Feeling on a bit of a roll with my homemade stitched gifts, I recently attempted another cross-stitched bookmark, this time for my mum’s birthday.
I say homemade, but as with the puffin bookmark I made for my sister’s birthday, there was a certain manufactured element to it – I bought the pattern for it from Samuel Taylors at Embsay Mills, near Skipton. Yes, I did have a bit of a field day in there! I also bought a lighthouse bookmark pattern, which I will be making for myself very soon, so watch this space.
This pattern was a bit more advanced than the puffin one, and took me a great deal longer. The most challenging bit wasn’t the cross stitch, it was the backstitch details you sew after you’ve done all the cross stitch, and, of course, the infamous French knot. The instructions tell you to leave the knots until last, and with good reason, or you may well throw down your sewing in exasperation and give up the whole lot!
Before attempting the dreaded stitch I looked at various ‘how-to’ pages online. I had heard through word-of-mouth of the difficulty of the French knot, but was determined that I was going to buck the trend and get it right first time. Ohhh the ignorance of youth! (28’s still young, right?!)
Well, I read through the instructions various times – the best were at sublimestitching.com – and gave it a go. After the third unsuccessful attempt I was a little disheartened as getting it right first time was clearly out of the question. After the tenth attempt I let out a howl of exasperation and decided to just tie little knots in the thread and try to push them down to the spot against the aida where I wanted them. You can see in the close-up pic how they turned out – not ideal, and probably not as neat as a French knot, but they sufficed. Sometimes a bit of improvisation is called for!
As with the puffin bookmark, once I’d completed the pattern I folded over the two ends of the aida strip, turning in the corners, and ironed them flat against the back of the stitching. I teased open the hole in the middle of the stitched circle at the bottom of the bookmark until it was large enough to fit the tassel cord through, then tied this in place. I then cut a strip of paper – using tissue paper this time – to slot in-between the aida and backing felt and put it in place before sewing the light blue felt strip to the back of the bookmark. Last time I used blanket stitch, but this time I decided to just use small backstitch, and it ended up much neater.
Mum was thrilled with the present, and I was pretty chuffed with the result too!
For more handmade gift ideas, check out my little sister Amie’s blog littlebluewrenblog.wordpress.com. Amie’s been crafting away for years and has given me material for some of my posts but has only recently set up her own blog, so please do have a read and comment on her creative projects, which so far include a bag for mum’s sewing stuff, a dressmaking course, and a spot of butterfly shadow quilting!