Embroidery Expansion Project

Crafty AF embroidered patch

My first and most practiced embroidery genre is bead embroidery. I would very much like to be able to embroider using porcupine quills someday. I decided that I should expand my embroidery skills to include various other types of embroidery using standard floss like DMC or Anchor brands.

After watching some You Tube videos I decided to give it a spin and I bought some random multi-pack of colors and drew up my first design on 18 ct Aida cloth. This design I came up with so I can practice satin stitching text. I watched a Sarah Homfrey video about various techniques one can use to fill spaces after they are outlined. I decided to try one of the stitches on that video to fill my AF part of this design.

Unfortunately, I greatly under estimated the amount of floss I would need to fill the whole background with bright orange. I learned a good lesson in floss estimating-especially when you are using all 6 strands of floss. My satin stitches were pretty hard to get the needle through as well. This was my first regular embroidery piece and I had to make due with a multi-toned background. I decided to go ahead and accentuate that with little X's on the borders of each different orange to make it look like a patchwork on purpose.

I still like how this turned out even tho it's a little rough. I will probably sew it onto my jean jacket I'm working on. I have a current bead embroidery project to cover the back panel of this jacket in solid bead embroidery. From this project I learned how to properly do a tent stitch since my first piece was a mish-mash of tent stitch and half crosses which didn't all go in the same direction. I also learned about using less strands to make sewing easier.

practicing embroidery stitches - mandala embroidery

I bought another kit to try out new stitches. I didn't follow the instructions but did use the flosses that came with the project plus some flosses I bought seperately. I mainly used a chain looking stitch and bullion stitches. I found that I enjoy these stitches. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this piece so I'll add it to my finished-not-fully-finished hoard. I have more bead embroidery finishes that aren't fully finished to keep it company - one of these times I will have a FFO marathon - maybe I'll binge re-watch one of my favorite shows at the same time.

First Cross-stitch Projects Started

I've always loved pixel art - since I'm an 80's kid I saw it all from the start and still love the super pixelated original icons I grew up with. I used to use perler beads with my kids and enjoyed re-discovering my love of pixel art and crossing it with crochet to create a big pixel art afghan. Making granny square pixels was fun but very time-consuming and the scale made images super big. I never really thought about cross-stitching until I started watching embroidery videos on You Tube and stumbled upon Flosstube videos.

So I decided I wanted to try my hand at creating a cross-stitch pattern. I suppose I should first explain that I used to create graphics for print as a profession so the design software experience and availability was already there to start with. Choosing to create my own design rather than purchasing someone else's design was instantaneous for me since I design graphics regularly. I surfed around Google Images and found an image I felt I could stare at for months and used Stitch Fiddle to transform it into a pixelated graph. Although I do have Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, I didn't know how to pixelate something and transform the pixels into floss colors on my own so the Stitch Fiddle program saved the day. I chose Pennywise the clown from It - the Tim Curry version - because I just love creepy ass clowns. I previously beaded some clowns and was ready to begin another clown project - why not kill two birds with one stone and do a cross-stitch clown! Since this is an image from the internet I'm not going to share my completed pattern or sell the finished project - I just wanted to see if I could transform a raster image into a cross-stitch pattern and it seems to have worked - I'm still stitching it and I will post what it turned out like - there are update photos on my Twitter feed right now.

Pennywise cross-stich progress shot

While working on the first pattern I decided I needed a better more updated floss color guide. I found the photo of all the DMC flosses on Lord Libidan's website and sampled from the photo to come up with my own list of RGB and HEX values that come pretty close to the DMC colors. Here is my PDF of the values I came up with. I noticed that Pantone no longer has the free RGB to Pantone converter available - you have to sign up to their monthly service instead. Oh well, that may be something I look into in the future. For now my DMCs just have RGB equivalents. I then took those RGB values and made my own swatch collection to colorize images with in Illustrator or Photoshop. Here are my swatch files in case you can use them: ACO or ASE

So from this first pattern I learned how to better match RGB values to actual DMC colors - I will eventually add other floss brands such as Anchor. I then decided to create patterns I could share or sell so I began using my own photos as the base image. So far I have designed a rather large Alaskan king salmon and a lovely pink flamingo. I am currently editing some photos of forget-me-nots and little birds such as red breasted nuthatches to transform into cross-stitch patterns. The Alaskan king salmon has already been added to my patterns page as a free download. Since I am new to pattern making I am offering it for free. For the flamingo I decided to offer that pattern for sale as soon as I figure out how to make it compatible lwith Pattern Keeper software and stitch up and photograph the prototype. Once I finish stitching my Pennywise piece I will begin working on my prototype Alaskan king salmon.

Alaskan King Salmon cross-stitch pattern grid

The Alaskan king salmon pattern has caused me to learn how to deal with a pattern's ultimate finished size. I bought a pattern off of Etsy and chose to stitch it over two to increase the end piece's size. For my king salmon I want to stitch it so that it ends up being a life-sized fish that I can fully finish into a throw pillow. I will be posting the final results on this website as well as progress photos on my Twitter and/or Ello and my Pinterest.

Future Cross-Stitch Goals

cross-stiching pattern and supplies

Learning how to create a cross-stitch pattern has given me some goals to work on. The first is to learn how to use Pattern Keeper so I can sucessfully create patterns that are compatible with it. Another goal is to learn the parking technique. Right now I am working cross-country page by page. For my Pennywise piece I have chosen a bubbly 3 over 1 full cross technique. I say bubbly because the floss in its 3 ply thickness creates a little poofy bubble on each square - since this is a creepy clown why not go with a bubbly texture? Anyway, I chose to purchase patterns from other pattern makers to learn how to stitch and to make sure my patterns will be compatible with what other stitcher are used to working with. I found that my patterns are easier to see since I choose to design my patterns with 1/4" sized grids. I am almost 50 and I can't see as well as I used to so I totally understand and am willing to make patterns that are easy on the eyes. I bought a magnifying line guide from JoAnn's but it's just easier for me to print off my patterns larger. It increases the page count but I find that it's worth the extra paper!

Another goal is to learn about other stitches that accentuate a crocc-stitch piece - such as back stitching. Samplers often have other stitches added in and I plan on trying one of those out in the future. For some pieces you really do get a better result with the added back-stitching details. I recently bought a smalls project kit that has back-stitching so I can learn that part as well as learn how to create back-stitching patterns of my own.

I decided that as a coss-stitcher, I will try to always have multiple types of cross-stitch projects in the works. I decided on a few categories for my own WIPs. They are:

Photo Album

Here is a photo album I created in my Flickr account to cover my new regular embroidery attempts. Eventually I will create more albums for each larger project. The opening photo is a satin stitched Hell logo. I re-purposed my old work shirts from my last job and embroidered the HELL logo from the hilarious show Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell - I just love that show and can't watch it while I sew because I'd be a bloddy chuckling mess - lol

Embroidery Expansion Project