Cross stitch starter kit


I have loved cross stitch for – eek – twenty-five years, and so was really excited to put together a little starter kit for our gorgeous niece’s sixth birthday.

I put in the following:

  • 8 shades of stranded cotton;
  • 14 count Aida. (This is a woven mesh fabric where the “count” indicates how many squares there are per inch. I’d planned to get 11 count, as sewing with this gives good big cross stitches, but the store I went to didn’t stock it, and I’m sure our nimble-fingered niece will be fine with the slightly more delicate 14 count);
  • needles;
  • cards for mounting and presenting the finished pieces;
  • a little zippered bag to keep the cotton and needles in;
  • a few simple patterns gleaned from Pinterest and laminated (including a lovely ballerina one, not in the picture above, picking up the ballet theme in the bag fabric).

For the bag, I used the 6 inch pattern and tutorial at Peggy Sew, and the fabric was from Hobbycraft (£8/metre, but only a little is needed).

I’ll definitely make more of the bags, and next time will try using interfacing or looking for a thinner fleece for the lining than the one I used, as it came out a little bulky.

It was a straightforward project, thanks to the very clear and well illustrated tutorial, and the only difficulty was of my own making. I was feeling particularly smug about the zip seeming to go in well, only to realise that I’d sewed right down the middle of it. There followed an anxious few minutes of unpicking and seeing if I’d broken any teeth, but I was lucky. I still need a lot of practice with zips, but at least I’m no longer terrified of them. Or at least, not so terrified.



Pretty & pink

Ahem, it has been some time. Moving swiftly on, here are two recent projects.

The pinboard was wonderfully quick, thanks to my lovely new mini glue-gun. The cork board was frameless, which made stretching the fat quarter of fabric across it very easy, and I outwitted my nemesis – voile – by coating the edges with Fraycheck to stop them unravelling faster than the speed of light. I then machined the top edge of the voile pocket to neaten it, and hand sewed the ribbon to it, but thinking about it, could probably have glue-gunned that as well.

They're not real ladybirds, they're from Hobbycraft.

They’re not real ladybirds, they’re from Hobbycraft.

The second project was somewhat less speedy, as it turns out that I have a complete inability to sew a square. For those who are able to do so, this would presumably be as straightforward as it looks in the really clear tutorial, although my top tip would be to keep the cut-off corner of the square really level when you sew it up. (In fact, when I make this again, I might leave the opening for turning the square right way out on a long edge, rather than at the corner.)

EnvelopeThis was my third attempt (sadly, I kid you not), and by this point I was against the clock and couldn’t risk the edges of the envelope not being at right angles, so I hand sewed across the back of the diagonal seams, rather than putting them through the machine. I still can’t quite get my head around how – if you do machine the seams – it doesn’t pull the envelope inwards. Perhaps it’s about how much you cut off at the corner of the square to begin with? Anyway, again because of running out of time, I sewed on a popper rather doing a button hole, and glue gunned (ah, my wondrous glue gun) the ribbon rose on top to hide the stitches.

And a few days later the envelope achieved its life purpose, which was to hold a present of a little necklace, and lived happily ever after.

Jewellery roll (or “Getting to grips with zips”)


The other week I made a jewellery roll as a present for a very lovely person. I hadn’t made one before, but used this great and very detailed tutorial.

The jewellery roll is quite petite, so it’s a good project for using up your fabric stash, and I enjoyed the chance to use the pretty Liberty (or Liberty-esque, not sure) print for the outside. The felt inside should protect the jewellery and, because it’s pale, everything in the pockets will show up easily.

I second guessed the instructions and put one pocket above the half-way line, rather than both below, but it worked out fine with a few minor adjustments, and as a plus it means that the two zipped pockets don’t overlap.


And on that note, somehow I’d managed to live my entire life without inserting a zip (isn’t Velcro a magical thing), but it went better than I’d expected. They’re not beautiful, but they open and close, and that’s something.

The top stitching round the outside edge was less successful, possibly because of the bulkiness of the felt, so I might make the pockets a little narrower next time, or look for another soft lining.