Upcycling Ideas for Unique Embroidery and Cross Stitch

Upcycling Ideas for Unique Embroidery and Cross Stitch

Stitching of all kinds- embroidery, cross stitch, etc.- has surged in popularity over the past few years. So, I thought it’d be fun if I put together a collection of upcycling projects that involved unique embroidery and cross stitch. Because, let’s face it- when you think about it, the stitching options are truly endless.

It comes as no surprise that yours truly has a special affinity for finding unusual things to stitch on. I’ve embroidered and cross stitched on any number of thrift store and roadside treasures! I find stitching to be such a calming activity. So I’m often drawn to peculiar pieces at thrift stores that are perforated in some fashion. 

Because holes and open-weave designs are just begging to be filled with yarn, floss, and twine!

Such as this vintage star colander that I turned into a patriotic centerpiece. Those stars were just begging for a little embroidery, don’t you think?

Star embroidery on a vintage colander as a patriotic centerpiece

I love that basic embroidery (and cross stitch, for that matter) are a lot less intimating on unusual work surfaces. Stitching simple designs or on a more jumbo scale (like this cross stitch that I did on tennis rackets) is SO much easier than you may think!

Christmas cross stitch on a wooden tennis racket

Conversely, you can also embroider on pre-existing designs, which means following along lines and graphics (like I did on a vintage feed sack below). SO much easier than following a complicated pattern or creating your own design.

Beginner embroidery on a vintage feed sack

No matter your skill level, I guarantee you that there’s an easy upcycling idea involving stitching out there for you. I’ve dabbled in unique embroidery and oversized cross stitch and like them both equally. 

whimsical decor on a vintage window

It really just depends on what kind of unusual stitch work that you want to do AND/OR what kind of unexpected things you find at a thrift store! Often, it’s the latter that inspires the project, after all.

Either way, I gathered a bunch of project ideas that caught my eye and hope you find some stitchy inspiration in the collection!

Unique Embroidery and Cross Stitch Ideas

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So, what do you think? Did any of these project ideas catch your eye and spark an idea?

All I know is, you truly never know what unusual thrift store treasure will inspire a stitch-worthy project. Like this steamer basket, of all things!

tree embroidery on a steamer pot insert

Embroidery or other needlework is such a fun way to amp up your repurpose project, isn’t it? Not only is it unexpected, but it adds dimension and pops of color, too!

american flag cross stitch on a cane side table

I definitely have some more projects planned that involve stitching of some kind. And while I ended up using this pizza pan as a loom, I also toyed with the idea of stitching it instead!

weaving in a circle on a pizza pan

I can’t wait to hear all the stitching projects you plan to take on. And I hope one of these ideas helps spur some new crafting adventures for you to take!

folded map project

If you’ve stitched on something peculiar or unexpected, I’d love to hear about it! Or if any of these projects have caught your attention, please let me know. I never tire of hearing how these collections that I put together help inspire you with your upcycling endeavors!

And if you just have a soft spot for traditional needlecrafts like cross stitch, you may appreciate how I repurposed this one!

recycled tote bag from a framed cross stitch

Craft on!


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repurpose projects with unique embroidery or cross stitch

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Of course you’ve crossstitched on a strainer! Several years ago Hobby Lobby had a Mother cross stitch kit where the medium was a small rectangle of brass. I made this for my Mother & it is so beautiful. I only saw it for sale that one time.

  2. Beverly says

    Love that elephant feed sack – I never thought about stitching on pre-existing print! It looks awesome – thanks for the idea/inspiration! You never fail me!

  3. NATALIE K says

    Such adorable ideas and very easy cross-stitching and embroidery!!!

  4. Sharon Tesi says

    When I was little, my aunt cross-stitched cats on the bottom of gingham dresses that she made for my sister and me. The dresses are long gone, but I can still picture what they looked like.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Ohhhh, that sounds delightful! I would have loved to have kitties stitched on my clothes!

  5. Rebecca says

    I had a yard of fabric with a Jacobean line drawing on offwhite fabric. I embroidered those abstract flowers in blues golds greens, addrd a few beads. Of course, ended up on one of the kids’ walls.

    I still have a 24″ square of that fabric in charcoal gray, that I’m thinking of working in black and white.

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