A couple of weeks ago, I was helping my sister-in-law, who teaches 3rd grade, pack up her classroom to move to a new building. Not only did her classroom contain all of her textbooks, art supplies, notebooks, novels, and lesson-planning materials, but deep in the recesses of her closets, we found the remnants of units past from teachers who had long since moved on to new environments.
I am a miserable person to declutter or pack with because I see treasure in every piece of junk. Usually, my pile of I-can-do-something-with-that stuff is almost as big as the pile of recycling or trash. The struggle is real!
One of the things we found tucked away in a closet was this:
I have no idea how on earth making a cross-stitched map somehow fit into the third grade curriculum at some point in the last 25 years, but something about it was intriguing to me, so I threw it into my I-can-do-something-with-that pile!
Do you ever have those moments when it’s like a cartoon light bulb ignites over your head and you suddenly have a bright idea? Well, that’s exactly what happened Friday morning: I suddenly knew exactly what I could do with that geography-meets-home-economics-project! I had to make a cute 4th of July wall hanging!
I’ll show you the final result, and then I’ll tell you how you can make it:
You’ll notice that in no way is this map (no Washington peninsula!) or lettering perfect . There are times when I love, love, love a kitchy, homespun look. The 4th of July is one of them!
Here’s how to get the look:
Supplies (in the order you’ll use them)
A canvas (the one I used was 16×20)
A very small amount of paint (I used Woodlawn Colonial Gray by Valspar) – Optional
3 embroidery needles
2 packets of red embroidery floss
2 packets of white embroidery floss
2 packets of blue embroidery floss
1. If you don’t want the background to be white, give your canvas a coat of paint.
2. Print out the Map Template. The PDF is set to print as 11×17, which is the size I used. If you want to enlarge it even more, you can easily do that by using the enlargement function on a photocopier. Based on my trial-and-error with the template, I made the point where the thread will converge red for you and exaggerated Washington’s peninsula so it will actually show up in your final product.
3. Take one of your needles and poke a little hole everywhere you see a dot, including the red dots and the dots that inexplicably have an x on them. I’m sure the person who originally put the dots on this map had a good reason for using that x, but I treated those dots like any other.
4. Place the template on your canvas and use a pencil to draw a dot through the template onto the canvas. You may want to use a different colored pencil to do the red dots. I didn’t, but it would have helped me tell where the convergence point was for each state.
5. Take the template away from the canvas. Your canvas should look a connect-the-dots worksheet. Do not look at the Midwest or the East Coast. It will be overwhelming!
6. Cut a length of each of the embroidery flosses. To avoid making the map “webbing” too thick, I split each length of floss into two by separating the six strands into two lengths of three strands each.
7. Starting with the west coast (Trust me on this!), sew a line between each black dot and the red dot. If possible, use the same hole each time you sew back to the red dot. This will keep the canvas’ structure in tact.
I made the mistake of looking at the Midwest and East Coast and thinking, “Uh oh! I need to create some structure there before filling in the West!” I regretted it because the smaller states started taking shape as I worked my way East. I actually had to pull out and redo a couple of Eastern states because of that mistake.
Notice that each state border dot will have two colors of thread coming out of it: one for the state on each side of the border. For instance, in my example, each dot in California’s border with Nevada has a white thread running to the convergence point in California and a red thread running to the convergence point in Nevada. Look above to see a close-up example of what I mean.
8. Keep stitching, alternating red, white, and blue floss! Don’t get too bent out of shape (pun intended!) if some of the states don’t look exactly like a cartographer would say they are supposed to. You’re not going to be using this as an atlas on your next road trip … especially if you’re going to Alaska or Hawaii! (A road trip to Hawaii? Hmm… could be problematic in more ways than one!) This is going to take some time! Eventually, your map should look basically like this:
9. You could opt to leave it like this or you could add some lettering. I used stencils and chalk to outline my letters and then I stitched them in using embroidery floss. I used a basic straight stitch and satin stitch on the “AMERICA” letters, a cross stitch on the “beautiful” and a straight stitch on the “the.” If you’re somewhat lacking in embroidery skills, you could also paint the letters.
10. Use a staple gun to add a ribbon or a piece of cord to the back to create a hanger. Of course, this is also optional, but I think it adds a cute touch!
Voila! Finished! Time to hang it up and enjoy your new the 4th of July decor!
Happy Independence Day!