Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cross Stitch 101 - Questions and Answers

Last time our class met, I asked you all to send questions. I knew there were things I hadn't covered in class that you would like to hear about, but what are they?

Here are answers to a few questions you submitted. I won't cover all questions here, but hope to get to remainder soon. Some questions were covered in earlier discussions. Don't miss class!

Q: How do you decide on fabric? Do you use something you have on hand or go shopping? How do you choose the fabric company or manufacturer?

A: Great question! I often make a basic fabric decision when I begin the design. My software allows me to put the background color on the computer screen. Thread color choices really change with varying backgrounds, so it helps to know if you're designing for a light, dark, bright, or specific colored fabric.

Then I get more specific on fabric choice when I'm ready to stitch the model. Yes, I still stitch ALL of my own models. A great deal of change/creativity occurs when I move the design from the screen to needle and thread. Twould definitely be easier to use a model stitcher, but the designs wouldn't be the same. You can usually find me stitching (working!) in the evenings.

My fabric shelf is in my supply closet (left). My home office is actually a guest bedroom, so I added shelves instead of hanging rods to the closet. Fabric is organized by thread count, and also fabric company. I'm guessing you're thinking..."not that much fabric in her stash!", or "what a mess!".

One perk of being is a designer is that manufacturers will send you supplies at no charge. When I began 20 years ago sample fabric would just arrive in the mail - unsolicited. Now I have to call and request what fabric I would like. Sometimes fabric companies send info about new fabrics being released, but rarely send the actual fabric until I request it. Fabric is expensive, as you all know.  If there are fabrics that I'm not using, I usually donate them. I try to weed out fabrics that are discontinued so I won't accidentally use them for a model and cause confusion.

If I have a "fabric emergency" and NEED a fabric for immediate stitching, then I visit my LNS (Heart's Desire in Wichita, KS) and buy something she has on hand. Sometimes you just NEED fabric in a hurry!

Q: How about threads and embellishments? Do you keep a good stock on hand?

A: Pretty much same answer as above regarding fabric. Thread companies are good about sending new color releases. As I use my threads for models, I request replacement threads from the source (at no charge). I'm super careful with my threads (as my fabric) and try to be respectful of what I've been sent and not waste anything. I have accumulated a nice stash of embellishments over the years. The tricky part is finding what I'm looking for. I have embellishments sorted by buttons, charms, beads, etc.

When we moved to our new home last summer I had to completely reorganize my needlework stuff, and I'm still searching for a few things. When organizing my supply closet was just one part of organizing the whole house, it was overwhelming. Now, after almost a year, I need to clean out my office supply closet, reorganize, and hopefully find some lost treasures. Heck, I even found a few things tidying up for these photos (yes, this is "tidy"). Both pictures above are thread stashes.

Q. Where does your inspiration come from and how do you start - events, sayings, family....?

A. All of the above! First, I keep a schedule of releases for a year at a time. I've been doing this for many years and it helps me stay on track. I pencil in themes of things I want to do, and what month. Generally I release new things every 2 months. Then I pencil in things I do every Tiny Tidings, annual Snippet Santa, Flora's Christmas collection, etc and make sure they're not forgotten.

You can see that the already released designs are now in pen, and the rest of 2016 is in pencil and subject to change...and the end of 2016 is MIA. What's that hiding behind my schedule? Looks like this year's Snippet Santa is peeking out. He's ready for needle and thread tonight.

As I'm planning a year's worth of cross stitch, I try to do designs from my variety of formats...charts, Snippets, Flip-it series, kits, Boxers, etc....something for every shop and every stitcher. Some shops love kits, and some can't sell them. Some shops go crazy with Flip-it series. You get the idea.

Inspiration comes from seasonal stuff, themes I want to explore, things/sayings you've requested, things happening in my life, a saying I happen to see here or there, trends in decor (like right now, beachy stuff is really trending)...everything.

Next class, I'll cover more about the business end of designing. You sent some really good questions about printing, distribution, legal stuff, copyright infringement...all the nitty gritty, day to day of the design biz. Very little time is actually spent in front of the computer doing new designs...who knew, right?!

Class dismissed...GO STITCH!!!


  1. I am learning so much. Very interesting. Thanks teach.

  2. Thanks for this info ;) I love your Sayings and Quotes

  3. It's fascinating to hear how it works behind the scenes!

  4. I think I'll just stitch your designs! Lots going on in the background.

  5. Thanks for the responses to some of the questions! It is interesting to get your take on the things in your business. Enjoy the rest of your week!

  6. Looking forward to hearing about the "business end"! Thanks for writing about all this stuff.

  7. Thank you so much; what an interesting class! I was very surprised to see the way you keep your thread stash. I guess I assumed you'd have all your thread "out", on display, so to speak. I have a very large stash that I've accumulated over the years, & use a large piece of peg board with wooden "hooks". I then hung my DMC floss numerically, followed by other threads (Weeks, Cosmo, etc.), also numerically hung. It is quite a busy focal point in my bedroom, which also has to double as my craft room. When we downsized I "lost" my craft room, & now I'm sometimes sorry I didn't claim our spare bedroom! In a moment of weakness I let my husband have the room for his office & his hobby, model railroading. I know the thread is exposed though, so I periodically run my hand-vac lightly over the thread to pick up any cat fur & dust that accumulates on it. I love seeing all the colors at a glance. I wonder how other stitchers keep their floss?

    I keep my patterns/charts alphabetically by designer in large 3-ring binders. I have one very large binder for just Lizzie*Kate & Trail Creek Farm. (I've followed you since the very beginning!)

    Thank you again for such an interesting look at this portion of your design process!

  8. Thank you for sharing how you choose the fabric and pictures of your stash! Cross-stitchers have a lot in common - Stash!

  9. Do your patterns every go out of print? I know your kits do.