Forever Threaded Together
I'm not a big present buyer. It's not that I don't love giving gifts, because I really do! It's just that I don't like the obligation of gift buying. I like seeing a gift and thinking, "Friend would like this, I'll buy it." I don't like the reverse of that, which is, "It's Christmas, and I have six people on my list to spend $100 each on. Let's go buy some stuff."
That's why I love homemade gifts! It's hard to make something for someone without thinking about that person. Even if it's something small, I feel like the effort goes such a long way in showing how much you care.
This is a fairly simple gift you can make for any occasion but that's especially nice for an anniversary or wedding (although I'm not dissing registries, especially for very young couples). It's a pretty, classic design that can find a home in almost anyone's decor, and you can personalize it even more if you know the couple's colors of choice. All you need are some cross stitch supplies and a few hours.
You can find everything you need at your favorite craft store in the needlework aisle. You'll grab a cross stitch hoop (I think this is best as a small design, so I usually go with about 4" diameter hoops), cross stitch fabric, thread, a needle and some twine or ribbon to finish it off.
Plan Your Design
I like this tree/initials design because of how classic it is (and how no actual trees are harmed in the making) and because it's almost impossible to mess up. Seriously, just think about how marbled a tree's bark is — there's no right or wrong way to go! For the initials, either wing it, trace loosely with a pencil or find a letter pattern by searching "cross stitch alphabet" online. You want to try to make the design take up most of the blank space. You'll start with the initials in the center, then do one line for the outline of the tree on either side, close to the edges. Then, just fill it in (more on that below).
Learn the Stitches
Again, this is so easy because there are no complicated stitches. Cross stitch fabric is already divided into squares. For the bark, all you want to do is go up one hole from the bottom, across the top and into the next hole, then repeat. This is called a running stitch and you can find a more in-depth tutorial here. For the letters, what's used here is called a back stitch. Essentially, it's a running stitch, but when you get to the part where you jump a square to the next hole, you just go back to make a straight line. The rhythm is kind of like stitch one over, skip one under, stitch one back, skip two under, stitch one back, skip two under, stitch one back. If that super coherent explanation wasn't enough for you, here's a more in-depth guide to back stitching and other stitches.
Make 'Er Purty
To add a finishing touch, simply trim off the extra fabric and then hot glue a bit of ribbon or, like here, a twine bow to the hoop. And that's it! What do you think? What's your go-to homemade gift? Tell us in the comments!