Monday, January 27, 2014

Make It Sew

I’ve been on a mission for a new kind of hobby for a while.  When I discovered the strange, new book, Star Trek Cross Stitch by John Lohman, I knew my search was over.  This book combines two of my great loves, crafts and Star Trek; it was inevitable that I’d explore the new hobby of cross stitching.  (I know, I know, my inner geek is showing.) The book won’t really teach you how to cross stitch but has a plethora of awesome patterns with simple directions.
Why did I choose to do cross-stitch (besides the awesome Star Trek tie-in)? Cross stitch can be done in small bits whenever I find that precious, spare moment to relax.  The supplies needed can be taken out and put away easily so NO CLEAN UP!!  This is a major bonus.  Also the supplies are inexpensive.  Easy and cheap—it is only logical to start cross-stitching!
If you want to get started, your first step is to pick a design.  Pick a small, simple pattern with 5 or less colors.  Star Trek Cross Stitch organizes patterns by rank.  The Ensign patterns are for beginners.  I chose one that says, “Enterprise Sweet Enterprise.” Eventually, I will work up to the Lieutenant and Captain patterns which increase in difficulty (and Yes, I WILL be adding pips to my collar each time I move up in difficulty—my parents will be so proud!)
Second, gather supplies.  You will need the following:

·        A tapestry needle—they have a blunt end and come in different sizes. I used size 24. A package of several costs $1.00 to $2.00.

·        Embroidery thread—I used DMC brand. Each color is labeled with a number that you will find in your pattern.  These only cost 0.39 each!

·        Aida fabric—you can buy this in various sizes and colors. The threads are consistently spaced so your stitches will be too.  It is labeled with a number that represents stitches per inch.   If you buy fabric with a 12, it has 12 stitches per inch.  11 would have 11 stitches per inch and have larger stitches than 12.  14 would have smaller stitches and more stitches per inch.
·        An embroidery hoop or frame—these keep your fabric tight and are easy to hold.  I used a frame so I wouldn’t have to keep moving the hoop to different parts of fabric.  Hoops, depending on size, are only a few dollars apiece.

 ·      Masking Tape—if you line the edges of your fabric with masking tape, they will not come unraveled.

Third, MAKE IT SEW!  Get started!!!
The first thing you are going to do is cut your fabric if needed.  Make sure you leave plenty of room (at least two inches) around the edges.  Place masking tape around each edge.
Then find the center of your fabric by folding your fabric in half.
 Then in half again. 
Unfold and place a light dot with a pencil in the center where the two creases intersect. 
Place your fabric into your hoop or frame following the directions on the packaging.
Now, find the center of your pattern.  Your pattern is divided into small squares.  Count how tall your pattern is vertically in squares.  My pattern is 70 squares tall.  Divide that by two and I get 35.  Repeat horizontally.  My pattern is 140 squares wide.  Divide that by two and I get 70.  So, my center point is where row 35 and column 70 meet.  Once you find the center, make a small light mark on the pattern with a pencil. That's where you will make your first stitch.
Find the color thread that is at the center of the pattern.  The thread is bundled together in strands of 6.  Pull out about 1 and ½ feet of thread and cut all 6 strands together.   Don’t cut it too long or you may get knots in your thread while stitching.  You will only need two of the 6 threads.  Gently pull out one string at a time, separating it from the group.  Set the extra 4 aside for later.  Put your two strings together. 
Thread the needle, pulling the thread about 2 to 3 inches through the eye and folding it over.  Tie a knot in the bottom—that is the end away from the needle.  This will keep the thread from pulling all the way through the fabric. You are ready to make your first stitch!
Start in the center square, you have marked on the Aida fabric. Place the needle in the lower left hole coming from the back side.  Pull it through the front side. 

Make sure your thread has not knotted and that all the thread pulls through and stops at the end knot. Now staying on the same square, put the needle through the upper right hand hole of the square.  You should see a diagonal stitch. 

Now, from the back again, put the needle through the lower right hand square. 

From the front, put the needle through the upper left hand square and pull through to the back. 

X MARKS THE SPOT!  That's how you make your first stitch! As Spock says, “Fascinating.” (Star Trek fans—your right this would probably only garner an “interesting” from Spock but I digress.)
You will notice that you finished your x by going from lower right to upper left. Finish every x this direction so that your stitches look consistent.  The top stitch of your X should always be lower right to upper left throughout your whole piece since that is how you started. Be careful to put your needle through the holes in the fabric and not the fabric itself!
Now, I tried to always work from right to left.  The letter w was at the center so that is where I started.
Next, I stitched the  S.   Then, I counted squares on my pattern and figured out where to start the T and did the T, E, and then E.  This way I knew that my piece was centered correctly on my fabric.  After that, I counted squares again to figure out where to start the e in the top Enterprise.  I started with the last e, working from right to left until I finished the whole word.  I found it easier to do one letter at a time, instead of whole rows.  If I messed up a letter, I could see right away and undo the thread.  I counted wrong a few times but that was an easy fix.  I just pulled out my thread until I undid the mistake and started back up again.
When you use up all the thread on your needle, leave enough to tie two small knots at the end.  Trim the end of your threads off after you tie the knots.  (Some people don’t tie knots at all—I do because it is just easier for a beginner.)  Re-thread your needle and keep going where you stopped. 
Also, if you finish something like a letter or a figure, you don’t have to cut and tie your thread.  You can keep going by just starting to stitch the next part.  A good rule of thumb is never to stretch your thread more than 3 inches.  If your letters or figures are more than 3 inches apart, cut and tie your thread before you start the new part.
Here is my finished project.  It took me about a week and half to finish (part of which was a 3 day vacation.)  I watched X-files and Big Bang Theory while I stitched away….(and Yes, I did experience complete and absolute NERDVANA.)

 Your turn…Boldly go my crafting friends.




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