There’s an old, old song that goes something like this, “Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage… Go together like a Horse and Carriage.”. Similarly, cross stitch and bookmarks (cross stitched bookmarks) have rubbed along famously together for the last couple of hundred years. So, It’s unlikely to be a surprise that many cross stitchers also happen to be avid book lovers.
Where it all began
In fact, if we step back in time, it’s always been the case, and there’s a very good reason for this. In the early days of the fifteenth century, respect for all books was second only to respect for the Bible alone.
Books were few in number and considered very valuable and were costly to produce due to there only being a small number printed at any one time.
Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603) was the first person to receive a book marker as a gift. This was towards the end of the 16th century, during a time when books were so valuable that harming the pages of a book was considered a very bad thing to do.
Now, there’s an old saying that “Necessity is the Mother of Invention“. Bearing that in mind it soon became obvious that some form of ‘page reminder’ was required. Unsurprisingly, readers were no better then than they are now at remembering which page number they’d last read.
It was 250 years later before detachable book markers began to appear (during the 1850s), eventually being called the bookmarker (or bookmark) in modern times.
Why did we need book markers?
Behavior that we take for granted, such as lying books face down on a table or turning down page ears to mark selected sections, were definitely not acceptable in days gone by.
Writing in books was not accepted either, so the book marker was eventually developed to protect these valuable assets.
To this day, my mother will not write in any of her books or magazines, frowning at me and almost shuddering when she sees me do so. When I purchase a book, I “work” the book…not just read it I tell her. Ahem… it makes no difference at all.
Some of my favorite gifts are bookmarkers that have been cross-stitch designed from my grandchildren or nieces and nephews. They are simple, small, and are tremendous in quality and value.
What were early book markers made from?
The first book markers were made from stitched leather, silk (cross stitched), or made with embroidered fabrics.
In the early days though people would use anything suitable that came to hand. There is certainly evidence that old keys, feathers, scraps of parchment were used, and a lot more besides. Eventually, other materials, including paper, were used after the 1880s.
Today, book markers can be found everywhere, and in their thousands. Patterns for their design fill the Internet to the brim.
Instructions for preparing cross stitched bookmarks
The beauty of cross stitch preparation for bookmarks is the design can be easily changed along with any color or type of thread:
- When making the bookmark, make sure the material for cross stitching on to is either a blank Aida fabric or one featuring a cross stitch bookmark pattern, such as one in a kit. Be aware these come in plain or lacy borders, since they are for cross-stitch or embroidery.
- If you did not buy the fabric in a cross stitch bookmarks kit, make sure you have a design in mind that fits the occasion. You can get many ideas online, which can be transferred onto your fabric after being downloaded.
- Always keep your bookmark designs simple and use every bit of space accurately, even if you have to reduce the size to fit. Keep an eye on the border, unless you want your design to float off the edge.
- When choosing project thread, use embroidery floss and a tapestry needle (the blunt point doesn’t damage the thread).
- If you have a kit, and don’t like the colors in it, you can change them by purchasing colors of your own. Use the kit’s original colors for something else.
- Check online how to reduce or enlarge your design, if not using a kit. The actual design area should be from the center of the design and going outward.
- Be neat at all times, trimming any excess threads that are hanging around.
Cross Stitch projects for children and beginners
Cross Stitched bookmarks are excellent projects for children to start with, as they are small in size, and their attention doesn’t wander while doing them. Being relatively small and simple cross stitched bookmarks make an ideal starting point for a young person’s first attempts at cross stitch design.
Also, they make excellent small gifts for the person who has everything and you don’t know what to give them. Small gifts are not necessarily insignificant, only small in size. The work that goes into them adds meaning and quality.
Cross Stitched bookmarks: more ideas
Here’s a popular YouTube video (10 minutes) where “Stephanie” gives you some interesting ideas on finishing cross stitched bookmarks – enjoy!
A growing number of websites offer a service that transfers photographs onto patterns for items such as pets or children, or pretty well any subject you choose. Ask if they will reduce a small photograph of your own to fit onto the marker, perhaps combined with one of your favorite sayings. Of course you may choose to use one of your favorite sayings on its own – it’s your design and your choice.
Where can I get cross stitched bookmark patterns and kits?
If you’d like to cross stitch bookmark patterns or a kit, we’ve a couple of good sources for you.
BookRiot stocks a very good cross stitch book full of beautiful bookmark patterns. While Dimensions has released this gorgeous Gold Collection Counted Cross Stitch Bookmark Craft Kit, which you can buy on Amazon.
I hope you enjoyed this article and found some of the ideas in it useful. I’d love to hear from you with any tips of your own, in the comments section below. I will always reply to you.
Scarlet, “In the UK”.