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 Cross Stitch

  1. What's cross stitch?
    Cross-stitch i
    s 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.
     
  2. The history of cross stitch
    Cross-stitch is one of the oldest forms of embroidery and can be found all over the world.[1] 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.[2]
    In the United States, the earliest known cross-stitch sampler is currently housed at Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth, Massachusetts.[3] 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 century.
    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 and embellishments.
     
  3. Related cross stitch and forms of embroidery
    Other cross stitches are also commonly used in cross-stitch, among them , , and stitches and backstitches.
    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 needlepoint.
    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 cross-stitch.
    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 used.
     
  4. 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 cross-stitch.
    Steps:
    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 an anchor.
    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.
     
  5. 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!
     
  6. 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.
     
  7. Things You'll Need for cross stitch
    * 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
     
  8. Optional items for cross stitch
    * Lap stand or floor stand
    * Magnifier
    * Needle Threader
    * Tweezers
     
  9. How 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.
    STEPS:
    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 stitch.

    B. Determine the finish of your cross stitch project that you prefer. How do you want the project to present when completed?:
    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