I’m forever stitching buttons…

I am always looking for new things to make with cross stitch. I like the way biscornus (those little decorative maybe-pincushion things) look but I don’t have any use for them and small decorative things don’t last long in my house because of the Tiny Tigers of Doom. (Sorry, one of them says he’s a panther not a tiger – my bad.) And sometimes I want to make something besides bookmarks. Don’t get me wrong, I like making bookmarks. But sometimes I want to stitch something that isn’t a long narrow border design…

A couple weeks ago I had an idea – cross stitch on fabric covered buttons.

That’s what I’ve been making lately.

And as it turns out I have plenty of very small charts in my “stash” – they have to be smaller than 48 stitches across, MAX, because that’s the most that will fit on the largest cover button forms I can find. Even ones for 7/8 inch button forms can’t be more than 28 stitches and those would have to be stitched on 32 count linen – for 28 count fabric they have to be less than 24 stitches across.

So far I’ve made some roses and other flowers plus a set of little Celtic knots. And yesterday I started working on a bookmark to take a SHORT break from stitching buttons.


first attempt at needle lace


I used it to patch/decorate a pair of jeans once it was finished…

I think I’ll be better at this once I figure out how to hide the thread ends.


cross stitch charts: yes, you can change the colors :-)

What if the only chart you can find isn’t exactly what you want? “I like this design but the colors aren’t quite right.” Or, “I want to make a brown horse and all I have is a chart for a palomino.”

The colors shown in a chart are just to tell you what to use to make your own piece EXACTLY like that one. You aren’t required to use those colors. (You aren’t even required to use the same count fabric but that’s a topic for another post.)

I already showed you MY version of the detail from Teresa Wentzler’s “Castle Sampler” with bright autumn colors instead of the cool pastels of the original. Changing the colors in a chart THAT big requires graph paper, colored pencils, and lots of patience, but changing the colors for something small is EASY.


Here’s a little pink rose, only 21 stitches wide by 20 stitches high. Cute, right? But what if you don’t want a PINK rose? What if you want a YELLOW one?

Take a look at the colors in the chart. There are 3 shades of pink (and 2 of green) here. ALL you have to do to change this to a yellow rose is choose light, medium, and dark shades of yellow to replace the pink. (If you want, you can also change the greens like I did.) You don’t even have to make a new chart if you don’t want to – just make a note to help you remember that the symbol/color on the chart for “963 pink” will be stitched in “743 yellow” etc.


And here’s a silver rose. It would look nice on a bookmark…


Changing colors in a chart isn’t just for flowers. What about making a brown horse from a palomino? I don’t have a chart to use as an example but basically do the same as with those roses: select new light, medium, and dark (or more, if there are more than 3 shades) of the new color family. To make a palomino horse into a black one instead, use dark brown, brown-black, and black in place of the light, medium, and dark gold-tans. (Black horses are actually VERY dark brown, so the highlights in their coats are dark brown instead of charcoal gray.)


The mad prince’s favorite rug (in cross stitch)



The actual rug is finished but I don’t have a photo of that and my camera isn’t working again. THIS photo is just about actual size. It’s a work-in-progress picture of a miniature rug I made based on an even SMALLER drawing I found in a book. In the drawing, the whole rug was maybe 3/4 inch long. I enlarged the design to dollhouse scale and stitched it in 28-count (are you noticing a pattern?) cross stitch. The drawing wasn’t in color but I knew the rug should be green and tan.

The photo shows only half of the rug – the other half is a mirror-image of this part. The left-hand side in the picture is actually the center.

This rug will probably go in a miniature room box eventually. One of my NON-sewing/embroidery obsessions is dollhouses/miniatures and I happen to have a book full of floor plans of rooms I’d like to copy in dollhouse scale.

I call this “the mad prince’s favorite rug” because it came from part of a story in which one of the characters decides not to kill his brother (try to, anyway!) only because his brother is standing on his favorite rug at the time and he doesn’t want to get any blood on it. Since the brother he was thinking about killing happens to be my favorite character from that story, I thought the rug itself deserved to be “immortalized” in miniature at least.

can’t leave well enough alone


If you do much cross stitch you might recognize this design as one by Teresa Wentzler: the lower part of “The Castle Sampler.”. I really like her designs but the colors she usually uses are not “me” at all. So I change them. Here cool pastels became bright autumn colors. I added the banner in the background, too. That’s mine. No, really – I have a real full-size banner like it that used to hang on my apartment wall. 🙂 I changed some small details, too, like not having the women wearing wimples.

The pillow itself is made of golden yellow suedecloth with turquoise satin piping around the edges, to match colors in the embroidery.

Here’s a close-up of part of the embroidery.


my overly ambitious glove making project


The gloves themselves weren’t the hardest part. I had never made gloves before. I made these out of linen instead of something stretchy (and later found out that bias-cut linen gloves were a real thing in the Renaissance – Elizabeth the First had at least one pair) because I couldn’t find knit fabric that matched ANY of the colors in the embroidered cuffs, not even the white background, and my hands are too long for “one size fits all” purchased gloves.

The cuffs are embroidered with a design adapted from an antique pattern published in 1876. (The ever-popular Ingalls scans.) According to the label on it the design was meant to be a lot larger and used for the top of a curtain or one of those things they used to decorate fireplace mantles with. (I had to look up what a “lambrequin” is, but that’s it.) I made it a lot smaller, obviously, only 7 inches wide instead of 17. I also changed some of the flowers either because I couldn’t identify them and didn’t know what color to make them or just didn’t like how they looked. (The replacement flowers are daffodil, marigold, and flax – the last one to replace the “ubiquitous borage.”)

I transferred the design to the linen by taping the paper with the design over the fabric on a window – a no-cost way to fake a lightbox! – and then tracing with a fabric marking pen. That felt like it took forever.

All the embroidery on these cuffs is either satin stitch or Holbein (double running) stitch. Fabric is linen, white bound with green, open on one side and linked with freshwater pearls in a few places along the open edges.


Someday I might make another pair of these but with the embroidery all in one color instead of “polychrome.” White on blue would be pretty, and I have A LOT of cornflower blue linen…

“Running Hounds” yet again…


Made this to go on the sleeves of a Medieval-style gown.

The chart comes from a Dover Publications book, Celtic Charted Designs, by Co Spinhoven. I can’t say it enough: if you like Celtic designs and cross stitch, you NEED this book. The price seems to have gone up a bit since I purchased my copy – it’s now $7 instead of $5. I got my money’s worth the first time I used it. I’ve used THIS particular chart 3 times so far – twice for garb trim and once to make a bookmark for my husband.

28-count (of course!) on natural cotton/linen fabric. I chose the colors to represent the four seasons: green (spring), gold (summer), brown (autumn) and blue (winter). The design is 33 stitches wide, a little over 1 inch at 28-count.