Cross-stitch beginners usually come across two types of kits: stamped and counted. The latter is more common, but the outcomes are essentially the same, with x-shaped stitches creating a pattern on the cloth. There is some debate on whether counted or stamped patterns are better, but like any other craft, it all boils down to personal preference.
Stamped cross-stitch kits have the patter printed onto the fabric itself, so that you only have to stitch in the colours indicated. In counted cross-stitch, the pattern is printed on a separate sheet of paper, leaving the fabric blank. This means that you have to count the squares yourself to see where each stitch goes. Most people also start stitching from the center of the pattern to make sure there’s equal room on both sides to frame the design. This, of course, calls for even more detailed counting.
Needless to say, stamped cross-stitch is easier and simpler, making it a more popular choice for beginners. You don’t have to count from the center of the pattern; you can get start stitching right away. The catch is that stamped kits don’t usually carry as much detail as counted cross-stitch. Squares have to be bigger for the stamps to be visible, which means you don’t get as much colour variation or fine gradients as you would with a counted pattern. Counted cross-stitch kits allow for higher-count fabric—that is, more stitches per square inch—so you can work in small details and use a wider range of colours. Finished products also come in a broader selection of sizes in counted cross-stitch patterns.
A finished counted cross-stitch project can have enough detail to resemble a painting; many people have them framed and put on walls. Stamped cross-stitch patterns are usually more of the ornamental kind, such as tablecloth borders, throw pillow cases, and placemats. Stamped cross-stitch also isn’t limited to Aida cloth, the square-weave fabric commonly used in emroidery. Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule—you can find a good variety of patterns across both types.
Most people start of with stamped cross-stitch and then move up to counted patterns as they get more experience. Others opt to take a break from complex projects with simpler ones, or simply have no preference. If you’re starting out, you may want to start simple, but it’s always good to leave room for change and try out both types before making your choice.
The fashion business often peaks in the summer, when people are in the mood to shop and the weather lends itself well to dolling up for a day out. Jewelry is no exception—and this year, beads and charms are set to take center stage. Although they’ve been in fashion for the longest time, beaded jewelry never gets old—it goes well with a simple sundress, a shirt and jeans, and even a work ensemble. Here are some trends you’ll want to stay on top of, whether you’re buying jewelry or designing your own.
Nests: Easter may be over, but spring nests are set to be fashionable all through the season. You can find nest-shaped charms that need no adornment, or more elaborate pendants made with wire and beads. This lends itself especially well to necklaces, as they’re big enough to be centerpieces without being gaudy and loud. Many are intricately designed, so you’ll want to use one or two per piece so you don’t distract from the detail.
Flowers: Flower beads are back in fashion, and the variety is greater than ever. From pewter and copper to shiny Swarovski crystals, they come in pretty much any material, size, color, and design. Five-petal pieces are especially popular these days: more whimsical than roses and tulips, but less dominating than daisies and sunflowers. The best part is that you can use them as much as you like in a variety of pieces, and even make matching sets.
Owls: You may have noticed a big trend in owl patterns in the last two years, and it’s not expected to go away anytime soon. Cartoony owls have showed up in pendants, key chains, and phone charms, but this year they should make their way to other wearable jewelry as well.
Beaches: Shells, starfish, suns and parasols—these are slowly making their way into the hottest jewelry designs. Whether it’s because people are pining for the beach in the midst of the recession, or simply want to express their love of the water, it’s a trend worth following and one that should still be in fashion years from now.
Fibers: Not many people warmed up to the idea of putting feathers and fabric in their jewelry, at least not until this year. Expect to see lots of feather pendants and earrings, floral fabrics used as necklaces, and tassels hanging from people’s wrists and ankles. It’s easy to incorporate into your existing bead designs, but make sure not to make it look too overpowering.
Children’s clothes are among the most popular crochet projects, both for new and experienced knitters. Patterns for sweaters, hats, mittens and bootees are all over the internet. But few pattern-makers have created knitting patterns for premature babies, who need them just as much, if not more. But that was a few years ago. Today, preemie clothes have a much larger presence in the knitting community. Whether it’s your child or someone else’s, there’s no better gift for these little babies than one you made yourself.
One important thing to remember is that premature babies tend to have sensitive skin. This means you can’t just use any yarn from the craft store. Take your time to choose the softest, most comfortable yarn you can find, preferably made from all-natural and organic fibers. They may be more expensive, but that’s just a fact with preemie clothing. If you’re not sure, have your project approved by the parents before starting out. It does ruin the surprise element, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Most experts recommend using thin, pure merino wool. Baby alpaca wool also works well but is a little warmer, so it may be too hot in areas with mild winters (but would be perfect for those born up north). Some babies are allergic to wool, however, so again, it’s best to ask. If this is the case, Egyptian cotton is a great alternative—as an added perk, it can insulate when it’s cold and get breathable when it’s hot. Acrylic yarn is a cheaper but less comfortable alternative.
Sizing is also important. Premature babies are small, but even then their size can vary widely. Chest measurements are usually between eight and 14 inches, and lengths are about 18 inches. You can measure the baby yourself, but usually it’ll do just to make it a little bigger than your estimate. Slightly oversized clothes are still usable, plus the baby will have time to grow into it. The length is fairly easy to adjust; you can just add or subtract rounds as you go along.
Hats and mittens are great if you’re a beginner or just don’t have time for a large project. If you think the baby has enough clothes (it’s a popular gift, after all), try making a blanket or playing mat. They’re just as easy to make and don’t require as much planning as clothing items. Stick to bright, happy colors—remember, these babies are struggling and need all the positivity they can get!
Every woman can attest to one fact: it’s hard to find the perfect bra. When you come to think of it, it makes sense—we’re all built differently, so buying off the rack will always be hit and miss. Those with money to spare can be professionally fitted and have custom-made innerwear, but for the rest, there’s another alternative: making your own.
Most people think it’s complicated, and it’s partly true—for one thing, you have to be more precise with your sizes than with pants or tops. But besides that, the steps are pretty simple. Most bra patterns are more or less alike, and you can safely change them up to accommodate your size. If you know your way around a sewing machine and a pair of scissors, you can make your own bra—the best you’ll ever own—in no time.
It starts with the right sizing. Measuring yourself for a bra is harder than it sounds, but certainly doable. First, measure under your bust and add four inches to the number. Some experts recommend rounding odd numbers up to the nearest even to make for easier measuring down the road. Next, you’ll need to measure your cup size. Take measurements around the biggest part of the bust and the part just above it, then use the difference as an indicator. A difference of one inch is an A cup, 2 inches is a B cup, and so on.
You can get to work with just these numbers, but if you want, you can take other measurements such as the distance between your breasts and your preferred strap length. Make sure to write everything down; you’d be surprised at how hard it is to remember when you start stitching away. Even so, you can adjust the distance between cups by just subtracting or adding from the middle of the pattern. Straps are usually added at the end, so there’s no use measuring beforehand—although you may want to mark off where the strap holders will be attached.
Don’t forget to stock up on materials besides the fabric, needle and thread. Use fiberfill to line the cups—one layer for a soft, light look and two to give it more shape. If you need a lot of support, double the outer fabric as well. Try it on once it’s usable; if you want, you can replace the nylon lace with a wide-stretch elastic—this usually fixes the problem.
Handmade and beaded jewelry are all the rage these days, and it looks like they’re set to defy the seasons and remain popular through fall. What’s great about them is that they can have the class and elegance of gold and diamonds, but still be tempered by a youthful, playful charm. That’s why they fit just as well in formal ensembles as they do in everyday school outfits. Camilla beads, one of the most popular makers of beads and beaded jewelry online, is the perfect example of this blend.
One thing you’ll notice about Camilla beads is their variety—they range from plain, solid-colored pieces and gemstone imitations to intricate patterns on stainless steel and pewter. To help buyers navigate through their stock, they’ve classified them by theme rather than basic characteristics like color and size. Some of the most popular themes are birthstones, flowers, food, nature, animals, religion, sports, and abstracts. This makes it easy to find the right pieces if you’re going for a particular look, without leafing through thousands of images.
Materials used for Camilla beads also run the gamut, from inexpensive plastics to exquisite birthstones, colored glass, Swarovski crystals, and precious metals. Glass beads are perhaps the most popular, no doubt because of their range of colors and designs. Many of them are handmade and individually checked for flaws, so you can be sure each bead, no matter how small, is just as sturdy as it is pretty. This variety has inspired many enthusiasts to experiment with their own combinations, mixing and matching until they find a style that’s uniquely their own.
Despite this variety, there’s a certain look that ties all Camilla bead products together—some people say it’s their natural elegance, others think it’s their tendency towards bright, optimistic colors. In any case, their jewelry is sure to lift up any outfit, whether it’s a summer dress or a winter knit. They can tie any combination of items together and still manage to look unique!
Camilla beads are particularly a favorite for bracelets. Each piece is made to fall just right on the wrist, which ensures a comfortable fit every time—something that’s hard to find in most commercially made beaded jewelry. The themed pieces, which range from Celtic and tribal designs to coffee cups and robots, also make for excellent personalized charm bracelets. It’s a great way to wear your own character or give a touching gift!