Sometimes I lie in bed at night and ponder life's deepest questions. Why are we here? What's the meaning of life? In a Flight of the Conchords battle for romance, who would ultimately win my affections, Bret or Jemaine?
In this tutorial, you'll learn how to make a cross-stitched artwork inspired by Flight of the Conchords' legendary song, 'Business Time'. Make it for someone you know and love, even if that person is yourself.
- Aida 14-count cross-stitch fabric, approximately 38cm x 15cm (15 x 6 inches). This is a type of even-weave fabric that has well-designated squares to help you figure out where to place your stitches. The count number correlates to the amount of stitches per inch; 14-count fabric has approximately 14 stitches per inch. You can use different counts of Aida fabric - just keep in mind that your piece will be slightly smaller or larger than this one.
- Embroidery thread in five colours (I used DMC floss, colours listed on downloadable chart below).
- Tapestry needle.
- Cross-stitch chart (download below).
- Cardstock (optional).
- Double-sided tape (optional).
- Coloured paper (optional).
- Washi tape (optional).
Click on the chart above to download the full chart in both colour and black and white with symbols.
Step 1: Find The Centre of Your Fabric
The easiest way to do this is to fold the fabric in half from short end to short end and then in half again from top to bottom. This will leave a crease at the approximate centre of the fabric that correlates to the centre point on the chart.
From there you can count squares up or down and start stitching from wherever you want. Don’t stress about it too much – as long as you have a rough idea of the centre, you won’t have to worry about running out of fabric.
Step 2: Make Your First Stitch
Cut a piece of black embroidery floss to a length of 45cm (18 inches). Gently separate the thread into two-strand segments. Thread the floss through the needle and pull the needle halfway up the length of floss.
Using the letter you’ve chosen closest to your centre point, bring the needle up from the bottom-left corner of the first square. Bring the needle all the way up, leaving about 2.5cm (1 inch) of a tail at the back. Then bring the needle back down in the top right-hand corner of the square, making a diagonal stitch.
Now bring the needle back up at the bottom right-hand corner and then in at top left-hand corner. You’ve just made your first stitch! Nice one.
Bring the needle back up in the bottom-left of the next square over and continue in this method, counting stitches as outlined in the pattern.
Step 3: Secure Your Thread
As you're making your first stitches, flatten down the tail you've left at the back and continue working your stitches over it on the front of the piece, 'catching' it as you stitch. This will secure your thread at the back. This sounds slightly complicated, but rest assured you will get the hang of it quickly!
Step 4: Finishing a Thread
When you come to the end of your thread, complete your last stitch, and run it behind a few stitches on the back, then clip off the thread as close to the fabric as possible. Re-thread your needle and begin again.
Step 5: Continue Stitching
Your cross-stitching will look tidy and neat if you stitch all your squares in the same order – i.e. from bottom-left to top-right, then bottom-right to top-left (or whatever order you want as long as it’s consistent). Once you get the hang of the stitch, you can speed things up by stitching all of the first 'legs' of a stitch in that letter’s row, then work your way back by doing the cross-stitches.
Many people worry about what the back of their project looks like (I know I used to) but no-one’s going to see it! It really doesn’t matter and the more you stitch, the neater the back will become. The most important thing to remember is to secure your stitches as best as possible.
Double-check that you’re counting correctly as you go along – there’s nothing more frustrating than reaching the end of a word and realizing it doesn’t line up properly or was stitched incorrectly. The benefit of the 14-count Aida fabric is that the squares are nice and big, and therefore pretty easy to count. 28-count fabric is another story!
Once you’re finished the quote and legs, it’s time to add some manly leg hair.
Step 6: Stitch the Leg Hair
This part is fun and you can free-hand the stitching. Once you’ve completed the pattern, thread your needle with two strands of black embroidery floss and make random short diagonal and vertical stitches up and down and the bottom of the legs, stopping around the knee.
Step 7: Iron Your Piece
Well done, you’ve finished stitching! At this point, take a quick look at the back of the piece and snip any long threads close to the fabric. Then it’s time to iron. It’s very important that you do this gently, so as not to burn the piece.
I like to spray it with water and then cover it with a tea-towel as I iron. You can use the lowest 'warm' setting on your iron, and make sure that the front of the piece is facing down, even with the tea-towel on top.
Step 8: Mount Your Piece
If you want to make a paper frame for your finished product, cut a piece of thick cardstock or cardboard to the same size. Using double-sided tape, secure your ironed fabric to the cardstock.
Step 9: Cut Out Your Frame
I used plain black poster board, cut to slightly larger dimensions than the finished piece. Add about 2.5cm (1 inch) on each side, and also leave a 2.5cm (1 inch) border on the inside. Cut out the inner rectangle using an X-Acto knife or sharp scissors.
Step 10: Embellish Your Frame
I chose to do something very simple and just added some red washi tape on the diagonals between the inner and outer rectangles of the frame. I then centered the frame over the mounted piece and used double-sided tape to attach it.
Have fun with the frame – draw on embellishments, add some stitching to the paper frame or wrap it in fabric. This is also only one way of displaying it -- you could do any number of things, like finding a larger frame and matting it or even getting it professionally framed.
You could even use it as a panel for a pillow or tote bag. The possibilities are endless - be creative! And remember: sorting out the recycling isn’t foreplay, but it's still very important.
Are you a Flight of the Conchords fan? What other projects would you like to see on Crafttuts+? Let us know in the comments below.