Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How to finish embroidery in a hoop!

I get asked this question so often: how do you finish a cross stitch project in a hoop? So I figured I should finally write up a post with my method. It's a popular (and cheap!) way to finish an embroidery project for hanging on the wall. This process works for me, but of course you can adapt it to suit your needs and materials. I've illustrated it here using my Impossible project, which was stitched on linen, but the same method applies if you use Aida or any needlework fabric.

For this method, you'll need:
- an embroidery hoop
- a steam iron
- a terry cloth towel
- a piece of felt a few inches larger than your hoop
- a pencil
- really strong sewing thread... hand-quilting thread works very well
- a needle
- craft glue
- scissors

The first, and seriously kids...the MOST IMPORTANT step, is to iron your project completely and properly. I see so many beautiful stitching projects that get framed with wrinkles in them, and it makes me want to cry! Also, if your fabric is at all dingy or stained after working on it, you should absolutely wash it before you frame it.

Many stitchers insist you should wash every project, even if it doesn't look like it needs it, because the oils on your hands can cause stains to appear later. If you use DMC embroidery floss, it's color-fast and won't run when it's washed. Washing stitching is pretty easy, just hand wash in cold water using a few drops of dish detergent (not a laundry detergent like Woolite). Let the fabric soak, swishing it around gently. Don't wring or twist it. Rinse until the water is clear, then roll it in a clean dry towel to remove most of the water. Transfer to another dry towel and let it air dry until it's almost totally dry, then it's time to press it!

I set my iron to the highest setting ("linen" on most irons) and I use steam. But you should definitely check your setting on a scrap of fabric first if you aren't sure, because scorching your project after all that work would be the worst! The main thing about the ironing step is that you want to put your stitching face down and press it into a towel. This keeps the stitches from getting flattened, which I think ruins the wonderful dimensional look of embroidery.

Press it until every wrinkle is gone! If there are stubborn creases from a hoop, you may need to wash it to remove them. Less intense wrinkles can be worked out by lightly spritzing the fabric with a spray bottle before you press it. Absolutely don't use starch, as this can yellow over time and change the look of your fabric.

Ok, now that your stitching looks perfect, set it aside. Take the inner part of the embroidery hoop (the one that doesn't have the clamp to tighten it) and trace the outside of the hoop onto your felt (NOT your stitching!). Then cut the felt circle out right on that line.

Now it's time to center your stitching in the hoop. This is honestly the hardest part, so take your time. You want to make sure that the grain of the fabric isn't off-kilter, that the clamp on the outer hoop is lining up with the center of your stitching, and that the design is centered both horizontally and vertically in the circle. Don't tighten the clamp down too much while you do this, because you want to be able to reposition it until it looks good.

Once you're happy with the position, now you want to tighten the clamp and really stretch the fabric as taut as possible in the hoop. Tighten a little, tug on all the edges, tighten a little more, tug a little more...keep doing that until the clamp is as tight as it will go and the fabric is as taut as a drum.

Next, trim your excess fabric to about 1 1/2" outside the edge of the hoop. Then, cut a very long piece of the sewing least a yard long. Make a big knot in one end and start to sew a very large running stitch around the edge of the excess fabric, about 3/4" from the edge of the hoop.

(If you're using linen, you probably want to start by "locking" the thread in place by making a small stitch a couple of times in the same spot. This prevents the knot from pulling through the loose weave of the fabric.)

When you've stitched around the whole circle, pull the thread tight so that it pulls the excess fabric in towards the middle of the hoop. Knotting the thread off while keeping it tight is a bit tricky, you need to keep the thread tight with one hand while sewing a small tight stitch with the other hand, then knot your stitching and cut the thread.

Cut another really long piece of sewing thread and start "lacing" your fabric in place. This is done by making long stitches that go all the way across the hoop from one side to the other, as shown below:

Your lacing stitches should catch the fabric between the hoop and the gathering stitch, not at the very edge of the fabric, or they will pull through the weave of the linen. Lacing the fabric in place helps to prevent it from sagging or relaxing in the hoop later.

You're almost done! Now you want to cover the back with your felt circle. I usually glue mine in place with craft glue, but if the permanence or mess of glue scares you, you can hand sew it instead. You don't need a ton of glue, and if you use thick craft glue, it shouldn't leak through to the other side of your hoop and ruin the front. But do be careful!

If you glue it, it's sometimes necessary to weigh it down with a heavy book to help the edge dry flat. Dry it face up, just to make sure no glue drips end up on the right side of your fabric.

And though it may have seemed impossible, now you're done!

I hope this helped answer your hoop-framing questions. If you have other tips or methods, leave them in the comments!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's a small, small, small world!


It should be no secret by now that I love modern cross stitch cityscapes... my shop is full of them! But the Pretty Little City patterns can take a bit of time, and sometimes you want a smaller project you can do in a weekend. That's why I'm so excited about my new pattern, the Mini Cities Trio!

The pattern includes mini versions of London, Paris and New York City that can be stitched separately, or combined into one long ultimate skyline. I stitched the combined version on natural linen and made it into a fun bolster pillow.  I originally designed the mini cities for Cross Stitch Crazy magazine where they were stitched on black Aida, which really makes the colors pop!


So whether you're in the mood for a small project or a larger one, this pattern download has you covered! You'll find the Mini Cities pattern set in my Etsy shop here.

Happy stitching!

(photo credit: Cross Stitch Crazy)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer's Flight - Goodbye summer, hello FREE PATTERN!


I'm not sure what it is about September, but it always makes me a little sad...maybe a leftover from childhood and the end of those long summers when you could do whatever you pleased!

So to fight off the September blues, I thought I'd make everyone happy and share a little freebie! I designed this modern birdie to evoke the colors of late summer and the approach of fall. I love pincushions, so that's what I made out of this chart, but it's the perfect size (3" x 5") to turn into an ornament, a cell-phone case, or you can frame it and add a little burst of color to your desk.

You can download the color chart by clicking HERE

Or if you prefer a black and white chart, click HERE

(If you'd like to make a pincushion as shown, the directions are below.)

In addition to the pattern, I'm excited to be doing a whole month of fun stuff over at the cross stitch forum on Reddit! Throughout the month of September, folks will be doing a stitch-a-long of the new design, I'll be doing a pattern giveaway, an "Ask Me Anything" interview post, and a special discount for Reddit users. You can find the cross stitch community on Reddit here:  

I hope you enjoy this little Satsuma summer gift! Please share your photos of finished projects on Instagram by tagging them with #satsumastreet or tag me @craftnik. Or share them in the Reddit forum!

xoxo Jody

Pincushion Directions:

- cross stitch fabric for top - 5" x 7" piece of 14 count Aida or 28 count linen
- backing fabric - 5" x 7" piece of any medium weight fabric
- Optional: lining fabric - 10" x 14" piece, similar color to top fabric
- sewing thread
- filling (I use a mix of polyester batting and Polyfil Polypellets stuffing beads)
- pointed stick or knitting needle

1. Stitch the chart on your choice of fabric. 

2. After pressing your stitched piece, trim to 1/2" from the checkered border all the way around. Using that piece as a guide, cut your backing piece to the same size.

3. With open weave fabrics like the linen used in this sample, I like to flat-line the fabric before sewing it up. (If you used Aida, you can probably skip steps 3-4) I use muslin or quilt cotton in the same color as the linen. Cut the lining pieces slightly larger than your top and backing pieces and pin them together, with the right side of the stitching facing up, as shown below:  

4. Using a long basting stitch, either by machine or by hand, baste the fabric and lining together 1/4" from the cross stitch border. As you do this, make sure you are keeping the cross stitch fabric "square"... not distorting the weave in any way. Press your fabric pieces again, and then trim the lining (but not the linen) to just outside the basting stitching (you can see this in the photo below).

5. With the right sides together, stitch the top and back together using a 3/8" seam allowance. Leave an opening of about 2" in one of the sides for turning. Trim your corners close to the stitching as shown:

6. Carefully turn your pincushion right side out. Do this as gently and slowly as possible to avoid pulling any of your cross stitching out!

7. Using a pointed stick or knitting needle, gently push out your corners. Press the whole piece again, this time folding in the seam allowance on the opening.

8. To fill the pincushion, I like a 50/50 mix of polyester batting and Polyfil Polypellets, which are little clear plastic beads. They add weight to the item, which I think is nice with something like a pincushion which you want to sit nicely on your work surface. As you start to add your filling, try to make sure the pellets are mostly sitting on the bottom side of the pincushion and the batting is filling out the top side.

9. Once your pincushion is stuffed, stitch the opening closed by hand. Make sure to use small stitches so those pellets can't escape!

And you're done! Enjoy your new Summer's Flight pincushion, which should keep your craft table happy all year round!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My true love gave to me...


I've always loved the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song, even if I never fully understood it (what would you want with all those birds??). So I've been wanting to do a Christmas cross stitch pattern of the 12 Days for a long time, and this year I finally got to it ... and well before Christmas, so people can actually get it done in time to enjoy it!


 I love making cross stitch Christmas ornaments, so I originally conceived this project as 12 individual designs. Each ornament is 3.5 x 4.5 inches, so they stitch up fast and are just the right size for hanging on a tree. (The pattern includes directions for finishing them as shown.)


Aren't the little people cute? I don't normally do designs with people in them, so this was a fun change for me.

Anyway I love them as ornaments, but then a few fans on Instagram said they'd love to stitch them all together as one big project, so I also include that option in the pattern as well. I added the text at the top and bottom, which I think adds a nice touch.

Satsuma Street - 12 Days of Christmas Cross Stitch Sampler

So it may seem early in the year to be starting your Christmas crafting, but if you start now and make one ornament a week, you'll be done before Thanksgiving! I don't think you'll be able to make only one a week though... they're awfully fun to stitch!

Visit the Etsy shop and get the PDF pattern as an instant download right here.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Learn to cross stitch with Satsuma Street!

I hear from people all the time who tell me that they love my designs and wish they could make them, but they don't know how to cross stitch. I do my best to help beginners through emails, but for some folks the best way to learn is through hands-on, personal instruction. That's why I'm so excited to be teaching a Cross Stitch Basics workshop on May 2nd in Los Angeles at French General!

The class will be five hours long, and we will learn to make the lovely pincushions you see here, which I designed based on an old French motif. You probably won't have time to finish a pincushion in the class, but you will learn all the basics of counted cross stitch: how to read a chart, measure out fabric, divide your floss, start and end your stitching properly, and begin working on one of the charts. I'll give tips for finishing the projects, including how to clean and press your stitching when you're done with it, and how to sew it into a pincushion. I'll also share lots of other tips and tricks that I've picked up for making your stitching as smooth and easy as possible.

The workshop is $65, and the fee includes the pattern and all the materials to make your pincushions. If you've never been to French General, it's a wonderful and inspiring place to spend an afternoon with lots of other creative people, so I hope you'll join us! Space is limited, so sign up as soon as possible!

Visit French General's website and click on "Workshops" to sign up, and do be sure to check their workshop cancellation policy before you commit. Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Quit Your Day Job: I did!

Back when I was first thinking of starting my Etsy shop, and I wasn't sure exactly whether I should go for it, I started reading the Etsy Blog for the courage and inspiration to follow my dreams. The stories and advice I found there gave me the push I needed to go ahead and open the doors on Satsuma Street and list those first few cross stitch patterns, hoping that maybe this crazy idea would work out. So two years later when I was contacted by Etsy and told that they wanted to feature me as one of their "Quit Your Day Job" stories, I was so honored and thrilled, I can't even tell you!

I was happy to be able to share any little bits of advice I could with new or aspiring Etsy sellers, and what was most important to me was to share the message that everyone has to find a unique product to offer and a way of working that suits them, rather than trying to follow someone else's path to success. If you're interested in hearing how I turned cross stitch design into a full time career, I encourage you to go read it, and while you're at it, there are lots of other inspiring stories there too!

Satsuma Street wouldn't be anything at all today without the support of all the wonderful people I've connected with through Instagram, Facebook, and all over the world, so most of all thank you to everyone who has supported the shop and reached out to say hello and let me know you like the patterns! It means so much to know that people like what I'm doing, and inspires me to keep going and making more happy cross stitch patterns for everyone to enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Garden Cat!


It's crazy that it took an avowed cat lady like myself so long to do a cat pattern! I suppose it just had to be the right time and I needed the muse to hit me…I was thinking about doing something Spring-y and flower inspired, and I do wish my kitties could spend their Spring days exploring a garden, but alas they are city cats and have to watch the seasons change from inside the apartment windows.


This cool cat gets to spend all his time under a magical sun, chilling with his friend the bee, smelling the amazing flowers and never worrying about a thing. Seems like a pretty good deal, Garden Cat!


Of course my apartment cat doesn't have it so bad either. I only put him to work filling orders on the rare occasion that I take a day off… if you ever get an email from me and it's full of typos, don't blame me…it's probably my assistant:

Head on over to Satsuma Street to find the Garden Cat cross stitch pattern (along with lots of other fun designs). All the cool cats are cross stitching these days!

xoxo Jody (and Stoli)