Cross Stitch Tutorial from The Bellwether


Ahoy there, me hearties! Claire from The Bellwether here, to tell you how to add a splash of nautical style to your home with just a few simple stitches. I’m going to let you into a trade secret here – cross stitch is really easy. Honestly, there’s no mystery to it – you just make crosses and that’s THAT.


Here’s what you need to get started on our super-simple anchor design:

  • 14 count sky blue aida
  • 1 skein of red embroidery thread
  • 1 skein of grey embroidery thread
  • 4″ wooden embroidery hoop
  • scissors
  • embroidery needle

To get started, take your fabric, fold it in half and then in half again. Lightly  crease it and then unfold. You’ll see the faint lines which intersect in the centre of the fabric. Place the fabric in the hoop with the centre of the fabric in the centre of the hoop.

You can either start from the centre of the design, or in this case, I’d recommend stitching the anchor first, from the top downwards. It’s roughly the centre of the design, anyway.

Take the grey thread and cut a length roughly 12″ long. Separate the threads so you are only using 2 strands. Thread your needle and we’re ready to go…

Bring your needle up from the  underside of the fabric in the bottom left-hand hole of the square you want to stitch in. Draw the thread through slowly, taking care to keep the thread running smoothly, so it does not knot or get snarled up. If you pull too hard, the thread will come all the way through.

Now repeat this to form the second leg of the cross – from the underside, insert the needle of the top left hand corner of the same square and pull the thread through, with the cross being completed by entering the bottom right hand corner from the top side. Now you have one complete cross stitch – easy, was n’t it? Now you need to secure the end of your thread so it does n’t unravel.

As you carry on, flatten the tail of your thread along the underside of your fabric and stitch over it as you go, catching the thread under your stitches. This will keep the thread from unravelling without making your work bumpy or bulky.

Once you’ve completed the grey anchor, secure your threads by weaving your needle in and out of the back of your stitches a few times and draw the thread through, taking care not to go through to the front side.

Switch to red – again, use two strands to stitch the chain and then secure your stitches. Next separate the red thread so you have just one strand in your needle.

For the lettering, we’re going to backstitch. I personally find it easiest to tie a knot in the thread for this, but you can use the same anchoring method as described previously. Count up from the anchor on the chart and locate the square one square on from where you want to start your stitch. Bring the needle through and then stab back through from the top, through the square you wanted to start in, so you are working ‘back’ from where you started. Sounds confusing, but you’ll soon get the hang of it (and there’s plenty of videos on YouTube if you need pointers).

Finish off your lettering, et voila! There you have it, a little seaside themed sampler for your home. Was n’t that simple? Pat yourself on the back and have a biscuit, you’ve earned it.

Enjoyed this tutorial from our Zine? Find more of Claire’s  work and her craft kits here.




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Lipstick cherry all over the lens


Photography tips by Kat Hannaford.

Duran Duran must’ve known a certain something about film photography hacks when Simon Le Bon warbled Girls on Film. While I wouldn’t advocate using cherry-coloured lipstick for smearing up a lens, Vaseline does work a treat for those soft-focus shots fashion bloggers love so much.

Whatever effect you want to achieve when shooting your next acetate memories, give the following tips a twirl:

1/ Soft-focus. Smearing a dab of Vaseline on the outer edges of the lens produces a lovely vintage softness, but if your lens costs more than your camera body, apply it to a clear lens filter instead. Some film-fans swear by using clear nail polish, or even glittery polish. I’d suggest only doing a pedi ‘n mani on the cheapest of lenses though.

2/ Light leaks. Thanks to the recent popularity of Lomography cameras, light leaks have become more fetishised and sought-after than an original Ansel Adams print. Percolate a roll of film by going the long-haul (drilling holes in your camera body) or simply open the back of your camera briefly to let the light in. It’s that simple! Or, while wielding pliers, hold the negatives an inch above a candle flame and melt slightly, before scanning or printing them.

3/ Tilt-shift. Modern-day digital cameras often have a tilt-shift mode in the menu, which helps your photos resemble a toy-town with skewed proportions. Tilt-shift lenses, such as Lensbaby’s Composer with Tilt Transformer, do the hard work for you (as does Photoshop), but try building your own miniature world following the instructions here: A Beginner’s Guide To Tilt Shift Photography.

4/ Vignettes. Darkened corners draw the eye into the centre of the frame, producing a wonderful pinhole effect. There are many ways to get this look, but my favourite is turning the ISO up a notch or two faster than what you’re shooting on, if you have a camera with an adjustable ISO range. This works particularly well when aimed near the sun (but not directly at it.) Otherwise, try a slow-speed slide film, and get it cross-processed.

5/ Very different “special effects.” For extreme deviants, there are many tricks to getting crazy results. Try throwing your film roll into the washing machine after shooting it, or pull all the film from the cartridge in a pitch-black room and bend or scratch it, before winding it back in. Revolog.net sells 35mm rolls with insane tweaks built-in; try the Volvox for luminous green speckles across your shots.

Whatever your photos turn out like, try and find the beauty in each of them. While they might not be pleasing to your eye at first, others may kill to create the same effects you just encountered.

Kat wrote this tutorial for the last issue of the HZ zine. You can read more from Kat on her website – http://katherinehannaford.com – and see more of Kat’s photography on her Flickr stream.

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