7 cross stitch projects for cozy winter stitching

As I write this, snow is falling and the wind is howling outside my studio window. We’re in for more than a foot of the white stuff today. Inside it’s warm and cozy and all I want to do is stitch!

Here are some of our favorite patterns for cozy winter stitching. Grab a warm beverage, your stitching supplies, and let’s get going!

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1. Hot chocolate cross stitch pattern. I did say grab a warm beverage, right? How about stitch a warm beverage. I love the blue mug in this free pattern. (via Make It Yourself)

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2. The Guardian. Stag and deer cross stitch patterns have become a bit ubiquitous, but this is one of the originals and still a favorite. (via What Delilah Did)

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3. Winter bird cross stitch pattern. This sweet bird is your new wintertime friend. The repeating pattern is easy and fun to stitch, so it is a great project for beginners. (via Red Gate Stitchery)

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4. Snowflake ornament. Ornaments aren’t just for Christmas. With a rustic feel, this one would look lovely hanging amid your winter decor. (via Angry Chicken)

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5. Cross-stitch mittens. Cross stitches can keep you warm! At least they can if you make them on cozy wool mittens. These mittens are made using Tunisian crochet and then embellished with cross stitches. (via Woolen Mittens)

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6. Snowflake cross stitch pattern. Make a whole heap of tiny cross stitch snowflakes with this free pattern. Finish them in hoops, or sew them into pincushions, coasters, or more! (via Crafts Unleashed)

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7. Penguin Cross Stitch Pattern. Who doesn’t love an adorable penguin? This free pattern will stitch up before the flakes finish falling.  (via Make It Yourself)

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What size needle to use for cross stitch

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When planning a cross stitch project, you might spend lots of time thinking about what fabric and threads to use, but what about your needle? Instead of grabbing any old needle from your sewing stash, use this handy guide to select one that will give you the best stitching results.

What is a tapestry needle?

A tapestry needle is a hand sewing needle with a blunt end and a large eye. That blunt end part is important. Since cross stitch is traditionally done on fabric with an open weave like Aida, you don’t need a sharp needle. The rounded tip of a tapestry needle helps ensure you don’t accidentally pierce the threads of the fabric or split the fiber you’re stitching with.

The large eye of a tapestry needle accommodates cotton embroidery floss, pearl cotton, and other specialty fibers you might want to stitch with. The large eye also helps keep the thread from rubbing against the fabric as you stitch, which reduces wear.

Most needles are nickel-plated, but if you are allergic to nickel, you can also find gold-plated ones.

Size matters

Tapestry needles come in different sizes which are denoted by a number just like knitting needles. But different from knitting needles, with tapestry needles the larger the number, the smaller the needle.

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The size of the needle you use depends on the fabric you are stitching on. In general, the larger the holes in the fabric (that is, the lower the fabric count), the larger the needle.

The purpose of the needle is to guide the thread through the fabric. If the needle is too big, it will push apart the threads of the fabric and make a bigger hole that your stitching thread may not fill. If the needle is too small, it causes unnecessary wear and tear on your stitching threads.

Cross stitch needle size chart

Whether you are stitching on Aida or linen, use this guide to help you choose the right needle size.

Aida Linen Needle size
6-count Size 18
8-count Size 20
11-count Size 22
14-count 28-count Size 24
16-count 32-count Size 26
18-count 36-count Size 28

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9 Hearts to Cross Stitch for Valentine’s Day

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Hearts are an enduring cross stitch motif, and whether you’re looking for modern or traditional, there are plenty of options for your Valentine’s Day stitching. Here are some of our favorites.

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1. Stitch Your Heart Out Sachet Kit. This little lavender sachet by Heather Lin Home is the perfect starter kit. All the supplies you need are in the kit, including the lavender. (via Heather Lin Home)

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2. Ombre heart hoops. Simple and oh-so-sweet, you could make one of these ombre heart hoops in every color of the rainbow. Supper quick to stitch. (via Little Lovelies by Allison)

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3. Bamboo heart necklace. Some days you wear your heart on your sleeve, or around your neck in this case. This bamboo cross stitch necklace comes with three different colors of floss, so you can stitch your favorite. (via Red Gate Stitchery)

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4. Cactus hearts. Feeling a little prickly this Valentine’s season? Here is the perfect cross stitch pattern for you. Cacti don’t get much sweeter than this. (via Crossy Needle)

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5. Hearts Stitched Together card. I love stitching on paper, and this free printable makes it easy. Perfect for Valentine’s Day or any day you want to send a little love. (via Dandee Designs)

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6. Patchwork heart. Pretty pinks and purples make up this patchwork heart. Stitched on Aida, it’s a great project for beginners. Or stitch it on linen for an even more elegant finish. (via Red Gate Stitchery)

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7. Cross stitch sweater. Here’s a graphic way to embellish a simple sweater. This DIY uses yarn, paper, and supplies you probably already have at home. Whip one up to wear on February 14. (via Uber Chic for Cheap)

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8. Nordic heart pattern. I love patterns that are based on traditional folk art motifs, and this Nordic heart is a great example. Stitched in a single color, it would add some class to your holiday decor. (via Modern Folk Embroidery)

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9. Acrylic heart pendants. These pretty acrylic hearts are oh-so-versatile. You can make them into a necklace, add them as a present topper, fashion into a key ring, or more. Available in red, purple, or blue. (via Red Gate Stitchery)

Quick and easy friendship bracelets for Valentine’s Day

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At my daughter’s elementary school, candy Valentines are discouraged. Instead, we whipped up a batch of these sweet friendship bracelets for her classmates. They are so quick and easy, you can make them for everyone on your Valentine’s list.

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The bracelets feature our  mini bamboo heart charms paired with colorful cording and a simple bead closure. They are adjustable so they will fit all wrist sizes. Perfect for kids and adults alike.

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Download the free template and print out backing cards to make your bracelets perfectly giftable. Follow the tutorial below and share the love this Valentine’s Day! -Susan

Materials

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  • Cord or string. We used 1mm Chinese knotting cord.
  • Mini bamboo heart charms
  • Seed beads or similar. The size of the seed bead you use depends on how thick your cord or string is. We used size 6 seed beads.
  • Big-eye beading needle
  • Printable card template
  • Printable scrapbook paper or cardstock. We used kraft paper cardstock, but white or other colors would work.

Making

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Cut about 18 inches of cording and thread it through the hole in the heart charm. You can use a beading needle if necessary to thread the cord through the hole.

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Using a beading needle, thread both ends of the cord through a bead. The bead will be used to secure the bracelet. It needs to be large enough to just accommodate the cording, but it should not be too loose.

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Measure the size of the bracelet by placing it around the widest part of your hand. Slide the bead to adjust the size of the bracelet.

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Without moving the bead, tie an overhand knot on each end of the cording to secure the bead. Trim the ends of the cord about 1/4 inch from the knot.

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If desired, print out and cut the backing cards. Make a small slit on the side edge of each card to secure the bracelet.

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Mini wood hearts: Perfect for Valentine’s Day crafting

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When I laser cut wood pendants for Red Gate Stitchery cross stitch kits, I am often left with little gaps and odd spaces on the sheet of wood. Instead of letting this material go to waste, I use it to cut various bits and bobs, little treasures nestled among the larger pieces. These mini wood hearts are one such example.

At a mere 1/2 inch across, these hearts are tiny but pack a mighty decorative punch. They are just the right finishing touch for a petite jar of Valentine sweets. I found these glass vials at a big-box craft store and filled them with pink chewing gum chunks found in the baking aisle.

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The wood is a light amber color that is warm and natural when left as-is, but it also takes paint beautifully. Use acrylic craft paint to create a rainbow of hearts.

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Or add a jump ring and a delicate silver chain to make a sweet necklace for someone you love.

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Six mini hearts come in each jar. Find them in the Red Gate Stitchery shop.

20170121_h_mini-heart-bottles003Happy crafting! -Susan

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In the studio this week: Comfort zones

I love January. I love it for the sense of renewal, the heightened creative energy, the clarity of purpose. I love it for the planning. Oh the planning! There has been much of it happening this month, and I am excited to share it all in due course. It is going to be a big year for Red Gate Stitchery and I am thrilled to have you along for the ride.

To prepare for all the excitement ahead, I have been spending much of my month cleaning and organizing my studio. As dull as it may sound, I have enjoyed it. It feels good to sort and tidy and it feels even better to discard (or donate) that which is no longer needed. I have also enjoyed the little surprises that happen while tidying, like coming across this stitching experiment I did a while ago.

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I was challenging myself to use a familiar form (my chevron pendant) in an unfamiliar way. Instead of stitching it with my standard cross stitch, I used an oblong cross stitch with a tie across the middle. The pendant in the foreground uses a neutral thread for the cross stitches with ties of different colors, and the one in the background is just the reverse.

I did another version where I played around with needle weaving.

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I love this experiment. I can get so comfortable with my standard cross stitch repertoire that I forget there is a whole world of stitches out there. It’s a reminder that beautiful things can happen when we get out of our comfort zones. A lesson for January and beyond.

Happy stitching to you all! -Susan

Valentine’s Day stitching for a crowd

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Who says you can’t cross stitch for a crowd this Valentine’s Day? Red Gate Stitchery acrylic heart pendants are now available in multi packs! Stitch one for yourself, and still have plenty left for all your friends.

The pendants come in fun acrylic colors – red, purple, and blue – and feature a classic cross stitch heart motif that is perfect for Valentine’s Day and beyond.

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The acrylic pendants are super versatile. Hang one on a chain for a sweet necklace. Tie one to a mason jar for the perfect gift topper. Or affix a sturdy clip for a handmade tag for a backpack, purse, or your favorite pair of scissors.

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Each acrylic pendant is approximately 1 inch in diameter, and a pack comes with 6 pendants. The stitched heart motif is perfect for beginners, and easy-to-follow instructions are included. Optionally, you can have jump rings attached to the pendants along with necklace chains or bag clips.

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Time to host a stitching party! Get your multi packs today in the Red Gate Stitchery shop. Happy stitching! -Susan

The best Red Gate Stitchery cross stitch kits for Valentine’s Day

No one loves a cross stitched heart more than me. It’s a sweet and simple motif I come back to again and again. So naturally, Valentine’s Day stitching is some of my favorite.

If you’re looking to surprise your favorite Valentine with some hand stitched hearts, the Red Gate Stitchery shop has tons of options! From wood to acrylic to fabric, we have all the bases covered. Here are some of our favorites.

Classic wood heart pendant

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Keep it simple with our original wood cross stitch heart pendant. Made of eco-friendly bamboo, it’s quick and easy to stitch. The kit comes with three colors of embroidery floss – pink, purple, and blue – so you can choose your favorite. This is a great project for those new to cross stitch.

Patchwork patterned heart

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This bright, cheery cross stitch heart can be stitched on your favorite Aida cloth or linen. The pattern is available as an instant PDF download, so you can start stitching today.

Stitched heart scissor fob

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The stitchers in your life would love this sweet cross stitch fob to clip to their favorite pair of scissors. It can also be used as a decorative touch on your purse, backpack, key ring, or project bag. Simple and easy to stitch.

Cross stitch keyring

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What’s better than a cross stitch key ring? Stitch up the heart motif for Valentine’s Day, or go with one of the other three patterns included with this kit. You get all the materials you need to make any one of them.

You can find these kits and more in the Red Gate Stitchery shop. Happy stitching! –Susan

You belong here

 

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I consider myself lucky to live within easy driving distance of Gather Here, a stitch lounge in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s a retail shop that stocks an absurdly lovely selection of fabric, yarn, and other crafty goodies (including Red Gate Stitchery kits – yay!). It’s heaven to shop, but it is so much more than a retail store.

At Gather Here, owners Virginia and Noah and their staff have nurtured a vital and growing community of makers and creatives of all sorts. It’s a place where everyone is included and everyone feels welcome.

This month they launched a community art project around the phrase ‘you belong here’ as a way of expressing their love and hope for the community. They are collecting handmade versions of the phrase in embroidery hoops, stitched into mini-quilts, or otherwise handcrafted to hang in their front window. Consider it a stitchy call to action.

I share their commitment to inclusion, their belief that everyone should be treated with kindness and respect, that violence, demeaning language, and hatred are never the answer.

My contribution to the Gather Here art project is made of bamboo and cross stitched with cotton embroidery floss. It is the biggest wood piece I have ever done, and I love it. I can’t wait to see it hanging in the Gather Here window alongside so many others designed and stitched by similarly caring and hopeful hands.

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Quilt Market here I come!

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Final preparations are underway for Quilt Market in Houston this weekend. No matter how carefully I plan, it always comes down to a last-minute scramble. I leave on Thursday and packing (and even some stitching!) is still taking place, but with every minute I get more and more excited.

If you’re going to the show, be sure to stop by booth #607 to say hello. If you’re not going, keep an eye on my Instagram feed for the latest from the show floor!