Think about embroidery like a big umbrella. Under this umbrella are a myriad of techniques and types of sewing that each have their own unique look, all involving a needle and thread. Cross stitch is a facet of embroidery which is one of the most popular approaches. In fact, you’ve probably seen it without even realizing it; a cross stitch looks like a pixel and looks like a small “x” on the fabric.
Due to the inherent structure of cross stitch, the technique is easy to learn. Essentially you are just making small diagonal stitches on an open weave fabric. As you change colors, a stylized design forms with bold graphic appeal. This is best represented in contemporary cross stitch projects with a modern sense of humor.
Scroll down to learn more about the materials you’ll be using, essential information and tips, plus helpful videos that will show you how to embroider on your own.
Want to learn to embroider in cross stitch? Scroll down for essential information and helpful videos.
Materials for cross stitch
If you’ve embroidered before, you’re in luck; supplies used in other types of embroidery are applicable to cross stitch.
Fabric – The biggest difference you will see between cross stitch and other embroidery is the type of fabric you will be using. If you’ve ever really looked at a cross stitch before, you’ll see that the fabric is very textured and has a strong weave. It’s called uniform weave fabric, which means there is an even number of vertical and horizontal threads per inch. The higher the number of threads, the finer (and therefore tighter) the weaving will be.
Aida fabric is most popular for sewing, although other regular weave fabrics are also suitable.
Embroidery hoop – The embroidery hoop allows you to embroider your design. By stretching the fabric on a circular or rectangular hoop, it will stay taut and you can embroider without discomfort. To find the right embroidery hoop for you, check out our guide.
Wire – Embroidery thread, also called embroidery thread, is another essential material. After all, you can’t sew without it! Six strand DMC wire is the most popular type of yarn and comes in over 400 colors. It offers a lot of variety if you are working on a design that you have created. If you’re following a template, the designer will most likely have a set of thread recommendations for you.
Needle – Cross stitch usually uses a blunt edge tapestry needle. (This is great news for your fingers!) Your needle size will vary depending on the fabric you are sewing on. Again, if you are following a pattern, the instructions will tell you what to use.
Scissors – Scissors may seem like an afterthought, but having a small, sharp pair of scissors can make a big difference when cutting the thread. You don’t have to break the bank on a pair to get something great quality. Find out what we recommend as the best embroidery scissors.
How to do the essentials of cross stitch
Although cross stitch is known for its diagonal marks, there are a few types of stitches that you will see in designs. Using them will give your work visual variety and help bring your subject matter to life.
Sew a cross stitch
Cross stitch techniques: English method vs. Danish method
Creating fractional points
How to sew a reverse stitch
How to read a cross stitch pattern
Unlike other forms of embroidery, a cross stitch design comes with its own detailed chart that shows you when and where you will be using a certain color or stitch. It might seem confusing at first, but once you’ve learned how to decipher a pattern, you’ll find its instructions a breeze.
Tips for successful cross stitching
Now that you know the supplies, the stitches, and how to read a design, here’s what you need to know before you start a cross stitch.
Prepare your fabric before you begin. Before you start any project, you’ll want to set yourself up for success by properly prepping your fabric. It is not difficult and only includes a few steps. The first is to make sure it doesn’t fray. You will notice, especially with the woven fabric, that the edges come undone as you handle it. To stop this, sew a zigzag stitch around the edges, either by machine or by hand. This will stop fraying. (You can also fold duct tape around the edges.) When you’re done, iron your fabric so it lies flat.
Start in the middle of your fabric. Make sure you have enough space to finish your pattern by starting in the middle of your fabric. You can find the center by folding the fabric once and then back in reverse. Make a small stitch or place a needle or pin in the folded corner. When you open the fabric, this should be the center.
Find the center of your pattern. Once you’ve determined the middle of your fabric, find the center of your design. Fortunately, it is easy to find. On the cross stitch charts, it is delimited by an arrow, a “0” or triangles.
Maintain even tension with your thread. As you work, be sure not to pull too hard on your stitches as you pull them through the fabric. This will warp the material and cause it to wrinkle. If the thread is too loose, it will create gaps in your design. Aim for a pattern so that your stitches lie flat against the fabric.
Follow the pattern. The great thing about cross stitch is that it has a simple technique; follow the directions exactly and you should have a nice design when you’re done. So sit back and enjoy the time you spend away from the screen and on manual labor.
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