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Guest blogger: Mr X Stitch on Stitching Wisdom and techniques

This month we’d like to introduce you to our friend and co-stitcher - the very own Mr X Stitch. With a common belief that cross stitching could be a natural part of a modern crafters everyday life we both aim to add a little bit of edge to contemporary embroidery. In this weeks post Mr X Stitch talks us through some handy techniques for both beginner and cross stitching veteran. We hope you enjoy - and keep posted for more content from Mr X Stitch in the future!  

Hey everyone! It’s Mr X Stitch here, your ever-loving Kingpin of Contemporary Embroidery and I thought I’d share some snippets of stitching wisdom that I’ve picked up on the mean streets. And by “mean streets” I mean friendly craft groups and handy internet resources, but y’know, I’ve got to keep it a bit gangster. 

  • Because you're using a continous thread when you're stitching, it makes sanse to think about the journey you'll take when stitching sections of the same colour. You don't want to make big jumps between spaces if you can help it, as it's really easy to miscount and stitch things in the wrong place. If you've two sections of the same colour near one another, work out the shortest jump between the two and direct the path of your stitching so that you end up at that point.
  • Sometimes you can stitch a section with bottom stitches, and then double back, but at other times, the design might necessitate doing both bottom and top stitches as you go. This will become clear as you get stitching, as there will naturally be some elements that you won't want to double back on. Conversely you might find that there's some element that you have to stitch and then double back on, to avoid stitching yourself into a corner, as it were.
  • If you've got a piece to stitch, you might consider using a single strand of bright colour to mark every ten rows and columns with a simple running stitch. It might take a bit of time at the start but it could save hours of unpicking!
  • You might also want to protect the edges of your fabric from fraying, either by using a running stitch as to add some strength or, if the fabric edges won't be on show, some decorators tape folded over the edges will do the job. Take care when using tape, as you want something low-tack that won't prove problematic when you come to remove it.
  • Sometimes a pattern will have a lot of different colours for you to play with, and often times you'll be stitching a few squares of one colour, a few of another and you won't necessarily want to be finishing those threads off, so you don't need to learnt about parking. Parking your threads is a way of positioning the remaining thread approximately where you'll need it in the future, so that it doesn't get caught up in the current bit of stitching you're doing. It's one of those things that's really complicated to explain, but not difficult to do. When you're stitching a section, and you've got threads to park, you don't want them to be too close to the section you're working on; once you've stitched the particular colour, look to see where you'll be using it next and then place a bottom stitch of the thread roughly in that area. That will keep the thread that's on the back out of the way and minimise the risk of getting caught up.
  • With big pieces that you know will take time, it's often a good idea to start with the dark colours and work towards the lighter ones. You're bound to get some dirt on the piece at some point, even if it's just dust or grease, and at the dark colours can hide these misdemeanours better than the light ones.
  • If you're working on a large design that is predominantly one colour range - blues and greens for example - there's no harm on having design with an alternative colour palette - reds and yellows - so that you can switch between them to avoid colour-based boredom

If all of this stuff has gone over your head, that's okay. This is some prime time stitching wisdom I'm offering, and I haven't even mentioned railroading and laying tools. But y’know what, cross stitch is all about the pleasure of the journey to a handmade future heirloom, and that’s the main thing to focus on. 

If you’re new to cross stitch, just take some time and sink into the mindfulness of the method. It’s the best!