February 6, 2016

32 free online sources for cross stitch patterns

Undoubtedly, if I could go back in time to the early days of this blog's life, I would post far more about the types of crafts that interest me, share examples of such that I'd made, and in general weave that side of myself more into my writing here.

As it stands now, as much as this point genuinely pains me, due to my uber busy workload and family commitments I rarely have time to craft.  I am trying to somehow carve out a little bit more space in my life for this important, relaxing, fun filled part of my life though and wonder will 2016 bring me much in the way of time to craft?

Ask me at the end of next December, because before then, your guess is as good as mine. :) I truly hope that it does however, because I always feel like a poignant part of myself is missing when I don't get to craft for long spells, as has been the case for the past four years and counting now.

The nature of today's post is an upbeat one though, so I won't chat on and on about such things. Instead I thought it would be a lot of fun to share a good sized selections of websites that currently offer free cross stitch patterns.

Cross stitching was one of the first crafts I picked up as a child and I've been a devoted stitcher since the age of about 5 or 6. Over the years, particularly during when I was a teenager, I've made many different cross stitch pieces ranging in size from a few inches to large framed designs, the overwhelming majority of which I've created and given away (once they were finished) to a specific family member, dear friend, or other person who was/is very close to my heart.

Last year I purchased a couple of wonderful new patterns, including a marvelous Halloween themed one, and hope that I'm able to start work on, and possibly even complete, at least one of them in 2016. Though I bought those two patterns, there are lots of great sources for free cross stitch patterns online, some of which I've availed of myself over the years and many more that I hope to as time goes on.

The following selection of 32 free cross stitch pattern sites is by no means a 100% extensive list of every site that offers free designers (and many more can be found on sites like Pinterest, where I keep a board devoted just to cross stitch related pins), but it is a handy resource for those who share my passion for this age old, relaxing, wonderfully fun craft.

Anytime you find a free pattern online, it's best to try and ensure that it is in fact being shared fairly and that no one's copyright is being in fringed upon. If the image is a photo or scan of a modern book, chances are such is not the case. Look instead for sites where designers post patterns that they've created themselves for the purpose of free distribution and, when in doubt, try to find the original source of a given cross stitch pattern.

32 free online sources
for cross stitch patterns

1. 123 Stitch: A charming selection of mostly small to medium sized designs, including plenty with text.

2. All Crafts: Here you’ll find a diverse selection of patterns spanning an array of subject matter (holidays, animals, butterflies, flowers, celebrities, Halloween, Christmas, Celtic designs, and many more) and styles (multi-colour, blackwork, etc).

3. Better Cross Stitch Patterns: A small selection of sweet, homey/country romantic (does anyone else miss the days of when that craft and decor style was huge in the late 1980s and 1990s?) patterns, many of which include hearts in the design.

4. Bird Cross Stitch: This site offers up wonderfully lengthy directory of free online cross stitch patterns. Though (last I checked) a few links lead to sites that are no longer online, there are still plenty of lovely sources to be gleaned from this very helpful page.

5. Country Living: From the fine folks at Country Living Magazine, comes a delightful little selection of mostly standalone image cross stitch patterns, each of which - as one might except - has a lovely country/farm life theme to it (think red apples, watermelon slices, green wellies, etc).

6. Cross stitch patterns from About.com: Another great directory of free online cross stitch patterns (many of a classic nature), this time from the fine folks at About.com.

7. Cross Stitch Pattern Heaven: A fun array of primarily animal, bird, and butterfly related cross stitch patterns.

8. Cross Stitching: From the official site of some of the UK's most beloved cross stitch magazines (such as Cross Stitch Crazy, Cross Stitching World, and Cross Stitch Gold) comes a terrific selection of free patterns from some of today's most beloved modern cross stitch designers.

9. Cross Stitch Patterns: A good sized assortment of fun free patterns, each conveniently grouped by theme, such as cats, Fabrege Eggs, buildings, fruits, kids, flowers, mermaids and many, many more).

10. Cyber Stitchers: From this popular online cross stitching community website comes a plethora of free patterns covering everything from holidays to American patriotism, samplers to monograms and tons of other topics that fill 106 pages (and, presumably, counting!).

11. DMC USA: This world famous brand of sewing and stitchery notions delivers a lovely selection of well made, elegant free cross stitch patterns.

12. Daily Cross Stitch: One of my favourite free pattern sites, Daily Cross Stitch encourages folks to signup for their daily emails, each of which delivers one new free cute/modern style pattern to your inbox everyday,  for which the link to download it for free remains live for 24 hours  (older patterns can be purchased for a song online after that 24 hour window).

13. Free Cross Stitch Patterns A nice assortment of free patterns, arranged by subject matter, including multiple entries for categories such as seasonal, religious, photographic designs and many more.

14. Free Patterns Billing itself as the world's largest online source of free craft patterns (they also have free beading, crochet, knitting, paper crafting and other types of patterns), this great site houses a bevy of assorted cross stitch designs with new entries added on a regular basis.

15. Free Cross Stitch Pattern Central: With more than 17,000 free cross stitch pattern, this huge online compendium is sure to deliver many different designs your way that you'll be chomping at the bit to start stitching (I would note though that sometimes the links to certain patterns are broken, but still, there's plenty that work and more than enough patterns to keep any cross stitcher busy for ages!).

16. Free Patterns Online: From Christmas to St. Patrick's Day, florals to numbers, there's plenty of lovely designs to be had on this free pattern site from designer Carrie Luhmann Pieniozek.

17. Gloria Pat: Fans of Precious Moments and similar styles of cross stitch designs are sure to adore the free selection on offer from this South Carolina based online pattern shop.

18. Hatflix Patterns: Though some patterns on this European site are not free, amongst those that have a small sticker price, one can find a slew of others that are (and which span a vast array of subject matter, from cityscapes to pets, holidays to snowflakes).

19. Hobby Loco: A well laid out selection of free patterns, many of which center around animal, holiday (Valentine's Day, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Christmas, etc), and outdoor themes.

20. Janlynn: Sweet, lovely free cross stitch designs of various sizes and themes, including plenty of great nature/outdoor related patterns.

21. Just Cross Stitch: From Just Cross Stitch magazine comes a small array of stylish, timelessly pretty patterns that are updated/changed from time-to-time (so you'll want to bookmark this one and check back periodically for new designs).

22. Kreinik: Well known thread and sewing notions brand Kreinik serves up a delightful selection of free cross stitch patterns, primarily centered around angels, season, Halloween, and Christmas related charts.

23. Linen Flowers: A really lovely selection of classic, sweet, and cute patterns spanning an array of subjects, many of which have a religious nature to them.

24. Lizzie Kate: Fans of rustic, colonial, country, and primitive style cross stitch patterns will flip for the free beauties on offer here form talented designer Linda Ebright (I want to make all of them, especially the Halloween ones!).

25. Love Stitch Designs: A charming little selection of primarily modern cross stitch designs that even includes charts for such contemporary themes as the Hunger Games and (the website) Reddit.

26. Martha Stewart Free Cross Stitch Patterns: As one might expect, the little handful of terrific free charts available from Martha Stewart's site will have you running for your thread box at the speed of light.

27. Maurer Stroh: This is another site that fans of seasonal and holiday related free cross stitch patterns will definitely want to check out. The patterns are often quite detailed, timelessly pretty, and ideally suited to giving as gifts for all kinds of special occasions.

28. My Cross Stitch Patterns A multi-lingual website that serves up a fun helping of classic and modern free designs, including some featuring Disney and Simpsons characters.

29. Needle Pointers: From borders to home decor, pincushions to samplers, this great selection of free charts is bound to have something for nearly every cross stitch fan.

30. The Snowflake Diaries: Eastern European designer Maja's whimsical, gorgeous, often country primitive style charts make her one of my favourite cross stitch designers on the planet. Sift through her blog and have a blast savouring each of the fantastic free charts she has shared there since it launched in 2013 (then swing on by her Etsy shop, if you're find yourself hooked and would like to buy others that she offers up fo sale there).

31. Tiny Modernist: As its name implies, this delightful site provides visitors with a great selection of fun, pint sized contemporary free cross stitch patterns. Many of them are fairly modern/classic looking, but a few have a lovely vintage-y vibe to them as well (such as this adorable Scottie dog pattern).

32. Stitch Alley: Alphabets, celebrities, holidays, animals, florals, seasonal, and more greet visitors to this bilingual (French and English) European free cross stitch pattern website, the even includes a chart staring Marilyn Monroe.

{I love the message and imagery of this beautiful free whale tail design cross stitch pattern, which can be found on 123 stitch's website.} 

♥ ♥ ♥

The art of cross stitch dates back for many centuries and has a been a much loved form of needlework for just as long. From classic samplers to geometric modern designs, holiday pieces to images of famous folks, just about anything you can think of has probably been turned into a cross stitch pattern at this point and while not all are available for free of course, it's awesome that there are many lovely, creative patterns of various sizes and levels of complexity available at no cost online, each of which those of us with a passion for this hobby can avail of.

In today's highly digital, go-go-go paced world, cross stitching is a classic craft that, by its very nature, ensures that one has to slow down and savour both the moment and the act of what they're creating. No matter how fast you can whip up those cute little x's, even a "one hour pattern" takes at least that and can be a truly welcome respite from the breakneck speed of the 21st century world we inhabit.

Cross stitching, like many other crafts, is a thoroughly vintage pastime to boot and one that is quite simple to learn and quickly become very proficient in. Plus, it has the added bonus of not having to cost an arm and a leg, especially if you buy primarily as you go along/need something. It's also a great craft to start children off with, once they're old enough to responsibly handle working with a needle and thread.

This isn't the first crafting related post I've shared here over the years, but as I began today's entry by saying, there hasn't been a ton of them. I hope that as time goes on, I can share more, including some featuring my own work - perhaps doing so will help spur me on to try and inch out a little more time to actually craft!

Are you a fan of cross stitch as well? Are there any free cross stitch pattern sites that you enjoy that aren't listed here? Please feel free to share them in the comments below if there are. The bigger this list, the better for stitching fans everywhere.

February 4, 2016

My computer died suddenly and other recent happenings

If you've seen less of me online this week, my dears, it is because this Monday, February kicked off by me attempting to turn on my computer and finding that it simply wouldn't do so. It was, as the old expression goes, as dead as a doorknob.
This was both worrisome and greatly surprising, as the machine was little more than two years old and was, in theory, a powerhouse of a laptop that cost quite a pretty penny when it was bought new at the end of 2013.

Hop ahead to this week and the issue lies in the motherboard, which is completely fried. The cost to replace such is comparable to that of many new laptops, so replacing this part isn't a logical route to take.

Thankfully, it would appear that the hard drive is intact and functional, so I should be able to import the reams of data on there straight onto my new computer and not lose anything vital in the process.

I'd honestly expected to get 4+ years out of my (now "old") laptop and was surprised that it would give up the ghost so suddenly. Even more jarring is suddenly being faced with the cost of new computer, something that falls under the heading of a business expense for me, and which has been quite a shock to the system and pocketbook alike!

After three days of nearly around-the-clock shopping, both online and off, I was able to determine that there was nothing locally that met my specs (chief amongst which was great screen resolution, as I do so much work with photos that I need to be as true-to-life as possible), so on Wednesday afternoon I placed an order with Dell and should have my new computer in two to three weeks time.

I opted to purchase an extremely extensive three year warranty package, so if - goodness forbid - my new computer were to run into issues in the next 36 months, it would be completely covered and, in theory, a replacement issued, if need be. Hopefully it won't be though and this new gem of a laptop will last be for that long and then some!

{Being computer-less for long  periods of time is simply not on option for me, especially considering that I make my livelihood online through my blog and Etsy shop, so a new one had to be ordered on the absolute double!!! 1950s photo source.}

This is, of course, not how I expected February to play out online in the slightest! Thankfully I have a fair number of this month's posts already written and ready to go live, so things will not be a ghost town here this month, fear not!

In general through, operating just off of my cell phone, or a borrowed computer, when I can get access to one, I know that much in the ways of my online plans and productivity for February will be temporarily curtailed.

I will be doing my best in the coming weeks to stay abreast of blog comments that I receive here, my emails, social media PMs, and your wonderful blogs. If something is very important/time sensitive and you need to get ahold of me, please email me with the word "Urgent" in the header of your message.

In other recent news, my family suffered a heartbreaking blow last week when my 95 year old step-grandfather - a wise, warmhearted, extremely hard working man - passed away after a long battle with various medical issues. His departure did not come as a shock to our family, given his health, but it is certainly painful all the same, especially for all nine of his children (of whom my step-father is one)        and their families.

Under our own roof, Tony and I have completed (or at least made serious in roads) a lot of home organization, DIY, and (early spring) cleaning jobs that we opted to tackle in January, which is awesome! Some remain to be wrapped up, but such is certainly in sight and we're delighted about that.

Speaking of Tony, the poor dear has been experiencing some rather serious back problems for several months now, which have only worsened in recent weeks (I'm sure that the above mentioned heavy-duty work around the house didn't help matters there for him one bit) and is going for a doctor's appointment to hopefully get the ball rolling on some answers at to what is at the route of this issue a little later today (he and I are leaning towards a herniated disk, but of course, until we find out more, that is just our educated guess base on his symptoms and our research).

Aside from those points, and some (normal level, for me) flare-ups with some of my medical conditions, we're okay and certainly hanging in there. Despite the various difficult points that have been, and continue to be, on our plates, we're in good spirits and remain hopeful that February will ultimately turn into a lovely, enjoyable month (very much including Valentine's Day itself, which I have some really fun posts already lined up for).

I truly appreciate your understanding regarding my computer situation and look forward to hopefully getting 100% back to normal on that front by the end of the month.

Wishing you all an awesome, fun filled February!

February 1, 2016

7 easy ways to wear vintage and still stay warm in the winter

Back in late 2013, I penned a post called Ten Cold Weather Vintage Wardrobe Staples that was inspired by no small part by the scads of comments that I get from fellow vintage fashion fans around the world regarding how to keep sporting old school styles when the temperature is chillier than that of a snowman convention.

If you haven't read that post yet (or want a refresher) I encourage you to check it out, as every last item listed there remains a firm favourite of mine for cold weather dressing. I continue to receive quite a few queries about this topic and as such thought that while winter is still out in full force, I would share some drop dead simple tricks that I use to stay warm when the mercury plummets.

Hailing from Canada, I know a thing or two about cold, snow, ice and the lengthy season that is winter, so each of the following seven tips is one that I employ on a regular basis myself throughout the chilly months of October to April. Of course they can be used any time of the year, if it's nippy outside, and aren't in any way specifically tied to Canada itself.

So without further ado, while I stare out at a heavily snow covered landscape this morning, allow me to share some of the easy-peasy things that I do year after year to keep stay warm, comfortable, and stylish no matter how cold it gets!

1. Sport a warp, shawl, real or faux fur stole, or cape over top of your winter coat. So often we think of our coats as the last and final layer in the war on hypothermia, but they need not be. Many a stylish mid-century (and earlier) lady knew the chic fashion power of further staying roasty-toasty thanks to the addition of a shawl, thick scarf, wrap, cape or the like atop her coat or jacket and it's a trick that we'd all be wise to weave into our own cold weather looks, too.

2. Layer thick tights, long johns, or leggings underneath your pants and long skirts/dresses. This is a lifesaver of a tip for me personally, as I'm loath to part ways with my skirts and dresses during the icy months. When it comes to pants, almost any time the temps are 10C or colder, I slip on a pair of tights or long johns (I haven't owned leggings since I was in grade school, but sometimes I think I should pick up some just for this purpose), usually with socks over my feet for further warmth, and find it helps to keep me many times warmer than if I only had trousers on.

3. Take a cue from polar explorers and mountain climbers everywhere and stack up your outfit in multiple thin to medium weight layers, as opposed to one or two bulky, potentially airy options. Atop my undergarments, I'll usually opt for a full slip and/or a camisole, a thin tee and/or knit, my main garment(s), a cardigan or sweater or blazer/suit jacket, and winter coat, plus a scarf, hat, gloves, boots, and potentially a pair of tights or long johns underneath, as touched on in the point above. This approach often creates less bulk, while also keeping air out and thus helping to trap more of your naturally generated heat close to your body.

4. Wear winter weight gloves inside of a real or faux fur muff. The gloves alone are a good and very natural start, but the muff ups the icy temp protection factor a great deal and almost like having a tiny portable (insulated) house to keep your hands in while you're out and about.

5. Put a lid on it!!! Your head that it! :) A huge percentage of body heat is lost through your noggin, so try to keep your head covered when you venture out. If your favourite vintage winter weather appropriate hats (think sturdy felts, wools, and - if it's not raining/snowing - velvet in terms of material) don't provide enough coverage, consider slipping on a solid coloured fleece ear warmer band or pair of earmuffs in a similar or complimentary hue.

6. Opt for fur (real or faux) or thermal fleece lined boots. Both of my pairs of current pairs of (modern, but wonderfully vintage appropriate) winter boots are faux fur lined (and one has some at the top of the ankles, too) and goodness, does it make a world of difference. Either of their pairs partnered with thick winter socks keeps to keep my feet (which are prone to being cold in general) significantly warmer than most other types of boots I've tried over the years.

7. Turtlenecks are your friend! I know that they're not everyone's cup of tea, but objectively, a basic black, grey, or navy blue turtleneck looks great on a wide range of people, is easy to find at almost any price point, and will never go out of style. If you don't want it to be the star of the show, layer it under a button front shirt, sweater, cardigan, or even a dress and, optionally, top it further with a scarf or shawl, thus almost disguising that you're sporting a turtleneck in the first place, yet staying fabulously warm in the process.

{To learn more about a specific image used above, please click on it to be taken to its respective source.}

As you might have guessed before delving into the specifics of today's list, layering is a key factor in many of these seven tips. Obvious as the advice to layer may seem, sometimes it helps to be reminded of (or introduced to, as the case may be) certain ways to do just that, particularly if you're new to dressing for extremely chilly winter temperatures (for example, if you just moved from Florida to Minnesota and have never experienced really cold temperatures before).

During the winter, try to always have extra layers either on your person or within arm's reach. My husband and I aim to keep an extra coat, pair of gloves, and warm socks in the back of our car for each of us, along with our vehicle's emergency survival kit, in case we run into trouble on the road or just happen to find ourselves somewhere that is especially chilly. I also generally have an additional pair of winter gloves, some one-time-use disposal hand warmer packs, and lots of heavy duty lip balm in my bag, too, as each one can help a good deal when you're facing arctic like weather.

Just because it's so chilly outside that ice cream is shivering, it doesn't mean that you can't still look and feel great in your vintage wardrobe during the colder months. Think close fitting layers, high quality garments, longer length pieces, seasonally appropriate accessories, and footwear that can stand up to a blizzard.

With these sorts of things in place, you're bound to look sensational even when the temperate becomes laughably low and all you can daydream about is how amazing it's going to be to sport sundresses again in a few months time.

We'll get there, of course, but right here and now, don your favourite old school winter threads and keep safe, cozy, and warm (or at least warmer) with the help of today's seven cold weather vintage styling tips.