How to conserve your stitching supplies

In Uncategorized by Theresa1 Comment

Here at Stitch People, you can imagine we get through quite a bit of needleworking supplies! Well, two weeks into the self isolation order we started to find it more difficult to find the supplies we needed to stitch up our cute as a button family portraits.

Turns out that great minds do, in fact, think alike! There has been a huge upturn in people turning to craft and in particular needlework to pass the time while in self quarantine.

This is great news; not just the fact that people are staying at home to protect each other, but that more people will be exposed to the creativity and calming side effects of cross-stitching!

It does create a problem though. Now that more people are stitching, there are less supplies to go around. So this blog post is all about how to cope with that.

We’ll tell you some of the best ways to conserve the needlework supplies (particularly floss) that you have so you can wait until stocks are replenished to buy more.

1. Adapt your pattern

First things first, take a look at the pattern you intend to stitch. Are there any elements that you can remove but still hold on to the essence of the subject. With Stitch People patterns, this is pretty easy! You don’t always need to stitch the full figure, legs and all. Perhaps you can just stitch the torso of each of the members of your family. Our friend Jenny from Kayrazy Stitches is an expert at that. Take a look at some of her family tree portraits! You can see that, although she hasn’t stitched the entire figure of the characters, she has still managed to capture the personality of the people and the portraits are no less delightful.

Family Tree Portrait by Kayrazy Stitches

You can also think about how you can change the background of your pattern. As much as we love the full on, intricately detailed mountain scenes, could you convey the location with a simple pine tree or line stitch mountain instead?

2. Make it smaller

Along the same lines as adapting your pattern to remove unnecessary objects, can you also make your pattern smaller? Some of our customers love making their Stitch People portraits larger but this uses a lot of fabric and thread. Can you drop down an Aida count or two? Instead of 11 Count Aida, can you use 14 or 18 or even 28? This makes a super cute portrait but also has the added benefit of being able to use less floss!

3. Change the type of art you are making

While you’re dropping to a smaller size of Aida, why not think about changing the type of piece that you’re making. Portraits are smashing gifts and look great on a mantle, but people also go crazy over tiny gifts! Think about whether you can change your piece from a portrait to something smaller like a bookmark, a cell-phone case, a key-chain, or even a luggage tag,

Luggage Tag by Stitched to a T

4. Change the type of stitches you use

At Stitch People, we’ve loved seeing people get creative with their portraits. One of the best ways we’ve seen has been the use of realistic hair. Although they look FABULOUS, they are also huge thread hogs. Instead, consider substituting those thread hogging stitches to something more economical. Here is how we like to substitute

  • Turkey Stitch – Cross-stitch
  • Satin Stitch – Cross-stitch
  • Back Stitch – Straight Stitch

5. Use divisible floss and separate it by at least half

This is one of the things we love most about using DMC Embroidery floss. It is divisible! This means that not only can you save on the amount of floss you are using, but it often makes your portraits look crisper and more defined. We make a habit of separating our floss by half (from six to three strands) but can you go further? Is there an area on your piece that you can get away with using just one or two strands? For example, if you change background objects to two strands, it will help give your portrait the impression of distance. If you change the logo on a T-Shirt to one strand, you will be able to define it more.

6. Use shorter tails and smaller needles

We’re guilty of this one. When you know you’re coming to the end of the working thread, sometimes it’s just easier to leave a long tail at the back of your work. Before you snip, consider whether you can get one or two more stitches out if the tail.

To help with this, try using a smaller needle. We opt for size 5 to 8 because they have a larger eye but they’re also fairly long which means we have to leave a longer thread tail. There’s not really a good reason we couldn’t drop down to a size 10 needle giving us more room to use more of the length of working thread.

7. Try using mixed media

As we mentioned above, self quarantine has people explore new crafts! Just because you’ve been needleworking for years, doesn’t mean that you can’t join in. Why not use your current project to start exploring mixed media work? This basically means adding other objects (besides thread) to your portrait. In the Stitch People wedding book, we talk about this in the Useful Stitches section. Instead of filling a whole skirt with stitches, you could try appliqueing a piece of fabric to the area.

Also think about alternatives to floss or thread. Perhaps the clouds in the sky or your mom’s favorite sweater can be stitched with yarn instead of floss. Instead of stitched confetti, can you use sequins or beads.

Not only will exploring mixed media inspire your creativity, it will also make an amazing portrait with all kinds of sweet and fun details.

By using these seven tips, you should be able to conserve much of your stitching stash AND create new and exciting portraits. We hope you use this time and an opportunity to explore new things and really feed your imagination.

How are some of the ways you are conserving you supplies? Let us know in the comments below or email us at

Happy stitching!


  1. Thank you for the information and helpful hints!! It was informative and gave me new ideas!! TY!

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