For years I always said “when I retire I’ll have lots of time to make hand crafted presents.”
That time came in 2007. I decided I would take up my abandoned Eighties hobby, counted cross-stitching. I have to say some things have changed since then! I still had all the supplies—pattern books, embroidery thread, needles, and scissors. Some of my material had developed severe stains and fold marks, so it had to be tossed. I went on a quest to buy new 14 count material.
Years ago (when the hobby was booming) we had three or four hobby shops in town that sold everything you wanted, including lessons. They were gone, and all that was left was the big box store. They had very little to choose from and the nearest big city hobby shops were 54 miles away. Thank heavens for Amazon and Ebay! Ebay has thousands of pattern books and some sellers even will email you patterns in a PDF file upon payment. Besides these two giants, you can search Etsy and Pinterest for ideas and free or low-cost patterns. These places even have stitchers who will create custom-made designs for you. Isn’t the Internet wonderful! I visited my local library, and they had a surprisingly large collection of pattern books and a handy copier close by where you could copy a pattern and thread color chart for a quarter.
Back in the day I used frame shops to custom mat my creations. Nowadays I haunt local thrift shops for donated frames. You wouldn’t believe the beautiful frames I’ve purchased for fifty cents to two dollars!
When I was younger, I made the patterns exactly as they were written. Now, I find that with my skills, I “fit” the patterns to the frames beforehand and stitch extra borders to compensate for the expensive matting I used to pay for. My gifts have gotten a lot of compliments and sometimes friends even think I have purchased them at a gift shop!
Making homemade things is a great way to save money and impress your friends!
Ilena Holder is also the author of the new adult book, Nuclear: A Tale of Love and Radiation up for sale at Amazon and Solstice Publishing.