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How-Tuesday: Jam Jar Gift Toppers From A Rainbow of Stitches

Dec 1, 2009

by Michelle Traub handmade and vintage goods

While most of my gifts for Hanukkah this year will be coming from Etsy, I still try to look for ways in which I can add my own handmade touch, whether it’s in the gift wrap, cards, or embellishments. The encyclopedia of embroidered design, A Rainbow of Stitches, offers over a thousand motifs to inspire you to add personal details to your holiday gifts. For this week’s How-Tuesday, the authors share the fundamentals of cross-stitch along with a PDF of holiday cheer motifs to get you in the mood. Besides the lovely jam jar toppers above, how else would you put these seasonal patterns to use? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

Purchase A Rainbow of Stitches from Amazon or an independent bookseller.


If you haven’t tried embroidery or cross-stitch before, a quick look through this book will give you overwhelming proof that you can stitch on virtually anything made from fabric. More than eighty inspiring ideas for stitched embellishment are shown, from wearables and personal accessories to a variety of decorative items for every room in your home.

So dig through your closets and open your dresser drawers to find an item that needs a little extra “something,” then take a trip to your local crafts or fabric store to get some basic supplies. A rainbow of stitches awaits!

Before You Begin

Before you start, make sure your fabric is well prepared so it won’t fray as you’re stitching it. You can either hem the edges with a large basting stitch, or simply apply fusible web strips around the fabric’s perimeter. Keep in mind that the piece of fabric should always be larger than the pattern to be stitched.

Working With Fabric

Fold your fabric in four to find its center point. Make large basting stitches along both the horizontal and vertical folds to serve as guidelines as you stitch. Align the center point of your motif with the point where the two lines of stitching intersect. Remove these guidelines once you’ve finished embroidering your motif.

To help stitches stay even, use an emboridery hoop. Gently stretch your fabric on the hoop, making sure to reposition it frequently — or to remove it at the end of each stitching session — to avoid damaging its weave.

Working With Embroidery Floss

Two or three strands of six-strand cotton floss were used to stitch all of the projects shown in this book. Whenever you start a project, you’ll find it helpful to make a sampler of stitches on the fabric you’re planning to use to determine how many strands of floss you’ll need. As a general rule, lower-count Aidas — a type of counted thread fabric that’s traditionally used for cross-stitch projects — require more strands, while higher-count Aidas and linens need fewer. For example, most projects stitched on 14-count Aida require three strands of floss, while those stitched on a 28-count linen, which has a much tighter weave, would probably need just two strands, and even one might look fine.

Transferring Motifs

To transfer motifs to your fabric, use carbon transfer paper, which is specially made for embroidery and is available in several colors. Choose the one that works best with your fabric. For example, white transfer paper is best for dark fabrics, while blue or red work best on lighter ones.

Start by photocopying the motif, which you can enlarge or reduce to get it to just the right size. Trace the photocopied motif on a sheet of tracing paper, following its outline and making sure to include all its details. Prepare your fabric according to the instructions on the previous page, then iron it carefully before spreading it out on a flat surface, such as an ironing board or clean work table.

Place the transfer paper between the fabric and the tracing paper, making sure to put the colored side of the transfer paper face down. Keep the papers in place by pinning them to the fabric. With a hard pencil or a pen, carefully trace the motif, pressing down so that the entire image transfers properly. Once you’ve finished, separate the papers and fabric carefully to avoid smudging the fabric.

Starting and Ending Off

This method of starting and ending off avoids having to tie knots on the back of your piece. To begin, take about a yard of floss, using as many strands as you need for your project. Fold it in two, then thread the needle. Bring the needle up through the fabric, leaving the loop created by the folded floss at the back. Bring the needle back down to start your first stitch, passing it through the loop, then pull gently to lock in the thread. Once you’re done stitching, slip your thread under your last three or four stitches.


Essential Stitches

Cross stitch method 1
Cross stitches are typically worked on counted-thread fabric. This method is especially useful for lines of cross stitch.

Come up through the fabric at point A, then go back down at point B, up at C, down at D. Come back up at E and, working in the opposite direction, go down at B to form an X.


Cross stitch method 2
This method can be used either for lines of cross stitch or to make individual stitches.

1. Come up at point A, go down at B, come back up at C, then down at D to form the first cross stitch.

2. Come back up at B, go down at E, come up at D, then go down at F to the second cross stitch.



Stem stitch
Stem stitches create a continuous yet slightly staggered line.

1. Bring the needle up at point A, then into B and up at C (midway between A and B). Note that thread should loop under the needle.

2. To make the next stitch, go down at D and come back up at E, above the previous stitch and midway along its length.







Download a PDF of holiday cheer motifs here.





Thanks to Agnès Delage-Calvet, Anne Sohier-Fournel, Muriel Brunet, Françoise Ritz, and the good folks at Watson-Guptill Publications for sharing this project with us. For more inspired stitching, check out A Rainbow of Stitches.

More How-Tuesday Posts | Supplies Category | The Do-It-Yourselfer Gift Guide


  • karmaklinik

    karmaklinik said 7 years ago

    beautiful idea, thanks!

  • Morado

    Morado said 7 years ago

    ADORABLE!!! I always wait for the exciting How Tuesdays!! :o)

  • bylynnkrestel

    bylynnkrestel said 7 years ago

    i'm always looking forward to how to tuesday! this one is thorough - and practical -love it!! thank you a,rainbowofstitches, for freely sharing!

  • concentric

    concentric said 7 years ago

    Fantastic tutorial! I have shot a video and a photo tutorial of Mom stitching, but have not found time to edit it yet. Thank you so much for featuring her work, listed in my other shop, HAREandDRUM!

  • Recy

    Recy said 7 years ago

    I have two fabulous jar lid pattern books in my store for only $1 (for the pair!) Great to have on hand for gifts...

  • IceCreamCandy

    IceCreamCandy said 7 years ago

    thank you!! how cute:)

  • youheartus

    youheartus said 7 years ago

    very cute idea!

  • Ruffled

    Ruffled said 7 years ago

    Love this idea and I think I might make some this weekend!

  • cutiepiecompany

    cutiepiecompany said 7 years ago

    Lovely! I have recently started doing embroidery, and this will be a fun project to try!

  • LadyLuLus

    LadyLuLus said 7 years ago

    beautiful items! I am seriously thinking of trying cross stitch!

  • VelveteenHabbit

    VelveteenHabbit said 7 years ago


  • LaveMeSoapCo

    LaveMeSoapCo said 7 years ago

    very cute. i was thinking of doing something like this to give away red chili pepper hot chocolate in jars for christmas.

  • elizandaxel

    elizandaxel said 7 years ago

    I love this! Thanks so much for the wonderful tutorial Michelle. :)

  • Fairyfolk

    Fairyfolk said 7 years ago

    Oooh... I'll do this for sure with the hot chocolate mix I give to friends and fam! Thanks!! Blessings and magic.

  • BabbidgePatch

    BabbidgePatch said 7 years ago

    fun project, now to make the wild blueberry jam, too!

  • corelladesign

    corelladesign said 7 years ago

    Love this idea! Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  • uncharted

    uncharted said 7 years ago

    great idea! Thanks!

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye said 7 years ago

    jams and jellies and jars...oh my!

  • twolefthands

    twolefthands said 7 years ago

    I love that book, great idea for the jars!

  • pocketcarnival

    pocketcarnival said 7 years ago

    Aww they're so cute! Yay!

  • kukkilintu

    kukkilintu said 7 years ago

    Loved the product picks in this post!

  • nowonder

    nowonder said 7 years ago

    this looks like such a fun thing to do!

  • rikrak

    rikrak said 7 years ago

    oh my heavens! that tree jam topper in the top photo is soooo lovely! wonderful tutorial! thanks!

  • 1AEON

    1AEON said 7 years ago

    oh neat stuff!!! now i want to try it too..

  • oldworldprimitives

    oldworldprimitives said 7 years ago

    Great idea - I love the look! I need to try it out.

  • sherrisscentsandsoys

    sherrisscentsandsoys said 7 years ago

    Very cute idea. Thanks for posting!

  • rosebudshome

    rosebudshome said 7 years ago

    Apple ginger jam with a pretty topper perfect!

  • odiliafu

    odiliafu said 7 years ago

    Love this idea! So sweet!

  • poppyswickedgarden

    poppyswickedgarden said 7 years ago

    So Cute! WE use Jam jars to make Candles with too. They would look very cute with the cross stitched fabric instead of regular fabric like I use:)

  • funkeyfinds

    funkeyfinds said 7 years ago

    too cute! I have to show this to my cross stitch loving friend! that flossy the pony is adorable too! fun post! xo

  • asundrynotion

    asundrynotion said 7 years ago

    I learned cross stitch and embroidery as a very young and still love it! What darling jam jar covers. Thanks for this feature.

  • JBstyle

    JBstyle said 7 years ago

    Thank you! Great ideas!

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 said 7 years ago

    So perfect for homemade jellies & jams (conserves, too)!

  • SimpleJoysPaperie

    SimpleJoysPaperie said 7 years ago

    Another great How-Tuesday! Thanks!

  • dreamyvintage

    dreamyvintage said 7 years ago

    sooo pretty. love them :)

  • IngridsCreations

    IngridsCreations said 7 years ago

    Very cute! Great ideas!

  • ThePaperTray

    ThePaperTray said 7 years ago

    Very Cute! Now I want a peanut butter & jelly sandwich!

  • AnAapparel

    AnAapparel said 7 years ago

    Apple Ginger Jam...YUM

  • TheWayUmakeMeFeel

    TheWayUmakeMeFeel said 7 years ago

    Great article. Reminds me of my Grandma. Check out my vintage items and clothing at

  • carvelcountrysoaps

    carvelcountrysoaps said 7 years ago

    Love this!

  • thebestvintage

    thebestvintage said 7 years ago

    I love embroidery! Great Project....

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 7 years ago

    oh i love this "how to". i grew up crocstitching and this is such a great spin on a classic craft. LOVELY!

  • Ayca

    Ayca said 7 years ago

    Fantastic tutorial!

  • timesandchimes

    timesandchimes said 7 years ago

    Cute project!

  • Ayca

    Ayca said 7 years ago

    Fantastic tutorial!

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry said 7 years ago

    too cute!

  • earlybirdcreations

    earlybirdcreations said 7 years ago

    What a lovely idea! Ta for the tutorial :)

  • KisforCalligraphy

    KisforCalligraphy said 7 years ago

    A fun project! I think I would be better off with purchasing them! HAHA I really really love the jam covers by the SUPER SUPER SUPER talented CozyMemories!!! I was surprised not to see her beautiful embroidered pretties featured here! C'est la vie!

  • littlemoandfriends

    littlemoandfriends said 7 years ago

    sweet looking jars filled with sweet jam, too sweet!! xx

  • eurolenscape

    eurolenscape said 7 years ago

    Great tutorial! I have to show this to my 4th grader, who is doing cross stitch as a project in school right now. I guess I stick with my photo greeting cards though. Thanks!!!!!

  • FrillyButts

    FrillyButts said 7 years ago

    I love this! I have embroidered a little before but I am definitely a beginner! I am excited to do some cross stitching!

  • YayaOrchid

    YayaOrchid said 7 years ago

    Thank you for such great resources! These would be great for jazzing up those jar gifts. I'm wondering if someone can help with a question. A couple of hours ago I changed my avatar, and the new one shows on my shop appearance. But here where I'm posting, I see the old avatar. Any suggestions as to what can be done to display the new one?

  • asianartjewels

    asianartjewels said 7 years ago

    that's a great idea! thanks for the tips :)


    MODERA said 7 years ago

    great diy toppers!


    MODERA said 7 years ago

    great diy toppers!

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 7 years ago

    Very cute!

  • sleepyking

    sleepyking said 7 years ago

    :) I am going to try this. My jars will most likely be filled with buttons and other random things.

  • 3littlebirdsboutique

    3littlebirdsboutique said 7 years ago

    Just too pretty to open and use-love them!

  • spacejam

    spacejam said 7 years ago

    this is so adorable!!

  • JL67

    JL67 said 7 years ago

    LOVE this....I am going to give this a try! :)

  • babinka1981

    babinka1981 said 7 years ago

    Thank you! Great ideas!

  • EyvindsAlchemy

    EyvindsAlchemy said 7 years ago

    cross stitch toppers are good idea, they can be use for bag's decoration. If collect enough toppers, they can be stitch together into a bag with beautiful patterns. Thanks for the motifs tips.

  • Nishale

    Nishale said 7 years ago

    Thank you!

  • polkadotsandblooms

    polkadotsandblooms said 7 years ago

    This is adorable. I have not cross stitched for years, however, I've been thinking of picking it up again and I think this article has given me a final gentle push :-)

  • polkadotsandblooms

    polkadotsandblooms said 7 years ago

    Oh, and by the way the book as gone onto my xmas wish list :-)

  • lamaisondefloria

    lamaisondefloria said 7 years ago

    It will be one of the next projects for my shop!

  • zeropumpkin

    zeropumpkin said 7 years ago

    oh wow.this is cute :D

  • neawear

    neawear said 7 years ago

    YAY for stitch!!! :D How cute are those jar toppers!! Thank you for featuring my Snowflake :)

  • Kukaramba

    Kukaramba said 7 years ago

    I am not a "cross sticher", I wish I loved to do it :) But I like to crochet. Crocheted gloves with fingers in my shop ")

  • taylorseclectic

    taylorseclectic said 7 years ago

    Very cool idea!

  • sakizome

    sakizome said 7 years ago

    Gorgeous! And I adore cross-stitching. Have been stitching for decades. There is something magical about creating a lovely pattern on a blank piece of fabric.

  • Tumus

    Tumus said 7 years ago

    nice book! I might have to go pick that one up ^_^

  • DalkullanJewelry

    DalkullanJewelry said 7 years ago

    Jam jar toppers make a lovely gift! I got one years ago and still have it, it's so nice to receive something that so much love and care was put into.

  • QuiltFinger

    QuiltFinger said 7 years ago

    Adorable! I love personal touches!

  • babook

    babook said 7 years ago

    i might to think the gift which i want and to add too !!! take a look babook .

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 7 years ago

    Very simple idea but creates a charming gift!

  • whitehaus

    whitehaus said 7 years ago

    love it!

  • MaandaaKJewelry

    MaandaaKJewelry said 7 years ago

    Love it!

  • BetaBoutique

    BetaBoutique said 7 years ago

    lovely. lovely. lovely. perfect for a cozy afternoon.

  • whyte

    whyte said 7 years ago

    I've also been cross-stitching for years and so glad to see it coming back into vogue again. Another tip for cross-stitching on clothing or something without a counted weave is to buy and use waste canvas, which is basted onto the fabric, stitched, then the canvas threads are pulled from under the cross-stitching leaving the design on the fabric. These little toppers would also make great Christmas ornaments, either in mini hoops or stuffed and hung with ribbon, small designs are great for bookmarks, appliqued to cloth napkins....I can think of a ga-zillion uses.

  • cassidycay

    cassidycay said 7 years ago

    Wonderful idea!

  • pinksequin

    pinksequin said 7 years ago

    I love this! Such a great gift idea.

  • amefaust

    amefaust said 7 years ago

    Oooh, I'm just starting my first cross-stitch project as a christmas gift for my fiance, this article is very helpful! I hope my project comes out half as good as these related listings!

  • TheDuchessE

    TheDuchessE said 7 years ago

    For some great PDF Cross Stitch patterns, which are a little more difficult, check out I can also custom make patterns for you!

  • WithThisNeedle

    WithThisNeedle said 7 years ago

    When I am not sewing or surfing the net my favorite way to relax to is cross stitch. I have been stitching for almost 28 years and started out with easy stuff and have gradualy gone on to more complicated time consuming stuff.

  • whimsyandcharm

    whimsyandcharm said 7 years ago

    i love cross stitching and this is a wonderful project idea!

  • Ebruk

    Ebruk said 7 years ago

    Thank you Vanessa,Very useful Thanks !

  • Ebruk

    Ebruk said 7 years ago

    Lovely items Thank you

  • littleclouds

    littleclouds said 7 years ago

    ahh I've always wanted to learn how to do this, thanks

  • LavenderField

    LavenderField said 7 years ago

    So creative!

  • anemonecomms

    anemonecomms said 7 years ago

    i am making lemon butter tomorrow and might have to give these a go to top them off!

  • kusjkjkjk

    kusjkjkjk said 7 years ago

    can't wait to buy the book and expand my stitching

  • kokabu

    kokabu said 7 years ago

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    kokabu said 7 years ago

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  • littleANGELboutique

    littleANGELboutique said 7 years ago

    Thanks for instructions. Love Chestnut large hand.

  • NonisGourmet

    NonisGourmet said 7 years ago

    What a fun project! Thank you for including my Banana Jelly in the related items! ♥ Leona "Noni"

  • natureskupboard

    natureskupboard said 7 years ago

    Perfect idea! I love it!

  • Smika

    Smika said 7 years ago

    Great tutorial. I could not even think to make such a cute present.

  • Cotillion

    Cotillion said 7 years ago

    Great idea thanks! My mother has been searching for a way to combine cross stitch with food gifts.

  • cozettebyclearcat

    cozettebyclearcat said 7 years ago

    love it, thanks~!!

  • medievaltomodern

    medievaltomodern said 7 years ago

    Thank you for the suggestions and help!

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