FAQ – Ask Kelly

Does Jolly Red have a making up service for completed needlepoint?

Yes we do! If zips and piping are a frightening concept once you have fnished stitching your tapestry, our tapestry making up service is just what you need! Our skilled sewing ladies make up lots of Jolly Red tapestries, as well as canvases by other designers such as Ehrman Tapestry. If you stitch a variety of tapestries, we will be able to help.

Here at Jolly Red we have been adding the final flourishes of piping and backing to needlepoint tapestries for almost thirty years. As designers of our own range of tapestry kits we have a deep and genuine interest in colours and fabric, the extra elements that will bring out the best in any tapestry.

We can send you a personal samples pack for your tapestry and a booking form. If you will be sending a tapestry from outside the UK we can give you specific advice about sending your tapestry to avoid customs charges, and email you a booking form.

Pictured below is our popular Arts and Crafts Tiles, with a neutral cotton piping and backing.

How can I see the fabric that you have for making up my tapestry?

We stock three main types of fabric, all top quality upholstery weight fabric. Our ranges include cotton fabric, a wool mix range and a cotton velvet range. On our Jolly Red blog we have created labelled boards showing our cotton, woolly and velvet fabric ranges and show examples of the tapestries being used for cushions. If you will be sending a tapestry from overseas or if you are in a hurry, seeing our fabric ranges online will you to decide what will work best for your tapestry.

How do I start the process? Call our friendly team on 01460 281111 or use our contact form to request fabric samples and a booking form. We make up sample packs to each customer’s request so it is helpful to know your preferred fabric options (eg ‘I like velvet’, or ‘cotton only’) and colours as a starting point. A picture of your completed tapestry is also appreciated.

We will include a booking form with your samples pack, along with current prices.

Below is Queen of Hearts which will be made into a cushion with luxurious red velvet piping and purple backing. 

I want to stitch something for a new baby, but it’s not due for several months. What do you advise?

If you want to stitch a birth sampler for a baby that hasn’t been born yet, choose one that can be for both a boy and a girl and stitch as far as you can, leaving the name panel blank until you know the details.

We have kits with alphabets that you can personalise in all shapes and sizes. A Christmas stocking tapestry is another good idea, and you can either add the name of the baby once you know it or stitch a festive message along the top.

Shown below is Beside the Sea, which is one of a series of designs that can be framed for the nursery or made into a cushion.

Do your kits contain enough wool for basket weave?

Our favourite stitch and the one that we use when calculating wool for our kits is ‘tent stitch’, sometimes called ‘continental stitch.’ It gives a nice long, hardwearing stitch on the reverse of your work and an all-round superior finish to ‘half cross stitch’.

We add extra wool when we calculate the quantity to include in our kits and many people find that they have enough for basketweave – however we must stress that it is not our recommended stitch, and you may run short if using basket weave particularly in background areas. For one thing, our designs are too patterny, basketweave lends itself more to large areas of one colour.

Can I use half cross stitch for my tapestry?

Many Jolly Red stitchers finish their kits to an extremely high standard using half cross stitch and this is absolutely fantastic, but we would say is largely down to their personal skill. They should carry on exactly as they are as their good results speak for themselves!

However, for someone starting out we would recommend tent stitch because it gives better canvas coverage, is more hard wearing – and is very easy to master. It’s also easier to stop and start with tent stitch as the thicker back makes it easier to weave in and out of existing stitches. Stitch instructions are given with each Jolly Red tapestry kit.

Do you have any kits for children to stitch?

Yes we do! We have a range of designs for both children and adults.

Our tapestry kits for beginners each contain a full colour printed canvas, clear stitching instructions, a needle and threader and eight whole skeins of Anchor tapestry wool. The whole skeins of wool mean that there will be some wool left over so that the borders can be personalised with patterns or lettering.

We print our starter kits with a wide border of blank canvas to allow for patterns, names or initials to be added – as Connie and Lara have done with their beautiful Butterfly and Pony tapestries.

Beginner Kits are our Speciality

I am a complete beginner. I love the look of Jolly Red designs – but will I will be able to stitch one?

Yes, you will! We design kits for all levels of ability and they all use one stitch which is very easy to master. We recommend ‘tent stitch’ (sometimes called ‘continental stitch’) as this stitch gives excellent coverage.

We suggest starting small for your first project, perhaps choosing one of our beginner tapestry kits or a slightly larger design in from our versatile range of small tapestry kits (design area approx. 7.5″ x 7.5″) which can be made into specs cases or used as the centre of a larger cushion or a panel in a bag.

We are always happy to advise if you are uncertain where to start and can also help if you are thinking of buying a tapestry frame. Call us on 01460 281111 or contact us here by email.

Can I buy a printed tapestry canvas on its own?

Yes, you can. Buying a canvas on its own is a great way of using up odds and ends of wool – Jolly Hearts and Magic Circles and other patterned designs are especially well suited to this purpose as they are very patterned, with lots of small areas. 

Click on any kit you’d like to order, you’ll be presented with a drop-down menu with the option of ‘complete kit’ or ‘printed canvas only’, The complete kit includes everything you need to stitch the design (including the wool). With the printed canvas only option, we simply remove the wool – and the price of the kit is automatically halved. Any reference charts and charts for lettering/dates are included with the printed canvases.

We also have a range of designs specifically geared towards helping you to use up leftover wool. These designs are highly patterned so don’t need too much of any one shade of wool. You’ll find these in the ‘Printed canvas only‘ area of our website.

How do you do your designs for Jolly Red? I bet you’ve got a computer programme that does it for you

Jolly Red’s designs start off in sketchbooks then get drawn up, coloured… then quite often are altered, discarded, re-started, temporarily set aside, forgotten… usually until  customers call up asking such things as ‘Where’s that new birds design you said you were working on?’

Once the design is looking good on paper we stitch colour samples, with more trial and error. Once we are happy with the design and colours, it is transferred to graph paper and then onto the computer so it can be printed out for stitching. We either stitch the first designs ourselves in Somerset, or send it to one of our lovely outworkers. Sometimes this will be the end of the process, but more often than not we find that we’ve got some of the colours wrong, or the design just isn’t quite right. Quite often the whole process has to be started again. It’s a labour of love!

Seen below are the early stages of our Blossom Birds tapestry.

Blossom Birds