Last week my lovely mummy celebrated one of those ‘milestone’ birthdays and, because you only reach that age once, my two younger sisters and I decided we would make her something a bit special. All three of us are crafty and creative in our own way yet are united by one particular past-time: cross stitch. So, after the exchange of countless Facebook messages, we decided that this would be the theme for our present.
We each picked our own design to cross stitch – my youngest sister went for a birdhouse and flowers, the middle sister went for our two cats and I chose to do the Wimbledon logo and the Olympic rings. Perhaps a random selection of images but a collection of our mum’s favourite things nonetheless.
After stitching the designs (all of which I believe were done free-hand without a chart!) we then stitched on the lyrics to the Sound of Music along the bottom. The birdhouse reads ‘raindrops on roses’, the cats read ‘whiskers on kittens’ and the sports logos say ‘these are a few of your favourite things.’
We also added our initials to the top and then framed the finished designs in a lovely, mirrored frame from Laura Ashley. We presented it to my mum at her family birthday party this weekend and I think we managed to move more than one auntie to tears! The perfect daughters? I think so.
Since I’ve been away in France (if this is news to you, see my travel blog here) I’ve been very limited as to the sewing projects I can complete. Obviously – and unfortunately – I couldn’t bring my mound of material, my sewing machine or my sewing kit with me as they’re just too heavy for one lone Eurostar traveller.
Instead I brought with me my cross stitch, origami paper and the materials for my felt animals. These are what I deem ‘travel size’ crafts and no way was I going to leave them out of my suitcase. Whilst I’m babysitting for the couple of hours after school – and when the boys’ homework is complete – I need something I can do at the table so that I’m still within easy shouting distance of the children.
Throughout February I’ve had a few birthdays (and Valentine’s Day) to attend to back in Angleterre, so I’ve been putting my free time towards stitching little designs that I can easily post to my friends and family. I’ve done motifs of cats for my mum, a peacock for my friend and a guitar for my boyfriend – among various others. I’m currently stitching a bigger design featuring the Eiffel Tower which I hope to keep as a memory of my stay here. I’m not following a set pattern, just picking images from my book by Jo Verso and making them into a picture-frame size montage. Once it’s finished the end result will be featured here! With all these free days I’m sure it won’t be long.
A little while back I posted a blog about a cupcake design cross stitch I was doing (see the picture to the left for a little reminder). You can read about it here.
The design was created by Lucie Heaton, who has a fantastic website full of cross stitch patterns that you can download as PDF files and print off at home. You can get motifs, alphabets, samplers, kids designs and seasonal pictures all costing around £1 – £6 per chart.
There’s even a section of free patterns if you just want to try some out too.
What’s more, word got out that I’d completed my cupcake chart and Lucie got in contact with me. She’s been lovely enough to offer all my avid readers a brilliant 20% discount on all her designs! Just use the code FEB12 at the checkout and your discount will be applied. Have fun!
Cross stitch may not be the coolest handicraft on offer – I refer to those autumnal-coloured images of bird houses, flower arrangements and pictorial alphabets spotted most commonly on the walls of generation upon generation of grandma – but it’s simple, effective and something to do to pass the time. And it’s quite fun.
I’ve recently finished stitching this colourful cupcake stand design found in May 2011′s edition of Cross Stitcher magazine. The colours are so cheerful that from a distance it almost looks like the real thing. Or at least like a painting by numbers rather than a cross stitch.
Originally I planned to frame the end result, but instead I’ve decided to attach the finished piece to one of my wall art canvases. Read more about that ongoing project here and here. Good enough to eat - I think so.
A couple of weeks ago I received, in the post, a beautiful invitation to my friend’s wedding. In Washington. I would absolutely love to attend but, alas, I cannot. Instead I’ve decided to create the bride and groom a lovely little home-made wedding present.
Enter stage left – 1x cross stitched London skyline.
The pattern came out of Cross Stitcher magazine (August 2011) and is intended to be made into a purse. I’ve made a few modifications to the design – instead of writing London I’ve put England (my friend, the groom, used to live over here so I thought it’d be a nice memento of our time together). I added in the royal guard myself too – the pattern and materials for this came free with the same edition of the magazine. I’m also planning on making it into a small cushion rather than a purse.
The overall project took me about 2 weeks (and 6 episodes of Dexter, 4 Project Runways, 2 White Collars, 4 Mad Men and a couple of films) to complete. Persistence really is key with cross stitch!
In other news, I also had another go at making a felt animal out of my Felt Friends From Japan book – see my review here. This time I chose a little felt puppy (even more adorable than the felt elephant?). He took me a couple of hours to stitch together and passed an otherwise uneventful Sunday morning. He is now residing at my lovely friend’s house – what a lucky guy
First of all – Happy Easter! Today is Easter Sunday, and so far I have 3 chocolate eggs. Not too bad considering my family don’t classify me as ‘one of the kids’ anymore. Oh to be 7 years old again. This little guy spent the whole of Easter Saturday perched on my till at work, hopefully he’s not been poached and will still be there for tomorrow… but for now, back to the sewing:
If you love (or even just like a tiny bit) cross stitch, then Cross Stitcher magazine is definitely something you need to look into. First of all, commit this web page to memory – or at least add it to your favourites.
FREE patterns are what people like me live for, so this page ticks ALL the right boxes. The little cherry, strawberry and ice lolly motifs pictured here are my favourites, which you can download with a simple click of a button here.
I’ve also finished sewing the cherry blossom inspired flowers I started the other day. Now they’re complete with greenery, I think even Kate Middleton would be proud to have them in her bouquet. I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do with them – but for now they’re stuck up on my wall looking pretty. Let’s hope the sunny weather continues to provide me with inspiration to stitch even more!
Yiotas Cross Stitch is a website I stumbled across after they (inexplicably) started to follow me on Twitter (@_LouiseH). Evidently they have an EXCELLENT marketing team. Firstly, (I know how concerned you are with my progress) take a look at how my cherry-blossom-esque flowers are coming along – I just need to stitch a few more, place some green leaves in between, et voila - an entire bouquet!
But back to Yiotas… http://www.yiotas-xstitch.com is a website for you to buy cross stitch kits, patterns, fabric, threads – almost everything you’d ever need. There’s an enormous selection of kits in every category under the sun. I do wonder how I’ve never come across this before (probably for the best, I’m not sure my bank account could take it). Prices are surprisingly reasonable – delivery is only £1.49 in the UK, AND they will post worldwide – which makes the site all the more attractive. There’s even the option to buy just the pattern (without the thread) at a fraction of the price, which is incredibly useful for thread-horders like myself. There’s even a section for free patterns which gets updated regularly. Excellent!
Admittedly – a lot of the patterns are, what I’d call, VERY HARD. There are a lot of enormous designs that’d take me a lifetime to complete. If you’re more of a beginner, do dig around… there are some great easy-finds once you start looking! (check this fantastic cat cushion – how amazing is this?!)
You can follow Yiotas on Facebook for news on when free patterns go live
Spring is in the air, and this flower is perhaps one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. It can vary in shade from deep, vibrant cerise to pale, delicate rosewater – and when placed together, cherry blossom is the floral equivalent of finding a Galliano gown at a car-boot sale. Simply wonderful. I’ve just started to cross-stitch some little flowers to applique onto some of my sewing projects – I might do another lot in shades of pink to mimic the cherry blossom. Or perhaps I could place a scattering of pink buttons across a cushion to make it look like the branches of a tree. Either way, this is a definite moment of inspiration. Next stop: Japan.
This weekend I’ve done a bit of everything when it comes to the world of crafts. First up is this cross-stitched Union Jack heart. The pattern is out of the April edition of Cross Stitcher magazine – I used 2 shades of pink and 1 in blue – and it took me a couple of hours to stitch. I love the finished result, it’s so adorable, and I’ll probably use it to adorn one of my many sewing projects.
Next up is an attempt at a recipe in my new Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days cookbook. These are mocha cupcakes – flavoured with hot chocolate powder and coffee granules, and topped with (very runny!) chocolate butter icing. I added some Mini Eggs as it’s getting near to Easter, and sprinkled on some excess chocolate sponge. Yes, they look an absolute state (and are nowhere near my usual standards!) but they also taste fantastic. Just goes to show that appearance isn’t everything! I think they look quite artistic – almost effortless cool…
And finally is a project that, for the moment, I can’t upload photos of to this blog. I’m planning an Italian themed murder mystery for my friends in their university Easter holidays, and spent all morning creating Italian flag bunting and place-names. I also have a red check table cloth, party bags and a 3-course meal planned. Pictures of my crafts will be uploaded in due course (as for now it has to be a secret from wandering eyes)- but fingers crossed it all goes to plan!