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~ Helpful Craft Hints
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The following helpful craft hints were submitted by
crafters who frequent this website.

Click Here for Detailed Cross-Stitch Instructions

Click Here for Detailed Plastic Canvas Instructions

Click Here for Detailed Crochet Instructions


LATEST HINTS:

*Fiona R. from South Australia suggests,
One of the best ways to store all those little bits of laces, buttons, etc that normally end up in a container or the bottom of a drawer, is to get hold of various sizes of glad bags (Ziplock Bags for the rest of the world) and they are a god send. They then stack away much neater and you can always see what is in them.

*Brenda D. from Lynchburg, VA offers,
I have found that by using a white towel or piece of white fabric on my lap when doing cross stitch on dark fabric makes it far easier to see the hole to stitch in.


HINTS FOR CROSS STITCH:

*Susan S. from Chariton, Iowa says,
I have found that if you run a threaded needle with floss through a dryer sheet of Bounce it helps keep the thread or floss from tangling.

*Nancy F. from Stoneboro, Pennsylvania offers these hints,
I am forever misplacing my needles and I found that empty Tic-Tac containers make excellent needle holders. I also use one to put the scraps of thread in that I am going to throw away, this way they aren't all over the floor and my lap after I have cut the ends off!
I have also found that Post-um notes are great for using as a marker to keep track of what row you are working on. I have a magnetzied board to use for this purpose, but I found it to be to cumbersome and the Post-um notes work great and they don't take the print off of your pattern.

*Ms. Jearldean M. from Panama City, Fl suggests,
I have found this to be such a neat thing to clean your finished cross stitch project: Place your finished piece in a glass bowl, cover it up as much as you can with just plain table salt. Leave for around 3-4 hours. Shake off excess salt, then place your finished piece in the dryer for about 15 minutes. The salt removes all excess oils and dirt from your cross stitch piece.

*Morag W. from Scotland advises,
If you only have a stitch or so left to stitch and your floss is too short to use, do the following: take a fresh strand of floss and double it. Thread your needle with both ends. You are then left with a tail loop which you can use to pull the short end through your stitches and complete your work.

*Darlene from Australia states,
When working a cross stitch project where you have to change thread color every few stitches I gather up all my left-over needles and thread a different color thread in each needle. Then I put old buttons on a pin cushion and mark the various symbols from the graph onto the button and keep the threaded needles in the proper button. If I can't write on the button I place a small piece of tape on top of the button and write the color symbol on the tape. As I have to change colors in my project I simply exchange needles! What a time saver, especially on complicated patterns!

*Barbara C. from Oklahoma advises,
Before I start cross stitching I always use my Serger to serge the outside edges of the Aida cloth so it won't ravel. This has always worked well for me.

*Sue from Trenton, MI shares,
I like to work on different cross-stitch projects at one time so what I do is keep them in folders in a basket marked M,T,W,Th,Fr,Sa,Su. On Monday I work one project, Tuesday a different one, etc.... that way you don't get tired of working the same one all the time, especially if its a big project.

*Gabriela from Germany offers these suggestions,
I wash my finished needlework in a solution of warm water and a few drops of fine hair shampoo. I let it dry on a flat surface and then iron it with a white cloth on top. Afterwards, I make a color photocopy of my project by placing it directly on the copier so that I can store this picture with my favorite works in a file.

*Val from Lethbridge, Alberta shares,
I love to have more than one project on the go and in order to maintain my sanity I cut off a 36" length from each colour skein and wrap it around a plastic bobbin that is numbered from 1 to whatever number needed. Then I number each colour of the chart.
Sometimes it can be fun telling the top edge of a newly started project so I run a small length of floss through the aida cloth near the top left corner.

*Dawn from New Brunswick Canada says,
Never, never leave your needle in your fabric. I learned the hard way that it may rust and leave stains on your fabric.

*Pat offers these two suggestions,
1. To make it easier to handle cross-stitching pieces in progress, I roll the sides and secure them with metal (stainless) hair clips (the long kind). That will prevent fold marks and make it less cumbersome to hold the piece while stitching.
2. To store work in progress, I use a toilet tissue or paper towel tube or the plastic tubes from the Aida fabric. I roll the piece and stick it in the tube. The tube will protect it from dust and take up less space in my bag and there will be no fold marks.

*Kaye M. from Australia states,
To hold your needlework threads, cut a piece of cardboard 1 1/2" by 1'' and make 3 snips evenly along the long edge. Write the thread number on one end - undo the skein and put it in one of the end cut places. When you have cut off what you need to sew with and there is some floss left over, put that in the middle cut place, and any other smaller amounts left over, put at the other cut end. I keep all my threads in a tool box with sliding draws (such as the type you keep screws and nails in). On the outside of each draw I place all the thread numbers so I know what is in each draw.

*S Aitken from Ontario Canada offers,
I am forever losing my needles when cross stitching, so now I have a magnet and stick my needles to that. No more lost needles for me!

*Dawn P. says,
I am an avid cross stitcher, but was always losing my needles. Then one day I was changing the film in my camera and it came to me. What a great place to keep all my needles - in the empty film container. I washed it out first just in case there was any chemical residue. Hope this helps someone else keep track of their needles.

*Rosina S. suggests,
When I purchase the fabric for a cross stitch project, I write the name, color and count of the fabric on a slip of paper. Then when my project is complete, I staple this slip, with a photo of the completed item, onto the pattern. I also jot down notes on the paper slip (whether I liked the fabric, did it ravel easily, etc). Then if I decide to do the project again, I can remember what I used before, and the outcome. And I ALWAYS use 'Fray-check' on the unfinished edges of fabric before beginning stitching.

*Ellie A. from NJ offers,
I have a lot of trouble with french knots so I substitute whenever I can: sometimes sewing or glueingon a small bead works well, and for eyes I will backstitch an "L" shape or backward "L" shape in place of the French knot.

*Dee R. from GA says,
You know how sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you get those "palm marks" from where your hand holds your cross stitch? I have a very quick way to get rid of them. Just use those Shout individual towelettes; simply moisten the mark, rub with the towelette and rinse the area. It dries quickly, and (so far) I've not experienced any "bleed-out". I keep them in my kitchen drawer where I keep craft supplies and also in my craft tote bag. It really works and is quicker than washing the whole piece.

*Colleen P. from La Mesa, CA shares,
Never know what to do with those many needles we stitchers (cross, needlepoint,embroiderers) accumulate? Well, you know those tubes that mechanical pencil leads come in? They're great to hold your needles. You can even sort them by size in different tubes and mark the tubes so you always know what size you're getting. They're small enough to toss in with a project so you always have extra needles. So snag those tubes!


HINTS FOR PLASTIC CANVAS:

*Jeniffer W. from Louisburg, Missouri suggests,
I have found the following to be very helpful when I am stitching plastic canvas and have come down to the last part of the yarn and need a new piece:
Don't cut it. Start your new piece where you left off and work the leftover piece of yarn into the new stitches (by stitching over them). This will make your back part of the canvas cleaner and not in a mess. It also works when you are putting the finishing touches on the edges of the canvas.

*Toni M. says,
1. When doing plastic canvas I use a dry erase marker to mark my pattern. When finished cutting, I take a napkin or kleenex and just rub it off.
2. When following patterns from a pattern book or loose pattern I put the pattern into a top loading sheet protector (can be found at WalMart) and just use the dry erase marker to mark off the rows as I do them. Then just use either kleenex or a napkin to rub off the marker.

*Pat from Massachusettes suggests,
When I cut plastic canvas I always use a pie pan to catch the pieces and keep them off the floor. I also use the little plastic bits that I cut off as stuffing for bean bags and various things.

*Eslene K. from Brooksville, FL offers these suggestions,
When I make a template for a Plastic Canvas pattern I first use a Permanent marker on some clear plastic canvas to get the piece correct. After cutting it out, I soak the clear Canvas in dish soap or shampoo. I use an old toothbrush to clean off the markings. I then use a dark color of Plastic Canvas and make my template from the clear canvas one I just cut out. Using Dark Canvas makes it so much easier when cutting more pattern pieces from the clear Plastic Canvas.
When you are going to cut out one or more pieces of the same Plastic Canvas pattern, I found that the Twist Ties from the plastic baggies, work better than anything. I put the template over the clear grid and place the twist ties at the ends of the piece. If the piece is very intricate, you can put the twist tie in and out in several places. And, if it's large, then use two or more. Everyone I show this trick to says it saves them more time than anything else they have tried. I have tried the hair picks and they fall out. And other types of fasteners only hold in one place, while the Twist Ties hold in many places. Also they are free! I save the ones from the bread bags and place them in a small baggie and keep with my templates in my file cabinet. If it's a pattern that I make each year, I just leave a couple Twist Ties in the plastic bag along with my template and label the bag with the pattern name.
If I am going to use a large amount of the same color of yarn for a project, I cut 24" lengths of the yarn, and put it into a ziplock plastic bag. That way you can just reach in and pick up a piece of yarn, and not have to stop to cut every time you need a new piece of yarn.
If I have a pattern that uses several colors of yarn, I make small balls of each color, put them all into one baggie, along with my pattern, a needle and a pair of small cheap scissors. This keeps everything together, and ready to go whenever I want to work on the pattern.
I have several projects going at one time, and in my portable craft basket at all times. If I'm going out, I just take my basket, and I have all my materials with me. This is really great if you are going to the Doctors, and may have to wait. Even when you go to the beauty parlor. Or, if you're a passenger in the car, you can stitch while going down the road. A nice rectangular basket about 8" X 12" works the best for me, and will even hold a PC Booklet.

*Judy B. says,
When you are cutting out more than one plastic canvas pattern of the same thing, mark and cut out the first one, and then using Brass paper fasteners - the 1/2" ones fit great - fasten your first pattern to a sheet of canvas and then cut out the second or more that you need. Saves time marking and then cutting. You can buy plastic canvas holders for this as well, but when you don't have any or need more than what you have the Brass paper fasteners work great. Hope this helps someone.

*Lacey C. from Texas states,
Trying to get a friend interested in plastic canvas (or cross-stitch for that matter)? Get a gallon freezer bag and put an easy pattern into it along with all the supplies (yarn colors, canvas, etc...) that your friend would need. Many times, people don't get started in a craft because it seems overwhelming. When you provide everything they need into one bag, it's an easy way for them to get started! Try it! It really works! (This is also a great idea for shut-ins or someone in the hospital for a while.)
I do this for my own projects; I keep one in the car so that I'll have something to do in case I get stuck waiting (while doing errands) and I keep the other one at the house. That way, I always have a project going. If I need to make a quick trip to the hospital or anywhere else, all I have to do is grab the bag and go!

*Mary Ann W. from West Seneca, NY shares,
Here are some things that I do with my plastic canvas projects: If I find a pattern I like, I make a template by tracing the pattern on the canvas with permanent or washable marker. I cut it out and then put it in a zip lock bag along with a picture of the pattern. This way if I ever want to make another one I already have a template made that I can refer to. Be sure to label the zip lock bag with the name of the pattern.
To keep finished projects clean, I swish them around in mild soapy water and then rinse them off, pat them dry, and let them air dry. This keeps them clean and in good shape.

*Esther S. from Wisconsin advises,
I make a lot of whirlygigs out of plastic canvas and use a coat hanger for wire. Before starting, spray the wire with a clear inexpensive acrylic spray...this keeps it from rusting when hung outside. I also spray the completed project with this...it makes it weather proof...and keeps the plastic canvas from fading...
I try to take a picture of each project that I make...then keep it in a small album... this is handy to remember things you might have forgotten about...and also when selling projects you have something for customers to look at and pick from (don't forget to have them put on a disk for your computer too!)
When using a pattern book etc. put a paper clip on the side of the page you are using...move it down as you work. This is a great way to keep track of what line you are on.
Use plastic ice cream buckets to store your unfinished craft projects in. They stack easy and you can write the project name on them with a marker...this is for all of us that don't finish one project at a time...lol
I collect a lot of pattern books, so I store them in a two draw filing cabinet. When I need a pattern, I just pull open the drawer and look it up.

*Ruth F. from Ontario suggests,
If and when you break or over-cut on your plastic canvas use a touch of hot glue and you are back in the pink again - all fixed. I have used this for years myself and I have never been disappointed when I either cut wrong or break the canvas!


GENERAL CRAFT HINTS:

*Colleen P from La Mesa, California says,
To keep your needles clean ∓ bright buy a needle emery-those cute little strawberry shaped forms filled with sand. Just push and pull your needle through them and it will clean off any rust, oils or sticky stuff that you might accumulate on your needles and help to keep them smooth.

*Lacey C. from Texas offers,
I take a pants clothes hanger (the metal kind with the thick cardboard roll on the bottom so that the pants won't crease) and I undo one end of the cardboard roll. I then slip any craft item that I'm making (with a hole in the middle or hanging from a string) onto it. It makes for easy storage of multiple items. This also works great for transporting these kinds of items to craft shows, etc...
I also undo a wire clothes hanger and put all my rolls of ribbon onto it. I secure the end of the ribbon with a small piece of scotch tape or a pin. I bend the hanger around into a loop. I never have to go looking for a misplaced roll now as I keep them all hung up in the closet.

*Shannon from Marthaville, LA shares,
I use a tackle box by Magnum to put all my craft beads, eyes and anything else you need to store. They come in different sizes and have alot of individual compartments. My husband lost his tackle box, but I gain a great craft box :)
I also bought some cross stitch material and it came in a plastic tube with lid, I found that my crochet hooks fit in this just right!

*Mary from Virginia states,
I enjoy plastic canvas as well as cross-stitch. When I have a project I keep it either in one of those handy plastic trays with a handle or I have found a little clear plastic container that is about the size of a file with a lid that fastens to the top with a handle. To store needles, beads, or anything small I use the plastic mini M∓Ms containers. You can write on them AND the lid is attached to it - one less thing to misplace!!

*Flora Alice M. from Jackson, TN suggests,
A school-age child can make their individual bookmarks by cutting off the corners of used envelopes and then decorating the surfaces with drawings, stickers, their initial or their name.

*Patricia says,
When I get new color of yarn or thread, I make a color card: I write down the brand and size of thread and make a small swatch to staple onto an index card, so when I do a project for someone they can pick out the exact colors they want.

*Connie F. offers,
When I got done with baby wipe containers I use them for another idea: Take some kind of padding, glue it on the outside of the box and top, then take some material (anything you may have around the house), glue it on top of the padding, and glue some lace or ribbon around the top opening (if there is one). When you're done you have a crafty catch-all box, and nobody will know what's in it or what it was originally! I use one for my husband to put all his stuff in when he empties his pockets




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