The joy of receiving a handmade gift is undeniable, whatever the occasion, and it’s not just those armed with knitting needles who can make beautiful, practical gifts. Cross stitch is so much more than just creating eye-catching wall hangings. Read our guide to the best practical gifts a cross stitcher can make, with options for both seasoned and novice stitchers.
1. Aperture Card
If you want to make a cross stitch gift but can’t think of a suitable idea, why not replace a standard greeting card with a cross stitch aperture card. Cross stitch cards are great for both newbie stitchers and those more seasoned with a needle, as you can buy ready-to-go kits with everything included. If you’d like something more unique, buy a plain aperture card (with the cutout available in a variety of shapes such as square, rectangle, circle and oval) and design your own pattern on plain aida cloth. Aperture cards are great for any occasion, with seasonal patterns available throughout the year.
Keen readers can be tricky to buy for – which books have read already, which authors do they like best? Regardless of what’s in their current to-be-read pile, any bookworm would appreciate a handmade bookmark. A traditional rectangular bookmark, with or without a ribbon or tassels at the end, is a great choice, but another option is the modern corner bookmark, made of two triangles sewn together. Whichever style you go for, be sure to use a two-strand pattern rather than something thicker. Some children’s cross stitch patterns use DK yarn, which would produce a much thicker bookmark and likely cause dents and creases in the books they sit in. Similarly, an intricate pattern using French knots, beads, or a bulky Jessica stitch, will result in a design that won’t lie flat and cause damage to the book, so make sure to choose a pattern with a smooth finish.
3. Gift Tag
Short on time to make a gift? Or perhaps you already bought a present before remembering your friend’s wistful comment about how beautiful your cross stitch is? Gift tags are a great way to add a personal touch to a store-bought gift, and they can be beautifully customized too. From simple motifs to spelling out a person’s name, cross stitch gift tags don’t take long to put together. The best thing about handmade gift tags is that they’re eco-friendly and reusable. Why not make a whole collection of themed gift tags (for example, Christmas decorations with the initials of each family member) and they can be re-used to label gifts year after year.
You’d be hard pushed to find a friend who doesn’t like a cuppa, and whether they prefer tea, coffee or something a little stronger, everyone needs a coaster to rest their beverage on. Handmade coasters can easily get stained, so it’s best to buy a kit that includes a plastic/acrylic case to keep your handicraft clean and dry. Again, this is a great choice because inexperienced stitchers can buy a kit with everything included, whereas experienced stitchers can just buy the clear coaster cases come up with their own personal designs. From cute animal portraits and stunning landscapes to provocative slogans and humorous designs, there are plenty of ready-to-go designs on the market to choose from. One coaster is perfect for a pal to have on their desk at the office, or create a matching set for them to display on a coffee table.
5. Key ring
Another great choice when you’re short on time, a practical cross stitch gift is a key ring. Just like the coasters, these need to have a protective case to stop them from getting tarnished too quickly, but empty plastic key rings are easy to find, as are kits with everything included. You can also buy wooden or leather keyrings with holes punched in, which are a lovely design but won’t last as long as those encased in plastic, so choose whichever works best for you. Matching key rings are a great couples present for newlyweds or those celebrating an anniversary, or if someone has just moved into a new home, what better way to commemorate it than with a special place to hang their keys!
6. Personalized IOU
Not sure what to stitch? Write your friend a stitching IOU to make sure they get the perfect gift. Perhaps they’d like you to customize their favourite canvas sneakers or add a personal design to a plain tote bag? If they wear a lanyard to work, you could jazz it up with some beautifully stitched motifs, or add a cute boarder to a plain t-shirt. Write the IOU within the limits of your stitching ability (because as much as you might like to make them a twelve foot wall hanging, there are only so many hours in the day, after all…) and get your friend to come up with an idea that will really allow to you express your creative talents and create something they’ll actually get good use out of.
So which of these top stitches will you be relying on for the next special occasion in your calendar? With plenty of quick makes as well as thoughtful gifts to choose from, we don’t doubt some of these ideas will end up on your list of ‘regular makes’.