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Taking Sewing By The Hand: Cross-Stitch at Fat Quarter Shop

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Machine sewing is our stock in trade at Sew4Home, but sometimes, stepping back to take handmade at its root meaning is a personal, tactile experience that is both relaxing and rewarding. Our friends at Fat Quarter Shop recently let us know about their new cross-stitch focus that includes a dedicated YouTube channel, special pattern and floss kits, handy accessories, and more. We picked a few of our favorites to give you a sneak peek at all the fun. Read on so you can “take your sewing by the hand.”  

Cross-stitch is one of the oldest documented forms of needlework in existence, dating back to the middle ages. All those little Xs eventually add up to something beautiful, and today’s needlework designs and floss options means there’s no limit on age or style. Once bitten by the cross-stitch bug, you’ll be back again and again for the challenge, beauty, simplicity, and portability.

We’ve broken up our mini review into the four main categories of things you need for cross-stitch: cloth, floss, needles, and patterns. If you’re brand new to this area, we suggest starting with Fat Quarter Shop’s excellent How to Cross-Stitch article. It goes into detail on each of these categories and links you to the FQS Flosstube channel on YouTube where Kimberly and the Fans of Floss (I made up that name… just in case Kimberly might also want to start a band!) provide great video tutorials about supplies, reading a pattern, forming stitches, and more.

Cloth

Aida, linen, and evenweave, such as Monaco are the most common types of cross-stitch cloth. All the cloth options have small holes in a grid pattern to accommodate the floss stitches. The number of holes per linear inch denotes the fabric count, ie. 10 holes per inch would be a 10 count cloth. The higher the number, the finer the cloth. You might be most familiar with Aida cloth that feels a bit like canvas with larger, easier to see holes.


We love Fat Quarter Shop’s Kits and Clubs. They are experts at putting together elements to make your sewing easier. Cross-stitch is no exception. You can quickly build your cross-stitch fabric stash with Wichelt’s Neutral 14 Count Aida Monthly Club or Wichelt’s Neutral 28 Count Linen Monthly Club. Each month you’ll receive a fabric piece in a neutral color hand-picked by FQS – 18” x 25” for the Aida Club, 18” x 27” for the Linen Club.

       

Floss

Oh my! This is where the rainbows live. There are a huge number of options in this category, which means – of course – that Fat Quarter Shop has a huge number of gorgeous colors in the traditional 6-strand cotton floss. We liked the variety of Classic Colorworks. The photo below makes you just want to dive in and swim around in all the loveliness, doesn’t it?!

You can buy the floss by individual skein, or choose one of the handy color packs (remember what we said above about those awesome FQS kits and clubs?), like the 20-piece Neutral Pack or the 40-piece Classic Colors Pack.

Needles

Tapestry needles, which have a large eye and a blunt tip are the recommended tool for cross-stitch. As with all needle sizing, the higher the number, the finer the needle. As a point of reference, a Size 26 needle works well for Aida 14 count cloth. Fat Quarter Shop offers a great selection of sizes and brands.

Patterns

There are two main types of patterns for cross-stitch: 1) Counted Cross-Stitch, in which the stitch pattern is on a separate chart and you count on your cloth to see where the stitches should go; and 2) Stamped Cross-Stitch, in which the pattern is stamped directly on the cloth, and you simply stitch right over the design with your floss.

The range of designs is wide and varied. Fat Quarter Shop features its own line of It’s Sew Emma cross-stitch patterns, which are counted cross-stitch with full color charts. They also carry lovely modern and vintage style designs from Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet, Shannon Christine, Amy Bruecken, Abby Rose Designs, and more. Browse through them all here.

FQS also has a new Chalk Full Cross-Stitch Club in collaboration with Hands on Design, Priscilla Blain from the Real Housewives of Cross-Stitch. Based on Priscilla’s chalk art, this series is packed with vintage mason jars, stunning florals, and seasonal fun. As part of the Club, every other month you’ll receive one Hands on Design chart, 14ct Wichelt Chalkboard Black Aida cloth, and Classic Colorworks and Gentle Arts floss

If you missed Fat Quarter Shop’s fun Stitch May-nia Series with the Real Housewives of Cross-Stitch, you can catch all the episodes on YouTube. So much creativity! 

Handy Extras

You knew there’d be Handy Extras, didn’t you? When a technique has been around as long as cross-stitch with such a huge following, there are all kinds of cool tools to help organize the bits and pieces.

We love the floss minders by Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet, which are the perfect way to corral your floss. There is the large BeeKeeper Thread Minder for projects with multiple hues; you can keep each color tied to a different numbered slot.

And, the adorable Floss Flower Thread Bobbins that come in a set of six. Just wind individual skeins on a flower, record the thread color on an adhesive label, then keep them all locked together with a simple binder ring or key chain.

Finally, you can keep track of each project’s details with the Cross Stitch Journal by It’s Sew Emma. It’s the perfect way to make sure you remember your pattern, designer, time spent, floss used, and cloth selected.

Are you itchin’ to get stitchin’? Treat yourself to the calming creativity of cross-stitch. Fat Quarter Shop has done an incredible job of pulling together everything to get you going if you’re just a beginner or allow you to take off in new and exciting directions if you’re a seasoned stitcher.

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Comments (2)

Momo said:
Momo's picture

I suggest a tool to make cross stitching look it’s absolute best, and stitchers can make their own or use a found object.  It is called a laying tool.  The floss is laid across a small stiletto-type tool to make the strands lie next to each other before inserting the needle into the ground fabric.  It can be stroked to achieve a perfectly smooth stitch each time.  With the needle in one hand and the laying tool in the other, a nice rhythm can be achieved very quickly.  It makes the difference between a professional appearance and the “loving hands of home” look.  I made my own from bit of walnut left over from a woodworking project of my dad’s.  A knitting needle could be used, but it’s a bit too long.  A large darling needle works, too, but I’d bury the large eye end in something like a cork for s handle so your hand won’t get so tired.  You want something about five or six inches long, and tapered at one end.