January 11, 2013

How The Kardashians Led Me To Craft + Embroidery Basics

A few years ago, I found myself with a nagging feeling of boredom that I just couldn't shake.  I'm talking Level 11, I've been on YouTube for an hour looking at videos of that husky kid singing Lady Gaga into a banana kind of boredom.  Facing the very real possibility that I was about to start a Twitter account, give myself bangs or watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians I instead decided to find a new hobby... 

...cross stitching! 

I don't know if I'd ever sewn much more than a button before I started cross stitching but I quickly taught myself after reading a few online tutorials and a bit of good old fashioned trial & error.  Before long, I was designing my own patterns, untangling the gnarliest of knots and had practically memorized the DMC color/number system. (think Pantone but for craft geeks)  While it's great to feel like a pro at something, I equally love the challenge of learning a new skill and am always seeking new ways to keep my raging, undiagnosed case of ADHD at bay. 

Still wanting to do a sewing-type craft (and after nearly stabbing my eyes out with knitting needles following a few unfortunate scarf-making incidents) I resolved to take up embroidery!  Yay!  

While I'm nowhere near an expert yet, I've picked up a few great starter tips, tricks and cool products that I wanted to share with you.  I hope you found this little amalgamation of Embroidery 101 useful.  Stay tuned for photos of my latest projects!  I've been giving so many of my pieces away for gifts and keep forgetting to take photos beforehand...eek!

Best Tutorials
Embroiderer's Guild

Essential Supplies
Embroidery Hoop
I love the classic wooden hoops.  They're sturdy to use and look beautiful if you decide to mount your finished piece inside them.  You'll use your embroidery hoop to frame up the section of fabric you're working on and keep it taut.  Create For Less is my go-to source for these so grab a 6" one to start with.  It's large enough that you can work on a sizable section but not so large that it's hard to grasp/maneuver while stitching.

Embroidery Scissors 
For snipping threads, I love my Gingher Stork Embroidery Scissors that I bought on Amazon but really any small, sharp sewing scissors will work.

You can grab these at any craft or fabric store for a few dollars a set.  The smaller the number, the larger the gague of the needle.  

Embroidery Floss
DMC has the monopoly on the embroidery floss so there's really not much to say here, except that $.39 each really adds up and that I have hundreds sitting in my craft closet.  Eeek.  Hint: When I first started cross-stitching, I threaded the entire 9-strand piece of floss.  Wrong.  You're supposed to separate the threads into 2-3 strand segments.  Don't learn the hard way like I did.

You can embroidery anything from kitchen towels to napkins to baby onesies...it's really up to you!  For basic kitchen linens, you can head over to a craft store for an OK selection or hit up Sublime Stitching.  They're a little pricey but I just ordered two of their demi towels and they are absolutely gorgeous and extremely well-made compared to what I've found elsewhere.

Iron Transfer Patterns
I could do a whole post on how to manually transfer a pattern but I personally think it's more fun (and much simpler) to use one of the beautiful, pre-designed iron-on patterns.  Sublime Stitching hands down has the best selection I've found and their look is really modern and unique.  As their site says, "No geese in bonnets." LOL  

There's also a gold mine of great patterns on Etsy, including those from the shops below:

...one of which I'm especially dying to do!  Can you stand how cute this little guy is?!?