Pride Patch / Pendant Tutorial: A is for Aro

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

This freehand embroidery design can be worked in multiple ways: as a pendant suspended from a necklace or keychain, a small fabric patch, or a motif sewn directly onto bags and clothing. You can even hang it on the wall inside a small embroidery hoop or frame!

Two finished pendant frames and a patch sit atop a blue microfibre blanket. Right/middle: a balsa wood pendant frame with the abro-coloured letter A and flowers design embroidered on green fabric and mounted so as to protrude above the edge of the frame. A hand-twisted pink cord is attached to the frame's hardware via a gold jump ring. Centre/top: the allo-aro-coloured letter A and flowers design embroidered on green fabric and cut to form an oval patch, finished with light green blanket stitch. Left/bottom: a frame with the aro-coloured letter A and flowers design embroidered on cream fabric, also mounted so as to protrude outwards. A hand-twisted aro-coloured cord is attached via a gold jump ring.

This tiny piece is great for using up scraps and suits a variety of embroidery stitches. Even better, it only takes a few hours to stitch up!

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Embroidery Kit Makeover: Allo-Aro Flowers

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green pine trees growing against various green-hued mountain ridgelines. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Crafts sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

To everybody who doesn’t want another embroidery-themed post, I apologise. Another lockdown has taken my anxiety disorder to just short of “breakdown”. I’m in what I call the “spending my days desperately trying not to think” stage, in which anxiety or distress about one big thing leaves me unable to manage (read: “muddle through with”) my many normal anxieties. Since there’s no immediate release from the main trigger, I’m floundering.

(While Australia is having conversations about lockdowns and mental health, there isn’t enough acknowledgement of the way a pandemic–our health now more obviously impacted by other people’s actions–creates additional stresses for folks who already couldn’t trust family, friends, doctors and politicians to ensure our health and safety. This stress doubles when we’re still required to interact with those people who placed their privilege, convenience or pleasure above our health.)

Sewing provides me the distraction needed to steer my brain past the jagged rocks of crying panic. As I had one more K-Mart embroidery kit, well.

A bamboo embroidery hoop sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. The hoop is filled with cream cloth featuring a garland of assorted flowers and leaves around the centre-positioned text "be kind". The text is written in a loose, handdrawn type and backstitched in green. The leaves and stems are stitched in green, aqua or light blue, and feature a variety of black, chain, split, straight and satin stitches. The flowers are stitched in white, gold, yellow and dark pink, and feature a variety of chain, satin, straight, woven wheel and god's eye stitches. Small seed beads in pink, gold and aqua fill the centres of some flowers. All colours used in the piece are taken from @neopronouns's allosexual aromantic-spectrum flag.
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Embroidery Kit Makeover: Idemro Best Self

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green pine trees growing against various green-hued mountain ridgelines. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Crafts sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

I’ll admit it: I’m not a fan of generic positivity. Maybe I am a bitter, loveless aro … and maybe I’m a disabled person who’s tired of how the ableds implore me to “look on the bright side” and “be grateful it isn’t worse”. Either way, in my opinion, there’s a special place in hell reserved for whomever first uttered the words “live, laugh, love”!

Given that such phrases aren’t to my taste, I hadn’t planned on stitching this kit … until I saw them on clearance for $2 AUD. Why not practice my satin stitch by giving one an idemromantic makeover during Victoria’s fifth lockdown?

A bamboo embroidery hoop sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. The hoop is filled with cream cloth featuring the text "be your best self" with each word satin stitched in grey, mint, white and pink taken from the idemromantic pride flag. Each word is outlined by back stitch in a slightly darker or lighter shade of grey, mint, white and pink, and given a three-dimensional/shadow effect via more black satin stitch.
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Pride Month Patch Tutorial: Pride Text

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

Last June, I broadened my tutorial series with heart patches that suit a range of LGBTQIA+ and queer identities. This year, I thought I’d continue this (short) tradition by going literal: three, four, five, six, seven and ten-stripe text pride patches that say … well, pride!

Four finished and one incomplete cross stitch patches sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. All feature the word "pride" sewn in the colours of the transgender (navy background with blue/white/pink border), rainbow (white background with white border), allo-aro (purple background with mottled pink/grey/mauve border), nebularomantic (mint background with darker mint border) and cross apothiromantic (yellow background, raw aida showing at the edges) pride flags. Each letter is outlined in backstitch and every patch but the apothoiromantic one is finished with a buttonhole stitch edging.

You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full crosses and fractional stitches) and backstitch to make unedged patches, along with a buttonhole/closed blanket stitch to make the edged patches shown above. The first instalment of this patch tutorial series demonstrates cross and blanket/buttonhole stitch, while the second covers backstitch.

For additional information on the stitching process for text patches, please see part one of this miniseries. Beginners should also read last year’s tutorial for an overview of materials, finishes, treatments and fabric/edging modifications.

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Embroidery Kit Makeover: Nebularo Rainbow

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green pine trees growing against various green-hued mountain ridgelines. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Crafts sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Between chronic pain and familial goings-on, I haven’t had the time or spoons I need for writing. I do have a little something to show off, however: another aromanticised embroidery kit!

(“Aromanticised” is a word, I swear.)

K-Mart’s rainbow-themed embroidery kit all but demands a queer makeover. I mean … rainbow, right? After pondering a wealth of options, I chose the nebularomantic flag because the printed design accommodates a seven stripe flag without my repeating colours or making major modifications.

A bamboo embroidery hoop sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. The hoop is filled with cream cloth featuring a rainbow comprising seven separated layers. The centre/innermost layer is a cobalt satin stitched oval, followed by two satin stitched arches in medium and bright blue (each bigger than the previous). A centre arch comprised of circles edged in back stitch is sewn in white, followed by two more satin stitched arches in pink and pink-red. The final/uppermost layer, shaped like an arch surrounding the rainbow, is formed of long clusters of stitches like a sunburst. All colours used in the piece are from the nebularomantic flag.

My satin stitch is improving! I am not good at starting and finishing stitches in the same place, but the odd instances of poking-out stitches don’t much distract from the finished design. The main problem is that unneven maroon-coloured “starburst-style” cluster (a few stitches sewn together) on the left-hand side of the rainbow. When sewing the red-pink stripe, distracted by TV, I pulled a section of my stitches taut against the fabric. This tugged the fabric above that section out of place. Tension is a demanding mistress, but I will learn to respect her!

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Embroidery Kit Makeover: Aro Monstera Plant

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green pine trees growing against various green-hued mountain ridgelines. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Crafts sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

When K-Mart releases a set of $5 AUD embroidery kits, what’s a green-blooded aromantic with a thread collection to do but make them more aro?

The real truth: I kind of suck at freehand embroidery. Years of sewing dolls’ clothes shortened my stitches, narrowed my hems, extended my patience and failed to correct my crookedness. My grandmother, on the other hand, was a real-life stitch witch who never met a piece of cotton or linen onto which she wouldn’t embroider flowers! She passed before I was old enough to learn such magic from her, but I yearn to possess this myself. So when I saw K-Mart’s kits, I thought them a good opportunity for practice.

These kits feature simple designs in a minimal colour palette, making it easy to swap in pride flag colours:

A bamboo embroidery hoop sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. The hoop is filled with cream cloth featuring an embroidered monstera plant growing in a grey and white striped pot, with script text reading "keep growing" in black backstitch. The pot and the leaves of the monstera plant--sewn in light and medium green-are filled with satin stitch, while the black stems are sewn in repeated chains of very fine split stitch. All colours used in the piece are from the aromantic flag.

My finished piece is nice but not fabulous. I struggled to maintain even tension for the widest sections of satin stitch. My fabric had a few misprinted sections where the stems didn’t align, forcing me to widen them in places so they’d match up (but, alas, leaving the tallest stem cursed with crooked). I’m not sure if my slanted pot happened from further misprinting or my ineptitude. My backstitched lettering looks good, though … and I again have hoop art that’s wonderfully (but subtly) aromantic.

Random tips and observations:

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Pride Patch Patterns: Inset Rhombus

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

This patch isn’t new: folks who have read my second tutorial post may remember my using a patch with this design to demonstrate sewing a patch onto a bag. A year has passed since … one in which I kept forgetting to make a pattern.

I shouldn’t have, for this design does something new: combining two pride flags in one patch. As long as both flags have five horizontal stripes and share a same-coloured third/centre stripe, you can set a rhombus in the stripes of one flag against a background in the stripes of another. This small pattern is also easy to stitch up: no quarter stitches, lettering or zigzagging!

A square cross stich patch sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. The patch depicts the aro pride flag (green/light green/white/grey/black horizontal stripes) with a centre rhombus depicting the greysexual pride flag (purple/grey/white/grey/purple horizontal stripes) set so that both flags share the middle white stripe. The patch is edged with a thick buttonhole stitch in dark green.

You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full crosses) to make raw-edged patches, along with a buttonhole/closed blanket stitch (or a neat over stitch) to make the closed-edged patch above. The first instalment of my patch tutorial series demonstrates cross and blanket/buttonhole stitch; it should be read by beginners as an introduction to materials and processes.

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Pride Patch Tutorial: Aro Arrows

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

This tutorial demonstrates my pride-striped arrow design with patterns for two variants and recommendations for further modifications. If you’re comfortable with the additional back stitching and detailing required for the aro text patches, the simpler versions of this design require no additional skills.

A collection of arrow patches, finished and in progress, sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. All patches have a grey triangular arrowhead, brown or tan shaft, and fletching coloured in the stripes of a pride flag. One rectangular patch has aromantic flag fletching on a light green-yellow background with a grass green border; one rectangular patch has allo-aro flag fletching on a light mint background with a darker mint border. One patch, unfinished with raw aida edges, has the nebularomantic flag on a purple background. The last patch, an allo-aro arrow, is cut around the shape of the arrow and finished in a thick white border.

The patterns given are for a five-stripe and seven-stripe flag. Because I rotated the flag in order to place it along the fletching, this pattern will accommodate any horizontally-striped pride flag. The flag will appear in the proper orientation if you sew the patch in a vertical position with the arrowhead pointing upwards.

This, like the “aroace” and “alloaro” text patches, makes for quite a long patch. I don’t recommend sewing it on 11-count aida if you wish more utility in terms of how you place it on a bag or garment.

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Pride Patch Tutorial: Aro Text, Part One

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

This tutorial demonstrates my “aro” text patch design, comprised of block letters filled in with pride flag stripes, and provides patterns for this and an “alloaro” text patch. You must be comfortable with the materials and processes involved in the basic stripes patch tutorial and the zigzag stripes tutorial (for the back stitching) before attempting this one.

If you’re not already familiar with them, I recommend practising quarter/three-quarter stitches on a scrap piece of aida (as it requires piercing a hole in the centre of the block). You can sew this pattern without using them, but I prefer the rounded look of the lettering over the blockish shape of traditional cross stitch.

Five cross-stitched patches sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. Each are a rectangle bearing text stitched in the flag coloured stripes against a solid-coloured background and a matching embroidered border. From top to bottom" "abro" in abro colours and block capitals with a dark purple background; "aro" in green/white aro flag colours and lower case letters with a yellow/gold background; "aro" in green/white aro flag colours and block capitals with a light green background; "alloaro" in yellow/gold allo-aro flag colours and block capitals with a mint background; and "aroace" in yellow/brown angled aro-ace block capitals with an olive background.

These patches are designed for a horizontal five-stripe pride flag. If you wish to make “aro” in the colours of a seven-stripe flag, you’ll need to redesign the letters if you wish each stripe to encompass an equal number of lines. You may prefer to use a different style and size of text instead: many cross stitch books have a section with text, and the Sullivans brand of aida fabric comes packaged with a pattern for cross stitching block-style text. I also have a number of text/letter patch patterns developed for flags with different stripe counts!

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Pride Patch Tutorial: Zigzag Stripes

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

This tutorial demonstrates my striped zigzag patch pattern, along with instructions for turning a patch into a badge/pin and sewing a patch to a bag or hat. You must be comfortable with the materials and processes involved in the basic stripes patch tutorial and before attempting this one.

In addition to cross, whip/over and blanket stitches, you’ll need to sew a back stitch. This is also covered in Red Ted Art’s video tutorial series.

Five handsewn cross stitch patches sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. Patches all feature a horizontal zigzag stripe pattern. Patches from top to bottom include: gay/rainbow/LGBTQIA+ with repeated stripes and a black border; pansexual with repeated stripes and a gold border; aromantic with repeated stripes and an olive border; aromantic with a purple border; and allo-aro with a red-orange border.

Like standard cross stitch, the zigzag patch operates on a line: I sew one half of the line from left to right before returning over the same row of stitches from right to left. Unlike standard cross stitch, I’m placing diagonal lines of back stitch to become the zigzag/arrowhead shapes of each row. These stitches will form crosses when adding lines of back stitch sewn in the reverse direction.

If you wish to turn your patches into badges/pins, I recommend using high-quality safety pins. Flimsy or easily-bent pins, like those found in most dollar shops, are not suitable. Safety pins are best sourced from a specialised sewing shop.

People who don’t want to sew can try a fabric bonding product like Peel N Stick to permanently attach a patch to a garment, bag or fabric lanyard.

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