Creating a cross-stitched album cover using a quote

I had a family birthday this week, so I needed to find a gift for that hard-to-buy-for person. Crafty, edgy, unique...a musician, a teacher and a cat lover...hmmmm... this is what I made:

The finished album cover

As always, this project started with a goal. I needed a birthday gift, with materials I had on hand, and could be completed in under 10 hours. No problem, right?

Here's what I used to complete this project:

  • Reflections scrapbook album
  • 18ct ivory Aida cloth
  • DMC floss variegated #106 and 107
  • hot glue gun
Inspiration chartIt all started with this pattern from my collection

I have a confession to make. I have too many patterns. I have WAY too many books and magazines - so I've been making a copy of the most inspirational, most loved, most likely projects to actually get started...and maybe finished :)

I kept this pattern because of the quote. It seemed perfect for my music loving friend - but the flowers were too - I hesitate to say old lady, but...dated - and the colour chart called for it to be stitched in pinks and blues - not terribly modern. I know that this pattern was from a Cross Stitch and Country Crafts magazine, but my copy doesn't tell me the exact issue, nor does it have the designers name. Wish I had written that down at the time I made the copy!

I did a Google search (backstitch alphabet free) and found some alphabets that I liked. This one is a combination of the upper case letters from www.cross-stitch-centre.co.uk and the lower case alphabet from www.StitchPoint.com

Charting a quoteCharting the quote, using a free online alphabet.

First, I wrote each phrase on a separate line. I tried to keep the line spacing even on the page, but I didn't always make exactly the same number of squares between the words or the lines.  I just wrote everything out the way my eye thought it should go.

Second, I cut each line apart, then found the midpoint of each text line and lined them up vertically. You can see my midpoint marks on each line in the photo above.

I didn't use the lower case alphabet exactly as written. I changed the "h", the "e" and the "a". These are minor changes, and I didn't graph the changes, just did them on the fly as I stitched.

For anyone wishing to chart their own pattern, the StitchPoint website has 13 sizes of charts available, FREE to download - from 5 stitches to 20 stitches per inch. I used the size that matched the fabric I had on hand, 18ct.

the back of my stitching

Years ago, I was given a package of DMC variegated floss which has been waiting patiently in the drawer ever since. I knew I had several scrapbook albums in storage, so I took a look and found this beautiful orange and fushia one. What a happy coincidence that the floss matched quite well! For anyone looking for details, the DMC colours were 106 and 107.

I started stitching by finding the centre of my fabric square (cut to about 12" square), then stitching with the fushia (107) all the lowercase letters. I used one strand of floss to do these stitches, and tried sew with the dark end of the floss first. I chose to work from the dark to light on the length of thread because the dark sections were longer and I wanted more of the intense colour to make the letters more legible.

I stitched all the upper case letters with the orange (106) floss. This time, I used 2 strands of floss, making sure to sew from the dark to the light variations. I was very careful to make sure I had enough floss to stitch an entire letter to ensure consistency of colour.

the original album
the finished album with stitched quote

I trimmed the fabric to 25cm square because the inside length of the pink line was just about 25.5cm. I pulled out 5 rows of Aida cloth, then measured in 15 squares and lay a long length of the #107 floss on row 16. I used 2 strands of #106 to stitch down the long length of fushia floss. I made a stitch every 3 squares, and it worked out very well at the corners. Every corner isn't identical, but the details are not noticed in the overall finish.

One thing I'd do differently in the future is to use a different adhesive to secure the fabric to the album cover. I used hot glue (cause that's what I had) and you can see the bumpy waves from each pass of the glue gun. I tried to reheat a small section to flatten it out more, but the glue started to weep through the fabric. I know there are some very strong double-sided tapes used in book-binding and altered paper crafting so I'll have to do more research and pick up some of that for my future projects!

This project was perfect for the occasion. It took 6 hours from design to finish, and I had all materials on hand so it was completed in 2 days. The most complicated part was taking the time to get the graph lined up at the midpoints - a careful hand and sharp scissors when cutting make the reassembly much easier! So have you tried making your own cross-stitch graph? An inspirational quote is the perfect started project to get you excited to graph your own pattern!

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