Pink Castle Blog

How to Cross Stitch on Aida Cloth

Posted by Katie Remski on Jul 14, 2017 9:04:55 AM

 Cross Stitch Banner at PCF

Today, we're going to learn how to cross stitch on Aida cloth. Aida cloth is the easiest fabric to use for cross stitching, as the wide warp and weft fibers make a very obvious grid of holes for stitching. Yesterday, we talked about supplies for cross stitch, including how to count and measure your Aida cloth for sizing (check it out here.) 

Before you begin 

If your Aida cloth is wrinkled or creased, iron it before you start. For really stubbon creases, use a spritz of water, Flatter, or Best Press. Underneath the fabric, lay the plain hoop ring (the one without the screw) or the Q-Snap frame, and then on top attach the upper hoop and tighten the screw. For Q-Snap frames, snap on the 4 cylindrical holders. Make sure the fabric is taut, but not tight to the extreme, as this can distort the weave and makes stitching difficult. 

Thread your needle with the specified number of floss strands (typically 2.) Knot one end so the thread will be secured when you start stitching. 

 Aida Cloth in Hoop


 Aida Cross Stitch step 1  Aida Cross Stitch step 2

1. Look at your Aida cloth and note that it is a grid with well-defined "squares" with 4 holes, one at each corner. Starting from the wrong side, push the needle up through the lower left corner hole. Pull thread all the way through until you feel the knot snug on the wrong side. Now push the needle down through the upper right hole and pull thread snugly. See that you've made a diagonal stitch across one of the Aida "squares," and the needle is hanging from the wrong side of the fabric. 

Aida Cross Stitch step 3 Aida Cross Stitch step 4
2. Bring the needle up through the lower right hold and pull thread snug. Then bring the needle down into the upper left hole and pull it snug. You've now completed a cross stitch! The thread is again hanging on the wrong side of the fabric, ready to make more stitches. 
Aida Cross Stitch step 4 Aida Cross Stitch

3. For the subsequent stitches, make them exactly the same as steps 1 & 2, but the corner holes are shared with the previous stitch. 

Tips and Tricks

  • Make sure all your "X's" are identical, crossing over each other the same way. This ensures your stitches look smooth and consistent. 
  • Don't cut too long of a length of thread to reduce tangling, knots, and waste. 
  • Stitch all the parts of the same color in the same area, skipping over the areas that need another color. You'll save time and thread by going back later to fill in those gaps with their specified color. 
  • Don't knot your thread at the end of your work-- instead, weave it in a few stitches, then clip it close to the fabric. More likely than not your piece is going to be framed and not worn/washed over and over, so weaving in the ends should be sufficient to secure. 
  • If you have a serger or overlocking stitch on your standard sewing machine, it can be nice to finish the edges of your piece before you start stitching to avoid fraying. 
  • Winding your floss on plastic floss bobbins helps to avoid tangles and allows you to write the thread color number in permanent marker on the bobbin (test for ink adhesion first by marking one, let dry for a few minutes, then try to rub it off to make sure it doesn't smudge or smear.)
  • If you own a mix of brands like Cosmo, Aurifil and DMC, mark that somewhere on the bobbin as well. Most patterns will specify a brand, and there are conversion charts available to match colors across brands. 

Other cross stitch posts you may enjoy: 

See all cross stitch supplies here! 

Topics: Embroidery, hand sewing, aida cloth, Hand Embroidery, linen, cross stitch, cross stitch supplies, cross stitch tutorial, cosmo floss, how to cross stitch, Techniques, Home Decoration

Cross Stitch Supplies to Get Started

Posted by Katie Remski on Jul 11, 2017 1:03:44 PM

Cross Stitch Banner at PCF

Cross stitch is one of those hobbies that's never really gone out of style, but it's popularity is definitely on the rise-- and for good reason! Cross stitch is easy to do in front of Netflix or riding in the car, and the tidy little "x's" making pretty (or nerdy, or sarcastic) artwork has a quaint, nostalgic appeal. Here's an introduction on some cross stitch supplies you need to get started.

Fabric for Cross Stitch

Aida Cloth 

Aida cloth is what is probably most well recognized material for cross stitch. The "count" in Aida cloth refers to the number of stitches per inch, and this size determines how large or small each stitch will be. Aida is counted simply by each highly visible "square" in the weave, and 14 count means there are 14 stitches per inch. Aida cloth is often seen in plain white color, but we love aqua or heathered oatmeal colors too. 

Aida Cloth


 For a slightly different appearance, evenweave linen can be used instead of Aida. We use Permin brand 100% linen, and it has a stable hand with the slightest sheen, and comes in beautiful colors. Linen's count is determined by measuring 2 strands up and 2 strands over (you stitch over two strands.) The most common count for linen is 32, and the pattern will indicate what count you should use (or the kit will include it.) Not going to lie, linen is definitely more challenging to use than Aida cloth, but I personally think the look of linen makes the extra effort worthwhile. 

Permin Linen


 cosmo floss


The thread used for embroidery is called floss. It's appearance is similar to yarn, with mutliple plys per strand wrapped into a skien. The floss strands separate easily, so you can use the number of strands the pattern specifies, usually 2 or 3. 

Our favorite is Cosmo Floss by Leicien, and it's what we use in all our kits. Cosmo floss is made in Japan from long-staple cotton, which not only reduces lint and breakage but makes it soft and smooth. It comes in over 400 colors, and also includes verigated and glitter varieties. 


Hoop or Q-Snap Frame

"Hooping" your cross stitch fabric creates tension, which ensures even stitches. You can use the traditional screw or spring hoop made of wood or plastic, or you can use a Q-Snap frame. Q-Snap frames have the benefit of holding your entire piece square and taut, reducing wrinkles and allowing for even tension across the whole piece. 


Mushroom Family Sampler on Aida Cloth

Q-Snap Frame for cross stitch


Tulip Needles

Needles and Scissors

Needles for cross stitch should have a large enough eye to comfortably hold 2 or 3 strands of floss, and be the correct thickness for going through Aida or linen holes without piercing the weave threads of the fabric. We like Tulip Assorted Cross Stitch and Tapestry needles because each cork-stopped tube comes with multiple sizes and levels of sharpness. For scissors, small, sharp snips work well for cutting thread cleanly (so it's easier to thread through the needle) and keeping them convieniently close by. Tula 5" Curved EZ Snips are a great option for both sharpness and portability. 


 See all cross stitch supplies here!  

Topics: Embroidery, hand sewing, aida cloth, Hand Embroidery, linen, cross stitch, cross stitch kit, cross stitch supplies, Techniques

How to do Machine Embroidery on a Sweatshirt

Posted by Brenda Ratliff on May 8, 2017 1:58:57 PM

Living in Michigan, I wear a lot of sweatshirts. Seriously, it's cold here.  Don't get me wrong, the weather is lovely for 3 seasons (I'm really not a fan of winter...) but it's not a billion degrees.  

If you are like me, you probably have some plain looking sweatshirts sitting in your drawers.  It's really easy to take one out and add some pizzaz with machine embroidery!

Machine Embroidery on a Sweatshirt Tutorial

Finished Emboidered Sweatshirt.jpg

Supplies Needed:

Step 1: Choose Embroidery Placement

Well, this sounds obvious and really, it is.  Some patterns will have a printable PDF or photo of the pattern so you can place it on your garment and decide on placement.  I just measured the size of the embroidery pattern and placed it 3" below the center of the neck hole. Mark the placement with the water soluble pen. 


Step 2: Stabilize your fabric

 You will need to cut a piece of stabilizer bigger than your pattern and hoop size.  Then spray glue this to the wrong side of the shirt where you will be placing your embroidery.

Hooped Sweatshirt.jpg

Step 3: Hoop Your Shirt

This step took me the longest I think. I wanted to make sure my placement was centered properly.  If you have to try hooping it a few times, that's okay to get the placement correct!  Make sure you get the back side and sleeves out of the way.  You can secure them to the sides of your hoop with clips if you want to be extra sure that they don't creep underneath your embroidery hoop.  You don't want to embroider a sleeve to the back of your embroidery....


Step 4: Embroider Your Sweatshirt

I suggest to embroider at half speed. Especially if you have a pattern with over 20,000 stitches.  This will help your design from puckering.  

Finished Embroidery in the Hoop.jpg

Step 5: Cut Excess Stabilizer

Unhoop your sweatshirt and trim back your cut away stabilizer with scissors.  Leave about 1/2" around the design.  That's it!  You now have a lovely embroidered sweatshirt! The stabilizer is stiff at first but after a few washings it will soften!

Enjoy your new sweatshirt!

I used the Janome Skyline S9 machine to create this design.  I also recommend the Janome 400e embroidery machines.  These are embroidery only and perfect for someone who already has a sewing machine they love but still wants to get into embroidery!  Click the button below to see the models we have in stock online!  Give us a call at 877-808-8695 if you have questions or to find out our machine specials!

Janome Embroidery Machines

Topics: Machine Embroidery, Embroidery, Techniques, Sewing Machines

The Janome Skyline Series

Posted by Brenda Ratliff on Sep 22, 2016 3:13:00 PM
Janome is known for making easy-to-afford machines that last. Pink Castle Fabrics is dedicated to sell our customers only the best, and we feel that Janome is one of the best!

The Skyline Series is certainly no different! All of the Skyline Series are great machines for everyday use, no matter if you're sewing garments, home decor, or quilting.

All four models have the same body, so they are all the same weight, have the same amount of work space, and one-step needle plate conversions.

Skyline S3

The Janome Skyline S3 is the only one of the Skyline series that is able to be sold online. You can find it on our website for a very reasonable $999.00! It's a great sewing machine for beginners and intermediates that you won't have to worry about them growing out of any time soon.

The Janome Skyline S3 Features:

  • 120 Stitches
    • 7 of which are bottonholes!
  • 8.25 inches of throat space
  • One-hand Needle Threader
  • Easy-Set Bobbin
  • 7 mm maximum stitch width
  • 5 mm maximum stitch length
Here is a video demonstrating the One-Handed Needle Threader 
that comes on the Skylines S3 and S5

In the Pink Castle Fabrics Shop in Ann Arbor, we have the rest of the Skyline Series out on display for your test driving pleasure:

Skyline S5
Skyline S5

A step-up from the Skyline S3, the S5 includes a knee lift and 2 mm more of a maximum stitch width. It's a bit more bang-for-your-buck with more stitches all around, too!

The Skyline S5 features:

  • 170 Stitches
    • 10 Buttonholes
  • 9 mm maximum stitch width
  • 5 mm maximum stitch length
  • One-hand needle threader
  • Easy-to-navigate touch screen
  • Easy-set bobbin


Skyline S7
Skyline S7

Is one of our personal favorites here at Pink Castle Fabrics! We use it for our Glamp Stitchalot Retreats for those in attendance that wish to rent a machine. It's the perfect sewing machine for apparel and quilting with special built-in applications for zippers, quilting, and piecing,

The Skyline S7 features:

  • Colored LCD Touch Screen
  • 240 Stitches
    • Including 11 buttonholes
  • 9 mm maximum stitch width
  • 5 mm maximum stitch length
  • Superior needle threader
  • Easy-set bobbin
  • Acufeed Flex 
  • Built-in Applications
In this video, Brenda reviews the Skyline S7 and all of its 
amazing features!

Skyline S9
Skyline S9

The Skyline S9 is the only Skyline to be capable of machine embroidery! It is brand new as of September 2016. It has all the same sewing features as the Skyline S7 and then some! Really, you're not going to want to pass up this amazing machine.

The Skyline S9 features:

AMH Embroidery
This is just one of the many
AMH embroidery designs that
come already programmed into the
Skyline S9!
  • Colored LCD Touch Screen 
  • 300 Stitches
    • Including 16 buttonholes
  • 9 mm maximum stitch width
  • 5 mm maximum stitch length
  • Superior needle threader
  • Easy-set bobbin
  • Acufeed Flex
  • Built-in Wifi capabilities
  • 250 Built-in Embroidery designs
    • 40 of which are designed exclusively by Anna Maria Horner! (Not available for individual purchase elsewhere!)
  • Comes with three sizes of embroidery hoops: 
    • 6.7" by 7.9"
    • 5.5" by 5.5" 
    • 3.9" by 1.6"
  • The ability to taper specific stitches to create beautiful borders
  • You can purchase a professional straight stitch plate to turn it into a straight stitch machine! 
Skyline S9 with Embroidery Unit Attached
*The first five people to purchase a Skyline S9 from Pink Castle Fabrics will receive a free gift worth up to $180!
Call the shop today or e-mail our Resident Janome Sales Girl, Molly, with any questions, comments, or concerns at 
We can't wait to hear from you!
Did you know that October is Embroidery Month? We'll be posting throughout October with machine embroidery tips and tricks while also highlighting many of our amazing Janome Embroidery Machines. Stay Tuned!

Topics: anna maria horner, Embroidery, Janome, skyline, Sewing Machines

Stabilizers- What you need to know for machine embroidery

Posted by Brenda Ratliff on Sep 12, 2016 3:35:00 PM
Rocket bibMachine embroidery is one of the most fun features of my Janome Memory Craft 9900! Since purchasing this amazing machine a year ago, I’ve been able to make some really interesting and fun projects that I wouldn’t be able to do with just any sewing machine. It allows me to make anything I want personalized and special. I have taken store-bought, blank baby bibs made of light terrycloth and made a lovely bundle of shower gifts in less than half an hour, and the girls always go crazy over them!  I know learning the basics of Machine Embroidery can be very daunting, so I’m here to help you learn how to choose the right kind of stabilizer for different types of projects.

First, let me disclaim this: These are just tips on how to use the different types of stabilizer. Not everyone’s machine or thread is exactly the same, so it may take some time for you to figure out what exactly works for you and your projects. I’m going to go through the basic types of stabilizer: tear away, cut away, and water soluble. I have figured all of this out by trial and e rror in my own projects and what works for me may not work as well for you, and vice versa. I've also asked a Janome Educator and my personal embroidery guru, Danielle Wilkes, for her personal tips and tricks. 
Tear Away stabilizer is the stabilizer that I and Danielle use the most. It's useful when working with:
  • linen, 
  • linen-like fabrics, 
  • and quilting weight cottons. 


For these specific fabrics, it is suggested that medium weight stabilizer is used. There has been little use, in my personal experience, for light weight or heavy weight tear away stabilize r unless you're using it for different weighted fabric than those I've already listed. Again, it depends on the project you're using it for. To remove it from the pattern, you simply just tear it away gently from the fabric. It will come away from where it is not stitched into the pattern.

Cut Away stabilizer is sturdier than tear away. It is usually used with fabric that is stretchy and needs more stability. Namely: knits! Onesies made of knit fabric are a perfect example of what to use cut away stabilizer for. Danielle has suggested using flesh-toned cut away on projects like this, that way the stabilizer does not show through the fabric when worn.
Here is one of the onesies Danielle has made this summer! You can see how she used the cut away stabilizer and has cut closely around the pattern to keep the stabilizer in place, but to keep it out of the wearer's way:
Janome machine embroidery
Janome machine embroidery

There will be some instances where an in-the-hoop project will call for cut away. Because the nature of in-the-hoop projects is to stitch over specific spots over and over again as you add fabric and embelishments, sometimes you need an extra sturdy stabilizer to keep the project together while the needle punctures it repeatedly.

Janome machine embroidery
Here I used a clear sheet
of water soluble stabilizer on top
of terrycloth washcloths 

Water Soluble, or Wash Away, is exactly what it means: it dissolves after being soaked in water for a certain amount of time or sprayed with a mist of water. The amount of time it takes depends on the brand and type, so be sure to read the basic instructions before using it. Many people prefer to use the mist-away rather than the soak-away as it takes less time to be rid of the residue left behind. However, there is no other advantage to the different ways of dissolving.

I also prefer to lay one layer of the wash away film over any fabric with any sort of pile that  I am working with . What does that mean? Any kind of fuzzy fabric such as towels (or anything made of terry-cloth, really) or cuddle/minky fabrics. If it has any sort of fuzz-factor, really, you should place a layer of water soluble film on top before you embroider. This helps to keep the loops, hair, or loose fibers from poking through an otherwise beautiful satin or tatami stitch during the stitching process. It also keeps any animal hair from looking like a bad case of bed-head. I don’t use any sort of bonding agent to attach the solvy to the top of these fabrics, I just pet or brush the fibers so that they're all flowing in one direction, then lay it down on top and hoop it as it is; I don’t pull it tight or bond it with any spray as the bonding will rip the fuzz or loops of fiber away, making the fabric either weaker or bald. We don’t want bald minky on a baby blanket, do we? Definitely not!

How do you get the stabilizer to stick to the fabric?

Web bond     Here at Pink Castle, we prefer to use Web Bond when bonding stabilizer to fabric rather than other spray-type adhesives. Web bond releases an actual web of temporary adhesive that doesn't smell and is acid free. It doesn't release as many toxins into the air when sprayed compared to the other brands.. 
     Sometimes it will be more appropriate to baste the stabilizer the old fashioned way, by stitching it rather than using adhesive.  
     Also, you may not always want to bind the stabilizer to the fabric before you start stitching out your pattern. It's not an exact science, but when you find your special way of embroidery, your projects will come out beautifully and look store-bought, or even better!

Pink Castle Fabrics carries an assortment of Janome Machines that do embroidery! Be sure to check out our Janome Machines both online and in-store. They range from embroidery only machines such as the Memory Craft 350E and the  Memory Craft 400E to combination sewing and embroidery machines like my Memory Craft 9900, the Memory Craft 12000, and the Memory Craft 14000

Thank you for taking the time to read about my personal uses for the three main types of embroidery stabilizer. I hope you have found this helpful and won’t be afraid to try something new.
 Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or have your own bits of wisdom to share on the subject! E-mail with any questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

Topics: Embroidery, Janome, stabilizer, Techniques, Sewing Machines

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