Kitting up for an alphabet quilt

I have a soft spot for simple, old-fashioned cross stitch designs. I buy vintage ones whenever I can. This particular chart pack, though, has been in my stash for years, but I’ve only recently worked out what I can do with such a large design!


The chart pack was a free gift that came with World of Cross Stitching magazine, ages ago. It  is by Faye Whittaker, of All Our Yesterdays. She specialises in cute images of Edwardian-looking children, usually seen only from the back (so no fiddly facial features to stitch!). If it was stitched on 16 count evenweave, the chart says, the whole sampler would be 38 inches high. I haven’t got that much wall space left in my house if I made it as a picture, so I had to come up with a different idea for how to use this pretty cross stitch chart.

What I’ve decided to do with these designs is to make an alphabet lap quilt, with each letter stitched individually on white 28 count Zweigart Cashel linen fabric (over two). I then only have to handle small pieces of fabric at a time (9 x 9 inches cut size, for a finished 7 x 7 square), and not have to struggle with one huge piece, if I were to stitch the whole alphabet in one go. I estimate I will need one and a quarter metres of 55 inch wide fabric to make this though (the finished quilt will be about 39 by 65 inches, including the fabric borders).

Each letter will be bordered with a red fabric stripe, except for the corner squares between each letter, which will be a plain blue square. That’s the plan, anyway. For the cotton fabrics, I raided my stash and found these two red patterned fabrics, and the plain blue, which pick up colours from the threads to be used for the cross stitch.


Although I’ve attached the threads onto a DMC thread sorter, I’m actually using Anchor threads for this piece, so I had to use a conversion chart to work out the Anchor equivalents, as the colour key for the chart lists DMC thread colours.


The chart comes as one large foldout piece of paper, like a map. That’s quite tidy to store, but a nightmare to stitch from, so I’ll have to scan it all in and divide it up into the individual letters, to make it less unwieldy, and more portable.


The chart has an upper case alphabet (the one I’m going to stitch), and also a lower case one, for if you wanted to do door name plates, and so on, but I don’t think I’ll be using that.

I’ll need to make up two ‘extra’ motifs at some point, as I want to stitch seven rows of four squares, which is the 26 letters of the alphabet, plus two more at the bottom corners to balance the design. I think I’ll take two of the child motifs from within the chart, and adapt them a bit, changing the colourway, and making them look unique enough that most people won’t notice that they appear twice in the design. If I use one of a child who looks off to the left, for the right hand corner, and one who looks off to the right for the left hand corner, I reckon that should do it!

This will be a good project for when I’m out and about, as I could just take one letter with me at a time. So many of my stitching projects are kept on frames, and so aren’t very portable, but this can even be stitched in the hand, without needing a frame at all if I keep my stitch tension relaxed, as each letter is only about five inches wide and high.

It’s not a quick project, though, so expect only occasional updates!


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All Our Yesterdays cross stitch collection project: 2

Here’s an update on the little cross stitch pictures featuring cute children from a series called ‘All Our Yesterdays’, designed by Faye Whittaker. I’m planning on doing several of the designs from Faye’s range, so that I can have a collection of them on the wall of my coastal-themed bathroom.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my bathroom is having to be re-decorated as we found mould in it, and the person who had come to test the house to see if we had any mould (because I’ve got an allergy) had a fit when he saw that the bathroom was wallpapered instead of being painted or tiled. Hence, this stitching is aimed at giving my bathroom something a bit more interesting than just painted walls, which I find boring!

I started with one of the designs from the ‘Collector’s Edition’ booklet – this one is called ‘Watching the Tide’. It’s a picture of a little girl and boy, standing looking out to sea. It’s very simple, but cleverly designed, as the blues used for the sea and sky are sometimes in full cross stitch and sometimes in half cross stitch, so the colours look more faded, as more background fabric shows though the stitches. It’s subtle, but it works!

I was going to do the figures first and then the background, but I found that doing the detail for a long time made me want to do an ‘easier bit’, so I alternated between detail and background instead.

The cross stitch is transformed when the limited amount of backstitch is added – it really brings it to life.

At about half way through, I photographed it to show you how much difference the backstitch makes. It looks nice just with the cross stitch completed:

All Our Yesterdays Faye Whittaker

But once the back stitch is done, in a dark grey single strand, look how different it is:

All Our Yesterdays Faye Whittaker

I just need to stitch the little boy who stands next to her, and do a bit more background….


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John Clayton ‘Circles Series’ cross stitch 3: Finishing the ‘Sleepy Village’ cross stitch, and a problem!

This is my progress on the ‘Sleepy Village’ cross stitch design produced by Heritage Crafts, from original watercolours by John Clayton.

John Clayton Sleepy Village cross stitch

The buildings were great fun to stitch – especially after what seemed like years of stitching all that sky!! Some of the buildings and trees are stitched in just one strand, so it gives a good feeling of perspective. I really like that about John Clayton’s designs – they aren’t actually difficult, but very cleverly designed so that they look like they’re more difficult than they are really 🙂

The sky had quite a bit of confetti stitching in it, but the buildings were quicker to do, with blocks of colour. Limited backstitch helped define the edges of the buildings, and the branches of some trees too.

So, I cracked on with it, and got it finished without taking more pictures (sorry!). But then I hit a snag. I ‘d bought a picture fame and a circular mount made specially to be used with these John Clayton ‘Circles’ pictures, so I’d assumed it would fit. But when I put the finished stitching behind the mount (having taken it off my frame, ironed it, and put the frame away….) I found that the stitching was too small for the mount, and that I could see white fabric all the way round the edge, just a tiny bit. How annoying!!

So, I put it back on the frame, and stitched two whole extra rows around the edge of the design, matching the colours as much as I could. Then I tried the mount again – this time, it fitted! I don’t think the mount was cut wrongly – I think my fabric wasn’t quite an accurate ’28 count’, which sometimes happens.

Still, I got it framed eventually, and now it looks like this:

John Clayton Sleepy Village cross stitch
I’m really pleased with it!!


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All Our Yesterdays cross stitch collection project: 1

Have you ever come across these little cross stitch designs? They are from a series called ‘All Our Yesterdays’, and they are designed by Faye Whittaker. She starts by creating lovely little watercolours, and then translates them into cross stitch designs. Most of them are small, and quite simple, although she does have a few in her range that are bigger and more complex.

They’ve been available for quite a few years now, and I have always loved them – there’s something very sweet about all these little children (whose faces you never see, as Faye designs them to be seem from the back only!) in their old fashioned clothes. The colour palette is restricted to blues and reds, mainly, with some beiges and soft purples for details.

I recently came across this booklet of designs, and had to have it, as it seemed such good value for money  – £15 on Ebay for the booklet plus enough thread to stitch the designs, in a huge bundle already sorted onto card thread sorters.

All Our Yesterdays cross stitch

This is the back cover, showing the rest of the 18 designs – I could quite happily make almost all of these.

All Our Yesterdays cross stitch

Then I came across this one as well, which I was really pleased about, as it’s not often found any more. Faye sells a few signed copies on her website, but they are over £90 each!!! I got my copy on Ebay for under £20, so I felt really smug. It doesn’t have threads with it, but there are dozens of charted designs to choose from.

But I didn’t really have a need to stitch many of them. I wondered if maybe I’d make a kind of ‘fabric book’ of some of them (as many are around the same size, so they would work as ‘pages’ quite easily). Then fate kind of ‘stepped in’.

I’ve been feeling quite ill for months, and it had been diagnosed as a black mould allergy, but my husband and I couldn’t work out where any mould might be that could be triggering me, and I just didn’t seem to be able to get better. In the end, we had a specialist come to our house and test it for mould….and a large patch of it was found under the floor in the upstairs bathroom. Now, I really like my bathroom – it’s decorated in William Morris style wallpaper, and looks really cosy:

William Morris style bathroom

But the mould specialist nearly had a fit when he saw that the whole bathroom (except for the tiling round the bath) is WALLPAPERED!! ‘Get that off the walls,’ he said, ‘It’ll be causing mould to form behind the paper, and making your allergy worse!’

So, my lovely bathroom has to be re-decorated with painted walls only….

But I’ve decided that if it HAS to be redecorated, then it’s going to be done in a ‘coastal themed’ style….and that means that I have a reason to stitch a few of these lovely ‘All Our Yesterdays’ pictures to put on the walls. I suppose that every cloud has silver lining, then  🙂

I’ll keep you posted as I stitch some……


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