Partly that's because it does have spots of colour so that's unavoidable, but also there are several close shades of dark brown and orange. It certainly took much longer to stitch the butterfly than the rest of the pattern.

The finished embroidery is lovely and I think that we just have to accept that Thea Gouverneur kits have more shades than those of other designers and require more time and concentration.
by Anne Peden on Wed, 21 Oct 2015, 14:43
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Embroidered Table Covers

Hand stitched printed table covers always look lovely on your dining table.

Here's a tip to make the reverse look a little tidier. When working stem stitch the reverse becomes a series of running stitches. Before finishing off the thread, turn the embroidery over and whip the row of stitches, using a blunt needle if you prefer. (see whipped stem stitch) whipped stem stitch

The underside of the work will never look as neat as the front but I've often been complemented on how neat the reverse looks, so the little extra effort is worth the trouble. The left hand side of the picture is the top, the right hand side is the underneath.
harvest table cover
by Anne Peden on Fri, 09 Oct 2015, 08:50
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Rico Design Hooded Baby Towels

These baby towels make lovely gifts and can be used from birth and for many years. Made of 100% cotton, they are soft and fluffy and have a hood attached on one side with a 14 count Aida band.

I used one of Rico Design booklets especially for these towels. There are many designs to choose from in four booklets.

I had already stitched polar bears and puppies and this time decided on whales on a mint towel. The good scale charts are in full colour and easy to follow. The design can easily be stitched in under three weeks.

One problem is probably unavoidable. I prefer to stitch with a hoop, but it's difficult to use one for the last motif at either end of the Aida band since the seam gets in the way. I ended up stitching these without tension and although they probably look exactly the same to anyone else, I can see they are not as neat.

These towels will be washed many times so I'm very careful to work in the floss ends well, perhaps taking more stranded cotton than indicated. Of course, cottons are cheap compared to the fabric used and to the stitcher's time so it really isn't worth skimping on it.

whale on turquoise
by Anne Peden on Fri, 25 Sep 2015, 10:07
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Easter Rabbit by Eva Rosenstand

Eva Rosenstand kits are now produced by Permin of Copenhagen and the key and instructions are in the same format as their designs. New customers to Permin sometimes think that the instructions are incomplete or are in Swedish, but in fact although terse and pictorial, all the information is there in a logical and consistent system.

This might be a good opportunity to explain that format, so we have prepared a short file which you can download to read which will hopefully help, but if not let us know and we'll try to improve it.

To get back to the Rabbit. The floss organiser has a couple of useful features. There's a box under each number where you can draw the cross stitch symbol which saves always referring to the key. The circular holes have a slot underneath so that you can pull the unused and partly used thread down into that to keep it tidy.

I've seldom worked on linen evenweave and prefer cotton evenweave because of the closer and more even weave. However the fabric in this kit is easy to work on, the threads are narrower making the holes easier to see and I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, for the same reason, you can't carry floss over unstitched areas and have to be careful not to leave floss ends at the edges.

There were no problems stitching the design although the two darkest shades for the fur are pretty close. When the cross stitch was complete, the picture did look a bit bright but the backstitch toned it down.

Easter Rabbit
by Anne Peden on Fri, 18 Sep 2015, 14:42
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Iphone 5 Phone Covers by Anchor.

This is a quick and easy project worked completely in whole cross stitch on silicone covers. There are a choice of designs to work either black on white or white on black. I chose what I thought would make a 'his and hers' set.

The floss came in lengths of 1 metre, two black and two white. Not a very useful size as the full length is too long to use and half was a bit short as it means more lengths used. I normally work with about 66 cms and perhaps this had an effect later.

Since I wasn't sure how much wear the inside of the cover would get, I was very careful not to carry thread over the reverse and to leave long ends which could be worked in well. I always do this for items which are to be used rather than put behind glass. However the black on white design came out just slightly short of floss.

The white on black was equally easy to work but perhaps not such a good contrast. It also came out short of floss by even more than the first cover.

I perhaps chose the most stitched option for both colourways and the other designs would have enough floss but these are clearly beginner designs aimed at young stitchers who would be unlikely to have extra floss lying around to complete. It would be a disappointment.

I certainly couldn't recommend this kit and we won't re-order. We will include extra floss in any we do sell.

by Anne Peden on Fri, 11 Sep 2015, 11:20
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I decided to use one of these frames to mount the reversible Little Owl from the Classic Embroidery pattern.

These hoops are available as circular and oval shapes which are much harder to find in traditional frames. I have heard that larger frames are less suitable for embroideries but the 5 inch circular frame I used was ideal and the fabric could be stretched until taut.

If using the frame to hang on a wall, the reverse could be laced, but I wanted to hang it so both sides could be seen.

The problem was in finishing off the edges. I could have just cut them but since there is no glass to protect the fabric, over time it could get dusty and require washing. There's always the option of zigzaging the edges with a sewing machine which would be fine for straight edges but a bit more difficult in a circle.

Once I had the embroidery centered in the frame, I did a row of running stitch close to the edge on the unwanted fabric. Then I removed the fabric from the flexihoop and put it in a larger embroidery frame to work buttonhole stitch inside the line using Pearl cotton no.8 926 cream.

little owl in window

With the embroidery back in the flexihoop in its original position, I trimmed the excess fabric as close as I could to the buttonhole stitch using my new hardanger scissors and now it's hanging at a window.
by Anne Peden on Fri, 04 Sep 2015, 08:46
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Review of Little Owl, blackwork kit by Classic Embroidery

This pretty little design is sold as a 'weekender' and certainly can be completed in a weekend or a few evenings.

I chose the evenweave version but all of the stitching is suitable for Aida. The instructions are very detailed and I started with the backstitch outline. I realised that the horizontal centre on the chart isn't correct but since I'd already started and there was ample material I continued. It's always a bit risky to unpick in blackwork as traces of the threads may be left behind.

When I work backstitch in blackwork, I'm always aware of the reverse stitching showing through to the front so to make right angle crisp, I work some stitches forward so that they are not at an angle on the back. This may not be necessary and perhaps it would be better to use running stitch.

With the backstitch and whole cross stitch in two strands complete, the three infill patterns are worked with a single strand. The running stitch on the bird's front was quick and easy and the instructions give an order for the more dense stitching on the head to make them reversible.

The wing stitching can also be worked as reversible following the stitch guide given but I'm afraid I found that a bit more tricky in the small space and gave up. Afterwards I thought that perhaps working the pattern vertically rather than horizontally may have made it easier as most of the rows are longer. So when I tried that on one wing, it was a lot easier to follow and the reverse is patterned but not a copy of the front.

The finished owl is three and a half inches in diameter and if reversible would fit in a four inch round flexihoop. If mounted carefully it would make an attractive window hanging. My finished owl looks perfect from the front but perhaps I'll try again and take more care over the backstitch.

The kit in available in evenweave and 14 count Aida. There was a little black floss left over.

Having finished the Little Owl, I still felt that making it completely reversible was a challenge. Obviously not necessary but interesting. So I started again, this time in brown on cream and worked in outline in running stitch with two strands. This looked very neat but better after I'd invested in a pair of hardanger scissors to cut the ends closer.

Whole cross stitch as I normally work it is not reversible but if I worked every second stitch then it would slope on the back. I remembered a pattern booklet called Reversible Cross Stitch Sampler by Needlemade Designs and there was the answer:-

Work one half cross stitch every second space left to right;
Return with second half of crosses in spaces;
work top stitch on alternate stitches left to right;
work under on return to make stitches lie in the same direction.

The filling stitches for the bird's head and breast had come out reversible the first time but try as I might I couldn't make the honeycomb pattern the same on the back following the instructions. I tried variations on scrap fabric and finally worked out a completely reversible order of stitching. The front still looks neater than the back as I had to finish off ends in the running stitch making some places thicker than others. You can judge for yourself from the photos.

Little Owls

My next challenge is mounting the finished Litle Owl in a flexihoop.
by Anne Peden on Fri, 28 Aug 2015, 10:16
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Earlier Stitchcraft Articles ...

Review of Believe by Designs Works ... A pretty little design of the word with fairies and beads.
Review of Woodland Winter by Rose Swalwell ... A pretty little design from a seasonal set.
Review of Gardener Chick by Heritage Crafts ... Heritage Crafts have lots of birds and flower kits converted from the artwork of Valerie Pfeiffer which are very pretty and timeless.
Review of Cow - Sheep- Pig - Bull ... We decided that it would be a good idea to stitch a few different suppliers' kits to review them for our customers.
Quaker Style ... Crewel work was very popular in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth century.
An Introduction to Bargello ... There are lots of names for this style of canvas work including
Half Cross Stitch ... Some cross stitch designs have areas of
Band Samplers ... Band Samplers are a very old form of embroidery dating back to the Late Middle Ages.
Swedish Weaving ... This traditional craft had a revival in the 1930s and 40s and is becoming increasingly popular today.
Something a little bit different ...
Ribbon Embroidery ...
Counted Beadwork ... Beadwork was very popular in Victorian times when it was used to decorate evening dresses and bags and in furnishings such as cushions and footstools.
Assisi Embroidery ... Assisi embroidery comes from the Italian town of that name and was once used to decorate ecclesiastical linens.
Blackwork Easter Egg - a simple example. ... There's nothing very complicated about blackwork.
Would you like to try hardanger ? ... Some of you have recently expressed interest in hardanger, so we decided to research the subject a little and look for a few products.
New Baby? ... News of an expected new baby is always very exciting, and not just to the parents-to-be!
Miss Potter - Renaissance Woman ... Hollywood has seen a ready market for adaptations of British childrens' classics - Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, and so on, but now director Chris Noonan has made a new movie based on the life of the storyteller rather than the stories.
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat ... ... Or perhaps, «gravitationally challenged», but it just doesn't scan.
Searching for Golden Threads ... I had a long search to find the
Mounting Your Embroidery On Card ... This is a short piece with advice on mounting your embroidery on card for framing - what type of thread to use and how to do it.
What Colour Is Blackwork? ... Blackwork is over four hundred years old
Not Another Embroidery! ... There are many, many cross stitch and embroidery designs and kits out there.
Goldwork ... Goldwork embroidery
Stitching Techniques And Tips ... An introduction to working cross stitch, blackwork and needlepoint designs with some useful tips and advice for beginners.
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