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Category: Handmade

5 Reasons We Love Kits

Some of the very first things I made (after the obligatory and beloved wiggly eye and pom-pom monster) were made using a kit. They were a cross stitch unicorn and a cartoon drawing set. The unicorn turned out with huge hooves and a very wonky horn and the less said about my attempts at  cartoons the better but they set me on a journey I am still travelling and enjoying today – the ability to make and create.
The use of a collected set of materials boxed together to make something specific is hardly new with model planes and cars regularly being made as kits but the proliferation of kits today means that you can find a kit in almost any craft form you want. This choice vibrancy is one of the reasons I love kits, you can make anything from a sock elephant to a pair of knickers! In case you are still un-convinced here are 5 more reasons!

 

  1. They are perfect as an introduction to a craft form.

    Kits usually come complete with instructions and everything you need to make your project. This means you can just focus on learning the techniques and enjoying the process. Once you have mastered the basics you can then go on to create your own projects or move on to a more challenging kit.

  2. They save you time.

    Rather than having to collect all the materials together and formulating the best method and then finding you have run out of time, you can just start! Everything is included so all you have to do is open the box and begin.

  3. You have a much better chance of it turning out how you intended.

    Someone will have carefully worked out how best to put the project together, worked out just how much wool you need and can tell you just when you might need that essential dab of glue. This means you are left with a thing of beauty rather than a nightmare creation! Again this is a perfect base from which to progress in a craft form.

  4. They span generations.

    You can get kits perfect for any age so however old you are you can find something to make. They are also lovely as activities to get everyone together by having a making session with children creating with their parents and grandparents.

  5. You can take them anywhere.

    Compact and portable, kits are perfect for taking with you to do some on the hoof creating! Long train/car journeys are perfect times to make or design something as your mind is free to design and build and you are given an enforced break from having to rush somewhere.

So whatever your favourite reason for using a kit we are sure you will agree they are pretty brilliant.

10 embroidery stitches to take you from beginner to master

It is a subject of common knowledge (and quite a few popular books) that you only need to know a few chords on a guitar to open you up to be able to play a whole rainbow’s worth of music. Of course learning new chords afterwards is great and can make your playing varied and even more fun but effectively you can do an awful lot with just those few chords and a willing spirit. Embroidery is actually pretty much the same. While it’s great to know how to stitch a huge range of different stitches you can actually get away with just mastering 10 stitches to make huge numbers of gorgeous pieces.

So here I’ll show you, with photographs, how you can stitch these 10 stitches quickly and easily and start your journey from embroidery newbie to stitch master!


  • Running Stitch:

    Technique:

    There are two methods for doing running stitch, just choose which you like best.

    METHOD 1– First knot the end of your thread and come up through the back of the material until the knot hits the material, now make one stitch by going down through the material again a small distance away.

    Now (as shown in Photo 1) weave your needle in and out of the fabric to create the stitches and pull through. Photo 2 shows the completed stitches.

    Running stitch 1 method 1 resized
    Photo 1 – Running stitch method 1
    finished method 1 running stitch
    Photo 2 – Method 1 completed

    METHOD 2 –  The second method is just to go up and down normally and do your stitches individually. See Photo 3.

    method 2 running stitch
    Photo 3 – Running stitch method 2
    Where to use running stitch:
    1. Decoratively, to create a border or line.
    2. To gather material together.
    3. In appliqué (where you sew smaller fabric shapes onto another larger piece of fabric to create a pattern or picture.)
    4. To hold pieces of fabric together temporarily before properly stitching.

 

  • Back Stitch

Technique:

Backstitch is a lovely simple stitch which again starts with you knotting the end of your thread. Now come up from the back and make one stitch by going down again. Now come up a stitch’s worth amount from your first stitch and then go back down the hole from the first stitch (see Photo 4) covering over where you left the gap. It’s easier to demonstrate with pictures and a diagram as it sounds so much more complicated than it is!

 

backstitch diagram

 

You come up at 1 and go back down at 2, back up at 3 and then back down at 4 and so on.

 

 

 

 

back stitch start
Photo 4 – starting to backstitch
back stitch
Photo 5 – Completed Backstitches
Where to use backstitch:
  1. Decoratively, for lines or borders.
  2. To stitch words or outlines.

 

  • Straight Stitch

Technique:

diagram straight stitch

Super simple and perfect for filling up shapes. Just come up from the back at point 1 and back down at point 2, then start again at a completely different angle.

 

straight stitch
Photo 6 – Completed straight stitch

 

Where to use straight stitch:
  1. To fill up large shapes and to create texture.

 

  • Chain Stitch

 

Technique:
chain stitch diagram
Photo 7 – Starting chain stitch

 

Come up  from the back with your needle,  go back down at 1 (next to where you began) and come up at 2, before pulling through catch the thread around the left side of the needle as shown in Photo 7.

chain stitch in progress
Photo 8 – Continuing to chain stitch

 

 

 

 

 

To continue chain stitching just follow the same technique but go through the middle of the last chain as shown in Photo 8.

completed chain stitch
Photo 9 – Completed chain stitches
Where to use it:
  1. To outline words and shapes.
  2. Decorative borders.

 

 

 

 

  • Lazy Daisy

 

Technique:

This is basically a variant of chain stitch so once you can do that you can do this! Start by knotting the end of your thread, coming up from the back and then going back down next to where you came up from, creating a loop. Come up again where you want the tip of the “petal” to be and thread through the loop (see photo 10). Pull through and then make a very small stitch to hold the loop in place (see Photo 11).

lazy daisy 1
Photo 10 – Starting the lazy daisy

 

lazy daisy diagram
Photo 11 – Numbered diagram for the lazy daisy stitch. Come up at 1 and down at 2, keep a loop and come up again at 3 before capturing the loop by going down at 4.

Now come back up in the middle and start again (Photo 12), create the petals until your flower shape is complete (Photo 13).

lazy daisy in progress
Photo 12 – Lazy daisy stitch in progress.
completed lazy daisy
Photo 13 – Completed lazy daisy flower, you can add a centre or just leave as is.
Where to use it:
  1. To create flowers, petals, leaves or seeds.

 

 

  • French Knots

 

Technique:

First knot the end of the thread and then come up with your needle from the back, now using your fingers wrap the thread 3 times around the needle tip towards you (Photo 14) and hold the working thread while you push the needle back down next to where you came up (Photo 15). Pull steadily and slowly until a knot is formed (Photo 16).

french knot thread wrapping
Photo 14 – Wrapping the thread around the needle to form a French knot

 

french knot 2
Photo 15 – going back down to form the French knot
Competed French knots
Photo 16 – Completed French knots

 

Where to use it:
  1. Decorative filling
  2. To form part of or the whole of plants, flowers or seeds

 

  • Stem Stitch

 

Technique:

Come up from the back and, using Photo 17 to help demonstrate, up at 1, down at 2 and then back up again at 3 (point 3 is halfway between points 1 and 2) so that the stitches sit neatly on top of each other (Photo 18).

stem stitch instructions
Photo 17 – Beginning to stem stitch

 

stem stitch 2
Photo 18 – clearer image of a stem stitch sequence before you pull the thread.
Stem stitch completed
Photo 19 – Completed series of stem stitches
Where to use it:
  1. To outline writing
  2. To create stems, twigs and branches
  3. For decorative borders

 

 

  • Satin Stitch

Technique

Draw with pencil or chalk the shape you would like to satin stitch (photo 20), this makes it much easier to make sure you are staying on target.

satin stitch 1
Photo 20 – draw your shape in first to help guide your stitches.

 

It’s down to personal preference but I like to start at the widest point and work out, this is usually the middle of a shape. You come up from the back and go straight across the design and down, as shown in  Photo 21. You then come back up just next to where you started on the left but slightly down. This means that you get a well covered shape with no gaps. Remember not to pull the thread to tight otherwise it will start to gather.

satin stitch 1st stitch
Photo 21 – I like to start in the middle, come up and then go straight across the design and down. Then come back up next to where you started on the left.

 

satin stitch almost done
Photo  22 – Almost finished satin stitched shape

 

satin stitch completed
Photo 23 – Completed shape

Where to use satin stitch

  1. To give a solid filling to shapes or writing
  2. For petals and leaves

 

 

 

  • Cross Stitch

Technique

You might think that this stitch belongs exclusively to cross stitch but it is also fantastic in embroidery as well. It is as simple as it sounds but it is important to always stitch it in the same order as it will show if you change the order you stitch it. As shown in Photo 24, come up at 1 and across and down at 2, up again at 3 and down at 4.

cross stitch method image 1
Photo 24 – come up at 1, down 2, up at 3 and down at 4.

 

cross stitch complete
Photo 25 – Completed cross stitches

 

Where to use cross stitch
  1. As a decorative filling
  2. For borders

 

  • Blanket Stitch

Technique

(These instructions are if you are stitching two pieces of fabric together) Knot the end of your thread and go down through the bottom fabric piece only, this will hide your knot between the two layers (Photo 26). Make your first stitch by now going through the two layers from the top, this creates a loop and your first stitch (Photo 27).  Push the needle sidewards through first stitch and between the middle opening of the two layers to anchor it and make the thread appear on the left hand side of that first stitch.

 

 

Now using Photo 28 to illustrate, go down from the top a short distance away from your last stitch and make sure the thread loops behind the needle so that when you pull it together it looks like Photo 29. Just carry on doing this all the way around the piece you are stitching until you are back to where you started. Then slide your needle sidewards through your first stitch and then again to make a loop, now pass your needle through that loop so you have a knot.

blanket stitch
Photo 28 – Blanket stitch in progress. Go down from the top a short distance away from your last stitch and make sure the thread loops behind the needle.

 

blanket stitch loop
Photo 29 – The loop forming
Where to use blanket stitch
  1. For decorative borders
  2. Appliqué
  3. To sew two edges together decoratively

 

I really hope you have found this whistle-stop tour of embroidery stitches useful. Embroidery is so rewarding, not just because it is relaxing and therapeutic but also because it is something that has no parameters so you can literally stitch your imagination!

Please send in pictures of your completed embroidery masterpieces, I’d love to see them!

For more blog articles like this as well as articles on craft, wellbeing and nature then please follow this blog or follow Cre8kits on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

3 Ways to use your odd socks up on lost sock memorial day

We all have them, spare odd socks that seem to appear with monotonous regularity in our sock drawers. To compound matters they are usually the ones that are completely different to every other sock you possess so there is no chance of trying to get away with matching any of your odd socks together. So this Lost Sock Memorial Day why not use those odd socks for something useful and stop them continuing to bung up your sock drawer!

What to do with all those socks?

  • Sock Puppets

This may be a very obvious spare sock use but it is still a brilliant one! You can create any number of different characters and animals and with a bit of imagination they are great for using in educational play as well – such as animal and colour recognition or counting  for example.

Making a sock puppet couldn’t be more simple, you can use felt, wiggly eyes, embroidery, pom poms, ribbons, glitter glue, marker pens and wools to decorate and personalise the sock. You usually have the heel on the top of your hand with the upside down toe end as the nose or mouth. Once decorated just slip your hand inside and start playing! Themed collections of puppets from stories or nursery rhymes are brilliant or animals from habitats children are learning about e.g. polar or pond.

  • Sock dog chew

If your dog is anything like ours then a carelessly discarded sock is an instant invitation to carry it around all day, slobbering and chewing as they go (thinking about it, that’s probably why I have so many odd socks)!

pug and sock

Protect your favourite socks and sacrifice some old and holey ones to make dog toys your best friend will love! There are loads of different ways to do this and no one way is better than another as long as the stitches are secure and not loose or broken. If they are then fix it straight away or take the toy away from your dog until you have time.

One option is to cut two socks into strip tubes pieces, each about 5cm wide. Turn all the pieces inside out and securely sew each of the strip tube pieces together, alternating colours and patterns to give a patchwork effect, creating a long sausage tube of colour or pattern stripes. Sew the one end of the tube up but leave the other open for now, turn the chew the right way round and stuff with more odd or holey socks. Now sew the other end up using ladder stitch.

sock strip for dog chew

Another popular option is to cut two small simple shape pieces out of the sock, sew together using blanket stitch and stuff with a sewn up inner bag containing dried beans, this inner bag will help make it more robust. You can then use it as a bean bag throw toy. Obviously alter the size of the beanbag to your dog’s size, so for example don’t make a jumbo size toy with a huge weight of beans for a Chihuahua and conversely don’t give a Great Dane a toy that they might choke on!

If you want to add a bit of character to your dog toys then embroider faces or motifs but again always make sure there is nothing for your dog’s teeth to get stuck in.

  • Phone or MP3 Player Sock

phoneBrilliant for keeping phones or music players clean and scratch free in handbags (nearly impossible normally). You can make your “sock” as fancy and complicated or as simple and quick to make as you want.

Probably the simplest and quickest method is to first use your phone to measure how big it needs to be and add about 10cm to that measurement to allow for sewing up and the “popper seam”. Cut across the sock at this point so that you effectively have a tube. If you are able to then try to use the open top of the sock, this will already be seamed so it will make things easier to use it as the top of the phone sock and where you add the poppers to. If you do have this top intact then you can reduce the amount of added measurement you allow and just have 5cm extra on top of the length of your phone.

phone sock how to image

Turn the tube inside out and sew the one end up completely. If you haven’t got the original top intact then create a 5cm seam on the other end. This will be where you sew your poppers on to so it needs to be a wide flat seam. Turn your phone sock the right side out and sew on two sets of poppers at equidistant distance on the inside of the sock (where your seam is). This means there is less pressure than just having one and less risk of stretching and the poppers coming off.  Slide your phone inside for that perfect “made to measure in 15 minutes” feeling.  Glam this up with embroidered writing or patterns or add a felt lining to make it extra plush.

There are so many other ways you can celebrate your odd socks. Experiment now you are started on the path to freeing these lonely socks from sock drawer prison! 

You can keep in touch with our blog posts by following us on here or by following Cre8kits on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, we also have a newsletter you can sign up to on our website http://www.cre8kits.co.uk.

This article was posted on our original blog site Cre8ty on the 9th May 2017.

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