Friday, October 10, 2014

Giant Cross Stitch Tutorial





Over the course of the year I stitch a lot of Pixel People - like, really super A LOT -- but never have I had more fun doing so then when I stitched up these giant Pixel People!  Don't let the super size fool you, stitching these mega pieces is really no more difficult than stitching them regular sized.  I've had so many requests for a tutorial that I just had to share.  So here's how to make one yourself.


What You'll Need:




One of our patterns. We recommend starting with a Pixel Person who doesn't have any fractional stitches on them.  For our samples we stitched Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, and Lumpy Space Princess.

A pegboard panel (often called 'perforated hardboard')  It can be found at most home improvement stores.  We get ours in 4x2 foot sheets for $9 each at Rona - a board that size is easily enough for a single, standard-sized Pixel Person.  You can often get them pre-painted in white, or - more commonly - in the natural untreated colour. 

White paint and a small foam roller - we used a high adhesive primer from Zinsser simply because that's what we had lying around the house leftover from recent renovations and it worked a treat, especially on the smooth surface of the pegboard.  The paint is completely optional - if you're able to get pre-primed pegboard, or you don't mind the wood coloured background as is, you won't need the paint at all.

A jigsaw with a blade suitable for cutting masonite (that's what pegboard is made of).  Most jigsaws come with an all-purpose blade which will cut just about anything - that's what we used and it worked just fine. 

Fine grade sandpaper or a fine grade sanding block.

Safety glasses and a dust mask.

Worsted weight or bulky weight yarn in the appropriate colours.  We used worsted weight yarn simply because, as a knitter, I already have tons of it lying around the house and it comes in such a wide range of colours.  For this project I used mostly Caron Simply Soft - it's an easy to find brand and it's inexpensive.  One skein of yarn in each colour will be more than enough to complete several giant Pixel People.  There's no need to use expensive yarn for this project - just use whatever is cheap and plentiful!

Yarn needle - preferably one with a large eye.

Scissors.

A pencil.



Ready to Get Started?



Just a girl and her jigsaw!

Firstly, a quick note about using the jigsaw.  If you've never used power tools before this might seem super intimidating, but I happen to think this is a great chance for you to start!  I come from a long line of woodworkers, so power tools are nothing new to me and I feel comfortable with them.  A jigsaw is a small and portable tool so it's a little less scary than the big table saws and it's a tool which I happen to think is totally within the realm of a first-timer.  If you can use an electric mixer, waffle iron, or blender then you can use a jigsaw.

Please don't be scared of power tools.  Please don't think that you aren't capable of using one.  There's a certain kind of satisfaction that comes from mastering the use of such a tool regardless of your experience or gender.

YOU CAN TOTALLY DO THIS


I cut out all my pegboard, by myself, without any supervision or interference, while wearing a dress and lipstick (and safety glasses and a dust mask - it was a good look).  You got this, girl.  I have complete faith in you.   If, however, you're still not comfortable using a jigsaw by yourself, by all means find someone with some experience using it to help you.  Once you see how fun and easy it is, you'll probably want to give it a try too.

You can use hand tools for this project, but you may have problems getting a hand saw in to the little nooks and crannies of the Pixel Person shape.  The nice thing about the jigsaw is that the little, thin blade fits into the holes in the pegboard, making it easy to maneuver it to cut the wonky outlines of your Pixel Person.

Alternately, you can just use the sheet of pegboard as is, centering your stitching on the rectangular pegboard the same way you would a piece of fabric.


Step One: The Prep Work

Before you do anything else, you'll want to print up the pattern of the Pixel Person you'll be stitching.  The holes in pegboard are most commonly 1 per inch, meaning that our stitches will be 1 inch in size.  It's pretty amazing to see cross-stitches so big!  The math for figuring out just how large a stitched Pixel Person will be at this scale is simple - if they're 14 stitches wide then they'll be 14 inches wide.

To get the look we're going for you're going to need to cut the pegboard so that it has a border of 1 square all the way around the figure.  You need that border so that your stitches are secure.  I found it easiest to first draw the cutting line out on the chart so that I could see how everything was going to look and then draw out the shape I wanted to cut directly on to the pegboard to give me cutting guides.





Trace one square all around the edge of the Pixel Person.



















You may want to leave some extra 'rows' at the bottom to make your Pixel Person a little taller.

















 
 
 


Copy the outline on to the pegboard, making sure it's exact.  Don't forget you NEED that border of one square all the way around the design.  Double-checking your cutting lines before you start cutting is recommended - once the pegboard is cut, it can't be changed so any mistakes need to be caught ahead of time.  
















Step Two: The Cutting


It's time to start cutting!  You may want to do this step outside or in the garage as the jigsaw can be loud and the sawdust it kicks up does make a mess.  You'll want to balance your pegboard on some workhorses or, if you're like me, on the edge of your patio table.

You should ALWAYS wear safety glasses when using power tools and especially when cutting wood. Yes, I know those safety glasses and that dust mask aren't sexy, but safety is -- so embrace it! Masonite pegboard is comprised of pressed wood fibres and when you cut it fine sawdust tends to get everywhere.  It's very nasty and abrasive if it gets in your eyes and it can do some serious damage.  I do also recommend wearing a dust mask when you cut too - just to keep your beautiful lungs beautiful and free of sawdust.  

To start cutting I recommend finding a long stretch of outlined area to start with first.  With the jigsaw off, nestle the blade in to one of the holes of the pegboard.  

To cut your outline all you need to do is turn the jigaw on and cut from one hole to the next, trying to keep the line as straight as possible - go slowly and take your time.  My jigsaw has two cutting speeds - fast and faster.  I prefer the lower speed because it gives me more control.  Depending on the size of Pixel Person I'm cutting out, this step takes me about twenty minutes start to finish.

I like to stabilize the pegboard with my left hand while the jigsaw is held in my right.  Just remember to keep your left hand fingers far away from where you are cutting!  


 


When you get to the end of your straight line turn the jigsaw off but leave it in place.  Then just turn the corner, turn the jigsaw back on, and cut to the next turn - repeat that until you get all the way around the lines that you drew.

I like to think about cutting the pegboard as 'connecting the dots' with the jigsaw blade. 




Make sure you turn off and unplug the jigsaw when you are done with it (or remove the battery pack if it's cordless).  Never ever leave a power tool plugged in when it's not in use and never leave it unattended around children - even when it's unplugged the edges of the blade are sharp and can cause cuts, so please use caution.  Power tools should always be stored away from where curious little hands can reach.


All finished!



Step Three:  The Clean-up

Smooth those edges.

Before you can start stitching you'll need to clean up your piece of pegboard a little.  Depending on your jigsaw blade you may find that the edges of your piece are a little ragged.  A quick sand with a fine grit sanding block (or sandpaper) will take care of that little problem.  The masonite sands really easily.

Cutting your pegboard kicks up a lot of dust so you'll want to wipe it down with a damp cloth to get off all that dirt and dust.





Uh Oh! Scratches!

I was working with pre-primed pegboard to make Lumpy Space Princess, so it was handily already white - but the pegboard I had for Spider-man and Wonder Woman wasn't, so I primed it with my Zinsser primer after I cut out the shape I wanted.  It took three coats to get complete coverage.

If you did use pre-primed pegboard you may find that your jigsaw has scratched a little of primed surface while you cut.  Mine totally did.  So I used a small foam brush and dabbed on a little white paint to cover those scratches.

You can also - if you like - paint the edges of the pegboard white if the raw wood colour bothers you.  I did that for Spider-man but don't really think it's necessary.  Most people are so focussed on how cool the giant cross-stitch is that they don't even notice the edges.



Don't forget to let all your paint dry before you start stitching!


Step Four: The Stitching


Yay!  Congrats for getting this far.  All the scary and loud work is over.  Now comes the familiar part.  Stitching a giant Pixel Person really isn't any different from stitching a regular sized one.  Whether the cross-stitches are 14 per inch or just 1 per inch, it's all the same process!

I stitch my giant Pixel People at the kitchen table.  For me it was easiest with the pegboard standing vertically.  I put a towel down to protect both the surface of my table and the edges of the pegboard.  It also make it nicer for clean up, since you may notice that a bit of sawdust has snuck in to the holes of the pegboard and having a towel down catches all that mess.

From here on out things are pretty standard.  For my projects I used two really long strands of Worsted weight yarn held together and then doubled over to make four strands -- so you'll want to use a yarn needle with a nice big eye to help you thread it.

If you're not a knitter/crocheter you may not own a yarn needle - you can find them in the same aisle of the craft store as the knitting needles.  I like the blue plastic Susan Bates ones - they were just the right size.

When juggling a project this large in size you may find it easiest to use the 'loop method' of anchoring your first stitches (rather than the 'stitch over' or 'waste knot' methods).  Doubling over two long strands of yarn gives us a chance to do this.





It may take a few tries to find a length of yarn which works for you and which you find comfortable.  Just remember to take your time and try to get all your yarn strands to lie as flat as possible against the pegboard.  This is a process known as 'railroading'(because the flat parallel strands of floss look like railroad tracks).  People ask me all the time why my stitches look so full and this is my secret: I railroad them. It takes some practice to consciously create your stitches this way, but the more you do it the more proficient you become at the skill, and honestly it makes such a huge difference.  You may find this YouTube video on railroading helpful (she starts the demo on railroading at 2:04) - the way she inserts her needle in between the floss strands is exactly the same way I do it.  It honestly becomes second nature after a while.  It's a little trickier with 4 strands of yarn than it is with 2 strands of floss, but with the stitches SO large on this project, it's well worth the effort.

From here on out all you have to do is cross-stitch, baby. 

Lumpy Space for life!





The finished project is well worth the effort!  We'll be using ours as display pieces when we do conventions and craft shows but they would equally as cute in a kid's room or craft room. 

We want to see your giant cross-stitch projects!  If you post them on Instagram or Twitter please use the hashtag #weelittlestitches so we can see them too - or post photos on our Facebook page so that everyone can enjoy them.

Happy stitching!
<3 J&C




      

Saturday, August 30, 2014

New Pattern - Game of Thrones Cross-stitch





Every week we get dozens of emails requesting new patterns and suggesting ideas - we love hearing from you and learning which designs you want the most.  In four years of running our little shop I don't think any franchise has been more requested than Game of Thrones.  Seriously, I've gotten hundreds of emails asking for GoT patterns.  We're big fans of the show and the books and were more than enthusiastic to bring the beloved series in to the Pixel People family - the big question was HOW?  With dozens upon dozens of characters, most of whom don't live for very long, tackling patterns for GoT was an intimidating process!  We're very excited to bring you the first pattern in the installment - and what better way to start than with the Starks?


More GoT patterns will be rolling out over the next few months - and yes, we'll get to your favourite character soon!  In the meantime though, get the House Stark Pixel Person pattern here.

Happy stitching!
Jacqueline & Christopher

Saturday, July 26, 2014

It's Our 4th Etsy-versary But YOU Get The Gift


It's difficult to believe that it's been FOUR years since we opened our little Etsy shop!  So much has changed since then - we've grown a great deal, Jacqueline's gone full-time with the business, and we now have more than 120 patterns to choose from.  We owe you all a great deal of gratitude for supporting us - you've made our dreams come true.

We want to thank you for all your love so we're offering an unprecedented 40% OFF PATTERNS this weekend only in the shop!!

Now's the time to stock up on all the new designs you may have missed:

Sailor Moon & The Sailor Scouts

Adventure Time

Doctor Who Villains & Monsters

Star Wars Alphabet Sampler
Back to the Future

The Big Lebowski

Friday, June 20, 2014

Save 30% on Cross-Stitch Patterns!



Summers here in Canada are so short we have to take advantage of every sunny, warm day we can!  My favourite way to do that is to take my latest project out on the patio, soak up the sun, and stitch the long, light-filled days away.  I honestly can't think of a better way to spend my short, short summer!



From June 20th - 30th you can save 30% on your pattern purchases using the coupon code SUMMER30 during checkout.  So take a pop over to the shop and stock up!

Friday, April 25, 2014

New Pattern - Adventure Time Pixel People


I'm really excited about our newest pattern release - it turned out even better than I could have hoped!  We're big, big Adventure Time fans at our house - it's just so weird and imaginative and wonderful that we can't help ourselves.  It was difficult narrowing down which characters to feature in the pattern and after many debates we decided on the Ice King (and Gunter!), Marceline the Vampire Queen, Finn the Human, Jake the Dog, Beemo, Peppermint Butler, Princess Bubblegum, and our personal favourite Lumpy Space Princess.



The pattern is available for instant download or, if you're not a stitcher yourself, you can pick up the finished stitching instead!

Cheers!
J & C

Friday, February 28, 2014

Charging Tax to Our Canadian Customers


Hello Fellow Canadians!  Just a heads up that because we apparently make too much money these days, the good ol' boys at CRA now require us to collect HST/GST from our Canadian customers - sorry!!  It's the law though, and we sorta have to go along with it.  If you live in Canada you should already be accustomed to paying these taxes on pretty much everything.

From here on out we will be charging the following tax rates only to our Canadian customers on all our patterns and finished stitchings:

Alberta: 5% GST
British Columbia: 5% GST
Manitoba: 5% GST
New Brunswick: 13% HST
Newfoundland & Labrador: 13% HST
Nova Scotia: 15% HSD
Nunavut: 5% GST
Ontario: 13% HST
Prince Edward Island: 14% HST
Quebec: 5% GST
Saskatchewan: 5% GST
Yukon: 5% GST

However, since we don't think it's fair that you should have to pay more than everyone else simply because of where you live, we are offering our Canadian customers coupon codes in percentages which reflect the amount of tax we are required by law to collect from you. 

You are responsible for entering the code into the 'coupon code' box during checkout (don't know how to do that? see our blog post about it) - the codes are not applied automatically.  These coupon codes will always be available for my Canadian customers and do not expire.

Please use the coupon code intended for the province or territory where you reside.  Because these tax rates are only charged to my Canadian customers, international customers do not qualify for the tax discount. 

Alberta customers coupon code: ALBERTA5
British Columbia customers coupon code: BRITISHCOLUMBIA5
Manitoba customers coupon code: MANITOBA5
New Brunswick customers coupon code: NEWBRUNSWICK13
Newfoundland & Labrador customers coupon code: NEWFOUNDLAND13
Nova Scotia customers coupon code: NOVASCOTIA15
Nunavut customers coupon code: NUNAVUT5
Ontario customers coupon code: ONTARIO13
Prince Edward Island customers coupon code: PEI14
Quebec customers coupon code: QUEBEC5
Saskatchewan customers coupon code: SASKATCHEWAN5
Yukon customers coupon code: YUKON5

Taxes are calculated on the amount spent after the coupon code is redeemed, so you will still see a line for taxes charged.


If you have any questions at all about the HST/GST charges for your province we recommend checking out the Canada Revenue Agency information available. We're also happy to answer any questions you might have.  Just pop over to Etsy and drop us a line.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Doctor Who Eleven Doctors Pixel People Cross-stitch Pattern **UPDATED**





We're really excited to finally have an updated version of the Eleven Doctors pattern to offer you!  Of course, with all the amazing storylines introduced to the show this past year, there are no longer just Eleven Doctors - so the new pattern features The War Doctor played by John Hurt and the newest incarnation of our favourite Timelord debuted by Peter Capaldi.  If you're a Whovian (as we are) then you'll need the updated pattern for your collection.

If you already own the previous version of the Eleven Doctors pattern - now just called The Doctors - you can email us a proof of purchase (a forwarded copy of the download email, a screenshot of the Etsy purchase, or even a photo of the finished stitching - just something to prove that you bought the pattern previously) and we'll send you a copy of the updated pattern for free!

If you're a fan of the show (and let's be honest, why wouldn't you be?!) then you'll be pleased to know that we have two new Who patterns planned for March 2014 - another companions pattern and an epic Villains and Monsters pattern to stitch alongside all your Doctors!  We can't wait for you to see them so stay tuned.