Monday, October 10, 2011

Quick Craft: Geek Stitch

Back when I was young and bored, I used to do a lot of cross stitch. I still find the tedium of the craft soothing, but these days I don't have hours on end to sit stitching, so I've mostly retired my floss and needles.

Then I saw this pattern a few weeks ago:

As soon as I saw this I thought of Number1, who recently moved to Minneapolis. C'mon; it's a scannable QR code that reads "Home Sweet Home." Yes, please!

The pattern was only $3.50 from Velvet Elvii, and it was e-mailed over within just a few hours. I still have my old XS materials, too, so I managed to scrounge up everything I needed without spending any more moolah on it.

Oh, and I changed up the colors a bit to give mine more of a graphic punch:

I just love black and white and yellow together. So cheery.

I don't know about you fellow stitchers, but I've never had an easy time of framing my finished pieces. I never remember to leave enough room on the edges, so I usually just sandwich the fabric in a frame and hope it doesn't droop or sag too much.

I planned to frame this one, in fact, and spent a fair amount of time putting together this laser-cut paper background to lay the fabric on:

But unfortunately the X-stitch just didn't look right with it. Too busy. This will have to wait for another project.

If you decide to skip the frame as well, here's what I did:

First, find a heavy mat board to use as a base. Don't use flimsy cardboard or card stock, because those could bend or warp. (Also, I should note that if you want your piece to last, always use acid-free and archival quality materials and adhesives.)

Cut the board to a size just slightly larger than your pattern.

If your board isn't already the color of your fabric, glue a layer of paper to the side your fabric will lay on. (You don't want a distracting color showing through the holes in your fabric.)

Once your paper is glued and trimmed in place, lay your fabric on the board and fold the edges over the edges:

Glues the edges down (I used a simple white craft glue), but leave the corners sticking up for now.

When all the sides are glued and dried, take each corner and press it down so it forms a square, like this:

DON'T GLUE IT YET. Just press with your fingers to get the creases in place.

Now, carefully - carefully - snip off the two wedges your creases outlined:

As you can see, this removes the excess fabric and allows your corners to sit almost flush.

With both side wedges removed, your corner will look like this:

Now simply grab that top point and pull it straight down, being sure to glue the edges well to avoid fraying.

When you're done, the back of your piece should look something like this:

And here's the front:

See how nice and tight the corners are?

Oh, and if you wanted to give your piece a little more of a puffy/pillowy look, you could always add a layer of batting between your fabric and the board. Well, I mean, you can't NOW, but you could have back before we glued the fabric down. (See why you should always read all the instructions before starting?)

I wanted this design to be perfectly flat so the QR code would scan easily, but most small patterns actually look pretty cute as miniature pillows - they look nice hanging on door handles. And in those cases, a few minutes with the sewing machine and a pretty coordinating fabric is all you need.

Anyway, getting back to this project, now all that's left to do is glue on a ribbon for the hanger, and then cover the back with another square of paper or felt to make it look nice and neat:

And finally, with a little help from John and his phone, allow me to present the moment of truth:

[drumroll, please...]



Oh, and Number1? You may have a package coming in the mail soon. Um. Surprise? :D

Next up I have at least four more geeky patterns I want to buy from Velvet Elvii. How 'bout you guys? Where do you find great patterns?


Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!


  1. subversive cross stitch has a few QR code patterns... A little bit more colourful in the language though!

    I like the "use a coaster" one.

  2. I would just like to testify how amazing Velvet Elvii pattenrs are! I bought 3 of them a few weeks (few months?) ago. The Back to the Future "You are my Destiny" for my husband's birthday last week, and the "World of Warcraft Murloc" and "Harry Potter Spell Keeper List" for two friends as Christmas gifts. My husband totally geeked over his. And then made me watch the trilogy in one sitting :) They really are super easy to follow patterns, and no extra embroidery-just the cross stitches, so even peeps new to the sport can get into it. The only down side is that some of the patterns take up more than one page, and although the lines are numbered every 5 lines, it's sometimes a pain to match up where a line starts on the next page. But it's such a minor thing. Go buy some. Now!

  3. Number1 moved to Minneapolis? I feel kind of sad, mostly because that makes it less likely that she and John will do any more duets. I guess I'm going to have to listen to "What's This?" to make myself feel better. :-)

    As someone without a smart phone, I always feel left out when I see those codes. I also feel like a Luddite. :-P

    1. As a recent (one year) convert to the smart phone, I *still* haven't figured out how to scan one. And too embarrassed to ask my younger tech-y friends.

  4. Jen, for all of your crafty goodness, I *cringed* at your instructions. But then again, I frame this stuff for a living, so I'm really not being snarky, I love you, I swear! If I were DIY-ing it without frame shop materials I would use the adhesive backed boards that they make specifically for this. (you can find them in any needlecraft section of a craft store) The materials are acid free and won't damage or yellow your aida cloth like elmer's can over time. I'm also a proponent of keeping cross stitch under glass (with a mat or spacers, so the cloth doesn't actually touch the glass, naturally ) because too many of my G'ma's pieces have yellowed over the years. I know professional framing isn't in everyone's budget and it's awesome to see you giving a (mainly) great DIY tutorial, but the glue! It's nail on chalkboard and "your" being used instead of "you're" to me! I do love the finished piece! Here's a favorite of mine...

  5. Minneapolis is a great place to move to; I should know, it's been my "home sweet home" for 28 years! I loved the instructions, thanks!

  6. That's awesome. I have to make one for my brother-in-law for Christmas. Uh, any suggestions on "how to cross-stitch" sites?

  7. OMIGOSHOMIGOSHOHMIGOSH!! I've got some cross stitch kits (and they're Halloween designs) but I'm just not feeling them. What I've been feeling is IT Crowd. I just didn't know I could feel it in this way. One of my two favorite IT Crowd quotes is there. I'm so excited!

  8. Awesome! I have never cross stitched before (and never had a desire to) but I have to make this!


  9. I LOVE THESE. If you haven't seen IT Crowd, you should. "I came to drink milk and kick ass. And I just finished my milk." He's having a sale right now... :-D

  10. Maybe you should get together a few goods for your upcoming road trip! You'll have plenty of time to work on stitching, and then you can finish it when you FINALLY come to the east side of our fine nation (Phoenix misses you both)!! :)

    And I was going through my book case, and pulled out a novel to read to find that it was one that you had signed for me that isn't even your book. It still makes me LOL!!

  11. I just scanned your pic of your project, and read Home Sweet Home! Sweet!

  12. Hooooly crap, I literally just pinned this on pinterest. Thanks for reading my mind!

  13. @ Anony - LOL - I was waiting for a pro framer to comment; I know my way is not for projects you want to last forever! I change my wall art so often that I routinely ignore the proper archival methods. However, I had NO IDEA they make adhesive backed boards for XS! This is awesome! I'll definitely be looking for those for my next project - thanks for letting me know!

  14. I love (LOVE!) cross stitching! I recently XS'd the keyboard cat onto a tote bag. I will have to do this one, too!

  15. I just had to comment that my boyfriend came into the room while I was reading this post and immediately grabbed his Android phone to scan the pattern to see what it said. Teehee.

  16. Another note about framing cross-stitch (or anything, really!): If you buy the frame at Hobby Lobby, they'll cut the matting for you for about $5. It's not that expensive as long as you have something that won't fit into a normal sized frame.

    Other places might do this too, but I've had some good times at Hobby Lobby (which may or may not include randomly stopping people to get their opinions on which color matting goes best with my design!).

  17. Love it! I was pretty sure I was the only one left in the world who cross stitches-- glad to hear it's not so! Although, right now it's all I can do to keep up with the baby ones I every time I have a baby. I'll just have to keep the geeky patterns in mind for the future.

  18. Well, I used to really, really like you, Jen. But now that I found out you're a stitcher, well... I love you! I think you're QR code looks great, and I agree with a commenter up there, with a lengthy road trip ahead, there's lots of stitchy time available. Unless stitching in a car makes you barfy. That would not be good for you... or John. :o)

    At any rate, I think your stitch looks great and I liked the way your finished it, yay Jen!

  19. I LOVE these! And I'm also in the MPLS area - geek girls of MN unite!! There are quite a few of us ;)

    The IT Crowd one is pretty sweet, but the idea of a QR code Home Sweet Home just takes the cake - thanks!

  20. @ Lisa - it's true, I love stitching during car trips, but for the tour we've hooked up my laptop with a mobile internet connection, so I'll have to actually be *working* on the road. (Can I get a "boo, hiss!"?)

    I suppose it's a good thing - we'll still have posts going up - but at the same time I do love just vegging out stitching & listening to audio books! Maybe if I'm really good I'll manage to do a little of both. ;)

  21. Boo, hiss!!

    But yay for the last part, I hope you find a little time for vegging and stitching :o)

  22. LOL - I love it! I like your choice of colors better than the pattern. =)

    I haven't cross-stitched in forever, but I might have to dig out my thread for something that geeky cool (yes, I still have all my supplies in a bin in my sewing room). Back in grade school when I cross-stitched all the time, I could whip out a pattern that size that in about 4 hours - but I bet it would take me longer now since I haven't sewn one in years!

    Thanks for sharing!

    (My internet hiccup-ed right as I was trying to post, so if this is a repeat you can just delete.)

  23. That is so neat! I am also a cross stitcher, but since I've discovered scrapbooking I haven't been doing it much. I have been working on one for a while now that should be done. I've been posting progress on my blog if you'd like to take a look :).

  24. Here is the amazing Tetris heart sampler a friend stitched for our wedding, complete with free pattern!

  25. I'm a stitcher as well, so thank you for the link! I also recommend weelittlestitches. I have their Harry Potter pixel people for a gift for my husband, and they have ADORABLE little Ghostbusters, Firefly, Dr. Horrible and and Dr. Whos!

    Also, to go along with what Annonymous said, I also cringed at your method to frame it. What I was taught to do by my grandparents (they owned a needlework shop that also did framing) was to use spray-on archival glue, then a piece of thin batting, then put the piece over that. It keeps the work from stretching too much. You just glue down the corners with archival double sided sticky tape. Then you don't put glass over it--you just stick it in a frame. This helps the fabric to breathe. My mom and I did make an exception when we framed the XS I did of Willy's jeeps for my dad--those we did not put on batting and put under glass because they're in his garage.

    So, another tip from a semi-experienced stitcher! ;)

  26. I wish it worked with needle point too :(

  27. I LOVE that pattern, and can't wait to check out Velvet Elvii! I make a lot of beaded cross-stitch Xmas ornaments -- I love Mill Hill products -- so I use a lot of 14-count perforated paper. What I like about it is it's rigid, so after you're done stitching you can just cut one row beyond the pattern and you're done, although a pretty backing is nice. Perforated paper has it's limitations -- like you can't do half-stitches, but after a couple of intricate designs on linen I pretty much loathe half-stitches anyway. I'm working on a pattern right now that I think you'd really like, Jen. If it works out, I'll give you a copy in Houston.

  28. I don't cross stitch, but I just started knitting. As in, last night. A couple friends directed me to where there are awesome knitting and crocheting patterns and projects. :)

    Awesome job, by the way..

  29. My dearest Jen, thanks for the shout out! I'm sending this to Aaron in the hopes he wants to get another QR code tattoo. I think the small of his back would be a good place. ANXIOUSLY awaiting the mystery package!! You're the best. Digital internet hugs!!!

  30. My Mom used to make an 8x10 picture almost every week when she was really into xs. Her method of attaching the work to the cardboard backing was to stitch the overlap together on the back, effectively "sewing" the backing into the piece. It's lot more work and time consuming than glue - what a novel idea!

  31. I should have known it was only a matter of time until they started making things like this... the sheer geeky awesomeness of it is just... wow. I wonder what my aunt would have to say about this (she's the resident cross-stitcher of the family; I just dabble).

  32. Anytime you see more cool, geeky cross stitch patterns, feel free to share! :D

    I'm working on this one now:

    I love working the intricate details, even though it literally takes me years to finish.

  33. ohhh how sweet. I'm currently working on a cross stitch of "frank" the evil bunny from Donnie Darko. I'm more of a horror geek myself.

    But thanks for the framing demo. Can't wait to hang him up on my skull wall!

  34. I've never been into cross stitch, but I've tried it a few times. I just bought 3 patterns, because I apparently need another hobby!

  35. That shop has some great stuff!

    I've been making up custom patterns to stitch as gifts of my friends' favorite geeky phrases. A Firefly example

    But I might need those IT crowd patterns.

  36. I think that all of the WreckyBot peeps in the Twin Cities area should have a get together. Maybe we could have a "Welcome to the Neighborhood" party for No. 1. Anyone else on board with this?

  37. Ok, what gives? I had it in my cart with 2 other patterns and when I went to check out, the QR pattern was gone. It's a PDF file with a limit or is this an Etsy thing?

  38. More embroidery than XS, but lots of fun patterns over at Though the one I used according to directions, the lines transferred too thickly, so I usually just trace.
    Nice work, as per usual!

  39. That is awesome! I have learned that I just don't have the patience for cross-stitch projects, although I do like knowing the basics of embroidery. For geeky knit/crochet patterns, you can't beat Ravelry. I found a (free!) pattern for a knitted Dalek, which I made for my fiancee's birthday. He totally geeked out. Hmm...Doctor Who cross-stitch would be hilariously adorable..*goes to search for patterns*

  40. I bought a Murloc pattern from her not too long ago!

  41. I'm like 20% done with one of the really pretty Disney ones that they sell at World of Disney in DTD, I'm doing the one of Walt and Mickey walking up a path with the castle

    I, however, didn't realize when I bought it at Property Control (discount shopping FTW) that its 18"x24". So I figure I'll finish it in, say, 10 years at the rate I'm going.

  42. I wish I still had the time to XS! I would love to get some of these. My mom would really like the leg lamp one.

  43. Second both wee little stitches and sublime stitching. I do get a lot ideas from
    which is not a pattern site, but sends me to too many other places not to be mentioned.
    I also like which indulges the science and geography nerd in me.
    One day I will purchase all 50 states and do something embroidery with them, but I have so many stash patterns it hasn't happened yet.

  44. How funny, just a few months ago I cross-stitched some QR codes to give as gifts. Though most of mine led to links or videos that were inside jokes between me and the recipient (e.g. one code for a friend of mine leads to a one minute clip from the pilot episode of Bevery Hills: 90210, because we - to this day - quote it all the time)

    I've also done a few for myself that lead to a favorite song of the moment or quotes or a poem (I went through a QR Code phase...)

  45. I just bought two. I'm so excited to cross stitch again!

  46. i love cross stitching! im so excited to see a post about it!

  47. I need the soothing stillness of cross stitching most nights. Lately I have been doing Navajo Rugs on linen, over one. Makes for teeny tiny rugs, perfect for my Office Gnome. Online at for great links.

    To be a snot, I do have trouble with people stealing others copywrited designs and then selling them. As in Yoda, Dr. Who, etc. These are not HER designs but her translation into a new medium. As a working artist, I have issues with this kind of creative theft. Done ranting, waiting to mee you in CT on the 25th.

  48. See, now you have me addicted to cross stitch. You'll like this one.

  49. This is one of my favorites!!


    I would sub in the NES controller for the xbox one, though. :) I thought this would make a great bday gift for my hubby.

  50. Very clever! Even your picture of your finished piece scanned for me. Neat! :)

  51. Thank for the link! I know have Velvet Elvii on my favorites.

  52. Bought patterns from Velvet Elvii, and my girl and I are happily stitching away. This is her first big project, and she's doing so great! And, thank you for sharing Velvet Elvii, because they are, well AWESOME. Made a custom for my girl to go with one of the Harry Potters, and let me buy a pattern that they don't list anymore that I saw on the blog... bundled everything together for me, emailed in what seemed like nanoseconds. I will most certainly be back there!

  53. I just made some ornaments from two of their patterns! I was wondering why scannable code in their store looked familiar! :)

  54. Any idea where one can find the PDF pattern to the QR code design you have above? The gal closed her etsy store and her website is gone as well. Thanks :)


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