T is for Tutorial: How to enlarge a cross stitch chart without changing fabric thread count.

Here’s a little tutorial I wrote on how to enlarge a cross stitch CHART to double the finished size of the design without having to change the thread count of the fabric.

The basic concept is easy. You just redraw the original chart so that every square in that is four squares in the new, bigger version:

Let’s try this with something simple like a fancy letter T:

This letter is 20 stitches high. You can change the finished size somewhat by using a lower thread count fabric (14 instead of 18, for example), but that may not be enough bigger, and it may not have the look you want.

So redraw the chart with each square from the original now four squares (in a 2 by 2 block), like this:

It’s bigger, all right! Twice as high, and 4 times as many stitches. But it looks really blocky, compared to the original. So the next step is to fill in some of those too-obvious angles. I’m showing the extra squares in a different (darker) red so you can see where I’ve added them:

And here it is again with the extra squares (plus a few more – I decided there were still a few places that could use some smoothing out) the same color as the rest:

Now it’s done: the letter T, when stitched, will be twice as big without having to change the thread count for the fabric.

If you want something other than exactly twice as big, you’ll need to change the fabric count anyway. Say the original chart is for use on 14-count Aida. At 20 stitches tall, that would be almost an inch and a half. The new chart is 40 stitches tall, which is almost 3 inches on 14-count, but on 18-count it’s closer to 2 and 1/4, and on 28-count (my favorite) it’s the same size as the original could be on 14-count, but with a more smooth shape.

It gets more complicated when you’re working with more than one color, but the basic idea is the same. Just remember that with multiple colors, you’ll want to smooth out the edges of each color, as well.


Current projects: lots of SCA garb and some modern embroidery

Current SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) related sewing project: new fighting tunic for my husband. Just like the previous one except made of a different fabric (cotton sateen instead of broadcloth) and with a long narrow diamond gusset added to the underarm for both better freedom of movement and a few more inches to the chest measurement without making the rest of the tunic wider. Because redrawing the pattern (he drew it himself for the previous tunic) for the dagged bottom edge would have been a pain. As it is the sateen is proving more difficult to sew than the plainweave broadcloth was… but it will look good, so I don’t care.

We’re getting into fair-and-demo season around here, and I wanted more linen fabric for garb (for some reason my SCA persona loves colors I would never wear for modern clothes – saffron orange seems to be a favorite, but “Gwenllian” doesn’t have much of that… yet), and my husband was thinking of a new summer-weight “Herjolfnes” coat (because this is New Mexico, and the heavy fabrics favored in Norse countries a thousand years ago are not suitable for this climate especially in summer) so we ordered five yards of apricot linen for me and four of of autumn gold for him (and four more of a silvery blue-green for me because he talked me into it).

I still haven’t made progress on the pink houppelande because I’m afraid of the sleeves… and I haven’t really decided for certain that I want bag-style sleeves anyway, even though I like the look and I know they’re a lot more practical than the long flared kind (that get in the way even when made of linen or silk like on my “pseudo-bliauts”) plus REALLY HEAVY and a strain on the shoulders to wear for a long time.

I found out that I messed up with the red silk Herjolfnes coat even though I used the same pattern I always do – the shoulders are actually TOO WIDE by a half inch on each side, and I know how to fix that, but then the sleeves probably won’t quite fit the armholes anymore, and I know how to fix THAT but…

In between all that I also have a lot of “mundane” needlework projects: embroidery, quilting, more embroidery… I also need to WRITE a tutorial on how to change the size of a cross stitch chart (more involved that just changing the fabric) and one on how to make a needle book like my Book of Pointy Things.

embroidery for pink Medieval gown

I’ve finished half the embroidery for the neckline for the coral pink Medieval gown I’m making:

IF I can find my other spool of white  silk floss I will also make embroidered edging for the sleeves. Otherwise I’ll just use the silk fabric without embroidery.

Stitch: chain stitch outlines. Floss: “Splendor” silk by Rainbow Gallery.

The embroidery design is based mostly on this:




So many medieval outfits, so little time…

First, here’s a couple of sketches – I don’t have photos of the actual clothes, sorry – of garb outfits I already have:

It’s the same under-layer in each outfit – I like that shade of blue. (It’s also the same amber and garnet necklaces and the same “turtle” brooches.) One “apron” dress is a bright leafy green and the other one is a rich medium dark brown.

And I like this style for garb in hot weather because it lets me have layers without having too much. And the apron dress style is SO easy and comfortable to wear anyway – I don’t like clothes that are tight or get in the way.

So I’m making another one:

Another under-gown, actually, to go with the same brown apron dress. (That’s not pink, it’s “carnation,” so it IS period! ­čśŤ )

Sometimes though I don’t need HOT weather garb – even in summer, New Mexico gets cold after dark – and I’d rather have the sorts of layers that are my favorite.

Like THIS:

This outfit is completely new. Dark brown under-gown, rusty coral-pink top layer. The neckline and sleeves will be edged with a slightly lighter coral pink SILK and embroidered. (I just drew squiggly lines to show the embroidery in the sketch, but it will be more complex on the actual gown.)

I WANT to get this last outfit finished before the end of April, just in case I end up going to an SCA event then. I haven’t even started on the pink part yet but I am more than half done with the under-gown. the embroidery is what will take the longest and I don’t REALLY have to do that until later – I can add the contrast fabric after the rest of the gown is complete.

This is a sketch of the embroidery design for the neckline and MAYBE also the sleeves:

The embroidery will (probably) be chain stitch in white silk.

fabric for Medieval-style… pillowcases

I just bought 3 yards of this fabric:

to make medieval-style pillow covers like these:

a friend put together this collection of illuminations from the Middle Ages showing blue-plaid pillowcases

It appears that light to medium blue and white “windowpane” plaid was VERY popular for bed pillows in the Middle Ages. (I did see a handful of pictures with other colors of this kind of plaid – red, tan, black, or green.)

When I saw that Fabrics.com was having a sale on Kaufman “Essex linen” (actually linen/cotton blend) I had to get some before it was out of stock again!

My husband and I plan to start getting our pavilion (if you’re not into historical re-enactment, that just means “fancy tent”) ready this summer. I don’t have much skill with woodworking to make furniture but I can make the cushions!

…and MORE fabric to make MORE garb

This (photo above) is what I’m sewing right now.

According to my husband, his SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) persona is quite a “clothes horse.” AND he likes red, although my husband doesn’t care for it most of the time. (I can relate, I don’t like orange AT ALL, but “Gwenllian” LOVES saffron orange.)

So let me tell you a story about how THIS project happened: I was looking for fabric to use as contrast around the neckline and sleeves on a Norman gown, and my husband suggested silk, so I IMMEDIATELY went online to see if Silk Baron (OMG, all the colors!) had something that would go with the deep coral pink I’d chosen for this gown, and I did find dupioni that matches EXACTLY… and then my husband saw some deep red shantung (sold as dupioni but it’s virtually slub-free, so it’s more like shantung, IMO) that he just HAD to have for a new coat…

That’s what I’m working on right now – basically a “Herjolfnes coat” like the THREE he has already (one in black that I made last autumn plus two emerald green ones, one for warm weather and one for winter) that he’ll wear layered under a short-sleeved coat made of silvery-taupe velvet. Very Eastern European. I think I’ll make him a hat to go with this outfit – maybe the dark red velvet left over from that cotehardie.

I lined the silk with plain cotton broadcloth (also red) that was basted to it around the edges so it’s like the two fabrics were one layer when I sewed the seams. Now I’m about halfway through finishing the seam allowances on the inside to make it all tidy. (I obsess about tidy seam finishes and hems that are invisible from the outside. Always have, always will.) Once that’s done, I’ll be ready to sew the buttonholes by hand. I have a sewing machine that makes nice buttonholes, but not for THIS garment – I didn’t spend $80 on garb fabric just so I could have modern matching stitching on the outside. Besides, this is a way I can “show off” my needlework skills. (It’s just buttonholes, no big deal, but I guess some people think it IS a big deal to sew by hand at all.)

I am also sort of working on a new tunic for my husband to wear with his armor – he finally wore out the old one, and this time I’m making it with specially shaped sleeve gussets so it won’t rip under the arms. (The “secret” is to make the sleeve gussets LONG, NARROW DIAMONDS instead of squares like most diagrams show. The long narrow shape allows for more movement of the arm without straining the seams.) All that’s left on that is to sew the bottom edge with “arrowhead” shaped dagging. This tunic is light gold cotton sateen. (I couldn’t find sateen ANYWHERE in a gold color, so I just bought a sateen sheet and dyed it.)

cross stitch charts: changing the size

(This tutorial is kinda unfinished for now but I just got a request for info on how to make a small pattern bigger…)

Never let anyone tell you there’s no math in cross stitch!

The EASIEST way to change the size of the finished piece is to use a different thread count of fabric. If 14-count would give you a piece too big for what you want, how about 18-count? If 25-count is too small, 18-count could be just right.

When I stitched up samples of my unicorn phone-cover chart, I did it in both 14 count AND 28-count. The number of stitches is the same for each one but the one in 28-count is half the dimensions of the one in 14-count.

What if 14-count is too big but 18-count is too small? That’s where it gets a LITTLE bit more complicated. I don’t know of any place that sells 16-count fabric for cross stitch, but I have seen 32-count linen. Most people (I’m not one of them) stitch over 2 threads when using linen instead of fabrics like Aida or Monaco, so using 32-count linen effectively┬ámeans stitching in┬á16-count.

Say you have a chart that’s 140 stitches wide. In 28-count, that’s exactly 5 inches (which is why I picked it – I’m used to doing the math for 28-count). In 25-count though it’s slightly more than 5 and a half inches. In 22-count (which I don’t like because 1 strand of floss isn’t enough for good coverage but 2 is too thick) it’s about 6 and a third inches. In 18-count it’s just 4 stitches short of 8 inches. And in 14-count it is 10 inches, twice what it is in 28-count.

(I’ll be adding the math formula — don’t worry, it isn’t hard — for figuring the finished size of a pattern depending on stitch count of your new fabric… I just need to make up a good picture to go with that.)