Ask Jo: Cross Stitch Edition

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days.

Today’s post is mainly going to focus on cross-stitch questions and comments.

Bonnie asked:
Where can I order floss? If I have a specific design, will shops put together a kit from a chart? Where did you see the new charts from the Needlework Expo? Where do you order linen and how much do you order for each piece? Can you tell I am new? Actually I did cross stitch many years ago and have recently started again but I am very rusty and don’t know how to navigate the cross stitch world but I am loving what you choose to stitch.”

I’m going to tackle Bonnie’s questions one at a time.
Where can I order floss?
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of cross-stitch shops that are local to most people.  That has led people to shop online.  I can list a few here that I have ordered from in the past.

Stitchery Nook- it’s my local shop.  They have an online presence as well.
123 Stitch- fast and cheaper than most
Fat Quarter Shop
Hollis Hand Create on Etsy
Farm Girl Dry Goods- haven’t ordered from her yet
Colorado Cross Stitcher-Fast service

There are many other places as well.  I hate listing just these but if you’re new, I picked shops that are easy to order from.  I have ordered from The Attic and have had a fine experience but…they are slow and don’t have an easy way to order.  If you’re not in a hurry and don’t mind calling or emailing them they are just fine…but you will have to wait.

If I have a specific design, will shops put together a kit from a chart?
Most shops will.  The only problem is that called-for linens are SUPER hard to find so there is a high probability that they would have everything except the linen.  Most stores can make a good substitute though.  With the linen change, you might need to change the color of a thread or two to make sure they show up on the linen.

Where did you see the new charts from the Needlework Expo?
Everywhere is the best answer for this.  I follow all of my favorite designers on Flosstube (If they have one) and Instagram.  I see them as they announce their releases.  Other places I see them are on websites.  I follow the online shop, Needlecase Goodies2.  You can find them HERE.  If you look in their section that says 2022 Expo Preorder, you can see all the new things there.  Typically before Market or Expo online shops have a place in their shops where they are taking preorders and you can see the new designs.

Where do you order linen and how much do you order for each piece?
Linen is sold in two different ways in a predetermined size or cut to the specific piece you are stitching.  Years ago most people bought linen they bought it for a specific project and buyers paid so much money per square inch.  You can still buy that way from some stores.

Buying linen has changed over the last few years.  With linen shortages how people buy linen has definitely changed.  If you talk to most any linen dyer they have stated that getting certain counts of linen is hard for them to get.  In turn, it’s hard for us stitchers to get.

That has led to cross stitchers having more of a fabric stash.  Often they can’t find the linen that was called for in the chart so they have to make substitutions.  Having some linen on hand in my own stash has been helpful.

Primarily I buy fat quarters of linen.  Those are typically about 18 x 27.  Most projects can fit on a piece that size.  Occasionally if you are stitching something huge, you need a fat half.  You can even buy it by the yard.  I never do that as I don’t want that much of the same color and I don’t have $100+ for that much linen. There are smaller cuts available as well.  A fat quarter of hand-dyed linen is around $25-$32 for each piece.

That is expensive BUT…I will stitch on a piece of linen that size for about three months.  That to me is cheap entertainment.

Some people don’t like buying fat quarters of linen because some can be wasted.  I don’t feel that way. I purposely have small projects like pillows or ornaments that I stitch with the leftover linen.

Here you can see my finished All Creatures Great and Small.  You can see I cut the linen off the side.

I immediately took the leftover piece and put it… in a project bag with this pattern, Keeper of the Pins by Brenda Gervais.  I can totally use it for that!  I have VERY little waste.

I love buying linen by the fat quarter.  It allows me to change my mind on the linen colors and not have my linen specifically for one project.

If I can get to a cross-stitch shop, I always buy linen.  I like being able to feel it.   I’ve learned I don’t like Wichelt linen.  It’s too stiff for me.  After I’ve felt linen in person, I feel more comfortable buying it online.

Can you tell I am new? Actually, I did cross stitch many years ago and have recently started again but I am very rusty and don’t know how to navigate the cross stitch world but I am loving what you choose to stitch.

I can tell…but that’s totally okay.  I, like you, cross-stitched early in life, gave it up, and am back.  Cross stitch is a whole new world now and I’m thrilled to be in it.  Feel free to ask away!!

After seeing my finish on this piece, Donna asked:
Congratulations on a great finish – what a terrific job you did on framing the L/K piece. It sure gives the rest of us hope that we might be able to do something like this! I know I feel awkward doing it. Including the frame, how much do you think you saved doing it yourself as compared to getting it framed?
Again, well done!

Great question.  I already had a chop saw here in the garage so I didn’t have that expense.  I’ve gradually picked up a few more tools like the glass cutter -$7, the clamp to glue the frame-$14, and the tool that puts in glaziers for $9.  I recently bought another tool and I’ll tell you more about that in another blog post.  For me, the entry-level costs of getting me started were low.  I have awesome thrift stores and was able to get the frame for the piece on the right for $2.

If you look at the picture, the one on the right was framed by Total Framing.  For that piece, the cost to frame was about $180.  That was a lot.  It has museum glass.

The one I did myself on the right cost me my time, a portion of the tool cost, and $2 for the frame…and some sticky board I used for mounting.  It only has regular glass.

From time to time, I think I will have a piece or two framed professionally but I will still do a lot myself.  My reasoning is this sometimes I can’t always find the “right” frame at the thrift store.  I also think seeing the professional frames makes one assume they all look that good.  It’s kind of like having a few name-brand clothes but having a t-shirt that you wear under it being off-brand.

Judy asked:
Nicely done! Thanks for showing how it was done.
What is the beautiful red embroidery piece hanging on the wall above where you put the new piece?

The one above with the amazing border and basket of flowers is Teresa Kogut’s, Newcastle Bouquet.  I just LOVED stitching that one!!

Trish asked:
Great job! A question….what sort of board do you use to lace the piece over? I bought some foam board at Michael’s to use but the piece turned out so thick it barely fit in the frame afterward. Thanks for all your help.”

I actually buy sticky board but don’t use the sticky or even take the sticky paper off.  Other people use mat board…others use foam board.  I don’t like foam board for the very reason you cited.  I’d probably use mat board but I live about an hour away from anywhere to get that so…I had sticky board here so used it.  I am not a fan of sticky board used as intended.  I don’t feel like I can get my pieces centered as well as I’d like so this is a way to use it up.

All of it is a matter of preference.  I will likely buy some mat board the next time I am in a town with Hobby Lobby…

Thanks for all of the questions.  I hope I answered them completely.  If you’re a reader, feel free to answer the questions in the comment section as well.  I think it’s great to get lots of different opinions.

9 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Cross Stitch Edition”

  1. Shanty Stitchers in Beresford SD is a GREAT shop with GREAT customer service…amazing selection of specialty threads, linen, patterns and if you are a quilter, GREAT selection of fabrics and precuts. Ginny will do anything for you to complete your order or project. I’m a HUGE fan of her shop.

  2. Many different weights of cardboard available, but make sure it is acid-free archival board. Should be less than price of mat board and does the same job. Same applies if using tapes or glue to help with applying stitched work to board even before lacing.
    Jo, you are doing a super job of framing your own work – and the loose change saved promotes the next project.! So many beautiful options these days for stitching.
    Cheers, Dot.

  3. I haven’t tried this yet, but I recently heard that some people use archival-quality comic book boards for cross stitch finishing in place of mat board. Lots of quilters use these to wrap and store their fabrics, too.

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