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Featherweight in Cross Stitch - Outlining
by Ashley Fritsche
- Featherweight Cross-Stitch Kit (with 14 count Aida Cloth) - If it is sold out, you can sign up for the in stock notification at product link, and you will be notified as soon as we have more kits available.
- 4-inch or 6-incch Embroidery Hoop
- Embroidery Scissors
- Hand-sewing needles in various sizes
- Already have the supplies on hand? Printed Pattern only is available here.
Advanced in Cross-Stitch Skill?
The 28-count Cashel Kit is available here or the
Belfast Linen 32-count Kit is available here.
- The Beekeeper Thread Minder by Lori Holt
- Need more floss colors for your Cross-Stitch repertoire? This Bee Basics 20 Spool Set is super handy to have for many cross-stitch and embroidery occasions.
I did not get quite as much done on my Featherweight as I wanted to these past two weeks, owing to an unexpected week-long trip. Traveling with an infant and a toddler doesn't allow much time for hand work. But as you can see, I did meet my goal and finish all the actual crosses on the sewing machine end view, and have almost completed the first step of outlining, which is to outline the side view circumference in black.
I find that outlining goes very rapidly, but it can still feel time consuming since there is so much of it. You may go over the same small area several times, in different colors of thread. But thankfully it does all add up pretty quickly overall. Make sure to work under a good light. It can be hard to see what you are doing, especially when working with black on black.
The small outlining charts on pages 6 and 7 are very helpful for this part, since they show you the color you need to use, the number of strands to use, and the general area you will be outlining with that color – but you want to refer to your larger, detailed chart for the actual stitches. Look over each of the small charts carefully as you finish them, to make sure you worked all the highlighted areas.
As you work your way around the machine, if you jump in to outline a different place with the color on your needle, it can be difficult to keep track of where you still need to go, since often there are so many options at once. If you realize you missed a spot and need to come back to it later, it's usually a good idea to run your thread over from some place close by, through the backs of the stitches on the wrong side. If you cut your thread and then just do one or two stitches with it, there is no way to anchor that stitch, so it may come loose. Catching the backs of the stitches on the wrong side is a good way to travel from one spot to the next. Since you are working with one strand, it won't add materially to the bulk of the stitched design.
If you make a mistake, you definitely want to unthread your needle and pick it out from the top side, using the blunt end of your needle.
To anchor your thread when you start, I like to leave a short tail on the underside, and come up in a place where I can work a stitch on each side of where I came up. This helps to keep it in place, without pulling out right away until it is secure. You can also tie a small knot and weave your needle through the backs of some stitches until the knot catches, before coming up on top to start your stitch. Don't try to make a knot big enough that it won't slide through the holes in the cloth!
Most times I recommend during the back stitch sections you don't get in a hurry and take more than one stitch at a time in a straight line, though it can be tempting to do 2 or 3 blocks in a stitch and think it won't be noticed. The exception would be when you are doing a smooth, slanted line (like the underside of the arm). I think it would be more noticeable to try to split up the stitches and pierce through the fabric in odd places where there are just fractions of blocks shown, instead of doing some straight stitches.
I'm not sure why the designer did things this way, since normally when working with Aida cloth, stitches are not graphed smaller than half a block. It is really hard to get them more precise than that with this type of fabric. So I recommend that when necessary, skip a few stitches at a time so the thread lies in a smooth, straight line on top from one point to the next. That is just my personal preference, of course. But don't stress out about it...no one will be looking at your work with a microscope, and at any sort of distance everything will look just fine.
The other place I might make an exception and do straight stitch instead of back stitch, is when working a straight line that is not outlining, just detail – like the pins and needle.
When I started cross stitching as a girl, I used to think every time I got to the outlining part of the project, “It looks finished enough...maybe I'll just skip the outlining this time.” But once you start outlining, you realize how much that really does add to the design. It's like sharpening an image and pulling it into focus.
It also feels like the home stretch! The bulk of the work is done, and now you are just skimming along, rapidly adding those tiny details that add an extra dimension of realism for the perfect finish. You will be all done and ready to frame this piece for your wall before you know it!