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Be Bold!

Be bold! That's a phrase that has been in my mind lately. Be bold in your actions, be bold in your passions, be bold in your spirit -- every part of life has the option of adding boldness. It could be something as small as a bold lipstick color, a bold necklace, a bold print top, a bold front-door color, anything your heart and mind can dream. And why not let that boldness spill over into your stitching? Embrace that saturated color!

Even food can be bold -- bold flavors, bold combinations -- let your imagination run wild! Speaking of bold food options, have you tried cold-brew coffee? If you haven't, do it. Do it now. It gives you that bold, depth of flavor in coffee without the bitterness; since the water is never heated, the beans and oils in the coffee are never burned, so you get a pure coffee flavor. Pick a bold roast, one that is stronger and bolder than you might normally pick, and make a batch of cold brew. You'll be surprised at how smooth and clean bold can taste!

How, you ask, do I embrace my stitchy boldness? Well, friend, grab that bold, sweet cold brew, your needle and thread, and come with me!

Bold Thread Painting

When the first samplers were stitched hundreds of years ago, our stitching ancestors had a fairly limited palette of colors. It was a lot more varied than we might think when we view their handiwork so many years later, but remember that these art pieces have withstood years of exposure and fading. However, our available color palette in 2017 is still astronomical in comparison. We have every imaginable color -- numerous shades of the rainbow spill from our floss cabinets. I can only imagine the oohs and aahs of Loara Standish and Mary Atwood (makers of the two earliest documented samplers in American history) if they had access to our selection of threads.

Use that extensive palette to your advantage when stitching. Think bright pinks, saturated blues, vivid greens and bright yellows. I know it might take some deep breaths, but trust your instincts and go for it. Sometimes, it's not just the individual colors that make a project bold but the combination of colors (see a few bold pieces below).

A few tips when working with super-vibrant colors:

  1. Be cautious when bringing your needle up through a hole in your fabric occupied by an existing stitch; take care not to split the existing stitch or bring up fibers of the existing thread with your needle.
  2. Watch your back. If you're stitching on a light-color fabric and using bold colors, be very careful when carrying thread across the back of the fabric. It'll show through; I promise. And trust me, that's not the bold look you want.
  3. Don't get the threads wet unless you know they're colorfast (see below). Pretend the threads are Gizmo from the movie Gremlins and do not let them get wet!
  4. Check yourself. So many threads today are colorfast, which is (cue the angels singing) amazing! However, some aren't, especially some silks or hand-dyed fibers. Most manufacturers will advise you one way or another, but I always like to double-check. Take a tiny snip of the thread and place it on a scrap of white fabric; wet it and wait. I usually go overboard and saturate that tiny snip just to be sure. Remember, the bolder the color, the more likely it is to bleed.
  5. Remember, the bolder the colors you use, the bolder the finished project will be. Embrace that and let your work shine and sing!

Need a few designs to get that bold thread flowing? Try some of these:

Click here for larger image Click here for larger image
Sunflower Pillow by Donna Giampa
Just CrossStitch July/August 2014
Pattern available by clicking here or order the issue here.
Slavic Pillow by Elizabeth Spurlock
Just CrossStitch January/February 2015
issue available here.
Click here for larger image Click here for larger image
Parrot Floral I by Marie Barber Just CrossStitch May/June 2013
Pattern available here or order the issue here.
Parrot Floral II by Marie Barber Just CrossStitch July/August 2013
Pattern available here or order the issue here.

Bold Foundations

Is using bold thread a "been there, done that" for you? No worries! Try livening up your stitching basket with a bold fabric. Grab that orange, snatch up that red, hoop up that black linen -- go for it! Even the simplest of designs will become a showstopper with the right background fabric. There are dozens and dozens of fabric companies with literally hundreds of colors of linens, Aida, Jobelan, perforated paper ... the options are limitless.

Here are a few tips and tricks for working on a bold, vibrant or dark fabric:

  1. Light it up. If you choose to work on a dark-color fabric to let the threads really pop, try wearing light-color pants or skirt when you're stitching or put a lamp at your feet so that the fabric is easier to see and work on. The light or light-color fabric will show through the fabric holes, making it easier to pass needle up and down.
  2. If you're using a hand-dyed fabric, assume you won't be able to launder it later. If that scares you, remember that most pieces don't get a lot of wear and tear, so it will probably fine.
  3. Really can't handle not washing your finished project? Test it first. Before you put the first stitch in, cut two small swatches from your fabric. Wash a small swatch of the fabric and see how it responds to laundering. Then, put a couple of test stitches with a sampling of thread colors in the second swatch and do another test launder.
  4. Don't hoop me in! If you use hoops or snaps, do not leave your hand-dyed fabrics stored in the hoop or snap for any length of time.
  5. If you're feeling really adventurous, try dyeing your own fabric. Rogue, I know! But why not give it a whirl? Try coffee, various teas, spices -- whatever you want to try. Just remember to do a little research since fabrics take dyes differently, and always try a swatch before you plunge your entire project fabric cut into a color bath. And always, always, always dye BEFORE you stitch!

Want a few suggestions for bold backgrounds? Check out these beauties:

Click here for larger image
Fern Frond Bookmark by Sharon Pope
Just CrossStitch May/June 2015
Pattern available by clicking here or order the issue here.
Click here for larger image
Noah's Ark by Marie Barber
Just CrossStitch May/June 2014
Pattern available by clicking here or order the issue here.
Click here for larger image
Hummingbird, original artwork by Cyra Cancel, cross-stitch adaptation by Elizabeth Spurlock
Just CrossStitch March/April 2016
Issue available by clicking here.
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