Fiona Baker is one busy woman. She fits in designing beautiful cross stitch projects around her role as Technical Editor on three magazines. We find out how she ended up living the dream and working in a world filled with cross stitch…
How did you start cross stitching?
I was actually quite a reluctant starter to the cross stitching scene, but I grew up watching my mum stitching and I had a collection of her pictures hanging on my bedroom wall when I was little, so her hobby rubbed off on me eventually! I completed a few mini kits but it wasn’t until I started to work for The World of Cross Stitching in 2009 that I got into it properly; safe to say, I’ve not stopped since!
How did you become a cross stitch designer?
I started to work for The World of Cross Stitching, Cross Stitch Crazy and Cross Stitch Gold magazines in 2009 as a Charting Assistant and after a number of years of seeing how all the talented designers could turn a simple idea into something so beautiful to stitch, I really wanted to try myself.
I started experimenting with a few small patterns, not really expecting them to go any further than my own personal collection. To my surprise however, a Nativity set was picked to feature in Cross Stitch Crazy! I was super excited when the issue came out. Everything just grew from there, including having more of my designs featured in WOXS and Gold, too!
How would you describe your design style?
It has actually changed a bit over the years, so I think my style can probably best be described as flexible! I enjoy experimenting with contemporary takes on traditional ideas, and I love creating things which haven’t been done before in stitches too, or presenting something in a unique way.
Nature is a favourite design subject for me. I’ve designed a lot of birds and traditional floral designs for Cross Stitch Gold, but I enjoy anything that I can put my own stamp on with a new perspective, too. I also really love the effects you can create with blackwork.
Marvin the cat keeps Fiona company while designing
One of my favourite designs is actually quite a recent one featured in The World of Cross Stitching – the hares bolster cushion in issue 278. I loved creating this design with the stylised florals and sprinting hares, as well as working closely with Sew-it-All to create the perfect fabric background.
Fiona’s Hares bolster cushion in issue 278 of The World of Cross Stitching
What do you enjoy most about being a cross stitch designer?
Even though I’ve been designing for a number of years now I still get very excited about seeing my designs in print. The thought that so many avid cross stitchers around the world are looking at and possibly stitching my designs is quite daunting though, but it’s worth it to see the photos they post on social media and hearing about how happy something I’ve designed has made them, or their stitched gift recipient!
The time it takes! I’m a huge perfectionist, so often take a long time on designs to get them looking just right. This means I can often spend whole weekends designing, which is sometimes hard to motivate myself for after a long week at the office for my day job too. At least my cat, Marvin, gets to enjoy my company locked away together in the studio – although with his favourite place to sit being on anything I’m currently using, he’s often not the best ‘assistant’!
What’s your design process?
I start by gathering inspirational ideas and colour schemes online – invariably side-tracked by a cat video, or two… I’ll then create some rough sketches before a more detailed drawing of the final design idea. I like using squared paper for drawing, as it helps me to work out the scale at the same time and foresee what might not work so well in stitches.
Any other creative hobbies?
My background is in digital media, with a keen interest in nature photography and video editing too. I’ve grown up with big artistic influences; my Papi’s successful career as an architect, together with my other Grandad teaching me still-life drawing skills from a young age too. I also have many crafty hobbies, including watercolour painting, chalk drawing, mosaic art and card making.
My Granny taught me to knit when I was little as well, and I’d add to a big long multi-coloured scarf from a ‘First Knitting’ set whenever I stayed with her. Sadly it was lost many years ago now but I wish I still had it as a keepsake for all the happy memories spent together. It’s something I’d love to do more of, but it’s often a case of too many hobbies, too little time!
What’s your favourite fabric to stitch on?
I much prefer stitching on aida because of not needing to count quite so intensely, allowing me to enjoy seeing the pattern come to life without too much thought! I find it a much sturdier surface to work on too, although evenweave does provide a smoother effect for backgrounds, so it really just depends on the design.
Any tips for stitchers?
Take your time! I’m always eager to start the next project and then often struggle to complete older WIPs, leaving me with a pile of unfinished stitching I can’t display or gift. Also, keep the back of your work as tidy as possible – it’ll help later on if you make a mistake and need to unpick (a lesson I’ve learnt the hard way)!
Join Fiona’s community of followers on Facebook over at www.facebook.com/FionaBakerCrossStitch where you can find information about her patterns featured in the magazines, freebie charts as well as some little video animations of how Fiona’s designs come to life