- What's cross stitch?
Cross-stitch is a popular form of counted-thread
embroidery in which X-shaped stitches are used to form a
picture. Cross-stitch is usually executed on easily
countable evenweave fabric. The stitcher counts the threads
in each direction so that the stitches are of uniform size
and appearance. This form of cross-stitch is also called
counted cross-stitch in order to distinguish it from other
forms of cross-stitch. Sometimes cross-stitch is done on
designs printed on the fabric (stamped cross-stitch); the
stitcher simply stitches over the printed pattern.
- The history of cross stitch
Cross-stitch is one of the oldest forms of embroidery and
can be found all over the world. Many folk museums show
examples of clothing decorated with cross-stitch, especially
from continental Europe and Asia.
Two-dimensional (unshaded) cross-stitch in floral and
geometric patterns, usually worked in black and red cotton
floss on linen, is characteristic of folk embroidery in
Eastern and Central Europe.
In the United States, the earliest known cross-stitch
sampler is currently housed at Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth,
Massachusetts. The sampler was created by Loara Standish,
the daughter of Captain Myles Standish, circa 1653.
Multicoloured, shaded, painting-like patterns as we know
them today are a recent development, deriving from similar
shaded patterns of Berlin wool work of the mid-nineteenth
Traditionally, cross-stitch was used to embellish items like
dishcloths, household linens, and doilies (only a small
portion of which would actually be embroidered, such as a
border). Although there are many cross-stitchers who still
employ it in this fashion, especially in Europe, it is now
increasingly popular to simply embroider plain pieces of
canvas and hang them on the wall for decoration.
There are many cross-stitching "guilds" across the United
States and Europe which offer classes, collaborate on large
projects, stitch for charity, and provide other ways for
local cross-stitchers to get to know one another.
Today cotton floss is the most common embroidery thread. It
is a thread made of mercerized cotton, composed of six
strands that are only loosely twisted together and easily
separable. Other materials used are pearl cotton, Danish
flower thread, silk and Rayon. Sometimes different wool
threads, metallic threads or other specialty threads are
used, sometimes for the whole work, sometimes for accents
- Related cross
forms of embroidery
Other cross stitches are also commonly used in
cross-stitch, among them ¼, ½, and ¾ stitches and
Cross-stitch was often used together with other stitches. It
is sometimes used in crewel embroidery, especially in its
more modern derivatives. It is also often used in
A specialized historical form of embroidery using
cross-stitch is Assisi embroidery.
There are many stitches which are related to cross-stitch
and were used in similar ways in earlier times. The best
known are Italian cross-stitch, Celtic Cross Stitch, Irish
Cross Stitch, long-armed cross-stitch, Ukrainian
cross-stitch and Montenegrin stitch. Italian cross-stitch
and Montenegrin stitch are reversible, meaning the work
looks the same on both sides. These styles have a slightly
different look than ordinary cross-stitch. These more
difficult stitches are rarely used in mainstream embroidery,
but they are still used to recreate historical pieces of
embroidery or by the creative and adventurous stitcher.
The double cross-stitch, also known as a Leviathan stitch or
Smyrna cross stitch, combines a cross-stitch with an upright
Berlin wool work and similar petit point stitchery resembles
the heavily shaded, opulent styles of cross-stitch, and
sometimes also used charted patterns on paper.
Cross-stitch is often combined with other popular forms of
embroidery, such as Hardanger embroidery or blackwork
embroidery. Cross-stitch may also be combined with other
work, such as canvaswork or drawn thread work. Beadwork and
other embellishments such as paillettes, charms, small
buttons and speciality threads of various kinds may also be
- How to Cross Stitch
If you're taking up needlepoint, one of the stitches
you'll need to learn is the cross stitch. This ancient,
cross-cultural embroidery technique is also known as counted
a. Cut accordingly. Cut your fabric to the size
suggested on your pattern and mark the center. For the
thread, cut approximately one yard (91 cm) of it. Embroidery
thread comes in skeins of six strands per thread, so you
will need to separate out one strand. Thread your needle so
that the ends are equal.
b. Start from the top left of the stitch, then bring the
needle through from the bottom, holding the tail at the back
of the thread. Leave about an inch (2.5 cm) on the back for
c. Bring the thread down to the lower right corner, then
back up through the upper right and down through the lower
left, forming an X. Each time you should pull the thread all
the way through so that it is flush with the fabric surface.
d. Start your next stitch so it uses two of the same holes
as this one.
e. Repeat, making sure your stitches overlap your anchor
thread on the back of the fabric.
- Tips on cross stitch
* You can thread your needle with two strands and leave a
loose end to allow you to more easily undo mistakes; be
aware, however, that this makes it easier to accidentally
pull your needle off the thread entirely.
* You can also start via the loop method: Using one strand
of floss, fold it in half, then thread the two free ends
through the eye of the needle; you will have a loop
dangling. Bring the thread up from back to front, leaving
the loop dangling in back, then form the first half of the
cross stitch by bringing the needle down from front to back.
As you pull it through, slip the needle into the loop at the
back. The thread will be secured, but is difficult to undo
if you make a mistake in the placement.
* Patterns are available for free in many places on the
internet. You can also find software to design your own,
such as PCStitch or EasyCross.
* When there are multiple cross stitches of the same color
in one row, make the first half of the cross stitches for
that row first (////), then go back and finish crossing them
all (XXXX). This will save time, save thread, and give the
finished project a smoother look.
* To keep the cross stitches looking even always have the
bottom of the cross facing the same direction, ex. start the
stitch in the top left and bring it down the bottom right.
* Always be patient!
- Warnings for cross stitch
* Avoid pulling your thread all the way through the fabric
on the first cross stitch. You need to leave enough to
anchor the stitches on the back, or the end will pull
through to the front.
* Always fill in large areas of your pattern first.
* Make sure to keep track of where you are on your pattern
to avoid errors. If you have difficulty keeping count,
photocopy and color in your pattern as you go.
* It is always best to stay with easy to look at colors,
such as blue or pink etc. If you don't you will strain your
eyes and probably not enjoy what you are doing as much.
Embroidery should be relaxing and soothing to your nerves.
* A project to pick for a beginner should be short and
simple to get used to handling your tools. Most of all have
fun and only do it if you enjoy it. Which I have found this
craft very enjoyable and you can even sit in front of the
t.v. while you do it.
* Another way of keeping track of your work is to buy
colorful rings they sell in the stores next to the yarns and
such things. Very Important to have these available to you
for embroidery, knitting and crochet.
- Things You'll Need for cross
* Embroidery thread
* A pattern
* Tapestry needle (or any other needle)
* Cross-stitch fabric (Aida or Linen)
* Scissors (preferable petite and sharp)
* Hoop or scroll frame
- Optional items for cross stitch
* Lap stand or floor stand
* Needle Threader
to Choose Embroidery Fabric for cross stitch
There are many embroidery fabrics to choose from. The
type of fabric that you need for embroidery cross stitch
will depend on the type of embroidery you are undertaking.
The following guide has some features to look for when
seeking fabric for your next embroidery cross stitch.
A. Consider the weight of your cross stitch project. The
things to look for here include:
a. The weight of your cross stitch project. The fabric must
be able to support the overall weight of your project.
Obviously a design featuring a basket of ribbon embroidered
flowers will be heavier than simple cross stitch design. If
items such as buttons, bows, beading or other extraneous
elements are to be added, you will need strong fabric that
can hold its shape well.
b. The weight of the thread (cotton, yarn, silk, ribbon
etc.). The fabric must be able to support the type of thread
you are using and the fabric should not permit the thread to
show through to the front of your project. The weave of the
fabric must be able to withstand the pressure of the
thread's width passing through it (see step 3).
c. The type of stitching. For example, are you making simple
stitches or elaborate ribbon flowers? The type of stitch
will also impact on the type of fabric. More elaborate
stitching, such as ribbon flowers, will need a heavier
fabric backing to support the weight of the finished cross
B. Determine the finish of your cross stitch project that
you prefer. How do you want the project to present when
a. Matt finish: a dull, unreflective surface, great for a
busy embroidery piece; or
b. Shiny finish: more polished, creates greater contrast
between your project and the background.
C. Check the strength and durability of the weave. The weave
of the fabric must be strong enough to hold the threads in
place and not too overwhelming for the threads:
a. Looser weaves will be less able to hold the threads but
will be ideal for larger threads. Cotton, Aida, wool and
linen are close weaves that are suitable for embroidery with
thread or ribbon.
b. Some fabrics will "drown" a thread if they are have too
high a plush. Contrast the weight of the thread with the
plushness of the fabric to ensure that this is avoided
before commencing a project. There is nothing more
disheartening than having to unpick hours of work!
c. Use richer fabrics such as velvet for heavier threads.
Such fabric is ideal for ribbon work