Pink Castle Blog

Noodlehead Divided Basket in Cotton and Steel Menagerie Canvas

Posted by Katie Remski on Aug 7, 2017 11:06:00 AM
  

Cotton and Steel Menagerie Canvas by Rifle Paper Co You can never have enough storage bins-- it's a scientific fact. The Divided Basket pattern by Anna Graham's Noodlehead Patterns is a soft and flexible bin with a divider panel in the middle to help you organize small items. I knew as soon as I saw the Menagerie Jungle Canvas from Cotton and Steel's latest Rifle Paper Co. collection it had to be a children's book basket. After my success with the Poolside Tote, I couldn't wait to get started! 

For the lining, I used Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in the color Seafoam, which is a pale green. The stabilizer is By Annie's Soft and Stable, my go-to for all projects that need structure. I love the smooth, flawless look it gives when layered with canvas-- it's almost like it's one with the fabric. I used 1" cotton webbing for the handles, and Aurifil 50wt thread for all stitching. 

I opted for the pocketless version of the basket to best show off the large-scale print without interruption. 

Cotton and Steel Menagerie Canvas by Rifle Paper Co
Cotton and Steel Menagerie Canvas by Rifle Paper Co  I sewed the entire basket on the Janome Skyline S7, and I can't even begin to describe how much easier AccuFeed made the process-- at one point, I was sewing through canvas, 2 layers of linen, Soft and Stable, and webbing all at the same time, and the machine hummed along like it was nothing. If your machine doesn't have AccuFeed, definitely use a walking food to help keep all the layers smooth and feeding through the machine at the same rate. Wonder Clips instead of pins are also a big help for holding all layers in place. 
The Divided Basket is overall a real cinch to sew, the only complicated part being the divider-- even then, go slowly, read the directions throughly, and have a seam ripper nearby. Once you've sewn in the divider, you understand the construction and the second basket you make (trust me, you'll want dozens) will be even easier. All the instructions are clear and easy to follow, and the steps are very logical. The only part I had trouble with was keeping my topstitching straight, but changing to a 1/4" foot helped immensely. Cotton and Steel Menagerie Canvas by Rifle Paper Co
Cotton and Steel Menagerie Canvas by Rifle Paper Co

 If you're looking for a soft storage bin pattern, the Divided Basket is a great option. I'd rate the skill level for this pattern as confident beginner-- it's easy at the start and finish, and just challenging enough in the middle to build up your skills. It's really fun to get to work with some substrates like canvas and linen (the pattern works with regular quilting cotton too) and doesn't use a lot of fabric. Wouldn't this make the best gift for a child's birthday, pre-loaded with a few good books? 

Happy sewing! 


 Shop Menagerie by Cotton + Steel Now! 

Topics: Bags, Cotton+Steel, kids sewing, Noodlehead, skyline, For the Home, linen, kids, menagerie, divided basket, basket, tiger canvas, canvas, essex linen, Techniques, Home Decoration

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

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