When we spotted Craft Yourself Silly’s fab Stitch-onary kits at the Stitches trade show earlier this year we fell in love. These kits teach you how to master an embroidery stitch through a series of small designs, which then all transform into a cute book showcasing your work.
Sadly didn’t have the time to try out several of the kits ourselves so we reached out to our followers on social media to ask people to review the kits. Find out more about them below, to go to straight to the review of one particular kit reviews click on the kit name below.
When the Stitch-onary Chain Stitch kit arrived through my letterbox I was overjoyed at how compact it was whilst also containing nearly everything I needed to start sewing straight away (I only had to supply the scissors). With a needle, 5 cottons, instructions and pre-printed fabric, this kit enables you to start making your very own modern chain-stitch sampler straight away!
This kit is also very portable so it meant I could fold it up and store it in my handbag to sew-on-the-go which is a massive plus! There are, however, some areas that need to be improved. The QR code on the packet doesn’t take you to any videos on Chain Stitch specifically. The instructions with the kit (both for the projects and for making it into the final booklet) are much too vague – there is no information about how many strands of cotton to use for a majority of the patterns so I presume you are meant to use all 6 but I only used 3 strands for my examples as 6 strands was much too thick.
I also think some of the designs need a bit more work (I added extra straight stitches to the lazy daisy project to give the flowers a bit more body and I will probably add some green chain stitches to the flowers to act as stems. If I was not a confident stitcher I may not think to do this so the pattern could benefit by adding some suggestions to enhance your stitching. On the whole, this kit has massive potential but there are definitely areas that need improvement.
Overall, I would rate this sampler as a successful project. I believe it enables an individual to learn/ become more skilled at hand embroidered satin stitch. Firstly, I was impressed by the packaging that this sampler came in. It was flat packed in aesthetically designed card with the instructions concisely printed inside. Over production of materials is having a damaging effect on our planet. By using this type of packaging, I believe this company is supporting sustainable design.
The sampler consists of 6 mini projects where each project is formulated with a different task. Each task has been designed to complete using a different technique of satin stitch. In each project, there are repeated shapes where one can practice a specific technique. I believe this is what makes this sampler so successful. It enabled me to learn and refine the different techniques that one can do with satin stitch.
A template was printed onto the cotton which was very useful to use as a guide when stitching. I also found the weight and type of cotton was appropriate for creating hand embroidered motifs. I prefer to use an embroidery hoop when stitching and I did not find there was enough material around each project to hold an embroidery hoop.
Personally, the instructions were not informative enough for me to fully understand how to stitch each project. Even though illustrations were included with written instructions, I did not find them clear. On the packaging a QR code was included to link an individual to the companies Youtube channel with “instructional videos”. These videos were informative however I did not find them helpful as there were not ones directly relating to satin stitch. I ended up using outside resources. I do have learning disabilities; therefore, I recognise that the instructions given may be sufficient for others.
This sampler is designed for both beginners and those slightly more knowledgeable in hand embroidery. Some individuals may not know the basics such as how to correctly thread a needle, start and finish with an embroidery thread. I believe this would be useful to include in the instructions.
The box opens out with the instructions printed on the inside. It contains 5 skeins of six stranded thread (8 metres or 8.75 yards) the colours varying from kit to kit. It also contained five mirrors of 2.5cms in diameter and a needle. The fabric, about A3 size, is printed with 8 panels and patterns on an evenweave cotton which is lovely and soft.
My first task was to decide what colours to use as the pattern doesn’t dictate this, so it is personal choice and you can start to put your own personality into it. I did introduce some of my own threads.
On the box there is a QR code which took me to the Craft Yourself Silly channel on YouTube, but there were no videos on this project which would have been useful, especially with the padded blanket stitch and the mirror blanket stitch which I struggled with at first.
The instructions didn’t specify how many strands to use, so I used 2 for most of this project, except for the mirror blanket stitch where I used 4 strands.
The pre-printed pattern is helpful, but in project 1 I didn’t like that you can still see the pattern after you have finished the stitching. It is not obvious but is visible.
Doing the projects in order really helped with the irregular shapes and developing the use of the blanket stitch as you progress through the projects. The kit also encourages you to add your own preferences to make the project your own by varying stitch length and direction.
The instructions for making the project into a book were a bit limited and I did have to ask a sewing friend for help on the manipulation to get the fabric into “leaves”. The instructions refer to a cut line, but this is not indicated in the picture (or at least it is not obvious). I also decided to add some iron on (fusible) interfacing to the back of the project once I had finished all the stitching which helped the book become rigid rather than floppy and reduce fraying on the raw edges. Do be careful with the heat of the iron, as this will ruin the mirrors! The instructions then indicate to sew around the edges of the pages to enclose the back of the stitching, but there is no guidance on what stitch to use or how to achieve this. I chose a neutral colour blanket stitch and stitched around all the edges not just the raw edges, so that it looked neater.
There were no pictures of the second half of the project or the finished book which would have been useful to see what you are trying to achieve.
I really enjoyed stitching this project and developing my use of the blanket stich, but feel the instructions are too basic. This could be rectified by publishing YouTube videos on each of the projects and the making up of the book.
I was so excited when this kit arrived. I haven’t done embroidery since I was a teenager and the idea of an interactive kit which would teach me new stitches and end up as an aide memoir really appealed.
The box was attractive and easy to open but I was disappointed with the selection of colours included. Bees really should be black and yellow with translucent wings! I have kept meaning to get the right colour threads so I can complete this section of the kit.
The printing was easy to see but not so dark it was hard to cover with thread. The needle supplied was of a good quality but it was a bit disappointing that the instructions recommended using another needle as well and one wasn’t supplied.
The overall idea was really good and the sections built up until you were achieving a really great technique. If I could start over (perfectionist, much) I would watch the instructional videos first rather than when I was dispirited with my results.
I would also suggest using a hoop so that there was less puckering but as the fabric supplied is exactly what’s needed, you’d also be advised to mount it on calico or something temporarily so that you could work to the edges.
Overall, I learnt a lot and it reignited my love of needlework so I would recommend it so long as you were happy to supplement the threads provided. For those used to a video instructor it’s a nice thing to have but the written instructions are good too. As is the photography on the box.
his cute little kit teaches you how to do cutwork embroidery by completing a sample booklet that you can then use as a future reference. The kit contains a pre-printed piece of fabric, six different colours of six-stranded embroidery thread and a needle. The instructions are printed on the inside of the package.
Running stitch and blanket stitch are used with double blanket stitch and stitching bars also taught. The fabric is printed with a variety of different shapes giving the opportunity to practice stitching curves and corners on simple geometric and more complex designs such as butterflies.
The fabric is of good quality although it could be cut a little more generously and the printed designs are clear. The thread is full skeins of reasonable quality and more than enough to complete the whole kit. As this is cut work, I would suggest inserting a piece of fabric when making up to conceal the stitching on the other side of the page.
I found the instructions to be adequate and mostly clear although there were a couple of grammatical mistakes, the most obvious being in the section on making up the booklet where a sentence at the end of step three is repeated as step 4. Also in this section, you are told to make a cut in the fabric but not then told what it is for. I assume it is so that the booklet can be stitched with right-sides together and then turned right-side out to enclose the edge seams.
Overall I found the kit to be interesting and fun and would certainly be happy to buy more to build up a library of sample books.
I was really impressed when I saw the Stitchionary advertised on the Craft Yourself Silly website and was pleased to be chosen to review the Feather Stitch kit. I used to do embroidery as a child and have taken up crafts again (crochet, patchwork and cross stitch) as an adult but in hand sewing I lacked confidence to use stitches other than very basic ones. It looked like this would be a great way to learn new skills and add some creative stitching to my machine sewn patchwork.
When I opened the package, it was neat and simple, with 6 coloured threads, a needle, the sewing panel and nothing else. There were instructions for 6 projects, using Feather Stitch and variants of it – Fly stitch, Quill stitch, Cretan stitch and Open Cretan borders. I was initially unsure how to start, e.g. how many strands from the cotton should I use, was it OK to start with a knot? Some of these questions might well come from having experience of other sewing (where having a knot at the back of your project would be frowned on), but it would have been helpful to have these shown, as complete newcomers might also have struggled to know where to start. I’ve done quite a few cross stitch kits and these basics are usually covered.
After squinting at the photo on the front of the pack, I decided that it was sewn with the full 6 strands and gave myself permission to use a knot, so could get started. I enjoyed practising the first stitch – Feather stitch – on the “Project 1 Practice Lines” and went on to complete “Project 2 Feather Frame” without any problems. Pleased with my progress, I then moved on to Project 3, which introduced a 2nd new stitch – Fly stitch. I hadn’t realised that I would need to use the Practice Lines for all the different stitches and had rather overdone my practice of feather stitch, leaving only 1 set of lines for the other stitches. However, I managed to squeeze on a few fly stitches and get the hang of this stitch too.
For the Fly Stitch Christmas tree, the instruction said to “work away from the trunk” but I found that very awkward to do and that my stitches looked much neater and more even when I worked towards the trunk. It also seemed to be contradicted by the diagram, which seemed to show a gap between the branch and the trunk, indicating that the stitches would then continue to the middle. Either way, this is how I continued as I preferred the tidier look this produced.
Project 5 introduced another new stitch – Cretan Stitch Leaves. I liked the effect of this stitch, I’d not seen it before and thought it would be a useful filler. It was good to have plenty of leaves to practise on but I didn’t have enough of the green thread to complete both the Christmas tree and the Cretan Stitch leaves, which each seemed logical to complete in this colour. Having another shade of green would have been handy, as I was left with lots of all the other colours, but didn’t think that pink, yellow and purple were the right colour for the remaining leaves.
For the last project, it was Cretan stitch again, this time on a border. I found this tricky to get the stitches of an even size and wasn’t sure whether the subsequent rows should link up or just be random. A photo of a finished project would have been invaluable here.
In general, I found the written and photo instructions rather lacking in detail. The one (rather small and fuzzy) photo of a partially completed project was useful but it only covered four out of the six projects, it would have been really handy to have clear photos of all the completed projects. This would have reassured me that I was on the right track and also helped to spur me on to complete each project.
In order to find more instructions and pictures, the pack said to see “our Youtube channel for instructional videos”. I accordingly looked up the Youtube channel for Craft Yourself Silly but was disappointed to only find videos related to other products, e.g. “How to Proddy” and using a weaving loom. I had to run an internet search for the stitches to get more help, which seemed to defeat the purpose of having a self-contained product.
The final part of the instructions explained how to finish the Stitchonary. It said to “Add a cut where shown in the centre” but unfortunately, I couldn’t see where it meant me to cut. Reading the rest of the finishing instructions left me confused: I wasn’t sure if I was meant to cut right back to the grey lines and if so, how to then cover the raw edges that this would leave. Having already discovered that the Youtube channel had no relevant videos, I searched on the website craftyourselfsilly.com and was pleased to see a Tutorials heading. At last I thought, here will be the missing explanations. Alas I was again let down – there were no Stitchonary related items, just more Proggy, Fabrigami and Weaving tutorials. All in all, I was left disappointed, as I didn’t know what to do, and there was nowhere to find more help.
I enjoyed learning the stitches and having easy little projects to complete for each new stitch. It inspired me to actually have a go at embroidering using new stitches, having previously just stuck to cross stitch. However, the product was really let down by the limited documentation. I understand that the idea was to have all the instructions on the fold out packaging but this left areas unexplained. It really needed to be backed up with an additional leaflet and / or more detailed help online. I would happily have bought more of these booklets, if these problems were overcome. As it was, I am left with an incomplete project, which is frustrating and makes me less likely to be a customer in the future.
To view the full range of Stitch-onary kits please visit http://craftyourselfsilly.com/