Gentle Readers have been clamoring for the low down on where we find the charts and materials for the stitching projects we do. Here are some links to various resources that I use for finding and buying the supplies to fuel my stitching obsession (i.e. to make sure my stash is always in a state of being “more projects than I can complete in a lifetime”). There are many more out there, but these are the ones that I find most consistently useful for the kinds of projects I like to do (samplers, samplers and more samplers).
1. The Attic Newsletter: Attic Needlework is a shop in Mesa, AZ that is pretty much my idea of heaven on Earth. The store has a Wall of Samplers that is legendary in stitching circles, and it’s what inspired me to return to cross-stitching. While they’re not really an online or mail order business, they are an excellent source for finding new designs thanks to their weekly newsletter, which can be found in PDF form at
(You can also have the newsletter sent via email; I think the quality of the pictures is better in email.) The newsletter highlights new designs coming into the shop; they have a wide variety styles of projects, from historic samplers to fun seasonal stuff to contemporary designs. Another fun thing about the Newsletter is that Jean (the shop’s owner and my stitching hero) will often include pictures of the linen and threads she’s using to do the Sampler of the Month. They do do mail orders, but as they do a very, very steady business in-shop, they are sometimes a little slow. What they lose in speed, they make up for in spades in quality! (I should also point out that all of our framing is done by their extremely talented framer-in-residence.)
2. The Scarlet Letter: This is, in my opinion, the premier online source for reproduction samplers. This site is easy to use (pieces are rated on a scale from Beginner to Very Advanced) and they helpfully offer projects in just chart form or with a whole kit (linen, threads and needle included). They do a nice job of explaining what’s interesting about each piece and they are mindful of the history of the craft. The sampler page is divided into time periods and geography which gives the site a bit of a educational air as well!
I’m a big fan of 17th and 18th century English samplers, and could probably happily make every one on the site! Their charts come with excellent instructions with clear stitch guides. A beginner stitcher could do really well with any of their simpler designs.
3. Carriage House Samplings: Carriage House Samplings is one of my favorite designers; while their work is probably more rustic than I’d generally think my taste runs to, I find I consistently adore their charts. Since the designs are generally pretty reliant on big blocks of color, they are pretty solid choices for beginners.
They do not have online ordering yet, but they do mail order.
4. The Drawn Thread: This company publishes pieces that are more contemporary than Carriage House, and which are steeped in an aesthetic that is delicate, intricate and graceful. The colors are generally muted and soft, giving an overall impression of peacefulness. Don’t be fooled by the pictures — their designs almost always look a thousand times better in real life.
They do not have online or mail ordering, but they are so big in the industry pretty much any retail shop will carry their charts and kits. The designs range from super easy to very advanced, but they do not make that distinction on their charts. The intermediate and advanced charts are great learning pieces as they often include a variety of specialty stitches; the charts include very clear instructions and stitch diagrams. The site also offers free printable charts for tiny pieces.
5. Prairie Schooler: Prairie Schooler was where it all started for me and Schnookie — our very first projects when we were in grade school were small Prairie Schooler kits. These designs have a very distinctive look, very simple and static, with big blocks of rustic colors and a delightfully non-hokey country style. Many of their designs are seasonal, making them the perfect projects for when it’s mid-February and you’re dying of Spring fever or when it’s mid-July and you can’t wait for Christmas or Winter.
I’m particularly excited for the designs they’ve been rolling out in the last year or so which include little verses about the seasons. These projects are ideal for beginners, and the charts so charming they are fun for stitchers of all skills. You can see some Prairie Schoolers I’ve done here and here. While my examples were done in silk thread, the designs are intended to be done with DMC floss which is readily available at craft stores everywhere.
6. Moira Blackburn: While not an extensive site, this British designer has some spectacular work. They designs are very historical in nature, but the colorways make them slightly more contemporary in feel. The designs look intricate, but usually involve only counted cross stitch, making them good for intermediate stitchers.
Please note that the site is British so while you can order online, the prices are in pounds and shipping might be pricey!
7. Elizabeth Bradley: Schnookie works on Elizabeth Bradley kits almost exclusively. The kits are unusual in that they are done in wool on canvas in a style called Victorian Cross Stitch. The end results are simply stunning and straight out of an English manor house.
The kits are carried in many retail shops, but they also do mail order (again, it’s a British site). There are several small kits that are good for giving this technique a whirl. You can see some of the smaller kits and designs done up by Schnookie here.
The following are great sites for ordering supplies and browsing for other designers (many of the ones I’ve listed will be available for purchase, as well).
Another good resource is Just Cross Stitch, a periodical that includes charts and tons of ads for local and online shops.
If you have any questions or comments, I’d be happy to hear from you! You can reach me at interchangeablepartsblog [at] gmail [dot] com. Happy stitching!