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Craft Box Club – Cross Stitch Buttons

This month’s kit from Craft Box Club was a cute little project using cross stitch designs to create wearable art. The green leafy theme made me feel as though Spring is on the way, despite the wet and windy weather outside! 

Included in the box was:

  • Aida
  • Embroidery thread x2 (light green, dark green)
  • Brooch pins x3
  • Wooden button backs x3
  • Mini embroidery hoop
  • Waxed cotton cord
  • Needle
  • Needle threader
  • Glue
  • Wooden lolly stick
  • Cotton wool

There was also a paper pattern for each of the four cross stitch designs as well as the link to the online instructions and video. I find it really helpful that there are written/photo instructions as it can be frustrating to try to make along with a video and have to keep pausing and rewinding bits. However, having the video as well is useful in understanding how to do more complicated techniques.

Although sewing each of the designs took some time as cross stitch can be quite a slow process, the overall project was very straightforward. After sewing the designs there were three wooden disc blanks to use to create the buttons, which needed the brooch pins glueing on the backs before attaching the sewn designs using a simple running stitch to gather the fabric around the wooden disc. The fourth design was used to make a necklace using the mini embroidery hoop and waxed cotton cord. It was a bit unclear what the cotton wool was for. I thought it was used to pad out the buttons, but this wasn’t mentioned in the instructions or the video. 

I thought this was a really cute project that would be easy for any level of crafter, including beginner, to complete. As always it was eco friendly with no plastic at all and the green theme had me thinking of nature whilst I was sewing away! 

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MakeBox – Alice in Wonderland Cross Stitch

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last few weeks completing the Alice in Wonderland cross stitch from MakeBox. Alice is a universally loved story and there are so many themes and elements to relate to. The release of this box coincides nicely with the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser’ exhibition currently running at the V&A museum in London. I haven’t been yet, but it looks fantastic and is open until the end of the year, so I will definitely be booking tickets. The cross stitch design brings together lots of the elements that make up the story including the white rabbit, the Queen of Hearts’ crown, roses, a flamingo and the Mad Hatter’s hat. The only thing missing for me is the Cheshire Cat!

Included in the box was:

  • Navy blue Aida
  • Navy blue felt
  • Embroidery thread x7 (green, red, pink, yellow, blue, and white x2)
  • Needle
  • Rectangular wooden effect embroidery hoop
  • Blue velvet ribbon
  • Stitch chart

I thought the section at the beginning of the instruction book with techniques about the Aida fabric, using a cross stitch chart and how to do the stitches was very informative and would be especially useful for beginners to this embroidery style. The section about putting the Aida into the frame made it sound quite easy but because of the stiffness of the fabric and the unusual shape of the frame I thought it was rather like wrestling an octopus! I found it very difficult to get the fabric to bend into the frame and even harder to make sure the squares were lined up horizontally and vertically. Mine was at a bit of a slant to begin with but I managed to shuffle it round without popping it out of the frame. 

The instructions also said to cut off the excess fabric leaving a one inch border. I decided not to trim mine as I know this kind of fabric can fray a bit. I’m glad I didn’t in the end as I found that the design was actually too big for the frame. It went right up to the edges of the outer frame, which meant that the inner frame at the back didn’t allow access to that area of fabric to stitch on. I decided to take my embroidery out of frame and I actually found it a lot easier to work on after that. I also found it easier to get back into the frame straight once the cross stitch was complete.

I also deviated from the instructions whilst stitching the design. I started with Alice using the centre point marked on the chart. Once Alice was finished the instructions said to count up from her head to do the crown, but I’m always a bit unsure of myself when counting on blank canvas so I decided to go down to the toadstool which was attached to her feet and then work my way around the design in a clockwise direction using the rose stem to join each section so I was never stitching in no man’s land. I also tried adding the hand stitched ‘10/6’ to the Mad Hatter’s hat, but I couldn’t get it neat enough so I left it off.

When I was finished I compared my one to the picture in the instructions and noticed that the design didn’t seem to go quite so close to the edge in the picture and it looks as though a couple of the elements had had a design change, most notably the brim of the hat and the flamingo’s head. I’m not sure it makes a difference to the overall design, but just like Alice I’m curious as to why the changes were made! 

Finally the felt was cut to size and sewn to the back. Once again I went off piste with this! I decided to use blanket stitch rather than running stitch to attach the felt to the back as I think it looks a bit neater, but again it doesn’t really make a difference what stitch you use as it is on the back.

Also included in the box was a recipe for Queen of Hearts jam tarts by the ‘Great British Bake Off’ contestant Alice Fevronia. They were super simple and quick to make, and tasted delicious! The pastry was lovely and of course they wouldn’t be the Queen’s without the heart shape on the top!

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Craftpod – Mimosa Embroidery

Another lovely kit from Craftpod for Spring, this time inspired by the Mimosa tree with it’s fluffy yellow flowers. There were two projects in the kit; an embroidered needle book, and a greenfinch cross stitch.

Included in the box was:

  • Pre-printed fabric
  • Felt (green and cream)
  • Cross stitch canvas
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery thread x6 (dark green, light green, yellow, grey green, pink, and black)
  • Pins
  • Needles
  • Button
  • Cardboard bobbins
  • Stickers
  • Tea bag

I started off with the needle book as I have never made one before. I thought it looked quite complicated but it was actually surprisingly easy to make! Starting off with the pre-printed fabric in the hoop I followed the design using mainly one strand of thread for back stitch and split stitch for the stems and leaves and French knots to create the little flowers. Once the embroidery was finished I cut around the border to create a little rectangular patch. I then cut the rest of the white fabric away from the green and trimmed the cream felt to size so I had all the pieces ready to start construction.

Stitching the embroidered patch onto the green rectangle I was a bit worried that the fabric would fray too much, but as I sewed around it I felt like the stitches would keep it in place and the raw edges give it quite a nice rustic feel. Adding the button finished off the front of the book nicely.

To keep the book shut you had to finger knit a crochet chain. I couldn’t quite remember how to do this from my previous crocheting attempts so I used the video tutorial on the Craftpod YouTube channel to remind myself. The video was really demonstrative and I picked it up straight away. The only thing I found was that they didn’t show how to cast off to keep your chain secure, but it wasn’t too hard to figure out! This chain was sewn to the back of the book, allowing enough give to go around the button once the book was shut with all the felt layers inside.

After sewing the green felt to the cream with some back stitch down the middle to create the ‘pages’ of the needle book, the cream felt was then attached to the completed cover using blanket stitch. As the edges of the green fabric had also been left raw this added to the rustic aesthetic of the book.

The second project was the cross stitch of the greenfinch sitting on a Mimosa branch. I love all the colours in this embroidery, it’s so bright and Spring-like. I thought it was going to take me a really long time as cross stitches usually do, but it was actually quite quick. The design is fairly small and the stitch chart was very easy to follow. I also liked the use of a French knot for the eye, rather than just another cross stitch, it seems to bring the design to life.

Another very enjoyable box from Craftpod. I liked that neither of the projects were too time consuming, and they were both things that could be put down and picked up at leisure, there was no need to dedicate hours to them all in one go. I particularly liked the needle book, although it’s not really my usual style it will actually be really useful and I will definitely be filling it up and putting it in my sewing box.

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Home Sweet Home Embroidery MakeBox

I’ve spent the last few weeks working on the Home Sweet Home embroidery project from the June MakeBox. Cross stitch is very satisfying to complete but it sure does take a long time!

Included in the box was:

  • Aida fabric
  • Embroidery threads
  • Needle x2
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Wooden backing board
  • Velvet ribbon
  • Wooden beads
  • UHU glue
  • Masking tape
  • Double-sided sticky sheet
  • Pattern chart
  • A6 notecards and envelopes

The main project in the box was to create a cross stitch wall hanging with the words ‘Home Sweet Home’, however it was themed around the current lockdown situation and featured images that represent the time we have all spent at home in the last few months: a house, a rainbow for the NHS, a cat and a dog for our pets, a bicycle, an unused car parked under a tree, a cup of tea and of course a bottle of wine! This main part of the embroidery took me a very long time. It required a lot of concentration and I found I could only do small sections at a time otherwise I would get neck ache, so I left it out on the dining table and just kept coming back to it. Included in the instruction book was a blank grid page so if you wanted to customise the design e.g. making one of the pets look like your own, or make any additions you could plan them out before you started sewing, which I thought was a really nice touch. I didn’t do any customisation aside from adding a few bits on the main design where I thought they were missing, such as cross bars on a couple of the Es and a stitch on the butterfly otherwise it wouldn’t have been symmetrical, which definitely would have annoyed me!

Once the embroidery was finally complete it was time to mount it on the wooden backing board using the double-sided sticky sheet. I cut strips off to use on the back and used the rest of the sheet to secure the embroidery to the front of the board. After taking so long with the initial part of the project this part was reassuringly quick and easy to do. The only tricky part was threading the ribbon through the holes at the top as the ribbon was bulky and the holes were small. It took a lot of strength and a lot of wiggling with the needle! Threading the wooden beads on afterwards was no problem though.

After completing the main project there was a further mini project to complete with the offcuts of Aida fabric and the remaining embroidery thread. At this point I was a little fed up with cross stitch, but wanted to complete the full box, so I persevered. The mini project was to make some cross stitch cards using adapted designs from the main project. These were really quick to do in comparison and only took me a couple of hours to complete all three. Once they were finished you could then cut a window in the notecards and glue them inside. All the measurements were provided for cutting out the window, however when I came to do mine I found that instead of A6 notecards I had been sent three pieces of A6 card. As disappointing as this was I made the best of it and turned them into teeny tiny A7 size cards instead. The envelopes are a little big now, but it doesn’t really matter.

Overall it was a nice kit, but I’m not sure that cross stitch is for me. I do enjoy it, but I find that I get tired of it quite quickly and want to be doing other crafts, so it always takes me a long time to finish anything. The wall hanging is a bit twee for my tastes but I do like the little cards and would send them out to my friends. As this one has taken me so long I already have the next MakeBox lined up (along with several other subscription boxes!) and am expecting the August one imminently, so it looks like I’m going to be very busy crafting over the next few weeks!

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Winter Craftpod 2019

I really enjoyed the winter Craftpod! There were two really great projects included, both something a bit different from previous boxes. There was a Scandinavian style cross stitch hoop designed by Lucy from the blog ‘Attic 24’, and a paper craft project designed by Clover Robin.

Included in the box was:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery thread
  • Needle
  • Aida fabric
  • Range of coloured paper
  • Card
  • Coloured pencils
  • Inspirational postcard
  • Spiced red fruits teabag

I did the paper craft project first. The instructions were really clear and took you through the order in which to build up the picture. I especially enjoyed creating the pine cones. I really liked the use of the different colours and textures of the paper to create the effect. I also liked using the coloured pencils to embellish the picture at the end by adding some snowy branches onto the trees, the wreaths on the doors of the huts and the little hand drawn trees.

There was a suggestion to scan your finished collage and use it to print your own Christmas cards. I was a bit late for that this year, but that design may well be making an appearance next year!

The cross stitch project was nice to do over a few evenings in front of the TV. There was a great tip to find the centre point and then complete a quarter of the design at a time. I actually found this really helpful to break it down like that and it actually didn’t take me long to complete it at all. 

I’ve put both the finished projects on my mantel piece alongside my advent calendar and they have made me feel really Christmassy! I haven’t been feeling as festive as usual this year, but having completed quite a few Christmas projects over the last few weeks I am now feeling more than ready for the big day! Only two more sleeps to go…