I made this code monkey as a gift for a friend. I love him so much and thought you might too so I decided to put together a step by step pattern and tutorial. Let’s get started!
Code Monkey Cross Stitch with Banana Hanger
Finished Size: 4″ x 4.75″
Supplies Cross Stitch:
- 14ct Black Aida Cloth
- DMC E990 Florescent Green Light Effects Thread
- Size 24 Tapestry Needle
- Embroidery Hoop or Frame
- download free .pdf pattern from TheBoredZombie.com
- Small piece of black fabric
- Misty Fuse (preferably black, but white will work)
- black cotton 40wt thread
- sewing machine with zig zag stitch
Supplies Banana Hanger:
- Flat metal push pin
- Premo! polymer clay in ‘Wasabi’
- 800 and 1000 grit auto sandpaper (optional)
- Black Paint and small brush
Prepare Thyself and Supplies
DMC E990 Light Effects Thread is a polyester metallic thread. Metallic threads have special considerations and are not as forgiving as standard six strand cotton floss. Taking a little extra time with this thread is worth the effort. The way it reflects light and glows, it feels like you’re stitching with actual light. It is an ideal choice for this project since this monkey’s binary code is supposed to be mimicking old terminal screens. Here’s an image that sold me when I was auditioning threads:
The two greens at the top are cotton threads, the two at the bottom are the E990 Light Effects thread. Notice how the cotton thread reflects light, but the color remains consistent and flat across the entire skein. The two at the bottom are far more dynamic with changes in color based on where the light is. See how the camera picked up the near glowing color of the top E990? It glows like that in real life too and changes every time you look at it depending on where the light is.
Here’s some tricks that I found really helpful for working with this thread:
- Make sure your cloth is nice and tight in your hoop or frame to keep the holes as open as possible.
- Use the right size needle.
- Use DMC’s suggested method for threading the needle, it really does prevent fraying and slippage (click the “how to use” tab)
- For stitches with four strands, use two strandss folded in half and knotted on the needle as described on DMCs site. For stitches with two strands, use one strand folded in half.
- This thread has 25 strands twisted together. When separating it, don’t try to pull one strand at a time. Try separating large chunks where they naturally want to come apart, then repeat with your new smaller chunks until you have single strands.
- Let it go! If a strand frays, knots, or kinks during while separating it or sewing with it, you’ll find yourself much less frustrated by cutting your losses rather than trying to force it to work.
Stitching the Code Monkey
“Cross Stitch” is a bit of a misnomer for this project since there isn’t a single cross stitch in it! The project is completely made up of back stitches. I used a traditional cross stitch pattern to create a pixel effect for the monkey. I left the squares in the pattern the help count where the back stitches go. Use the green lines on the pattern to determine where to put your back stitches using four strands of floss. I recommend using single length stitches. I found that stretching the thread along multiple square didn’t keep the design nice and crisp.
Here’s a close up image of a section of stitching with the corresponding pattern section.
Once the outline is finished, you get to add binary code inside your monkey. I added a few rows of code to the pattern so you can see the shape of the 1’s and 0’s and their relationship to each other. You have a couple of options for your 1’s and 0’s:
- Copy mine! You can draw in the rest of the ones and zeros based on my finished project
- Pick 1’s and 0’s based on how they look and flow together
- Send a secret message! Translate a word of phrase into binary. (pro tip: Draw them onto your monkey pattern before stitching)
To add a bit of weight to the monkey and create more movement, I used a single strand for the first five rows of binary then two strands for the bottom of the monkey. You can create a lot of subtle effects by changing the weight of your 1’s and 0’s. Give it a try!
Finishing The Code Monkey
If you have a favorite traditional way to finish your cross stitch, such as custom framing, that’s awesome! I’d love to see how you handle it. If you’d like yours to finish like mine, here’s how I did it.
I put pins in rows 3 squares from the stitch closest to that edge on the right, left, and bottom. I gave myself 6 squares on the top to allow room for a hanger. These are the rows I will sew through to lock the edges and hold the back on. Rather than give you measurements, I’m going to suggest you measure between your pins for the size of backing. This way, if there’s any deviation in sizes between my project and yours, you’ll have the exact right size. At this point, I cut the monkey 5 or so rows from the pins. Following the manufacturer’s directions, Fuse Misty Fuse to a small pieces of black fabric then cut the fused fabric to size to fit over your stitches on the back of your project. Place the fused black fabric between the pins and fuse it into place.
Here’s the fusible directions in photos:
Use a tight short zig zag stitch roughly the size of one Aida square (I used a width of 1.5 and length of .30) down the row that the raw edge of the fabric on the back lines up with. More than likely, that row is the row you marked with your pins, but it helps to look through the cloth and make sure before you begin to sew. The ultimate goal is to get a nice straight line on the front and catch the raw edge of the backing fabric. If you’re not comfortable with your placement, used a basting zig zag (same width, much longer length) and check it before putting in the final row of tight stitches. This step isn’t easy to undo – so take the time to be sure!
After each side of the rectangle has been completed, cut the aida cloth to its final size. I cut mine three squares away from my zig zag stitched line. To create the frayed effect, pull out the lengthwise threads for two sets of squares leaving one full lengthwise set of threads next to the zig zag stitches.
That’s it! Add the hanger using 6 – 8 strands of the E990 thread and small french knots.
The Banana Hanger
This final touch is a great way to give your code monkey that little something extra. The banana shape is pretty easy! Roll a bit of polymer clay between your fingers. Pinch it a bit on the top for the top of the banana then bend it in a crescent shape. Press your push pin int the back of the banana and massage it back into shape. Bake according to manufacture directions. Once it is out of the oven and cool, you can sand it a bit with 800 and 1000 grit auto sandpaper to get any fingerprints or fibers out of it. Paint the tip and stem black and add some black spots and bruises. Voila! Banana!
In the spirit of my new plan to keep up time spent on projects, here’s the Code Monkey’s stats:
Design, Pattern, Planning: 2.5 hours
Stitching the monkey and the binary: 3.5 hours
Finishing work (including testing ideas): 2 hours
Writing instructions: 2.5 hours
Total Time: 10.5 hours
What say you? Will you give him or the DMC light effect threads a try? What would your code monkey’s binary say?
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