How to Cross Stitch

Cross stitch is an extremely satisfying, relaxing hobby but there are a few things to learn before you get started. If you don’t take a couple of minutes to learn some basics, it can quickly become frustrating.

Choose a pattern and buy your supplies. I would suggest going with a fairly simple pattern to start with. Complicated designs that have a lot of color changes might be a little overwhelming at first. If you are just starting out, here is a quick shopping list of the supplies you will need:

#24 Tapestry Needles
DMC floss in the colors you need for the pattern you chose
Hoop or Frame (optional)

One of the supplies that you will need is fabric. You can choose Aida or Linen. It is easiest to learn on Aida because the holes are much easier to see and count. You will want to purchase a piece of fabric that is at least 3″ wider than your design is on each side. The pattern will tell you the size of the design when finished so just add 3″ to  each side.

You can find the center of your design by looking at the chart. There should be arrow symbols each way that meet in the middle and that is the center of the design. Fold your fabric in half, and then in half again to find the center of the fabric and mark it in some way. You could use the needle or a pin or pencil mark. If you are going to use a hoop or a frame, you would want to put your fabric in it at this point. You can sew along the edges of the fabric to prevent unraveling or use masking tape if you want to.

Now, to begin stitching, look at your pattern and decide which color to start with. Each square on the pattern is one square on the fabric. I usually choose something close to the center of the pattern but a fairly good section of one color if possible so I can stitch a small area to start and not just a couple of stitches. Find the color you are using and cut a piece about 18 inches long. It will have 6 strands together. You are only going to use 2 at a time in most cases, so you need to separate the thread and get only 2 strands of it. Combine them and thread your needle. Find your starting point, and bring your needle up from the back of the fabric in the top right corner of the square you are starting with. Bring the thread through almost all the way but leave a small tail on the back of about an inch. You don’t want to tie a knot in the thread because that will cause bumps on the finished piece.

Holding the tail on the back, push your needle down through the bottom left hole of the square. When you come back up, you will want to come into the top left square and go down in the bottom right, leaving the tail under the thread on the back so it will become buried under the stitches. You can make your stitches however you want to. You can do all the bottom stitch in a row first and come back and do the tops or do the full “X” each time. It doesn’t matter as long as you make each stitch the same. When it is time to change colors or the thread runs out, run the needle through a few stitches on the back and cut it off.