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Saturday, 15 December 2012

DIY Embroidered Christmas Cards - A guest post from Barnicles

Hi I'm Barny or Barnicles. I fell in love with Chantal's unique style and skills and her blog Pony Chops. It's a pleasure to sponsor this blog and be writing a guest post here! During the week I work as an accounts assistant. I have always been creative, resulting in some questionable results - at thirteen I didn't understand darts properly. My mum also has a collection of crochet or knitted hats and gloves which don't fit properly. I usually made the pattern up while I was working on something. Now I have access to so many more patterns and tools, pinterest being an important one, but not enough time to make! I admire my motivation back then, I was fearless and would try to make anything. I'm not a writer but I am good at being creative - crochet, tatting, knitting, weaving, painting, sewing, crafting, music, drama, photography etc. Sometimes having such a variety of interests it is hard to specialise in one, so none of them end up with the necessary time. 

How to design and make your own cross stitch Christmas cards by Barnicles.

I'm very excited to be sharing this tutorial with you today, I'll admit this is one of my first tutorials so be kind and let me know there is anything that is unclear. You can leave a comment or email me at Barnsworthington (at) gmail (dot) com.

I'm going to be talking you through how to design and make your own cross-stitch cards. I love embroidery so much. I'm hoping you'll be able to take this tutorial and do what you want with it. These are just some hints and tips to help you. I would love to see what you come up with, so please leave a comment with a link if you try it. 


- Sewing thread/embroidery thread/wool in colours of your choice
- Embroidery needle or needle suitable to the size of your thread or wool
- Card in a colour of your choosing. (I have used stationary card folders in the past, so see what you have available)
- Pen or pencil
- Square paper or lined paper
- Masking tape or painters tape
- Paper scissors
- Envelopes suitable for the size of card you choose
- Camera to take a photo of your finished artwork before you send it to someone special :)

Making the basic cards

You could use other birthday or christmas cards as a measurement for your cards. They can be any shape you want. You need at least an inch at the top or side so you don't break the fold, if you want a folding card that is. You could use this tutorial to embroider a star or circular shaped piece of card, then cover the back and add a string to make an ornament. Every year my aunt sends a handmade textiles christmas ornament with a note written on it.

A good tip is to use your envelope as a guide. I found some awesome colourful envelopes in Asda today for £1. The metallic sharpies in silver, gold and bronze also tempted me. It appears for today at least I maintain some self restraint. 

1. Artistic license time! Using paper sketch out some ideas - a Christmas tree, bauble, angel, present, star, etc. Unless you are good at pixel design keep it simple. Think about sizing in relation to your card size. My templates are shown below, you can save these and print them out if you want to skip to making. 
Sketch out your final design roughly on the square paper, this is going to be your template. If you only have lined paper it is better to take a ruler, measure the lines and add your own grid pattern using dashes where the cross sections appear. You can do it by eye but your design might suffer ;) 

2. Using X's fill in your design with different pens to show different colours. Your inner designer may have to make a few choices but this pixel affect is what we need, these charts can be used for crochet, knitting, or cross-stitch designs on aida or fabric. You can use this same pattern to create many different combinations. This method uses trial and error, you might want to use pencil so you can rub out X if you change your mind. I suggest you play with a variety of design's and then choose your favorites. 

3. Decide if you want to use natural colours, or go fun and crazy! Think of a variety of colour combinations to add variation to your cards. It's up to you if you want to create a few of the same design or make each one different.  Remember you can use silver or gold thread to add extra sparkle and highlights.


1. Creating your cross-stitch base. 
Cut out your chart leaving a few squares border and use masking tape or painters tape to attach the design to the front of your card, ensuring the fold is on the left. (I learnt this lesson as a child - my cards were unusual!) I find poking through from front to back gives a nicer effect but if you want to draw your design on the back you can poke from the back forward. 

 Use your needle to poke holes through just the first layer of card, take care your not poking yourself. You can open the card to ensure the back doesn't get punctured. Take care to poke through all the cross-sections of your design you want filled in.  You should use the smallest needle possible for the material you are using, but often it is necessary to use a bigger needle for wool. To poke the holes you need a sharp needle to make a clean hole the same size as the material. I found a great packet of embroidery needles in various sizes at my local fabric shop. These are a sound investment, a needle for every situation.  

2.  What material to use? 
This project looks good with sewing thread, embroidery thread, any type of wool. Each of these will create a different effect and so it's up to you, the designer to choose! Most of the examples shown are made with knitting machine cone wool, which is similar thickness to embroidery thread. I just use what is available. 

3. Starting to stitch.
Cut a length of your main colour - hoping you've decided on your colour and design choices by now. Thread your needle, you can tie a knot in the end or leave a tail to tie to the end tail or weave in later. Aim for the corner point and decide which way you are going to slant your stitches. This is a great tutorial on starting a cross stitch row. If you realise you have missed some holes you can easily use your template and needle to add these in. Work as logically as you can across your design.  

4. Adding the X
Once you have finished all the slants in one direction with one colour you can work backwards crossing all your X's or T's... so to speak. Leave a tail and you can tie this with the starting tail or weave it in to your stitches with a needle. Finish all your different colours, till you complete your design. 

6 . Finishing off the back of your embroidery
Loose threads should be secured - tied to another loose thread or woven in using a needle. Excess thread can be trimmed to make the back as tidy as possible. If this is your first try I wouldn't worry about it being messy, just cover it. 

When choosing whether to cover the back you should use your best judgement and creative flair. Last year I choose not to cover the black of my designs, showing their handmade nature. On other embroidery projects I have covered the multitude of sins on the back. It really comes down to how many different threads you have used or different colours and how you want your card to look.

To cover the back of your card, cut a piece of card bigger than your design but smaller than the card size. Use glue around the edges of the cut piece and cover your loose ends.

Adding your maker stamp (optional)

On the back of each card I make I like to add a maker stamp. This is personal to you. Sometimes I write "(c) Barnicles", other times it is more specific "Handmade for **** by Barnicles" or Made with love" (because I'm a hippy really).

Take a photo of your lovely artwork +  finally send your card to loved one!

Below are some examples of cards to inspire you and show you what is possible. I challenge you to make cards in festive colours, but also experiment, pastels are for Christmas too. Who says you have to be traditional? 


Have fun crafting! 




  1. This looks awesome... I really want to try it!

  2. These are so fun and creative!

  3. These are absolutely lovely, I've never tried embroidery on card before, definitely going to try this xo