Zodiac designs for a cross-stitch rug (1950)

Zodiac cross-stitch designs

The signs of the zodiac, originated by some ingenious stargazer thousands of years ago, have persisted through the ages — not only as astrological and astronomical symbols, but also in many forms of art.

Mr Leonard Shortall, whose illustrations have often enlivened the pages of Woman’s Day, adapted the signs to cross-stitch, and his wife incorporated the motifs in making the rug shown here. Mrs Shortall has introduced a personal touch by having each square commemorate the birth date of a member of the family. Two were born under the sign of Gemini — hence the divided twins in the left and right front corners.

The zodiac squares might also be used to great effect interspersed and contrasted with plain squares, or the designs could be adapted to many other uses – -such as cross-stitch embroidery for table linens. Charts for all twelve signs of the zodiac, as well as directions for making the rug, are in the How To Section [below].

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How to make it – how to do it – how to fix it

Transferring a design – new method

Materials: Old automatic pencil and No. 20 tapestry needle (to make stylus); typewriter or dressmaker’s carbon paper; graph paper in size and scale desired (paper with 10, 8, or 4 squares to 1″ is usually available in stationery stores); smooth surface, such as drawing board or bread board, into which thumbtacks can be driven; blotting paper or cardboard.

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Preparing design: Following photographs, page 118, copy a design, drawing each X of design on a square of graph paper. Count stitches carefully but draw X’s roughly, with crayons to indicate colors, if you wish. Squares of paper will keep embroidery uniform.

Making stylus: Remove lead from automatic pencil; in its place, push eye end of needle; adjust pencil so about 1/8″ or 1/4″ of needle point protrudes.

Transferring design: Cover an area of drawing board with blotting paper or cardboard; over it place fabric to be embroidered, then penciled design. Be sure lines of graph paper are parallel to threads of fabric. Thumbtack to board at top. Slip carbon paper between design and fabric; tack at bottom.

Holding stylus as nearly vertical as possible, push the point accurately through design and carbon paper at four points of each cross-stitch to be worked, to distinguish between squares to be worked and those which fall between the X’s. Your design is now transferred to fabric, just as machine-stamped cross-stitch is, and is ready to be embroidered.

Thread-count method: This can be used only on round-thread linens of which the threads can be counted easily. The weave should be even, with the same number of threads in each direction. Work each cross-stitch over 2 or more threads, depending on the size stitch you wish. Be sure to follow threads of fabric exactly so work will be even. Threads must be counted also for any spaces between groups of cross-stitches.

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Cross-stitch-canvas method: This is the method used on very fine linen, or any material where the threads cannot be counted easily. Cross-stitch or Penelope canvas is placed over linen temporarily, and serves as a guide for the stitches. It can be bought in a number of different size meshes. Cut canvas 1″ larger all around than fabric. Place fabric on smooth surface; lay canvas over it, carefully lining up threads of canvas with threads of fabric. Baste together, working from middle out to center of each of the four sides, then from middle to corners. Baste all outer edges. Crease edges of fabric, to keep fabric from fraying, and baste. When working, be careful not to catch stitches in threads of canvas or to embroider through the folded edges. Work embroidery; snip canvas between groups of cross-stitches; pull out canvas and basting threads with tweezers.

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