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Customise Your Passport and Luggage Tags With a Cool Cross-Stitch Design

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At the beginning of the year I always start to plan where I will be going in the coming months. Planning is part of the fun and I spend hours looking at hotel rooms, tourist must-sees, quiet foodie escapes and recommendations for the best gelaterias. I'm in a personalising mood of late and thought I would make a customised passport cover and luggage tag for my next adventure.


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  • Cross-stitch fabric. I used 14 count.
  • Embroidery thread.
  • Embroidery hoop (if necessary - I prefer using well-starched fabric for these sort of projects).
  • Plastic sleeve.
  • Scissors.
  • Needle.
  • Blank paper.
  • Image for cross-stitching.
  • Ruler.
  • Pencil or pen.
  • Button.

Step 1: Create a Pattern - Stitch Count

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To create a pattern you first need to work out how many stitches you will have available to you. To do this, measure your passport (I believe these are all standard but mine measured 3.5 inches by 5 inches) and multiply by the number of stitches per inch you have in your fabric. The fabric count I used was a 14 which gave me a count of 42 stitches by 63 stitches.

Step 2: Create a Pattern - Draw a Grid

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Take a blank piece of paper and draw even boxes across the page. Divide the page length by the number of stitches to get a rough idea of box size. I calculated boxes of about ¼ cm² would be sufficient.

Step 3: Create a Pattern - Drawing a Pattern

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A silhouette-style picture is the easiest type to use for this method of creating a pattern. I found a silhouette map of the United Kingdom online and blew it up to a user-friendly size. Alternatively, you could use a flag of your country or it's national animal.

For the UK I also thought of doing a crown or a unicorn (which appears on our national emblem). Tape the picture to a window and then tape the lined paper over the picture. Wherever the picture shows make a mark in the box. In some boxes a three-quarter stitch might work better.

Step 4: Create a Pattern - Adding Detail

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If you want to do a different colour or pattern instead of a solid block, use a different shape or colour in the box.

Step 5: Cut the Fabric

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Grab your passport to measure out the fabric. Cut the fabric with a few extra rows on the top and bottom edges and make a flap of a few centimetres on either side to create folds.

Step 6: Stitch the Pattern

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Measure where your image needs to sit and stitch the pattern you have created. Remember that the pattern will not go in the middle of your fabric but to the side so that it appears on the front side of your passport.

Step 7: Sew the Folds Down

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Secure the folds down and prevent fraying by stitching all the way across the top and bottom edges.

Tip: If you run out of thread while stitching around the cover, just start using a new thread and leave a bit of a tail. Once you have done a few stitches, you can tie a few knots to secure the thread so the tail doesn't slip.

Step 8: Fit Your Cover

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Slide your passport into the cover.

Step 9: Luggage Tag - Choose a Pattern

I decided to stitch my initial for my luggage tag. You might want to check out the antique pattern library, which is a great resource for cross-stitch patterns and has a range of alphabet patterns from Victorian times to '70s.

Step 10: Luggage Tag - Cut Out the Fabric

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Cut out the fabric as shown in the image. You don't have to have specific measurements but make sure that it is big enough for the pattern you have chosen.

Step 11: Stitch Your Pattern

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Stitch the pattern onto one side of your luggage tag (or both if you are feeling so inclined).

Step 12: Luggage Tag - Cut the Plastic

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Cut out a piece of the plastic sleeve to fit inside the tag. I cut mine so it didn't take up the full length. This means you can slip contact details on one side and the extra space means it won't slip out the other side.

Step 13: Luggage Tag - Sew the Plastic to the Fabric

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Line up the plastic to the cross-stitch fabric and starting from the middle, stitch your way around the edge of the whole tag. I used a blanket stitch. Then repeat front to back and through the loop all the way. If you run out of thread just use the tip above. When you get back to your starting point knot the pieces together, with several knots, and trim the tails.

Step 14: Luggage Tag - Buttons and String

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Sew a button on the cross-stitched side of the tag and sew a thread onto the back side. This can then be wrapped around the button to secure the tag to a handle.

Step 15: Luggage Tag - Insert a Details Card

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Put your details on a piece of card that fits into the luggage tag.

Pack your bags and head off!

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What would you put on your passport cover? And where are your bags packed for?

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