I am constantly looking for second-hand picture frames to repaint, pop my own photos into, and hang up on my walls.
Therefore, I’ve become pretty dang familiar with the kinds of pictures that people are happy to thrift with their frames.
Posters, of course. “Cute” sayings. Awkward family photos. Amateur oil paintings.
Cross stitch pictures, made with love by some loved one somewhere, professionally matted and framed.
That last one gets me every time. Mind you, I don’t cross stitch myself, and I don’t enjoy the kinds of landscapes or flower gardens or teddy bears in overalls that compose many of these donated finds. Nevertheless, I do know how much work goes into cross stitching, and how much time, and how much of a labor of love it is. So even if the frame that it’s found in is ugly, I take every single cross stitched piece that I find, and I give it a new home.
There are a lot of interesting, easy, and useful ways to upcycle cross stitched pieces, but one of the most interesting, easiest, and most useful is the cross stitch bookmark. To make this, you will need:
cross stitch piece to upcycle.
cutting and sewing supplies.
eyelet tool or buttonhole foot on your sewing machine.
1. Remove the frame and mat from the cross stitch piece. This can be a delicate proceeding, since, if the piece was professionally framed as this one was, there can be some adhesive keeping the cross stitching attached to the mat. If so, peel it away slowly and carefully, minding that you don’t let the fabric warp.
If it does end up skewed, you can spritz it with just a bit of water, iron it just a bit at a low temp, and straighten it out again.
2. Measure and fussy cut the piece to size. Measure out pleasing dimensions for a bookmark (I usually find a bookmark that I already own, and measure it to make a template), but make your cuts according to what will look nicest on a bookmark.
For instance, with this particular piece, I saved the house and tree for different projects, and focused on the flowers.
3. Apply fray check. You’ll want to do this as soon as you’ve cut out your bookmarks; otherwise, there’s no telling where those cut embroidery thread ends will go. Apply fray check around the raw edges of each bookmark, let it dry, then flip it over and do it again.
4. Satin stitch around the edges of each bookmark. Technically, this isn’t necessary after the fray check, but satin stitching hides the stiff edges of the bookmark and makes it look more finished.
5. Set a grommet or buttonhole at the top of the bookmark. I like either option equally, as they both result in a small hole, finished with no raw edges.
6. Tie embroidery thread around the top of the bookmark. Cut several pieces of embroidery thread that are at least double the length of your bookmark, push them through the hole that you’ve made, and tie them around the top of the bookmark with a simple overhand knot.
Don’t forget that you can, of course, add your own embellishments to these upcycled cross stitch bookmarks. Beads would like nice threaded onto the embroidery thread, a backing of felt could be placed on the wrong side of the cross stitching and then satin stitched into place, and it would be an easy thing to add your own cross stitch or embroidery to the front of the bookmark.