The first crafty thing I learned to do was origami. But the next one was crosstitch. And then I just didn’t stop doing it for about ten years.
This was my first proper crosstitch, which I gave to my mum. Of course, there were a few failed attempts before this one, which turned out pretty badly. I think it was probably because I didn’t really read or follow the instructions, or put together any of the proper supplies. But who knows?
Which brings me to my first crosstitch tip: read and follow the instructions. If you can put together Ikea furniture, you can crosstitch, no problem. But following the instructions is pretty fundamental.
If you are starting out, the best way (in my opinion) is to buy a crosstitch kit, like these: http://www.colray-crafts.com/DimensionWebE/newhtm/products.php?Cat=3. There are literally thousands of patterns, and they come with aida fabric (this is what you sew onto), needles, crosstitch thread in the proper amounts and colours, a pattern, and crosstitch needles. These needles are blunt rather than sharp, which is quite necessary – you have no idea how painful it is to repeatedly stab yourself in the finger. Also, it looks bad when you get blood on your fabric.
You can also use a pattern book like these: http://www.amazon.com/Cross-Stitch-Books/lm/R3OGJFRK9B30XC, but bear in mind, you will have to find all the colours yourself. There are hundreds, and stores like Spotlight rarely carry every single one. They are pretty cheap though!
Other essentials: scissors, and a highlighter. The highlighter I use to keep track of what I have done on the pattern. In large patterns, you get lost otherwise. Using the highlighter means you can still clearly see the pattern, which is necessary at the end, when you have to backstitch the details over the top of the crosstitch. It’s nice to be able to see what you’re meant to do.
One last tip. Don’t start a crosstitch you don’t love. If you don’t love it, chances are, you won’t finish it. Crosstitch takes A LOT of time and patience, so you should spend all that time happily anticipating how amazing it will look when you finish.
Here are a few of my favourites (I have so many more in the cupboard that I haven’t finished/framed yet):
This was actually the first proper crosstitch that I started, from a book of animals patterns when I was 14. I could only get about half the colours, and I started with the backstitched outline rather than the crosstitch. It sat barely started in my cupboard for a long time. I just finished it last year and framed it with a two-dollar store frame. Once you get sick of paying for your crosstiches to be framed (it costs a lot, usually between $100-$300), you think up ways to do it yourself.
These were both framed by Abacus Art in Ashwood, which is where I go whenever I want my work to look professional. They are fantastic and always leave me satisfied: http://www.abacusart.com.au.
Again, these were framed by me – one in a frame I repossessed from Mum’s craft cupboard, one from the two-dollar store than my uncle took apart and resized for me (he also cut the glass to fit it), and one that I stretched over a piece of timber from Bunnings (by far the cheapest).
This is my pride and joy. It cost about $60 for the kit, and took forever to complete, as almost the whole background is stitched. It cost another $300 to get it framed also. Somehow my sister has ended up with this one. I’m not very happy about it. I have a similar one in the cupboard that I haven’t finished the outlining on, which I think will have to wait a while until I can afford to get it properly framed.
Finally, this was my first attempt at designing my own pattern – it is my cat, Bella. I learned a lot about what not to do when you design your own patterns, but I haven’t had another attempt yet to test out my theories. A project for next time!
Crosstitch is a fun and (relatively) inexpensive hobby, and very relaxing to do in front of the tv, especially as it makes you feel creative and productive when normally you would just feel lazy. I urge everyone to give it s try, so good luck, and happy stitching!
P.S., if you want proof that crosstich is not only teddy bears and flowers, check out: http://www.subversivecrossstitch.com. One of my best friends gave me the book version when I needed cheering up, and now I stitch expletives all over the place!