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How-Tuesday: Cross-Stitch Brooch

May 1, 2012

by NerdJerk handmade and vintage goods

In honor of heroic moms everywhere, this week we’re creating badges of honor for our favorite ladies. Steph Cortes of nerdJERK will show us the ropes (or, rather, the threads) of this cross-stitch project. And if you happen to be in San Francisco on Thursday, May 3, join her for an in-person version of this project at Craft Bar at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, a monthly hands-on event sponsored by Etsy. You can also follow Steph on Twitter , check out her fan page, or become her Epic Friend.

Little Steph Cortes would have much rather been playing video games instead of sitting through my grandma’s embroidery lessons from ages 8 to 10. Now that I design my own textile art with my brand, nerd JERK, I like to think I’m not such a brat about it.

As a caregiver for that very same granny (who also happens to be my “Cuteness Quality Control Expert”), I’m constantly trying to come up with ways to make her feel special. Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and she loves old-school ways of dressing up her cardigan. If you’re in the same boat of fashionable awesomeness, then you’re gonna be in to rockin’ a DIY Cross-Stitch Brooch!

You Will Need:
– A small scrap of 14 count Aida fabric (3” by 3” works well)
– 1 needle
– 18” length of embroidery floss
– Scissors
– A couple of pieces of felt (in two colours that work well together)
– A hot glue gun
– A pinback for the brooch
– Some graph paper & pencil to map out your cross-stitch design

Note: Need to see a cross-stitched alphabet to get some ideas? Check these out! The Century Gothic is my favourite.

Quick Intro to Cross-Stitch

1. Separate your embroidery floss.

Traditional cross-stitch usually relies on using all the strands in a length of embroidery floss to create that nice full, puffy stitched X. Since we’re starting out small, I’d recommend separating your embroidery floss into 2 lengths with 3 strands on each side. Much like a zipper, hold the 2 lengths on either side to create some tension while using your other hand to “unzip” the floss, pulling them apart with your index finger.

Tip: Hold the floss in the “unzipping” loosely to prevent tangles. Allow the floss to uncoil and straighten out as you “unzip” as well.

Experiment: The number of strands of embroidery floss determines the look of your stitch. Try experimenting with the quantities to see what kind of rad designs you can create with a little more or a little less!
2. Thread your needle.

While it’s seemingly simple, threading your needle sometimes catches people up. In this version of cross-stitch, I’m a bit unconventional: thread your needle, tying a double knot at the end of your floss. When using loose-woven fabrics like Aida cloth, it helps to have a secure knot on the back of your work. You wouldn’t wanna slip through during an epic stitch!


3. Fold fabric to find the center of the design.

With counted cross-stitch (where the pattern isn’t printed onto the fabric itself), it helps to know where you’re gonna start stitchin’! So fold your stiff Aida fabric into quarters to find your center point.

You can start stitching anywhere on your design once you know where the middle is because Aida fabric is just like a grid — just follow the design you’ve mapped out.


4. Start stitching from the back.

Once you know where you want to make your first stitch, you’ll want to start stitching from back of the fabric to hide your knotty bits. The back of your cross-stitch can be messy — it’s going to be glued later on to felt, so no need to be worry about things back there. Just make sure your front is all good!


5. Stitch the first part of all your X’s in one direction first, then come on back.

When you have all your stitches going one way in the front, you’re able to just turn around at the end and start stitching the other way.

Counting your stitches while you’re going can help you  keep on the path. Think of it as /////, then \\\\\, to make XXXXX.


6. Finishing your stitching

Now that your rad design is all stitched up, turn over to the back of the fabric and tie a knot or two at the base of the floss, as close to the fabric as you can get.


For extra secure stitching, you can weave your floss underneath some of your previous stitches with your needle. It keeps your floss where it’s supposed to be and doesn’t create a bulky backside. Simply cut off the excess floss with your scissors.


Making Your DIY Cross-Stitch Brooch

1. Cut out your cross-stitch design for your Aida fabric. You can cut it out as fancy-pants as you’d like, but to celebrate the simplicity of cross-stitch, I opted to cut out little squares to form pixels.

Wanna spice things up? Make a few cross-stitched designs for your brooch and layer them. You never know how rad you can be until you try something new!

2. Lay out your cut-out designs onto your first layer of felt.

3. Carefully apply hot glue to the back of your cross-stitch cut-outs and place onto felt gently.

Warning: Don’t press onto the felt super hard, as the hot glue could seep through the fabric and burn ya!

4. Once cross-stitch cut-outs are attached, cut out your brooch design from your first layer of felt.

5. Now that you have your design, you’ll need the back of your brooch. Lay your brooch design on top of your second felt layer and cut out the approximate shape of your brooch design in your second colour of felt. Also cut out a small scrap (1/2” by ¾”) of felt to use later for attaching your brooch’s pinback.

6. Apply generous amount of glue to the back of your first layer of felt and attach to the second layer of felt. More hot glue means a stiff felt brooch, so layer it on, attaching it before the hot glue goes cold.

7. When both layers of felt are firmly attached, trim the excess second layer of felt (and possibly hot glue) to create a clean, finished look.

Experiment: If you had a lot of felt for your second layer, you could also cut that piece of felt decoratively to add an extra dimension of awesome to your design. Go nuts!

8. Squeeze out a ½” to ¾” gob of hot glue on the area you’d like to attach your brooch’s pinback. Open the pinback and place into the hot glue, taking care not to “gum up” the clasp to the right  (otherwise your brooch may not open and close properly).

9. Before the hot glue cools, place tiny bit of felt over the glue and pinback to fuse it to the brooch.

10. Rock that brooch! Possibly the most crucial step to making your DIY Cross-Stitch Brooch is your ability to ROCK IT. Whether you’re giving it away to a rad human (like your mom), somebody pretty dang special, or made yourself some stellar flair, wear it with pride, yo!

If you make your own cross-stitch brooch, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group.

More Things to Make | Mother’s Day on Etsy


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