Create lasting portraits of family members by plotting them out on graph paper, using Martha Stewart templates. To cross-stitch, sew a row of diagonal stitches on Aida cloth, which has a gridlike weave and stitch back along each line, creating X's. (Bryan Gardner)
Q. We’re planning a road trip. What are some kids’ craft projects that travel well?
A. Packing a few easy-to-transport crafts will keep a creative crew entertained — no messy paint or glue required. Make necklaces by threading strands of lanyard through wooden beads, create pom-pom animals with felt and either store-bought or handmade pom-poms, or try your hand at cross-stitching portraits of family members.
Making these portraits is far simpler than it might sound — if you can sew on a button, you can cross-stitch. (The ability to count to 20 or so doesn’t hurt, either — so yes, a dexterous grade-schooler could handle this.) Use graph paper to plan your people from head to toe — or cowlick to sandal. Then thread your needle and start X-ing people off your list. And for iPhone addicts scared off by something so nontech, just remember: There’s very little difference between a cross-stitch and a pixel.
Use the clip art patterns at marthastewart.com as exact templates or as starting points for making figures that more closely resemble the people in your life. You can personalize patterns by mixing and matching elements from the templates here: Swap in a different outfit or hairdo, change hair or eye color, and incorporate different details. The scale is different for kids and adults, so if you do mix elements, make sure you’re comparing adults to adults and children to children.
Plot out your design on graph paper: One square represents one cross-stitch.
We found that it works well to make adults’ heads 10 stitches across and kids’ heads nine stitches across. Babies’ are even smaller — just three stitches across. Note, too, that eye spacing and mouth size can vary with age.
Do the 'dos
In cross-stitch, as in life, hairdos tend to capture the essence of a person. Play around until you perfect your daughter’s pigtails or your dad’s bushy beard.
Extra details give a lot of personality. An umbrella, a kite, headphones — all can be rendered in stitches. Of course, pets are the ultimate accessory.
If you’re new to cross-stitch, get a lower-count Aida cloth, such as eight (which has eight squares per linear inch). It allows for bigger stitches and makes for larger figures. A higher count, such as 14, requires smaller stitches. Embroidery floss is several smaller strands twisted together: Thread your needle with four of these strands for eight-count cloth and two for 14-count (for backstitching, use two strands for eight count, one for 14 count).
Visit marthastewart.com/travel-crafts for templates and full how-to’s. Find more ideas in “Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids.”
Q. What’s the best way to remove the seeds from a tomato?
A. When making salads or preserves, you can easily remove tomato seeds by slicing a ripe tomato in half crosswise, then gently squeezing it over a bowl until the seeds fall out.
Questions should be sent to Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036. You may also email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address and daytime phone number.