Finish It Friday: Needleroll

Finish It Friday is a new series here on the StitchyBox blog - every month we will be taking a look at a different finishing technique, recommending what types of charts will work best for it, and passing on any tips or hints we have to help you put the finishing touches on your projects.

Snowflake Needleroll

Original Snowflake Hornbook design

Original Snowflake Hornbook design

For our first Finish It Friday post, I thought I'd try out a finishing style I've never used before - a needleroll. A needleroll is basically a small pin cushion, and is a great finishing option for a small band-type sampler or other rectangular project, like the Snowflake Hornbook chart I used for our sample. 

Stitching all finished, and threads pulled out in preparation for hemstitching and tying together.

Stitching all finished, and threads pulled out in preparation for hemstitching and tying together.

Project Materials:

Chart: Snowflake Hornbook by Mani di Donna (from Just CrossStitch February 2016, page 37) (shown above)

Fabric: 40 count Helix linen (Picture This Plus)

Threads: OOAK purple silk (Gloriana's), Sullivan's 6-strand cotton floss #45483 (corresponds to DMC #168) - both found in our Winter Queen box.

Finishing Notes:

To construct my needleroll, I followed a tutorial on the Stitchin' & Life in a Small Town blog, and used Mary Corbet's Hem Stitching instructions, since that was not included in the main needleroll tutorial. While the photos in the tutorial did not load for me, I found the instructions clear enough that I could follow along without the photos. While researching this post, I also found a fabulous tutorial (complete with photos!) on the Focus on Finishing blog, available here. I don't see any differences in technique between the two tutorials, and the FoF is full of photos, so while it was not what I used, I'd recommend you use it to make your first needleroll.

Working the hemstitch - I found it easier to change over to a sharp needle for this, since I needed to catch the bit of the folded-over fabric in my stitches.

Working the hemstitch - I found it easier to change over to a sharp needle for this, since I needed to catch the bit of the folded-over fabric in my stitches.

I wanted to stick with items found in our Winter Queen box for this project, so rather than using ribbon to tie the ends of my needleroll shut, I made a twisted cord out of 2 strands of the each of the threads I used to stitch the design (so, 4 strands total). Adding that touch of purple to the ends of the roll helps prevent it from looking washed out, as the Sullivans and my fabric are both very light in color.

If you are using stuffing for fill your needleroll, I recommend stuffing it as full as possbile, so you have the nice tube shape when you are finished. Use a chopstick or something similar to really jam it in there! If you prefer, you could certainly use crushed walnut shells instead and give your needleroll a bit more heft.

Finishing Method Rating:

Versatility - 4/5: While band-type samplers are the most obvious choice for needleroll finishing, you really could finish just about any small, rectangular chart using this method. You could easily add a hanger to the top before tying it closed to turn this into an ornament.

Given that you need to pull out threads from your fabric above and below your stitched project, I'm not sure how well this would work on Aida. (If you've finished a needleroll using Aida, tell us about it in the comment section below!)

Ease-of-Construction - 4/5: I'm giving this one a 4/5 because I was able to put together a decent-looking needleroll on my first attempt without having to do any ripping out of stitches or sitting in front of my project in a panic because I didn't understand what to do next. Pulling out the linen threads was a bit fiddly, however, so I can't give it a perfect 5 out of 5.

Appearance - 5/5: What can I say, I think this thing is adorable!

Would I do this again? Yes! This method is relatively easy and quick to execute, and I love the result. 

Now it's your turn - have you tried your hand at a needleroll? Tell us about your experience, and any tips or hints you may have! I'd also love to know what finishing methods you'd like to see in future Finish It Friday posts, so leave a comment below and let us know. Happy Stitching!

Whittle Down That Pile of WIPs: Setting Up a Stitching Rotation

It happens to the best of us - you start a project or two, with the best intentions of finishing them, and then some new bright and shiny charts come out, and all of a sudden there’s a big ole pile of WIPs stitching next to your stitching chair. Fear not, o faithful stitcher - a stitching rotation might be just the thing you need to convert that pile of WIPs into a pile of FOs!

What is a stitching rotation?

Simply put, a stitching rotation either tells you what to stitch in any given stitching session, or helps you decide what to stitch. There are a variety of methods you can use to move through your various projects, some being more prescriptive than others.

Types of stitching rotations

There are a variety of “standard” stitching rotations:

  • Screaming Rotation: You stitch on whatever project is currently calling to you.
  • Goal-Based Rotation: For each WIP, you decide on a goal you want to reach before you move to your next project in the rotation. For example, you might decide you want to complete a page of a multi-page project, or maybe stitch all of the black sections before you move on to your next project.
  • Categories-Based Rotation: This rotation style needs a bit of upfront organization, and tends to work best for those with a huge stack of WIPs to work through. You’ll need to sort your WIPs into categories (typically based on things like project size, designer, or stitching/chart style), then work on one WIP from each category in sequence.
  • Night-of-the-Week Rotation: This one is fairly self-explanatory - you assign a project to each day of the week, and work on your designated project each day.
  • 10-hour Rotation: In this rotation, you make a list of your WIPs, and work on each one for 10 hours (or some other designated length of time) before moving on to your next project. This type of rotation has a few common tweaks, detailed below.
  • 10-hour Tapered Rotation: On this rotation, you make a list of all your WIPs, but rather than working on all of them before circling back around, you taper. So, for your first round, you stitch 10 hours on your first project. On the second round, you stitch 10 hours on your first project, then 10 hours on your second project. On the third round, you stitch 10 on the first, 10 on the second, and then 10 on the third. This style of rotation also gives you an easy way to add in new projects on a regular basis - at the end of each round, you start a new project before cycling back to your first project. You can also use empty slots (when your WIP is finished) as a place to start new projects.
  • 10-hour Rotation with Focus: This rotation allows you to include a focus piece, one that you need or want to work on more often. You make a list of your WIPs, and start by working on your first WIP for 10 hours, then switch to your focus piece for 10 hours. Then you work on the second WIP on your list for 10, and back to your focus piece for 10.

Making a rotation that works for you

Every rotation stitcher I’ve ever talked to has tried several different types of rotations before they found the one that worked best for them. Don’t be afraid to test-drive several of the above, or create your own, and change them until you find what works for you. For example, I've had to change up my stitching rotation this year because I am doing a Year of Starts with one of my Facebook stitching groups (yes, that means I am starting 366 projects this year!). Usually I like the 10-hour Tapered Rotation, but for this year I'm doing my new start each day for at least 30 minutes, then moving back to my focus piece. Once this year is over, who knows how many rotation styles I'll have to try out before I find one that help me actually finish those 366 projects!

Do you use a rotation in your stitching? If so, tell us about your system in a comment below! Until next time, Happy Stitching!

Tutorial: Q-Snap Scroll Frame

A few weeks ago, I happened across a post in one of the many stitching Facebook groups I belong to* showing a QSnap frame set up like a scroll frame and I knew I had to try it immediately. Not just because it seems like a cool hack of existing equipment, but also because it deals with my biggest gripe about scroll frames - they are so damn heavy! Sure, I love having all my extra fabric neatly tucked away, but I'd also like to be able to stitch for more than an hour before my wrists and elbows beg for mercy! A QSnap/Scroll Frame mash-up seemed like the perfect solution.

I decided to test this out on my current sampler band, which consists of 3 fabrics from the Fresh Blooms box:

Since my sampler band fabric is approximately 4 inches, I went with a 6 inch by 8 inch QSnap frame - you could, I think, do this with any sized QSnap, but I want to be able to carry the sampler around with me, so the smaller, the better!

To start, place your frame on top of your fabric, at the bottom. Curl the bottom edge of the fabric up and around the bottom piece of the QSnap and clamp into place.

Next, bring all of the fabric through the inside of the frame and lay it over the bottom clamp.

Next, flip the fabric back under the frame, so it's in the starting position. You've just made one wrap of the bottom "scroll bar".

Continue to wrap until you run out of excess fabric. I wrapped with a fairly tight tension, and found that I could pull on the fabric to tighten it a bit after a few revolutions, just like when loading a scroll bar.

If you end up with excess fabric at the top of the frame, you should be able to rotate the whole bottom portion of fabric to take up the slack (including the clamp).

Once you have the top of the fabric where you want it, add the top clamp and start stitching!

I've only been using this set up for a little while, but so far I do like it. The only drawback I've found is that it is not as tight as a scroll frame (or, I haven't been able to make it as tight as of yet), but that hasn't really been a problem. The fact that I can add the sampler bandto my daily carry bag more than makes up for it!

Are you going to give the QSnap Scroll Frame hack a try? Have another stitching hack to show off? Leave us a comment below!

*I would love to be able to point you to the group, and the post, and give my inspiration the credit they deserve. Alas, I have no memory of which group it was, and digging through hundreds of posts with thousands of comments was just not practical. If you remember seeing a photo like this recently, and you happen to have a direct link to the post, please leave it in a comment below so I can give credit where it is due!