I began to make my cross-stitch pride patches because I couldn’t afford to buy aromantic pride merch. (I want to support other queer creators, but shipping to and within Australia was absurdly prohibitive before a pandemic, months of shutdowns and inflation.) I now write tutorials and share patterns because I’m not the only queer needing to go DIY when it comes to displaying pride. Given these origins, affordability and accessibility are important to me in when considering my sewing materials. (Not to mention avoiding those dread postage costs!) Since K-Mart now offers budget-friendly cross-stitch supplies, I wanted to write up a review.
This post covers materials that can be used for creating cross stitch patches or making-over embroidery kits in pride colours, including 14-count aida, floss packs and crane scissors. Please note that all prices are in Australian dollars (AUD) and may not be available in other countries.
(Spoiler: I really recommend the aida!)
14-Count Aida Fabric
If you want to make sturdier cross stitch patches or pins without bothering with backing/stabilising fabric or fabric stiffener, get this aida.
Is it quality fabric? Not really. The warp and weft threads are unusually thick, resulting in a tough fabric that doesn’t need additional stiffening or reinforcing. This, along with the weave’s smaller-than-usual holes, means that the fibres grip the needle while stitching; I needed a little additional pressure to guide even a size 26 needle through. (This shouldn’t be a concern for folks without chronic hand pain.) Even when trimmed on a curve, however, the cut threads resist fraying, splitting and buckling–resulting in a clean, sturdy edge.
At $4.50, around half the price of cheap 14-count aida from chain craft stores, the K-Mart aida is ideal for raw-edged or unfinished patches, patches turned into badges via an added safety pin, and patches sewn onto garments subject to creasing and folding. Admittedly, this inflexible thickness makes it difficult to use with an embroidery hoop to the point where I wouldn’t use this fabric for anything but patches. If you want to avoid some of the steps in making a more finished or durable patch, however, this aida is perfect.
Stranded Floss Packs
The floss comes in two eight-skein themed packs: warm and cool. The strands have a fairly consistent thickness and evenness, unlike the embroidery kit floss. They rest smooth across aida and are only moderately prone to knotting. I’d consider them a medium-quality floss: better than ultra-cheap eBay, nowhere near as nice as DMC. I’m also grateful, given the abundance of pinks and purples in K-Mart’s friendship bracelet set, for some muted and natural colour options. Aside from the tragic lack of aro greens, I only have one problem: these skeins are matte.
As most stranded cotton has a silk-like shine or gloss, these matte floss packs won’t match all flosses. Nor will they match the flosses currently available in K-Mart’s other embroidery, needle punch, cross-stitch and friendship bracelet kits. If you prefer to match matte to matte and glossy to glossy, you’re stuck with either a limited colour range or flosses that can’t be used with a pre-existing collection. I have more colour options in the glossy floss collected from K-Mart’s embroidery kits alone than I have in these two packs of matte floss–and the former can also be paired with my bigger collection of unbranded eBay and dollar shop flosses.
The K-Mart packs match Sullivans’ twelve-skein stranded cotton packs in texture, quality and performance. Some colours, like the lemon and peach skeins shown below, are close to identical. For brighter colour options, grey or other aromantic spectrum pride flag colours, you’ll need the seasons-themed Sullivans packs as accompaniment. As this still excludes many colours, you may also need the matte Daiso floss packs for certain bright, dark or pastel pride flags. Daiso floss, however, is very prone to splitting, snapping, feathering and fraying.
Because of this limitation, I question the price. Once $4, K-Mart now charges $4.50 for eight skeins. While these packs offer better quality thread compared to K-Mart’s other embroidery kits, I don’t think it reasonable to pay more than fifty cents a skein for medium-quality floss. The Sullivans packs cost $6 … but Lincraft has 30% or 40% off sales every few months. (I bought the packs above for $3.60 each!) The Daiso thread packs, meanwhile, are $3.10 each. If I need several Sullivans and Daiso packs to even use the more expensive K-Mart pack floss, why buy it in the first place?
Unless K-Mart expands their colour range, you don’t mind pairing matte and glossy flosses, you want to start stitching with better-quality-but-not-DMC floss, or you lack thread options, the floss packs aren’t an efficient use of your money.
Beginners on a tight budget will find more thread options in the $5.50 friendship bracelet set, which includes sixteen skeins of glossy floss plus small amounts of gold and silver polyester thread, combined with this $3.50 clearance-priced embroidery kit, which includes seven skeins of matching floss, a hoop and two sharp needles perfect for buttonhole-stitch edging. K-Mart’s glossy floss is not great, but this route expands your colour options!
For all that I think these thread packs fill a quality gap between ultra-cheap unbranded floss and lovely-but-expensive DMC/Anchor floss, I’d wait for clearance prices … or Lincraft’s next sale.
Embroidery / Crane Scissors
Some years ago, K-Mart clearanced a range of mini craft/hobby scissors. Never have I found other inexpensive scissors that work as well; they cut better than most more expensive craft, embroidery and fabric scissors. They’re somehow sturdy and lightweight, which is great for hand-pain days. I haven’t even had to sharpen the pair I
ruin on reserve for paper and plastic! These ultra-basic, fifty-cent scissors are prized members of my craft cutting-tool collection … which meant I thought that all K-Mart scissors would be, well, good.
Yeah. Not so much.
Even after a fortnight’s use and some resulting loosening, these lightweight, $4.50 scissors are stiff to the point where the handles scrape against each other when opened and closed. The flat edge of the blade is somewhat jagged and can shred the thread at the right angle, while the rounded tips make them less useful for unpicking stitches. They also lack the “dangerous to my health” sharpness small scissors need to cleanly cut thicker cords and fabrics. While they do accomplish the advertised job of cutting embroidery floss, they’re nothing special.
If you buy these for patch-making, keep in mind that you may need an additional set of scissors. I use a pair of equally-cheap and lightweight Aldi crane scissors for my general thread snipping. While they do have pointed tips, non-jagged blades and smoother movement, they also struggle to cleanly cut aida–so I need heavier, finer or sharper scissors for fabrics like aida and felt, tight-space precision trimming, and stitch unpicking. While switching between lighter and heavier scissors helps my hands, you can save money by buying a single pair of better-quality hobby scissors with narrow, sharp-tipped blades.
(I use these hobby-sized Semco classical scissors for all my patch cutting, trimming, unpicking and shaping. They’re sharp, precise and gorgeous. If I didn’t have chronic hand pain, I wouldn’t need any other set of embroidery scissors.)
For thread cutting, the K-Mart scissors are okay. They’re inexpensive and accessible. Since any other set of small scissors with fine blades does the same job, however, you’re really only paying for the fancy.
That’s it for today! I was gifted the newer range of K-Mart’s freehand embroidery kits, and I’m looking forward to queering a few more as soon as I find time to stitch. In the meantime, I’m working on a tutorial for something I’ve spoilered in this post: cross-stitch patches backed with felt!