I've recently committed myself to a cross stitching project and there's honestly no turning back now. The idea is to sit and stitch just one flower a day, using Carolyn Manning's Stitch Along pattern. Despite getting over the intimidation of beginning a project of this extent and making a handful of mistakes to start, I'm totally hooked. It's amazing to see how much joy this has brought me over the last few weeks. Before I dive into my computer in the mornings, I pick up my hoop and stitch a single flower, usually while drinking coffee and listening to my favorite podcasts. It's calming and meditative, I highly recommend it. And while I'm far from finished, I thought I'd share some tips that I've learned along the way in hopes that maybe you'll stitch along with me!
- Carolyn Manning Flower A Day pattern (PDF and pamphlet - I prefer the paper copy versus digital as I find it easier to count grids and carry with me if I want to stitch on the go!)
- assorted embroidery floss (here, here and here)
- cross stitch needle
- 19" x 28" 14 count cotton cross stitch cloth
- embroidery hoop (I prefer a larger hoop but any hoop size works. THIS is also a great deal as most all your supplies are bundled into one purchase)
A cross stitch pattern is your guide and will tell you everything you need to know about where to stitch and what colors to use. The grid on the pattern corresponds to the weave of the fabric - in this case, I'm using a standard, 14 count aida cross stitch fabric. As far as colors are concerned, the pattern provides the exact floss colors to use and you can differentiate colors by the symbols or number coded in each colored grid. I simply used it as guidance and have been using whatever colors I have on hand.
Most embroidery floss is made up of six strands of thread that are twisted together. With a 14 count fabric, it's best to split the threads in half or thirds (i.e. 3 or 2 strands) at a time. I made the mistake of not doing this when I first started this project and decided to start over. It was an absolute pain but I'm so glad I did - it looks crisper and cleaner!! To separate the strands, just divide them and pull them apart. Next, you'll thread your needle and there's no need to double knot the end. I'll explain more later. Also, be sure to use a tapestry or cross stitch needle - they have blunt ends, which makes stitching a lot easier than a pointed end sewing needle.
To start, you'll reference the pattern. I started at the upper left corner - which is where the pattern began. Here, I've already started the pattern so I'm using the closest flower as my next reference point. Count the grids between flowers to guide you. I always like finding the next closet grid as it helps avoid any mistakes. If you miscount, it can cause issues with the rest of the pattern so accuracy is key!! And if you accidentally miscount a grid or two, you can always make it up later on.
Once you've found your entry point, bring the needle up from one of the grid corners. I like to stay consistent so for me, I usually start at the upper right corner. Be sure to hold the tail behind the fabric while passing the needle through the hole diagonally from your starting corner (i.e. the lower left corner).
Bring the needle back up through the opposite hole (i.e. the upper left corner) and then back down diagonally to finish your first cross stitch. Meanwhile, you should be trapping the tail in the first few stitches. This prevents you from having to double knot your floss each time.
Continue adding stitches according to the pattern.
When you finish one color, pass the needle under at least three completed stitches to hide the tail end of the floss. Trim any remaining floss and start your next color.
With stitches that are in a row, I like to create a row of half cross stitches and then go back the opposite direction to finish them.
Don't worry about having to cross the floss on the backside to go from grid to grid. As long as the distance is pretty short, there's no need to cut the floss off and start again.
Some patterns will include line stitches which requires the use of a back stitch. I like to use 2 strands versus 3 strands for this kind of stitch. To back stitch, bring the needle up one grid ahead and bring it back down one grid behind.
Continue that pattern. Bring it up one grid ahead and then back down one grid behind.
Believe it or not, I'm less than a quarter of the way through. The finished piece will measure 16" x 16". Many people have asked me what I plan on doing with this piece once it's finally done. I'm not quite sure yet. I'm thinking of turning it into a pillow or maybe even framing it? If you guys decide to take this one, I'd love for you to share your own version of a Flower a Day!! Happy stitching!
images & tutorial by HonestlyWTF