Thread Bare

Cross-stitching and needlework

Tutorial - How to Make a Needle Threader

Make threading needles easier with a custom tool

Time for something a little different. If you do any form of needlework then you’re going to be threading needles … a lot. So it makes sense to use a tool to make it quicker and easier. There are lots of needle threaders available to buy, some very simple and purely practical and others more decorative. As part of the appeal of crafting is making something yourself we thought we’d provide a short tutorial on how to make your very own custom needle threaders …

needle threaders

Some needle threaders I’ve made

tools tutorial

Learn how to make your own needle threader

Cross-Stitching Legalities: Copyright, Artwork Licensing and Copying

Thoughts on the legalities around cross-stitching

You see an amazing picture and think “wow, that would look fantastic on my wall !”. Can you just take it?

You’re probably thinking about something on a webpage, don’t. Imagine instead it’s a framed print in a Crate and Barrel store.

Of course you wouldn’t try to steal it and most people recognize that this would clearly be theft. But while you would be stealing a frame and the print, the most valuable part of the picture is very often the image itself. That is the thing that an artist or photographer worked to produce and it’s not just yours to take.

The fact that the image is for sale in a store, gallery or on a webpage doesn’t make it any more legal to take without permission. The web version may offer little protection to prevent it, but to suggest that made it “OK” would be akin to claiming that a store assistant who left the door open and took a break gave you permission to steal.

copyright stamp


read more about the rights and wrongs of copying images

Anti-Aliasing For Better Looking Cross-Stitch Charts

Just drawing a straight line isn't as simple as it sounds

Anti-what-now? We’ve talked before about size, color, sharpening and dithering for custom cross-stitch chart-design and also some of the “secrets” behind the chart-making process. Now we’re going to talk about another image processing-related feature that affects the quality of charts, something called “anti-aliasing”.

Most computers now have displays made up of individual pixels arranged in a grid to produce “raster images” - literally, a grid of dots. That wasn’t always the case though - if you’re old enough to remember the original Asteroids arcade game, that had a “vector image” display which could draw smooth lines in any direction, used to draw the rocks that glided across the screen and smashed your little spaceship to pieces so you had to put another 10p in the slot.

Nowadays, your computer will almost certainly have some form of LCD display and the only mention of vector images refers to the format of the image file - to display something on the screen it’s always converted to the grid of pixels.

pattern chart stitch-maker chart-design pattern-maker

the problem with pixels and how anti-aliasing works

New Online Cross-Stitch Chart Maker!

Convert photos to patterns quickly and easily

If there was one single thing that probably has the biggest impact on the quality of your final completed piece, it has to be the chart that you work from. If you’re buying a pre-made pattern then you should expect it to meet a certain level of quality. But what if you want a unique personal piece? You’re never going to find a ready-made pattern for your own parent, child, grandchild or loved family pet.

This is where custom-chart making comes in and we’re proud to announce our new online cross-stitch chart maker that will help you create great looking custom made cross-stitch patterns quickly and easily.

pattern-maker screenshot

pattern chart stitch-maker chart-design pattern-maker

Why we built it and how to use it ...

The Secret Truth Behind Cross-Stitch Chart Design

Understanding how chart designing works

Ok, the headline maybe a little overhyped - I’ll tell you right now that there’s no alien technology involved (sorry). I know this article might even be a little controversial* but we’ve seen a lot of misleading comments about the process of designing cross-stitch charts and at the same time, there also seems to be a lot of curiosity about the process but not a whole lot of information available to explain it.

At one time, we were a little “in awe” of the charts that people produced and figured there must be some amazing secret process to it all but after working on a cross-stitch pattern making tool which required learning a lot more detail about the process, I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz … finally seeing the Wizard behind the curtain who’s busy trying to pretend there is more to it all.

So, I’m going to explain some truths about the process to creating great cross-stitch charts and why we need to begin with a clear definition of what “great” really means.

chart-design pattern-maker stitch-maker patterns design

What they don't tell you about chart design

Tips for Tackling Large Scale Projects - Part 2

Preparing to make that first stitch

In our Tips for Tackling Large Scale Projects - Part 1 article we discussed setting the correct expectations for beginning a large project along with purchasing your supplies. Here we will look at how to prepare your supplies and getting organised along with planning where to begin stitching.

fabric floss tutorial tips

How to begin your project...

Tips for Tackling Large Scale Projects - Part 1

Don't be intimidated - it's worth the effort

Like many people I began cross-stitching by purchasing pre-packaged kits with relatively simple, smaller designs with only a few colors. It can seem daunting to go from stitching small projects that were purchased as a kit to a large scale project that you have to kit up yourself.

I’ve seen many people comment on Facebook groups that there is no way they could ever tackle a large scale project such as a Heaven and Earth Designs as they would not know where to start. Here we will offer some suggestions to hopefully make your first large project more manageable and slightly less overwhelming…

fabric floss tutorial tips

Continue reading for tips on starting your first large project....

Cross-Stitch: Body vs Mind

Balancing the physical demands vs relaxation

Cross stitching, physically demanding? No really, it is a real thing that a lot of people may not realize can be a problem. Issues such as eye strain, neck / back pain, hand and wrist repetitive strain or just the problems that can arise from sitting for long periods of time. Here we will discuss these issues and offer suggestions to help reduce them. But it is not all doom and gloom there are many positive benefits to stitching so we will also look at those too !

cross stitch


Click here to learn more....

Tips for Stitching on Black or Dark Colored Fabrics

Unique challenges but distinctive results

Projects stitched on black fabric look amazing and really tend to make the colors within a design ‘pop’. However stitching on black or dark colored fabrics can be particularly hard on your eyes and in my experience is much more difficult than using the light colored fabric we’re more familiar with. Here we will discuss some tips for success and how to avoid frustrations when using dark fabric …

black aida fabric

fabric tips tutorial

Continue reading for tips on using black fabric....

Discontinued and Sometimes Hard-to-Find New DMC Threads

Alternative replacement thread colors to use

DMC don’t often release new colors but the last batch that they released in 2013 still seems to be difficult to find in stores. I have only managed to find them as a pack online at 123 stitch and also directly from DMC via their website, and they are not available at all in Europe/UK I think possibly due to EU regulations because of the dyes used.

new dmc floss colors

dmc floss

Numbers and their alternatives are provided here....