Tuesday, May 29, 2012

D.I.Y. Tutorials // Giant Cross Stitch

I have not been this excited about a project in quite a while! It all began when I saw this from JD Decker:
Giant Cross Stitch Art! Must do this!
This whole concept blows my mind and if I am being honest, I am a little disappointed that I didn't think of this idea on my own. Cross stitching with yarn onto fabric on a ginormous scale. Love it.

My wheels have been turning ever since.

I have this huge ocean print on canvas that I got second hand for a steal. My husband hates it. I could love it if I could afford to surround it with the perfect environment. It just looks like junk on our walls as they are right now. So it has been living behind (yes, behind) our couch for months.

My mother used to own an antique cross stitch. It hung beneath the fireplace mantle. I loved it. Those antique crossed stitches go for about $200.00, so I found a replicating pattern years ago and I was going to make my own, but then I realized maybe it was a little too out dated for what I want in my home.

Fast forward to now. Giant canvas + burlap + traditional cross stitch pattern + modern colored yarn + large scale = traditional art with a modern twist and a hint of sentimental value.

Here is a step by step of what I did. Warning: the pattern I chose is pretty involved. If you are new at cross stitching pick something simple or make your own pattern on graph paper. That is the beauty of this project: simple patterns are stunning made large. I chose burlap because it already has little holes and because my pattern is pretty time consuming as it is. Burlap is an easier fabric to work with and it does come in different colors too. You can choose any fabric (I really thought a floral would be amazing!). Here is a great tutorial if you are not going to use burlap.


  • canvas 
  • burlap (add 5" to length and height of canvas and this is how big your burlap needs to be)
  • cross stitch pattern (you can make your own on graph paper too!)
  • yarn (I like the thought of modern colors to bring a traditional craft to the modern age)
  • large needle
  • staple gun
  • a calculator (most likely)
ONE // Before you buy a canvas, first you want to do the math. Please do not let this part scare you. I have tried to make it easy for those who are math challenged. Once you get past this part it is so much fun! Promise? Ok. Decide how large you want each cross stitch to be. One by one inch is great. Here is a formula to guide you in choosing a good canvas size:

Size of cross stitch  x  number of stitches high on pattern (count the x's from the lowest to the highest)  =  canvas height

Size of cross stitch  x  number of stitches across on pattern (count the x's from the furthest left to the furthest right)  =  canvas length

Now you have your minimum dimensions for your canvas. Keep in mind that if you want a lot of empty fabric space to border the actual pattern add some inches to your canvas size.

If you already have a canvas and a pattern (like me) and you need to know how large to make your stitches to ensure it will fit then use this formula:

Canvas height  /  number of stitches high on pattern  =  size of cross stitch ( keep in mind that this is your maximum---if your number comes out to 2.5" you can definitely take it down to 1" and the pattern will fit on your canvas. This number tells you the largest your stitch can be while making sure the pattern fits on the canvas).

Canvas length  /  number of stitches across on pattern  =  size of cross stitch

You will most likely get two different numbers for your size of cross stitch. A cross stitch need to be square so you will need to settle on a number that works for both height and length. Just make sure you settle on a number that is not larger than the smaller number of the two (example: you came out with .5 and 1--your stitches will need to be .5" because .5 was your height maximum).

THE MATH IS DONE (mostly)!! (can you tell I am a slight math nerd? yeah. Remember when you were in school and were like, "when am I ever going to need this?". Answer: when you decide to make a giant cross stitch). Now onto the fun stuff!

TWO // Cut your burlap to the right size. Take the dimensions of your canvas and add 5" to each side (as in 4 sides) and that is the size your burlap should be.

THREE // Map out your pattern. Find the center of the burlap and the center of the pattern and start there. Work one way and then the other. Try to follow the grain in the burlap as best as you can but there may be areas where you will need to go with your eye to keep those x's straight. Make sure you measure your stitches for consistency. Here is a basic cross stitching guide to help if you are a beginner. And don't forget to tie knots whenever you begin or end a strand of yarn (on the back!) to prevent your work from undoing itself.

FOUR // Once your pattern is complete, center it on the canvas, turn it all over and staple the excess fabric to the back. Make sure your corners are nice a neat!

1 comment:

Susan said...

Do you have a photo of the one you did?

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