How to make cording... the easy way!
Adding cording to your finished cross stitched item is a great way to add a bit of pizazz to your finished ornament... and if you're like me, it's also a great way to hide any imperfections in your finishing! :)
Now I know you're probably wondering why you would want to make your own cording when it's readily available to buy in craft stores, buuut... do they have the exact colour you want? Is it the right thickness? Do they have a multi-colored one? Do they have the exact one you want/need? The answer to all of these questions is 'probably not' - and that's where being able to make your own cording is invaluable. You can custom make it for each of your finishes...and best of all, it's easy (and cheap) to do.
What do you need to make your own cording? Thankfully there are no special tools required. All you need is the thread that you want to use and a bit of sellotape! Yup, that's all you need!
So how do you make it? It's simply a case of securing the thread to a hard surface, taping it down and then twisting, and twisting, and twisting.... and twisting it some more.
Sounds too easy, huh? But that's all you need to do.
Next question... how do you work out how much cording you will need? Again, it's really simple. All you do is measure all round your ornament (or whatever you are making) where you are going to add the cording and add a couple of inches to that measurement. I always add a bit more to that measurement so that I have enough cording to tuck into a seam or make a knot etc. - you definitely don't want to be a tad short :) It's always better to have too much than not enough.
How much thread will it take to make a specific length of cording?
Your thread length will need to be at least double the size that you just measured. So if you measure all round your ornament and it's10 inches, you would need to have at least 20 inches of cording... but remember to add on some extra thread for securing the cording in your ornament. I would measure out a length of about 26 inches just to be on the safe side! :)
Do you need a special type of thread? Nope! The regular six stranded embroidery thread you use for cross stitching works great! Just use all six strands of the thread.
(You can also use other types of threads and yarns... they each give a different finished look, so it's worth playing around to see what you like. For this tutorial I'm going to focus on using six stranded embroidery floss/thread.)
How many lengths of thread do you need to use? You can make your cording using two, three, four, or more lengths of thread. The more lengths of thread you use, the thicker the finished cording will be. You can use the same colour of thread for each length or you can use different colors to make a multi colored cord.
Let's make some cording!
Grab your thread and tie a small knot at the top of the lengths of thread then tape them to a hard surface like a kitchen counter or a table. (pictures below).
Extend the thread so that it is slightly tight but not pulling out from the tape, then start to twist the threads (it doesn't matter what direction you twist!). I just roll it between my thumb and forefinger. Keep twisting till the thread begins to get really tight. Once the thread is twisted as tight as you feel it can be, holding the thread in your right hand, place a finger from your left hand roughly at the mid point of the length of thread, then bring the rest of the thread back to the starting point. Remove your finger from the middle (keeping hold of the rest of the thread) and your cording will magically form as the threads twist over each other. You may need to straighten it out a bit as it tends to curl up on itself.
Remove the thread from the tape and tie a knot to keep the threads from unraveling.
Wasn't that simple?
For this example shown, I measured out exactly 28 inches of thread in in both colors - 2 inches for the length of the knot at the start, 24 inches of thread to twist with another 2 inches for the knot at the end to stop the threads unraveling. The resulting cording measured 11.5 inches with another 2 inches for the knot at the end.
What else can you use cording for in your stitching? The most obvious use for cording tends to be for edging ornaments but you can also use cording within the design, or for making a little hanger for an ornament, making a scissor fob (use the cording to attach from the fob to the scissors)... and anything else you fancy using it for! :)
For the ornament hanger in the picture above (on the right) I used two lengths of thread, one dark blue and one lighter blue. The finished effect of the two blues compliments the ornament perfectly as these were the threads I used to stitch the design. (And just in case you wanted to stitch this design, it's one of the email subscribers chart in our 'A Year of Christmas Stitching'... sign up for our emails at the bottom of our site and you can get the extra charts and finishing ideas in our 2021 Year of Christmas Stitching!)
How do you attach the cording to an ornament? Once you have made up your ornament, the cording is one of the last things to be added. There are two ways you can add your cording - glueing or stitching. Either way is fine and, as I always say... do whatever works for you!
Let's stitch the cording to the ornament....
There are two ways to attach your cording by stitching. Both work well and you can use either method.
Whichever method you choose, the first thing to do is pin your cording in place. I just stick quilting pins through the cording and into the ornament, spacing them about an inch or so apart. The only thing you have to think about is where the start of the cording is going to meet the end of the cording... you want to make that join as unnoticeable as possible. If I can't hide the join with a bow or some other embellishment, I try to have the join at the base of the ornament as I think people tend to look at the top of the ornament and are less likely to see the join at the bottom... but do whatever you feel works best for you.
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Now grab your thread to attach the cording. Use a single strand of the thread colour you used in your cording so that the stitches aren't too noticeable. For the pictures, I used a contrasting colour so you could see exactly where each stitch is going.
Secure your thread on the ornament (remember it will be covered by the cording) and bring your needle at the 'back' of the cording and then follow the twists of the cording laying the thread over the dips then catch a small bit of both the front and back fabric of the ornament.
Bring the needle out at the 'back' of the ornament then lay the thread over the dips in the cording again as seen in the picture below.
Keep stitching like this all round the ornament, removing the pins as you go. Obviously you wouldn't use a contrasting colour like in the picture above (I just used it so it was clear where the thread lay and where the stitches were going into the fabric). This is how it looks when you use one of the colors used in the cording:
This method works best if your cording is just one single colour as the stitches simply disappear into the cording.
The second method of stitching works best (in my opinion!) when you have a multi-colored cording. So you start the same way as above - pin the cording and secure your thread on the ornament and then from the back of the ornament, just catch a small piece of the backing fabric and the aida, pull the needle all the way through, then place your needle through the lower part of the cording and pull all the thread through...
Repeat this stitch all the way round. This is how it looks using a colour from the cording...
Of course, you remove the pins when you are done! :)
How to glue cording
If stitching the cording to your ornament seems too fiddly or just too much work (I hear ya!!!) then just glue it! Some projects like the one pictured below just have to have the cording glued.
So for whatever reason you're glueing your cording, here's how you do it... secure the edge of the cording with a pin, then gently squeeze some craft glue along where the cording will sit. I use Aleene's tacky glue, but use whatever you prefer, making sure that it dries clear. Again, think about where the least noticeable place for where the join of the cording ends will be. I tend to lay the glue in the little dip of the stitching and the backing fabric. Be careful not to add too much glue as you don't want it squidging (is that even a word?!!) out over the cording.
Work slowly glueing only one edge at a time. Once you have put the glue on the ornament, carefully lay the cording over the glue and gently press down (if any of the glue does squidge out, just wipe it away with a cotton bud or tissue.) Repeat for all sides of the ornament paying close attention to how the cording lies on the corners. You want it to look as neat as you can get it!
So there you have it: how to make cording and how to attach it! All you need to do now is find some projects that you can add cording to!