Cross stitch has been a hobby of mine for most of my life (and my business since 2017) but I'd never actually heard of a stitch-a-long until about 5 years ago, when I was already a cross stitch designer with very little time to stitch for pleasure.
A stitch-a-long (often shortened to SAL amongst crafters) is a community event in which stitchers complete the same cross stitch pattern over a certain period of time, with each section of the design being released gradually.
The parts are often released weekly or fortnightly, but some can be monthly or even daily, and the final design is often kept a secret, keeping participants guessing, sometimes until the final part is released.
If you’re not sure if a SAL is for you, here are my 7 favourite reasons to join a stitch-a-long.
1. A stitch-a-long can be less overwhelming than tackling a whole cross stitch pattern
A whole big, beautiful cross stitch pattern can feel pretty daunting, especially if you’re new to the craft.
For a stitch-a-long, a cross stitch pattern is split into separate parts, so instead of not knowing where to start and what to do, you just have one small section to complete.
Having one part every couple of weeks makes your project easier to manage and easier to focus on, making it feel much less overwhelming.
With smaller chunks of time needed to complete each section, it’s a great craft project for busy people.
By finishing every piece relatively quickly, you’ll be so excited to get onto the next one, instead of feeling defeated by it.
2. A crafty deadline makes you more motivated
Us humans are funny animals - sometimes if we’re given an indefinite amount of time for a task, we’ll put off starting it, let alone finishing it.
With a stitch-a-long, you have a deadline for every part, spurring you on to keep on top of your stitches.
The fact that a SAL is only available for a certain amount of time gives it a feeling of urgency too. But remember, it’s not a race - cross stitching should always be fun and relaxing.
3. Stitch-a-longs are great for beginners
Having a cross stitch project broken down into bite-size chunks makes a stitch-a-long much more appealing to a beginner than a full cross stitch pattern.
Most cross stitch designers will set up a Facebook group or similar to discuss their SALs, so beginners can get loads of support from other community members - which is not something you’d get from purchasing a cross stitch kit and embarking on a solo craft journey.
Some designers also include tutorials to help you, plus, they’ll likely be in that Facebook group and on hand to answer questions.
4. There’s an element of surprise and mystery
SALs were made for stitchers who love surprises. Waiting for the next section to be released is so exciting and keeps you on your toes. The mystery adds an extra element of fun, and another thing to talk about with your cross stitching pals.
With the Meloca Designs stitch-a-longs, the only thing participants know is that it’ll be a mandala-style animal design, but you don’t get any more clues than that.
However, there are always stitchers who join part way through, when they can see what the design is going to be!
5. SALs give a sense of community
Cross stitching is often a solitary hobby, so it’s a lovely thing to bring people together over a shared love of the craft. By doing a stitch-a-long and becoming a member of the adjoining Facebook group, you can make friends with stitchers all over the world.
Members can give each other tips, share their stitch-a-long progress, guess what the design could be, and just have general cross stitch chit-chat.
It’s also great for motivation, encouragement and support, as well as creating a buzz of excitement amongst the group.
The Meloca Designs Cross Stitch Group on Facebook has 3.2k members ready to welcome you.
6. It makes it easier to decide on your next cross stitch project
There are thousands of gorgeous cross stitch patterns online, which can make it really tricky to decide which one to do.
If you find a cross stitch designer you like, choosing a stitch-a-long reduces that decision fatigue, because the choice of pattern is made for you.
Plus, once you’ve worked your way through the stitch-a-long, you probably have an idea of what you’ll want to do next - whether it’s another pattern from that cross stitch designer, or another stitch-a-long!
7. Stitch-a-longs are often low cost
You don’t have to spend a fortune to join in with this fun community event - many cross stitch designers offer free stitch-a-longs, so you get to enjoy all of the above for no extra cost if you use your own fabric and thread.
They also make an easily-accessible gift for a loved one (or yourself) because each section is delivered in PDF format via email.
Meloca Designs 6-part secret stitch-a-longs start at just £11.95, making it an affordable gift to yourself or your crafty friend.
Back in May, I finally bit the bullet and created the first Meloca Designs stitch-a-long, after lots of encouragement and requests from loyal customers.
Thankfully, everyone loved the 2 SAL designs I released this year, so I’m planning on doing 2-3 a year. We just finished our recent SAL on 20th December 2023, so keep your eyes peeled for the next one in February 2024.