How to Calculate Design Size
Almost all patterns give you the stitch count, but we have found that they do not always give you the size the project will be on various fabric counts. This is real easy to calculate. All you do is take the stitch count (example 100 stitches) and divide the size fabric into that number (such as 14 ct. aida) and the finished size would be 7.14 or as we say 7 1/4 inches. You can do this with any fabric count. 10 Ct. would be 10 inches, 16 count would be 6.25 or 6 1/4 inches. Since when stitching on linen we go over two threads (such as 28 ct linen would stitch up as 14 count) you divide the same way. Rule of thumb - always add 6 inches to the size for framing without a mat, 8 inches if you are matting.
Remember it is easy to check the designers' calculations, as they make mistakes also. Sometimes not telling you to purchase a big enough piece of fabric or telling you to purchase a gigantic piece of fabric for a small design. Nothing aggravates as not having enough fabric for framing the way your want.
All cross stitch fabrics should be stretched when framed, and if your fabric is not big enough, it is very hard to stretch. Most framers won't even try and then it could pucker. We do not recommend attaching fabric to your piece if you are short as all fabric stretches differently and you could get bunches and lumps.
Centering Your Design
The best way to center your design on your fabric is to fold the fabric in half from top to bottom, then fold it in half again from left to right. Your center of the fabric should be the closed point at the upper left. Thread a needle and put an "X" in the center block or area where the center of the fabric has been determined by your fold.
Some patterns say to start in the upper left corner of the fabric, in three inches and down three inches. This will work sometimes, but your design will not be in the center of the fabric and if you miss count, you could run off the fabric.
Always add an additional 6 inches to the design size to make sure you have allowed enough fabric for framing. This will also help if you did not fold the fabric correctly and are a little off center.
How To Wash Your Fabrics
As I have been a Stitcher over 30 years, the rule of thumb is to keep hands clean at all times - meaning do not eat and stitch. If you hands become dirty, this will transfer onto your fabric. Hoops are not dirty - hands are. If you notice hoop marks on your fabric, it's from your hands. It is suggested to wash your hands before you stitch, even hand cream can leave marks on fabrics. If this happens, you should wash your fabric in cool water with mild dish detergent. If a color runs, then you must soak in cold water, constantly changing the water until the color comes out. Press when still damp with a dry iron.
But - Remember all overdye fabrics and flosses are NOT washable. If your piece becomes dirty, it must be dry cleaned only. But even this does not insure that the marks and stains will be removed. After your stitching is completed, and you want to press it with an iron - it is best to use a dry iron (no steam) on all overdye fabric as the colors could run.
Just a note: Clay buttons can also melt.
Working with Overdye Fabrics and Flosses
When a design calls for overdye fabric or overdye floss - this means that the fabric or floss started as one color, and the manufacturer applied dye to it and changed the color. When this process is used, it is recommended that you DO NOT wash the project when you are finished. The color could run. Dry cleaning is not recommended as well as the chemicals they use could also cause the color to run. If this does happen, you will need to keep soaking in cold water, but you will notice the overdye floss or fabric WILL change colors. Fabrics will become ugly and the floss will fade out. This is why we recommend that you keep your hands clean when stitching, and fore go any food or drinks. An ounce of prevention keeps your piece clean.
Facts About Hand Dyed Fabrics
All Hand Dyed fabrics will vary slightly in color depending on the count and density of the fabric. It is recommended "NOT" to wash hand dyed fabrics. If any cleaning is necessary, we recommend dry cleaning. However, under NO circumstances should you wash or dry clean the dark colors' as their color will alter dramatically.
Never store hand dyed fabrics in zip-lock styled plastic bags. A chemical reaction with the plastic and dye formulations will cause color changes to take place. You can use a hoop or Q-snap frame, but never leave the hoop on fabrics during non-working periods. Again the plastics in the frames/hoops can react with the dyes and this will cause the hoop to leave an imprint on the fabric. Thus, we recommend wooden hoops and scroll frames to minimize this potential disaster.
Adding Beads and Buttons
When you add beads to a design always use a beading needle - either a No. 10 or No. 12. Tapestry needles have a wider shaft and can get caught or can break the beads. This is expecially important when using the petite and bugle beads. The rule of thumb for adding beads to a design is to add them on a diagonal following the way you do your first stitch of the X, however, newer patterns give directions to make a complete x thru the bead causing the bead to stand straight on the fabric. Both ways work, however, follow the instructions on the design. If no mention of which way to use, then use the diagional method. When attaching beads to your design it is best to run your thread tail under approximately 7 stitches, then go back and go under 2 more to lock in the thread. This will prevent the beads from coming off when your piece is being stretched and framed. It is also acceptable to tie small knots to hold the beads on, just don't go overboard. If you have to add beads in an area that has no stitching, make a loop knot, and add the beads on to the design using one strand of floss going through the bead twice then drag the thread and add the next bead. When you finish
drag the tail to an area that is stitched and run your tail through or again use a loop knot. Nothing looks worse then when a piece is framed and you see bumps on the front of the design.
It is also acceptable to tie on buttons to keep them from falling off. Tying on the buttons keeps them where you place them, whereas when you run under stitches and then add buttons, they have more play and can move more freely. Many of the new buttons are now made out of clay and are a little more delicate, so you must use a No. 10 or No. 12 beading needle to go through the holes and only use one strand of floss. You can sew through the button two or three times, but don't pull too tight or you will pull the center out of the button. You can also use this method for the ceramic buttons.
What Fabric Should I Use?
Our belief in fabrics is if you can't see it, don't use it. What do we mean - sometimes a designer chooses a linen fabric that is a small count or over one thread for the design. That was her choice, but you can pick something else and the design will look as good, sometimes even better. Nothing is worse than having a customer purchase a fabric they cannot see even using with a magnifier, and then they become disgusted and never finish the project. If something calls for a 28 count linen, you can pick a 14 count aida fabric and the design would be completed approximately the same size. 32 count linen, you can substitute 16 count aida. With the selection of fabric colors that we carry, we can easily substitute a fabric that would be suitable for you. We are not saying that Linen or Evenweave fabric is not nice, quite the opposite, but we do realise it is not for everyone. If you ever want to try counting over two threads, 18 count linen is the best bet to try first. The linen thread is big and easy to count. The smaller count linen with the finer the threads is easier to use once you understand the concept of counting over two threads. If the thread is thick or thin, it is still one thread and when you count over two only count over two. It is a little harder to count the threads with your eyes which many of you do when stitching on aida. Use your needle to count the threads. You always want to count and re-count if you are hopping all over the project. Nothing is more annoying if you find are off a thread or block in a border - this cannot be fixed without ripping out everything up to the point of your error. So as I always say, take your time and you will have a lovely finished piece when you are done.
Our philosophy is - - there is no Cross Stitch Police that will come to your home and take your needle if you pick a fabric that is more practical for you. Cross Stitch is a hobby and it is to be enjoyed. Don't make it a job and struggle to complete your project. Remember an artist would not paint if they didn't enjoy it and you are an artist, enjoy your project.