Big News!

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It’s HERE! We’ve been working so hard on this book and I’m thrilled to finally get to share it with you! It comes out in April, but you can pre-order on our site or Amazon. If you’d like to give it as a gift, we have some cool gift cards – just ask and we can send you one to give as a “pre” gift. The gift of delayed gratification, right? There are 40 coloring pages and activities that are hilariously subversive. The illustrator is a long-time favorite of mine, the awesome Chris Piascik. I really think you’ll enjoy it. More info on the book page here.

Super Cute Assistants

I’ve gleaned a collection of all kinds of pets helping out with cross stitch, including my all-time favorite disapproving cat with YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. What would we do without them??

Alternative Framing Tutorial

This is a guest post by the awesome and clever Meredith Mendola. You can find a link to her framing service at the end of this article.

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While I wish I could take credit for the great idea of mounting finished needlework on canvas, I cannot. It is a pretty simple way to put the finishing touches on any piece, and it’s less expensive than most frames.  Depending upon what types of crafting you like to do, you probably already have most of the needed materials handy.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
Your finished piece
Pre-stretched paint canvases
Hot glue gun (the cheap kind) and glue sticks
A butter knife, finger guards, or calloused fingers
Scissors
Ribbon or whatever you are planning to use to finish the edges

When you are done stitching, prepare your fabric however you usually do.  Many people like to wash and iron their pieces; some people prefer just to iron and not wash.  Make sure to heat up your glue gun so it’s ready to go.

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I like to use pre-stretched paint canvases because they are readily available in most craft stores and are fairly variable for your tastes.  They can be back-stapled, gallery wrapped, or whatever style you prefer.  They come in many sizes, so choose what works best for your piece.

Make sure to leave about an extra 2inches (5cm) of space (or more) around the actual design area on your fabric.  This ensures you will have enough fabric to wrap around the canvas.

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Line up your piece on the canvas so that the design area is centered on the canvas front.  It can help to hold both pieces up to a bright light.  You can also break out a ruler or count rows in order to measure the margins.  Personally, a little imperfection here is not the end of the world and is not very noticeable when you have a more creative framing design.

Place the two pieces face down on your workspace and apply hot glue to one edge.  Take care when folding over the piece as the glue can be very hot.  I occasionally employ a butter knife to help fold over the edges without burning my fingers.  Once you complete that edge, repeat on the opposite edge of the canvas, NOT one of the adjacent ones.  This helps ensure that the fabric is tautly and evenly affixed.

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Next, you will fold the other edges over as if you were wrapping as present.  Again apply hot glue here and affix the edges tightly.  Repeat on the opposite side.

After the aida is affixed, double check your edges and see if any of the fabric is still loose around the edges.  If so, just add a little bit more glue.

When wrapping/gluing ribbon, fabric tape, or anything in one continuous piece, I start on the bottom edge of the frame, as I assume this is the edge less likely to be visible.  Then glue a few inches at a time, being sure to keep the ribbon lined up on the edge.  I use one hand to guide the ribbon and another to run the glue gun.  When you reach your starting point, make sure to trim your ribbon so that it meets up with the beginning of the piece.

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For finishing the edges, there are so many things you could use.  I like to use fabric tape, ribbon, and card stock a lot.  But you could also use puff balls, leaves, coins or other metal, leather, buttons, embellishments for scrapbooks, etc.   This is my I Love Lucy tin full of different ribbon and tape.

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And voila!!  It only takes a few minutes to have a nice looking finished piece to give as a gift or beautify your home.

If you’re not the most handy and are looking for more pointers, or if you would like to hire me to do this for you, please feel free to email me at DollysDesignsXStitch@gmail.com  or visit my Facebook page at Dolly’s Designs.  I also create custom patterns and finished pieces.

Metallic Floss Made Easy

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Metallic thread is a notorious headache, but I have finally found a combination of things that makes it behave like regular thread. Here are my secrets.

$$$ Try putting your metallic thread in the fridge before you stitch. I’m not entirely sure this helped, but it’s worth a try because I feel like it kind of did.

$$$ Use a lot of Thread Heaven (or as I call it, Thread Lube). It’s a type of wax which will help your metallic thread glide smoother.

$$$ I always pair a strand of metallic thread (I prefer this kind) with one strand of DMC six-strand cotton floss. It makes the path smoother by example and encourages the metallic strand to behave.

$$$ The most important thing is the way you thread your needle. I learned this from Creative Poppy. In these images, I’m threading a needle with one strand of metallic and one strand of DMC cotton floss.

  1. Fold the two strands together and thread the folded part through the needle. Pull the threads through a little bit longer than your needle, making a loop.
  2. Put the tip of the needle through this loop and pull it through so that it forms a tiny knot at the end of the needle.
  3. This locks the floss on the needle and prevents the metallic thread from fraying. I swear, it works like magic. The metallic thread will behave like normal thread.

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$$$ Lastly, don’t forget to iron it – see before and after photo below. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in uniformity, plus it cranks up the reflective quality!

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Fall and Halloween Designs

We have so many options for fall and Halloween. The most popular, taking the internet by storm, is this one – based on the hilarious McSweeney’s article.

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But there’s more! Available as kits and PDFs. Check the NEW page for all the latest.

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And in PDFs:

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Quite a collection! Get to it, time’s a wastin’!

Craftivism Opportunity #EndGunViolence

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photo and stitching by Shannon Downey of Badass Cross Stitch.

One of my favorite people, the awesome Shannon Downey of BadAss Cross Stitch, has created an amazing opportunity for you to participate in some craftivism to help End Gun Violence. And she’s done it in that super-savvy, clever way that she is just so good at — connecting craft and cause.

As Shannon explains on her site:

“I was simply stitching elaborate guns as a way to process my own feelings around the prevalence of gun violence both in our country and especially in the city I love, Chicago.

I’ve decided to continue on with this series and eventually sell them to raise money for an amazing program called Project FIRE.

Project FIRE (Fearless Initiative for Recovery and Empowerment) is an artist development employment program that offers healing through glass blowing to youth injured by gun violence in Chicago. Project FIRE combines glass arts education, mentoring and trauma psycho-education in order to support trauma recovery and create employment opportunities for young people who have been shot or witnessed the homicide of a loved one.”

Since Shannon expanded this idea and put out a call for submissions, the project has really taken off:

The craftivism pieces are rolling in from ALL over the world and it’s SO exciting. Because it’s catching on, I’m going to extend the deadline to October 30th!

Project FIRE is going to be wrapping up their session around then and we are going to host a collaborative gallery show of all of your amazing fiber art AND the beautiful glass art that the young people involved in the program are creating. It’s going to be amazing.

Interested? Go to BadAss Cross Stitch and download the cross stitch pattern. Not a stitcher? You can also participate in any fiber art medium. It’s going to be a really big shoooow and raise a lot of money for a great cause!

Working on my piece for the show has really helped me process some of the frustration and horror of all the shootings this summer, including in my home town of Dallas. So get to stitchin’ and create something that only you can–no two interpretations are ever alike. Plus, did I mention it’s really great therapy? Bonus.

I Challenge You!

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Check out this gorgeous pattern! If stitched on 14-count material, it’ll measure just over 9 inches square. I think it’d make a great pillow.

I will be stitching it shortly, but I wanted to go ahead and get it out there as I think it’s a challenge and just in time to while away the rest of the summer.

How can you NOT? 😉

Time For Courage and Love

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Lately the climate out there has been scary, with all the violence in the world plus kooky politics. It’s easy to shrink back in fear and become outraged or hateful. But I say FUCK FEAR! Be courageous instead.

Dallas, my beloved home town, is filled with so much love right now. People have been standing in line all week in the Texas heat to hug cops. The Texas heat!! Feels like 105 degreees! Black Lives Matter protestors and counter protestors — guys in cowboy hats with guns wearing confederate flag T-shirts! — came together and made peace in a group hug (see it on CNN.com).

All the anger out there comes from fear and I say FUCK FEAR! What the world needs now is LOVE, sweet love. So if you need something therapeutic to help you through this summer, stitch one of these up yourself!

Commercial Cross Stitch work

I cleaned up and updated my custom and commercial page today. Here are a few of the jobs I’ve done for fun and profit.

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1. Billboard designed and stitched for Shiner Beer’s first IPA, Wicked Ram.

2. Designed, stitched and framed work for Garden & Gun magazine, current issue.

3. Logo converted to pattern and stitched for Thrillist offices.

4. Orange Is The New Black phrase designed and stitched for Netflix social media.

5. Designed and stitched catchphrase from Broad City for a Bust magazine stitchalong. Featured in Viacom reel.

6. Designed and assembled tiny kits and stickers for subscribers of You Are Beautiful.

7. Designed, stitched and/or managed a series of tins for blueQ.

8. Designed and stitched book cover art for Heather Armstrong of dooce.com, a best seller!

9. Oops, there is no 9. Dang it.

10. Designed and stitched series of cross stitch patterns exclusive to DIY Network.

11. Designed and stitched cover art for Parade magazine!