Pink Castle Blog

How to Cross Stitch on Linen

Posted by Katie Remski on Jul 18, 2017 11:15:00 AM
  

How to Cross Stitch on Linen from Pink Castle Fabrics

Linen fabric, also called Cashel, makes stitches visually pop and creates a smooth, attractive background. Cross stitching on linen isn't difficult, but it does require a little focus and practice. Here's a tutorial on how to cross stitch on linen!

What is Cashel? 

Linen is often called Cashel, which is a 54" wide fabric that is made from 100% linen fiber. It is an evenweave, meaning it has evenly spaced warp and weft yarn. Most evenweave Cashel comes in 28 count, which is equivalent to 14 count Aida cloth. Cashel comes in a great variety of colors, including heathered tones and sparkle. We're going to refer to Cashel as "linen" for the remainder of this article as the terms are interchangeable, with "Cashel" mostly being used to distinguish between evenweave linen for cross stitch and linen for sewing. 

 

 

How to Cross Stitch on Linen from Pink Castle Fabrics

A close-up of evenweave linen (Cashel) in front of a light

Preparing Linen for Cross Stitch 

If your linen is wrinkled at all, press it with a hot iron and steam. Make sure to only iron it with the grain (move the iron up and down or side to side) and not diagonally, as that can distort the weave. Use a spritz of Flatter or Best Press for really stubbon wrinkles. 

How to Cross Stitch on Linen from Pink Castle Fabrics

 

 How to Cross Stitch on Linen from Pink Castle Fabrics  How to Cross Stitch on Linen from Pink Castle Fabrics

1. The most important thing about cross stitching on linen is to remember you are going over TWO warp and TWO weft yarns for every stitch. Picture a hashtag or pound sign # under each stitch, and you are stitching in the 4 outer holes, treating the 2 warp and weft yarns as one. Just as for Aida cross stitch (read that post here-- it's the same technique, just crossing 2 strands up and down instead of the one in Aida,) come up the lower left hole and down the upper right. Pull taut but not tight. 

How to Cross Stitch on Linen from Pink Castle Fabrics How to Cross Stitch on Linen from Pink Castle Fabrics

  2. Come up the lower right hole and down the upper left. Look at your work and make sure you crossed 2 warp and 2 weft, and that the strands are perpendicular to each other and on the straight of grain (not diagonal.) I promise the first few stitches on linen are the hardest--once you have more than one stitch to referece, it's much easier. 

How to Cross Stitch on Linen from Pink Castle Fabrics To use linen in a charted cross stitch pattern, each square on the pattern represents 1 stitch. Keep crossing over 2 warp and 2 weft for each stitch. To count out to the side or above or below to know where to stitch next, be sure to count 2 strands as 1--the picture to the left shows only 2 stitches and would be represented on the pattern as 2 boxes, even though there are technically 4 yarns. 

Tips & Tricks

  • Use a Q-Snap frame instead of an embroidery hoop-- the round shape of the hoop tends to distort the weave and makes harsh creases in the fabric. I can't emphasize enough how much easier my life became when I converted to Q-Snap frames! 
  • Whether you prewash your linen (hand wash and dry flat) or not is up to you, but I'd recommend it only if the final design will be washed (like tea towels or pillowcases.) Washing can wrinkle and shrink the fabric, and it can be tricky to re-align the grain after washing. Most good quality linens will come to you flat and perfect, ready to stitch and frame upon finishing. 

Cross Stitch Kits with Linen:

More posts about cross stitch:

See all cross stitch supplies here! 

Topics: hand sewing, Hand Embroidery, linen, cross stitch, cross stitch supplies, cross stitch tutorial, cosmo floss, cashel, q snap frame, Fabric, Home Decoration

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

Linen 

 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

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

English Paper Piecing Tutorial: Fussy Cut Hexagons

Posted by Katie Remski on Jun 22, 2017 9:51:16 AM
  

EPPweekbanner.jpg

One of the most fun things about working with small pieces like 1" hexagons is they are perfect for featuring just one motif from your favorite fabrics. Where large cuts allows you to see "the whole picture," a little fussy cut allows one element to shine and really lets you appreciate the artistry of the fabric. Who knew one little bunny could have so much detail? Doesn't the ship look ready to sail right out of the quilt? The best part is, fussy cutting only takes a little extra time and care, and the payoff is so worth it. This English paper piecing tutorial will walk you through the steps so you can start #workingyourstashoff and savor each print! 

English Paper Piecing Tutorial: Fussy Cut Hexagons

First things first: what is fussy cutting? Fussy cutting is the selection of a single motif (a flower, a bird, evenly centered plaid, a single polka dot) and arranging/cutting it to be centered in a particular way on the quilt block or other desired piece. 

Which fabrics work best for fussy cutting? Quilting cottons work best because they won't stretch or shift. Stretching can  cause motifs to become un-centered while working. 

Supplies

supplies for fussy cutting hexagons

English paper piecing does not require a lot of supplies, but there are things that make it much easier. Pre-cut 1" hexagon paper pieces are absolutely essential for a consistent shape that will sew together just right. The 1" hexagon fussy cut finder allows you to perfectly find and center the exact motif you want on the fabric in the same size as the hexagon, and the template ensures a generous 3/8" seam allowance for easy basting. You'll also need a marking tool for tracing the templates onto the fabric, and our favorite is the Sewline Styla.  It's a water-soluble fabric pen with a roller tip and light blue ink that glides over fabric easily and washes out with just a little water. It's not in the picture, but a fabric pencil would be a great option too. 

As always, you'll also need fabric scissors, and depending on your preferred basting method, needle and thread or a fabric glue pen.  

Step 1 

Iron your fabric so it's nice and flat (if it's really wrinkly, try a little Flatter or Best Press.) After pressing, lay your fabric flat and right side up on a work surface. Now for the fun part-- use the fussy cut finder to find your favorite design! Center it as best you can-- the goal is to create a focal point. 

fussy cut finder

 

Step 2

Use your preferred marking tool to trace all around the inside perimeter of the fussy cut finder. Don't worry about the line being visible-- if you're using a fabric pen or pencil (test it on your fabric first!) the line should disappear when you wash the project. 

tracing with the fussy cut finder

All traced!

Step 3

Place the 1" hexagon template so the inner line of the template is directly over the traced lines on the fabric. Using the same marking tool, trace around the outside of the template. 

1" hexagon template

1" hexagon template tracing

Step 4

Cut around the hexagon on the outermost traced line. 

cutting out the hexagon

Step 5

Flip cut hexagon over the right side is face down on the work surface. Carefully center hexagon paper piece on the back of fabric. Using either basting stitches or glue pen, baste hexagon around paper piece, shifting fabric as needed to re-center the design. 

Placing the paper pieceFinished fussy cut hexagon

Now you're done! In our experience here at Pink Castle, English paper piecing is addictive, especially when you get to showcase a pretty print with fussy cutting! 

If you find yourself taking photos of your hexies, make sure to tag us on Instagram @pinkcastlefabrics and make sure to hashtag #englishpaperpiecing so everyone can see your makes! 

Previously from EPP Week:

Day 1: Supplies

Day 2: Hexagon Tutorial

Get English Paper Piecing Supplies!


 

Topics: English Paper Piecing, Paper Piecing, hexagons, hand sewing, sewline, fussy cutting, Techniques, Quilting

English Paper Piecing Hexagons Tutorial

Posted by Katie Remski on Jun 21, 2017 12:15:36 PM
  
EPP Week at Pink Castle Fabrics

 

For EPP Week day 2, we have an English Paper Piecing hexagons tutorial! Hexagons are the most popular shape for English Paper Piecing, so let's start by talking about what a hexagon is.

What is a hexagon? 

1" Hexagon

 A hexagon is a polygon with 6 sides that are all equal in length. Hexagons are measured by how long each side is-- a 1" hexagon, for example, has 1" sides. The radius of a hexagon is always twice the length of the side-- a hexagon with 1" sides has a 2" radius, measured from point to point. 

 

Hexagons fit together to make a honeycomb-like pattern, which requires using "Y" shaped seams. This is part of the reason hexagons are usually English paper pieced instead of sewn on a machine-- it's much easier to be precise and sew neat intersections by hand. 

Hexagon Diagram

  

English Paper Piecing Hexagons 

You'll need:

To see a complete list of supplies and accessories for EPP, click here for yesterday's post

step 1: tracing and cutting 

Hexie Template Cut Hexagon

 

Start with flat, ironed fabric. Lay template over fabric and trace all around the outside edge with a fabric pen or pencil. Whether you trace the lines onto the right or wrong side of the fabric is up to you-- sometimes the ink shows up better on the paler reverse side, or you want to fussy cut a motif (more on that coming later this week) so either side is fine based on your preference. Cut out hexagon on the traced line. 

 

Step 2: Basting 

This is the key step in EPP-- forming the fabric around the paper shape. There are 2 different ways people baste EPP shapes togther, one being with stitches and the other being with glue. There are pros and cons to both technique, and it all boils down to your personal preference which one you use. Here, we'll discuss the first method, thread basting. 

Thread Basting Method: 

Thread Basting Hexagons Thread Basting Hexagons

 

Lay paper piece down in the center of the cut hexagon, right side of fabric down. Thread needle; you can use the thread doubled or single strand. Knot one end. Fold fabric down on 2 sides of the hexagon and use Wonder Clip to hold the corner in place. Make two small stitches right on the corner, going only through the fabric (don't sew through the paper.) Pull snugly; fold down the next corner of fabric and move Wonder Clip to hold it in place, then make a small stitch in this corner. Keep going like this until you've come back to the first stitch where you began. Slip needle under the first stitch you made and secure with a small knot. Cut thread, and you're done!

Thread Basting Hexagons Thread Basting Hexagons

 

Glue Basting Method: 

Glue basting hexagons Glue basting hexagons

Lightly dab glue onto corners of fabric, then fold down. Repeat all the way around the hexagon, gluing at each corner, until all edges are flatly secured around the perimeter. Add more dabs of glue as needed to secure. It's totally ok if glue sticks to both paper and fabric--it will remove easily later. 

Glue basting hexagons Glue basting hexagons

  

Once you've got all your hexagons basted, it's time to sew them together!

Step 3: Sewing 2 Hexagons Together 

sewing 2 hexagons together sewing 2 hexagons together

Grab 2 basted hexagons. With right sides together and wrong sides (the side with the paper showing) facing out and papers still in place, use a clip to hold hexagons together, lining up sides. Thread needle and knot one end, but don't double the thread-- it would make it too thick and more likely to show. Use a whip stitch to sew the edges of one side together, being careful to sew only the fabric edges and not through the paper. At the end of the edge, tie off thread and snip it, leaving a very short tail. Remove clip and open piece to see your hexies!

You can add a third hexagon by sewing a basted one onto one of the 2 hexagons, then folding the piece so you can sew the other side to the second hexagon. 

Check back tomorrow for another great post in our English Paper piecing series!

Get English Paper Piecing Supplies!

 

Topics: English Paper Piecing, hand sewing, epp, Techniques, Quilting

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