I made this as a leaving gift for a friend who is moving to the US to be with her boyfriend, after nearly ten years in Switzerland. I only decided I wanted to make her something the day before her leaving do, so chose something small. This is actually the first time I've done cross stitch (or really any proper embroidery) since I was in primary school, but am really pleased with how it turned out.
I designed the motif myself. The red is three strands of embroidery floss, but the white is two strands of heavyweight sewing thread as I didn't have any true white floss on hand. I didn't use a hoop, as I didn't have one of those on hand either! The piece was only small anyway so wasn't particularly prone to distortion. I did at least have aida fabric on hand though!
I embroidered to just outside the finished size so that the edges of the brooch would be covered. I'm particularly proud of the back - it's not super neat, but I tried hard to keep it fairly tidy, and made sure not to use any knots.
To stiffen the brooch I used two layers cut from some random plastic packaging. I ran gathering stitches around the edge of the embroidery to help turn the fabric neatly and evently, then sewed back and forth across the gap to secure it in place. The back is covered in red felt and I used a blanket stitch around the edge to try and make it look semi-neat.
I was really glad that she genuinely loved it, and hopefully it will remind her a little of us all during her cool new life in Portland :)