We have a guest blog today from talented cross stitch designer Michaela Learner. We hope you enjoy it and love the FREE patchwork pumpkin pattern.
Hi, I’m Michaela Learner and for as far back as I can remember (which is nowhere near as far back as I need to remember) I have been fascinated by anything to do with thread and fabric. I’m totally self-taught so if my instructions sometimes differ from the cross stitch holy grail of “rules” please bear with me.
- First and foremost, I hate rules! Always have, always will.
- The techniques I recommend I’ve done and refined over years of stitching. Feel free to ignore them and do whatever you find best for you. I believe you should feel happy with what you are stitching and comfortable with what you are doing.
I’m here to introduce the Patchwork Cross Stitch range of kits to you, which is about exciting as it gets for me because I designed them! I adore working with bright colour, subtlety not really being my thing, so these gave me the perfect opportunity to indulge myself to the full. I was inspired after seeing lots of pictures on the internet of crochet yarn bombing, it got me thinking could I somehow “thread bomb” a simple shape and come up with a pleasing result. My first results looked somehow “flat” and then I decided to try and connect the different patterns so they flowed better as a whole piece. After a long night, some wine, lots of chocolate and a 2 am epiphany it hit me… style it like a patchwork!
There Patchworks are nothing complicated, you stitch them the same as every other cross stitching project. Here’s a quick stitching guide for them and all other cross stitching projects.
- Try using a hoop or, my preference, a hands-free floor standing frame. You are much less likely to get mucky marks on what you are doing, or in my case chocolaty finger prints! Also, try to avoid red wine or coffee over your stitching…very bad memories of both of these!
- Find the centre of the fabric and the centre of the chart and start sewing there. That way you minimise the risk of starting to high or low on the fabric. Also, old carpenters trick, measure TWICE! This is speaking from bitter experience.
- The “rules” say start with the lightest shade and work to dark. I NEVER do this, I pick which is the most obvious and, wherever possible, the most used shade on the chart. This way you can minimise the potential of miscounting if you’re jumping around a bit with your stitches. Again, count twice, I believe I have wasted WEEKS of my life unpicking and re-stitching.
- You get a lovely finish if you stitch in this order; Cross Stitch, Backstitch then French Knots. The Backstitch should sit on top of the crosses so don’t be tempted to outline and fill in like a colouring book.
Feel free to ignore all the above if you have a way or working you prefer, feel comfortable doing and gives you results you are happy with. The final three hints are non-negotiable for me and how I cross stitch.
- Try to have a good source of lighting. Whether it’s a large window by where you work or a good bright craft light of some sort, you will quickly find that you suffer less eye strain and headaches. Simply put, you will be able to stitch quicker if you can see what you are doing!
- Following on from that, use spectacles if you need them! I’m so vain I put this off for years. My mother eventually took me to the optician when I was 45, a little embarrassing to say the least, after I asked her to hold a bottle in the chemist while I stepped back far enough to read the instructions! What an instant difference it made. I immediately got rid of three magnifiers that I’d become very reliant on and I could comfortably stitch on evenweave and linen again. Good rule of thumb, if your arms aren’t long enough to read\see it, you need specs!
- This is my numero uno, dogs doodahs tip! If you ignore everything else I’ve written as the ramblings of a cross stitch obsessed middle aged lunatic please, please give this a go. Railroad (sometimes called tramlining) your stitches when using two threads. This technique seems to cause some confusion so I’ve included a close up pic to simplify things. Just pass the needle between the threads when making a stitch. This can be done on both legs of the stitch or just the top leg to even things out a bit. You will be amazed the difference this will make to your finished pieces, they will be so neat, thread coverage is improved and you get less tangles and knots while you are sewing. It gives a lovely professional finish. Give it a go, it quickly becomes second nature and I promise you will see a difference.
Finally, included in this blog is a free downloadable Patchwork Pumpkin pattern for you so you can have a go at a patchwork cross stitch design. Don’t get bogged down in detail just enjoy the stitching, if you don’t have a shade try substituting it with something else from your stash (who doesn’t have a huge thread and fabric stash!). I’d love to see your finished pictures on my Facebook page, just look up Cross Stitching Guild. We don’t bite (not often anyway) and if you have a problem or query I or one of my ladies or gentlemen will always be around to help.
You can download this awesome patchwork pumpkin pattern here.