Pens & Needles: Nomadic Pen Case and a Cross Stitch Tutorial

My favorite pen case is the Nomadic PE-07. It’s roomy, has lots of pockets, sits upright on your desk while you rummage through it, is made of tough ripstop material & the inside is a nice bright orange.

nomadic pen case

Nomadic PE-O7 from www.jetpens.com

nomadic pen case

3 mesh pockets on the inside plus a full length zippered pocket in the middle

As great as this pen case is, I thought it could use a cross-stitched Bulbasaur patch to make it even better.

bulbasaur cross stitch

My pen case is super effective

If you ever want to do your own cross-stitching, it’s not too complicated. You just need a few tools & some patience.

cross stitch tools

Cross stitching tools

Ingredients for cross-stitching:

  • Aida cloth/cross stitch fabric. These come in different “counts” (stitches per inch)–the higher the number, the finer the weave (and the more patience needed). Typical size is 14 count; my Bulbasaur is on 28 count (super tiny stitches).
  • (optional) An embroidery hoop. This makes stitching on soft, high-count linen (like 28 count) easier and neater, but if you’re using a lower count Aida cloth (like 14 count), it’s stiff enough to work without a hoop.
  • Embroidery thread/floss. These little skeins come in hundreds of different colors; some stitch designs you’ll find are color coded to specific thread numbers. Before stitching, you’ll need to separate the 6 plies, usually only using 2 or 3 strands at a time.
  • Blunt-tipped tapestry needles. No stabbing of the fingers with these guys! They’re sized to match different cloth counts; a size 24 needle is recommended for 14 count cloth, while a size 28 needle works better for 28 count cloth (though exact needle size isn’t absolutely necessary).
  • Scissors. Little embroidery snips like mine are easy to store…but watch out for that pointy end.
  • A stitch pattern/map. If you want to stitch some pixel art like I did, you can find a lot of free designs online by searching “cross stitch [name of video game]”.

How to stitch? It’s very easy. You just make Xs (or crosses) over the intersections of the fabric weave. That’s all…no fancy stitches to learn, just lots and lots of simple little Xs.



Some people like to do a whole row of half the Xs, and then go back down the row to finish the other halves, which supposedly keeps the back neater. You can do one X at a time if you like, though, which is what I did. But since this was my first cross stitch, I made quite a pretty snaggle on the back.

I love a good pile of knots.

I do love a good pile of knots

Below is a comparison of different cloth counts. Most people use the white variety & I recommend starting with that (not the 28…unless you have the small-details crazies like I do).

Pink 28 count "Annabelle" fabric on the left, white 14 count Aida cloth on the right.

Pink 28 count “Annabelle” fabric on the left, white 14 count Aida cloth on the right (Zelda hearts by the multi-talented Kaylee Votano)

If you want to make a patch like I did, just leave enough room around the border of the design so you can sew the edges down. To prevent fraying, fold the edges under; if you like a little fray like I do, then don’t worry about the folding.

Cross stitching is very portable. You can keep a kit in a tea tin, or even just stash your tools in your pen case…

Cross stitch kit in a tea tin

Cross stitch kit in a Celestial Seasonings tea tin (Altoids tins are also good for this)

The Nomadic PE-07 can hold a lot!

The Nomadic PE-07 can hold a lot!

Pro-tip: These pen refill tubes (Uni ball signos) make excellent needle holders-just chop them a bit shorter to match your needle sizes.

Uni Style Fit multi-pen refill tubes as needle holders.

Uni Style Fit multi-pen refill tubes as needle holders.

And for you lovers of organization, if you cross stitch, you get to put together sexy thread boxes like this one…


Have I convinced you of the awesome joys of cross stitching yet? If you need more sprite-stitch inspiration, try pixelstitches.blogspot.com, and for a more in-depth tutorial, try pixelkin.org.

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  1. Denise

    I love it! Bulbasaur is my favorite Pokemon :3

    You did a great job. Are you going to keep cross stitching? I love it when fiber arts and pens/pencils/stationery are combined. And when tools work for both. Bobbins are great for storing washi tape, too.

    I haven’t done any embroidery because I already knit and crochet but all the geeky inspiration out there is going to get to me sooner or later. It would be nice to have a more portable project and I *do* have all these Altoid tins.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks Denise! I’d like to do more cross stitching, but of course there are other stitch-related projects on my mind these autumn days. Fiber arts projects & stationery supplies both tend to multiply endlessly, don’t they? At least if you get into embroidery, it *usually* doesn’t take over your house like knitting/crochet can.

      And of course Bulbasaur is #1 for a reason!

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