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Things I wish I knew when I started Cross Stitching:

Small Simple Easy Green and Teal Cross stitch sea turtle pattern

Quick disclosure! There are affiliate links in the post below! This means if you choose to purchase a product from my link I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you! I only link to products I love and use from brands I trust!

When I began my cross stitch journey, I didn’t do much research. Uh. Any! I just bought 14-count Aida and used some embroidery floss I had from my days of embroidering bugs and flowers (more on that another time).

To be honest, I didn’t even know if I would like it. Growing up I had watched my older sister and grandmother cross stitch. The pictures never appealed to me, and I never thought I would have the patience to sit down and make tiny Xs on fabric. My, how times have changed. I still don’t like huge confetti style pictures. And you may notice that muted tones are not really my thing

I love you I lava you cross stitch pattern in pink and brown I lava you in cursive black lettering

Fast forward to 2014 and a friend and I were hanging out on Pinterest, as one does. I found a cross-stitch I liked and sent it to her. She said, “That’s cute, but I HATE glitter!” We joked back and forth a bit until she had the idea to use “Skittles” instead. I didn’t say much at the time because I still had never even tried cross-stitch. But I ran out and bought the supplies to try to make a cross-stitch gift for her. AND IT TURNED OUT AMAZING.

Cross Stitch pattern from Ila Quinn Designs

Beginning in this way helped me to push the boundaries a bit. My first pattern was my own design, and I had no reference for how it should look. I got to use all the bold colors I wanted. I was HOOKED!

Without further adieu, here is the list of things that worked for me!

Small Simple Easy Green and Teal Cross stitch sea turtle pattern

1: Don’t be shy about switching the color palette on a design you love. You have a favorite color and it’s not in the design? Just use it. I promise you will love your finished thread art so much more if it speaks to YOU and not just someone else’s ideas. And no designer is going to be offended if you change out some colors for something else. We are just happy you like our hard work and artistic expression! So go ahead and tag the artist and let us see the beautiful way you made it your own! This also applies if you have similar colors in your stash and don’t want to shop. I think it can create some fantastic reimagined pieces!

For ideas on what colors work well together, peruse This and see just how many different ways you can level up your color palette game!

2: You can make your Xs face in either direction. Just make sure you have them all facing the same direction! This really helps the designs look refined! How you start your project can determine which way you stitch your Xs.

For instance. If you begin at the top of the design you will want to start your Xs from the Bottom up facing this way: / / / /. On the return pass you will also be working your stitches bottom up this way: \ \ \ \. This sets up the following row to be began in the same way and will create a neat set of corners in your work. You won’t need to come up through a stitch you just finished and the thread will lay flatter!

3: Washing your work when it done not only makes your fiber art pop, but helps to even out any unevenness in your stitches. This elevates the finished work in much the same way that blocking crochet projects does. It basically puts everything where it belongs and makes it all that it should have been!

To wash your projects I recommend slightly warm water with just a drop or two of mild dish soap or laundry detergent. Lightly swirl and soak, but do not bend or twist the fabric to wring it out. Let it drip out and then lay it flat on a thick towel. switch out the towel for a dry one about an hour or two in. Lightly ironing your cross stitches helps to remove any wrinkles that came from the washing or the fabric packaging or stitching hoops.

4: Framing.

Green and teal cross stitch pattern collection large Turtle wall hanging small turtle framed in hoop turtle bookmark

Hoop Frame: Don’t be scared to frame your piece in the hoop you stitched it in! It’s a whole circular experience, and I think it’s a truly wonderful way to display your stitching the way a fiber artists sees it! Plus there are some really beautiful frames out there! Like the one I use for my “Sea, it’s a small turtle in teal”.

Frame Frame: I love to check my local used store for some really gorgeous frames at killer prices! You will need to buy some sticky cardboard to make sure it is flat and wrinkle-free, but this is well worth it for the finished product!

Scroll Frame: Grab some wooden dowels and make it a scroll! It’s a really fun minimalistic look and it’s SO easy to accomplish! Little glue on the wood on the side of the fabric that is not going to be the front of the wall hanging and BAM done. I like to add a little tassel or something for spice!

5: Fabric counts.

Fabrics come in quite a few options for different sizes of squares. The side of the square determines what size your finished piece will be. A lot of “free patterns” online don’t tell you the proper fabric count or finished sizes, so it can be tricky to plan ahead. This has been so important to me that I actually calculate and give the information for 4 different fabric counts in all my patterns. This allows you to decide which fabric will work best for what you want!

When you are looking at Aida Fabric the packaging will say “12-count, 14-count, 18-count, 21-count” and so on. This means that that is the total number of stitchable squares per inch is equal to the number given. 14 count Aida is probably the most common used today. There will be 14 little squares per inch!

6: Thread Count.

I saved this for last because it’s probably my favorite subject.

I love a lot of thread coverage on my fabric. I know I know. Everyone always wants to talk about not using too much and disrupting the flow of the stitching. But, you guys! I love my rich earthy and jewel tones, and I am not about to make them less noticeable by using techniques that give me too little coverage. So these are the tricks I use to get better coverage and have my colors pop!

A: I use one strand of embroidery floss doubled up on 18-count Aida. This creates a denser look in the thread without making the stitches messy.

B: If I use 14 count fabric I always use one that is lightly colored, not white. If I am designing a green heavy pattern I put it on light green fabric. If I am designing something in cool colors I use light blue. This changes the backdrop just enough to make the stitches look more full, and lets me still use the 2 strand method suggested above! (This is HANDS DOWN my favorite method. I’m never disappointed in the outcome!)

C: When I’m stitching letters that are 2 stitches wide on 14 count fabric I will up the thread count to 3 (don’t tell the cross stitch Overlords on me). This makes the letters bolder even though they are smaller, and since there are no stitches on the outside edges of the letters there is room for them to be a bit bigger and not disrupt the rest of the design!

D: Back stitching helps. If you feel like it could be a bolder look then just pop some backstitch on that baby! It always brings out the designs!

7: Last but definitely not least, NEEDLES. For a long time, I just used regular embroidery needles in my cross-stitching. I am SO glad I changed that though. Do yourself a huge favor and buy you some dull pointed cross-stitching needles. I promise it increases your joy by one million points.

That’s it for now! I hope this helps you feel confident in starting your cross stitching journey!

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Cross Stitch Pattern Release: Sea, it’s a Turtle Bookmark”!

Small Easy Quick Cross stitch green and teal sea turtle bookmark pattern

I am beyond in love with this darling turtle bookmark pattern! How fitting that I should be releasing it right before Valentine’s day!

Quick disclosure! There are affiliate links in the post below! This means if you choose to purchase a product from my link I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you! I only link to products I love and use from brands I trust!

Small Easy Quick Cross stitch green and teal sea turtle bookmark pattern
Be still my heart!

This design has been on my mind since I released my large “Sea, it’s a turtle in Teal” pattern last summer (come for the stitching, stay for the puns). I had the idea to make a smaller sea turtle. I know an 11 inch design can be overwhelming to some, so I wanted to offer an option for quicker stitching that would have a similar esthetic look and feel.

Small Simple Easy Green and Teal Cross stitch sea turtle pattern
I will never be able to decide which turtle is my favorite turtle

The retro frame for the “Sea, it’s a small turtle in Teal” offers a slightly different design element to the larger wall hanging, and has a lot of striking details that make the design pop.

The colors of the Turtle Bookmark are only a selection of the ones used in the larger two patterns, but they give a bright and happy feel to this quick make! And if you click that bookmark link up there you can find an option for a printed copy of the pattern mailed right to you!

I use for all kinds of things! And they have threads available too!

Make sure you pick up all the items you will need and get yourself a cute pair of scissors too!

Green and teal cross stitch pattern collection large Turtle wall hanging small turtle framed in hoop turtle bookmark
Sea, it’s a small, large, and tiny turtle in teal!

So often we cross stitchers run low on time. Our art form is one of the slowest for sure! So I love to offer quick and happy makes that can restore a stitcher suffering from cross stitch block, or one who is feeling stressed in other areas of life, and just needs a small thing to get them through.


cross stitch bookmarks cross stitch bookmark collection teal and green cross stitch bookmark set Musical notes and Treble Clef bookmarks small Sea turtle bookmark
Do you detect a theme among them?

Seriously. I adore each one of them!

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The “Not A Square” Experience

Crochet cube baby toy crochet sensory toy for kids Crochet pattern for block toy textured Crochet square toy pattern for Children

Hello, Friends! I am so glad you are here! Check out my Ravelry or Etsy to browse my designs!

WARNING: I talk about brownies below. I might be hungry while I write this. And I might be in need of something yummy to go with this perfect cup of coffee on a dreary June morning!

Today I celebrate one month since the release of my crochet pattern “Not a square toy”, and friends. Everything around this design has been filled to the brim with joy. The interactions and connections I have made on social media, the responses from my customers who love the design, and the cheers of my friends who are happy for me and with me. I could not have even hoped or dreamed of this kind of joy around my first crochet pattern!

It’s just been a “the cream cheese icing on the perfect brownie” moment.

Not a Square crochet toy pattern made with Lion Brand Jeans yarn. Designed by Ila Quinn Designs.

Crochet is such a joyful part of my life! It is styled and quirky, and my moments of peace and a deep breath during a stressful day. It feels like freedom to my hands! It was the first craft I ever learned and it lets me do whatever I can think of! I can make it look like anything I want, and if it doesn’t work I can just frog it and try again! Speaking of frogging. I remade my latest pattern 4 times, and it was totally worth it!

Crochet cube block square pattern Crochet Baby Sensory toy Child block toy soft toys for kids children's toy cube
“Go Insane, Go Insane, Throw some Skittles, Make it Rain”

Sometimes joy strikes when we don’t expect it. And sometimes we have to make a little joy when the world is being stingy with the icing. I’m going to bask a little in the happiness and take this feeling along with me into my next pattern (which is coming very soon!).

Crochet cube block square textured crochet sensory toy pattern Intermediate crochet pattern Photo tutorial written instructions

I’m going to go make brownies now. I can’t stand it anymore!