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Cross Stitch Letters - Helpful Tips
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Cross Stitch Letters  -  Helpful Tips

Lettering is the Cinderella of cross stitch sampler design. It is so often tagged on as an after thought and not considered enough at the design stage. It is often the case that people take enormous care designing their house or garden for example, then race off to the nearest cross stitch publication to find a verse that has already been charted. They seem to run out of ideas at this point and will grab just about anything, even if it is quite unsuitable.

If you consider lettering as a major element and think it through carefully at the planning stage of your cross stitch design, you will avoid this particular problem.

On old samplers, cross stitch lettering was a minefield of mistakes, almost as bad as borders but not quite so obvious. In those days, the stitchers of samplers were younger and less literate than we are today, and the lettering was all part of their learning. It was a school room exercise chosen by the teacher. The mistakes made then, now add interest to their samplers and are often a cause of amusement.

The lettering of the verse you choose and the numbers used with it are important ingredients of your sampler. It is worth taking time and trouble to work out an appropriate size and style. It has to be in keeping with the whole design and must harmonize with the other main elements such as the house or garden.

Consider how important your lettering is, what information you want it to impart and how it will reflect your personality and the times in which you live. If the sampler is for a special occasion, the best way to record this has to be carefully planned.

Write the wording on paper and consider what arrangement would look best. Maybe some of the lettering should be large and some much smaller. For example, if you are portraying your own house, featuring your pets, the name of the house could have large elaborate lettering in cross stitch, and the area or town in which you live could be worked in smaller cross stitch letters. The name of your pets might be depicted in much smaller back stitched lettering.

Helpful Cross Stitch Lettering Tips

  1. Cross stitch lettering and numbers take up more space than that worked in back stitch. Bear this in mind if you have limited space or a very long verse.
  2. Darker coloured cross stitch threads make more impact, particularly with back stitch. For example, you can use dark blue, red, green and grey for cross stitch and reverse black for back stitch.
  3. Lettering looks more interesting if it is on several scales. Take some time and trouble selecting sizes and styles that complement each other.

Sometimes you have to chart the whole verse to see if it fits the space adequately and if it suits the other elements of your counted cross stitch sampler. Very often several attempts have to be made before it looks absolutely right.

Choosing A Verse

Verses chosen for old samplers were often rather depressing. It would truly reflect the age in which we live if, instead of copying, we used more up to date phrases and sayings.

Think of your favourite quotation and use that, or perhaps a poem learned at school, or one that has special memories or significance to you and your family. You can always change the wording of an existing poem. Verses of popular songs certainly reflect the age of the sampler, and can of course be short, catchy and sometimes humorous.

If a favourite poem or verse of a song is too long, adapt it and just drop some of the lines. Browse through books of poems and quotations, even just listen to what is said in everyday life. If something someone says appeals to you, note it down for use on future samplers.


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