We’ve had a few cast birthdays throughout the run-up to the show, including mine today and Leigh aka Jane Bennet’s two weeks ago. Rather than buy smellies or wine I decided to make her a birthday present, and what could be more fitting than a Pride and Prejudice-themed gift?
Given I’ve recently taken up cross-stitch again, I thought a cross-stitched Jane Bennet would be both achievable and a nice individual touch. Searching online, I couldn’t find a pattern for Jane but did find one for Lizzie, at a website called daisy daze. (They have a selection of costume drama cross stitch patterns, including characters from Our Mutual Friend and North and South.)
I altered it slightly to look more like Jane (blonde hair, no cap) and chose from the limited selection of colours I already had in my sewing box – mainly blues and greens from a complicated butterfly pattern I had not yet dared to attempt. The peachy skin colour and yellow for the hair I got from my work colleague Liz.
Taking a bookmark I already had, I drew faintly around this onto some 14-count aida, then cut out the rectangle and a rectangle of light blue felt of the same size to go on the back of the bookmark.
With no graph paper I had to plan the bookmark solely in my head, rather than on paper as I would have preferred. I figured a border would be a good place to start so chose a colour that complemented those I’d picked for cross stitching Jane, and got stitching! I counted in three squares from the edge then stitched a single line of cross stitch all the way around the edge. I then counted in an equal number of squares from the top and bottom and sewed two thin bands with a gap in between (see photo above). To complete the border I sewed six stars/flowers in each of the four bands, sewing each stitch over two holes rather than one.
I then counted the aida squares in to the middle and sewed the Jane Bennet figure in cross stitch before stitching an outline in backstitch. Next came the words – Jane above the figure and Bennet below. I tried to make each letter equal in width but there was one or two that had to be one square narrower than the rest. I’m just rather chuffed I managed to make the words legible!
Finally I attached the felt strip to the back using blanket stitch, which I found out how to do from diagrams displayed on a Google image search! As you can see from the bottom pic, the stitches weren’t the neatest, but it was my first attempt at this stitch. Hopefully practice will make perfect. The biggest mistake I made was not using a larger piece of aida and folding over the edges before stitching it to the felt. Instead I cut a piece the exact size I wanted the bookmark to be, which meant the edges became very messy and frayed. When I got to the blanket stitching I ended up trying to cover up the messy edges with the stitch, which didn’t always work!
The finished bookmark is certainly no work of art, but considering I managed to make it in two and a bit evenings I’m quite happy with it, especially as a first attempt. The lovely Leigh seemed delighted to receive a homemade gift, and hopefully it will come in handy when reading a spot of Jane Austen in between rehearsals.