Good morning all my fellow Stitchers! I hope this fine October day finds you all well! I love this time of year for many reasons, but one of the best parts is how the chill in the air gives me the excuse to curl up on my couch with a blanket, a movie, and a cross-stitch project.
Lately I have received, through word of mouth, two commissions. It has been very exciting to talk with others, and plan out new projects. Also while all that has been going on, i have begun the C.P.S.F., better known as Christmas Present Stitching Frenzy. Oh yes, folks, it has already started!
I want to share with you the current Christmas ideas I have this year. I was looking at things in a local Dollar store, and discovered some brightly colored tote bags. At first I dismissed them, thinking any motif I wanted to put on them, would have to be done on Aida Cross-stitch cloth, and then sewn on to the outside of the bag which would not be as pleasing to the eye, and a lot of work too. But As I studied them I realized the material they were made of,( a thin felt type of cloth) has, in a way, squares marked off, so I could stitch directly to the tote, without using waste canvas or any other helper!
So the experimenting began. My first tote I stitched, was bright pink, and I have to say that it was almost too bright- and became uncomfortable after an hour or two of intense stitching. So I had to put it down a lot and work on other projects on my “time outs” and the stitching did produce a little bit of wrinkling on the tote’s front surface. I started out using embroidery floss, but soon discovered it did not stand out very well. When I switched over to Sulky thread, I found the “pop” I wanted it to have. Here is a photo of the pink tote’s motif, when almost Finished. You can see how the “holes” in the fabric are really not complete holes, but I use them as guidelines, for where to center each stitch so they are evenly spaced. You can also see how each stitch is farther apart than in traditional cross stitch. The base color of the tote shows through between each stitch. I kind of like this different look. Do you?
As you can see, the motif is not even finished and already wrinkles are starting to form.
Since this was a practice tote, and not a gift for giving out, I decided to line the inside as well, and see how that went. I chose to use an old pillowcase I don’t use anymore for the lining since it matched well enough, and the material was soft. I simply cut a length of cloth 4 times the length of the front side of the tote ( this is a 5×5 inch tote) and 5.5 inches wide. Then I folded it in half once (the long way) so that the lining would be thick enough to both hide my back stitches, and strong enough to be durable. I turned the tote inside out, and sewed the lining into the seems along the sides, making a kind of sandwich of the tote, with the lining acting as the “wrap” I made sure that the top of the lining which would be attached to the top of the tote, was hemmed as well, so that it looked nice. I had to use pins to keep the lining and the tote both straight, and therefore my stitching straight!
Then when I was finished with the sides, instead of sewing the top of the lining to the top insides of the tote, I used fabric glue to attach it. That way there was no wrinkles, or thread to tie off at the top.
Here is a photo of the lining, after it was finished. ( I accidentally cut one of the handles, but that’s OK- it was a practice one after all!
Finished product, although wrinkly it turned out better than I thought. There for, was born the idea to do totes this year for Presents.
My next tote I chose was a yellow medium-sized tote which was an 8×8 inch tote. I chose yellow to save my eyes for a bit, and I wanted to see how the larger sized motif would work on these totes. And remember I still had the wrinkle issue to work through. I began stitching, and soon discovered that the back stitches of dark or bright thread would show through the thin felt on a light-colored tote. So that would limit my choices of which colors to stitch with, and even then it would not look as nice as on a darker tote. Well I don’t do well with any type of blockade to my stitching! So I thought of one way that would solve the thread showing through, and hopefully help, if not solve the wrinkles. I took an old white sheet, ( with a good thread count) and cut a piece out which was the size of the front of the 8×8 tote. Then I turned the tote inside out and pinned the sheet piece to the tote’s front on the inside, so that my stitches would go through both fabrics, and my back stitches would be behind the sheet on the inside. I think it helped both issues. Here is a photo:
You can see there is still a little bit of wrinkling but not nearly as bad as on the pink tote. I think if I had doubled the thickness of the sheet, or used a denser fabric in place of the sheet, I might have been able to smooth out the wrinkles even more.
So friends, I have begun to make totes in earnest. I will post soon the prices/ types of totes I am setting up to do by commission. I hope to improve more and more, every one I make.