2020… Reinventing life… Getting used to a new normal… Thinking outside the box (while stuck inside the house!! Oh, the irony of it…)
Stitching is a perfect way to take our mind off the daily worries, to de-stress, and to feel good about being stuck indoors.
GOOD NEWS: no amount of panic buying PDF Patterns will ever create a shortage for other stitchers, so it’s a great guilt-free way to keep your mental health in good shape!
But the problem with having “more time” on our hands is that the direct consequence is usually having “less money”…
Patterns on a budget?
MORE GOOD NEWS: here are 2 discount codes for you.
(valid until 30th April 2020)
But if you’re on a budget, the patterns are going to be the least of your worries as they’re the cheapest part of any project… Threads and fabric, on the other hand, not so easy… So…
Threads on a budget?
You’ll find cheap threads online of course, but I really wouldn’t recommend them. Assuming they’re not knock-off copies (some of them are very dubious, to say the least), they’re likely to be of very poor quality and snap, knot up, run when you wash them, etc. Most of them are bad news, so I would only recommend using proper branded threads that you know you can trust. Anything else is a false economy (in my humble opinion).
So how to save on threads, then? Here are a few ideas:
As a general rule:
- Keep any threads left from previous kits/projects. Save them on their thread card so they don’t get mixed up, and if you don’t have a thread card for them, just punch holes in a piece of paper – that’ll do.
- Adapt patterns if you don’t have the right colours – I can’t speak for patterns from other designers, but for my patterns, you can adapt the colours in the vast majority of cases. If a pattern calls for 3 pinks, but not the ones you have in your stash, use your own! Make sure you make a note of your colour changes (so you don’t get confused half way through the stitching), and also make sure that your colours respect the gradient called for by the pattern (dark/medium/light). Test, and see what you think. Trial and error can be fun! So don’t hesitate to dig out those left-over threads from old kits/projects, and see if you can’t re-use some of the shades.
- Mix threads to make them last longer – you have small quantities of 2 colours which are close together, but you’re not sure you have enough of each to stitch a full pattern? Combine them and use 1 thread of each colour – you’ll have twice as much of that new mixed shade!
While you’re stitching:
- Use the loop method if you’re stitching in 2 strands. It saves thread (and hassle)!
- Save all bits of thread unless they’re shorter than 5cm (2″) – when you’ve finished an area and you cut the thread, save it. It’ll come in handy when you have to stitch these little clusters of stitches which are away from the rest on the pattern. If you only need a tiny bit, why not split the 2 strands, and double them up individually to save even more thread!
- Be “stitch-aware” – there are several stitching methods, and they each have pros and cons. Some of them use more thread than others, so if you’re trying to lower your thread consumption, keep away from the parking method, for instance.
- Be “stitch-efficient” – now’s not the time to be a cross stitch purist. Look at the pattern, and determine which is the shortest path to cover:
- If jumping from one area to the next uses less thread than tucking, cutting and starting up again, then jump from one area to the next.
- If you’re stitching a row to the right, and then you have to stitch a row to the left, don’t jump to the left handside of the new row, stitch it from the centre, in reverse. As long as the stitches are all lying in the same direction, it won’t show, and you’ll have saved on thread.
- When you’re stitching backstitch, use the alternate method: instead of looping backwards as you normally would, alternate backstitch/straight stitch/backstitch/straight stitch etc. It will show as a dashed line on the back because it uses much less thread!
Fabric on a budget?
That’s a tricky one to get around. On the up side, using “cheap” fabric is MUCH safer than using “cheap” threads.
- Be less demanding on quality – I always recommend Zweigart fabric because it’s such a wonderful fabric to work with – it never fails to deliver top a quality stitching experience. But if you have to take a temporary “holiday” from it, don’t hesitate to go for a cheaper fabric while you’re trying to keep costs low. It’ll be less pleasant to stitch, but if it means you CAN stitch, it’s got to be worth it.
- Think outside the box, and look at ALL the fabrics you have at hand. Not just the ones in your stash, look further out. You know those tea towels Aunt Bessie gave you as a wedding gift? They’re still crisp in their wrapping paper? They’re great to stitch on!! As long as the weave of the fabric isn’t too tight, you can stitch it!!
- Try your hand at special stitches. Traditionnal embroidery doesn’t have to be scary, and you can literally stitch ANY fabric using traditional embroidery. Even your old denim jacket!! Have a look at my Special Stitches Tutorials – you’ll pick up loads of new techniques that you can use free-hand on fabrics which aren’t cross-stitch friendly, like the decorative band of a hand towel, or the back pockets of your favourite jeans!
No matter what, have fun, and happy stitching !!