Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Christmas in July - Cross-Stitched Kitchen Towels

I used to do a lot of cross-stitch embroidery, but for some reason haven't in quite a long time.  Suddenly, I had the urge to work a project in it again!  There was a time I made large pictures with aida cloth - mostly I used waste canvas to put cross-stitch on fabrics that didn't have a large, even weave.  I found these kitchen towels at Cost Plus and fell in love with them - tassels!  I've never seen or even thought of putting tassels on kitchen towels!  Stripes make it easy to line up your waste fabric, so these were perfect.  I put a simple poinsettia design across each end.

*kitchen towels
*embroidery floss - red, green, and yellow.  You'll use two strands throughout.
*waste canvas - 14 count
*sharp embroidery needle - cross-stitch is usually worked with a dull tapestry needle, but when you're not using aida cloth, an embroidery needle works better

Waste canvas is sewn onto the area you want to cross-stitch.  I just use regular sewing thread and a long stitch.

Cross-stitch patterns have little squares filled in with the color of thread needed for that square - you're not actually working in one little square, though.  It'd be hard to hook your thread in an empty square!  What you're doing is working over one intersection (+), so each color symbol represents an x or cross-stitch.  It's just easier to read patterns if the color symbol is put in an empty square.

Find the center of the design on the cross-stitch chart and on your fabric.  On the chart, the center is marked by an O.  On your fabric, fold the towel in half width wise and crease.  Since my towels have stripes, I then found the stripe I wanted to start on and marked the center with a pencil.  If you don't have stripes, fold your fabric lengthwise in addition to width wise and mark the center.

I cross-stitch a little differently than most people do.  It's probably because I learned needlepoint first.  When I started cross-stitching, I did it the same way I did needlepoint - with a continental stitch.  When I found out I was doing it wrong, I changed to the usual way and suddenly didn't like how my x's looked, so I switched back and have stuck with the continental stitch since.   I have a feeling that breaks some cross-stitch rule, but it works best for me!  Basically, after you make your first half stitch, the usual way has you coming up in the hole directly below the hole you just went down.  With a continental stitch, you sort of work backwards.  It uses more thread but also makes each stitch more secure.  The pictures below show how I do it, but if you like making cross-stitches in the usual way, no problem!

Determine where your first stitch, or x, will be.  Bring your thread up in the lower left hand hole and push it back down through the upper right hand hole.

If I have a line of stitches to do, I work a half stitch all the way down the line first.  Working the stitch to the left, come up in the lower left hand hole and push it back down in the upper right hand hole.

Work down the line until you have the number of stitches you want.

Now you'll work back down the line putting on the top stitch - the one that makes it an x.  (If you're just starting out in cross-stitch, make sure that all stitches have the top stitch pointing the same way - I've always seen the top stitch going from right to left.)

To cross the first stitch, bring your needle up in the lower right hand hole and push it back down through the upper left hand hole.

To make your next stitch, come up in the lower right hand hole and go back down through the upper left hand hole.

Work down the row in the same manner until you have all x's.

Working from the pattern above, continue making cross-stitches.  Trim off the extra waste canvas.

There is a type of waste canvas that is water soluble - I haven't used it as I have a ton of the regular kind.  If you're using the water soluble kind, follow the directions on the package for removing it.  If you're using the regular type, wash and dry the towel (with the waste canvas on) to remove the starch.  I just run it through the washer and dryer with a load of clothes.  Then, grab a pair of tweezers and put on a good movie!  You're going to be cutting the canvas into small areas ...

... and  then pulling the fibers out, using tweezers.  It takes awhile, but it's not too bad!

Iron the towel and you're done!

Happy Creating!  Deborah


  1. Nice tutorial. Thank you. Your poinsetas look lovely. I have a question. Do you use knots? How do you keep your thread from pullin out?
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    1. Thank you! No - I don't use knots. When starting, I leave about 4 inches of thread on the back and then embroidery as usual. To end the thread, I weave it back and forth through stitches on the back and then cut it off. I then thread the needle with the 4 inches of thread I left at the beginning and finish it off in the same way. I do this even on clothes that will be washed and the threads always stay put. Next time I do an embroidery tutorial, I'll put up some photos!

  2. Thank you, this is so stylish and perfect for a Christmas gift. I have had waste canvas sitting in my workbox for a long time, just waiting for the perfect project - this is it, thanks.