Cross stitch is a fun handicraft that has been done for generations. This easy-to-learn embroidery style uses a unique, two-stitch technique to create a picture within a grid. You don’t need to have any previous sewing experience to cross stitch, and with the number of ready made pattern available, you don’t need to have any artistic talent either. Learn how to do cross stitch, and get ready to create some beautiful designs.
What Can Cross Stitch Be Used For?
Because cross stitch is a form of embroidery, it can technically be used to create a pattern on nearly anything. Cross stitch is considered a filler or stand alone embroidery stitch, meaning that instead of being used to created borders or edges, each stitch can technically stand on its own. When you piece together multiple stitches in a variety of colors next to one another, a pattern begins to appear.
Cross stitched patterns are often extremely detailed, making use of several different colors within one design. The finished pieces are often used for things such as:
- Throw pillows
- Clothing detail
- Making and decorating boutique children’s clothing
- Wall hangings
As you learn how to do cross stitch on a variety of different materials, and with a variety of different patterns, you’ll also begin to see several different ways that this technique may be used.
How to Do Cross Stitch
Learning how to do cross stitch is fairly simple once you get the basic stitch down. The stitch itself consists of making a small X out of the thread. The true beauty of cross stitch comes from the way that the Xs are placed together to form a larger pattern.
As with any handicraft, it helps to make sure you have adequate supplies on hand before you begin. Most cross stitch supplies can be used for other types of embroidery as well, so investing in these will also let you move on to other stitches in the future as well.
The one major difference between cross stitch and other embroidery stitches is in the cloth. While it is technically possible to cross stitch on anything, when learning how to do cross stitch or when making a detailed pattern, it helps to use a cloth that is made up of several visible checks of squares. Aida and linen are the two clothes most commonly used for cross stitch. You may want to begin with Aida before moving on to linen, as it is both less expensive and has an easier to see weave.
The floss that you use for cross stitch is the same floss that is used for other embroidery styles. If you’ve ever learned how to knit, you’re probably aware of how different yarns come in varying weights, thickness, and textures, and how you need to vary your needles to accommodate them. The same is true for cross stitch; you may want to plan on experimenting with a few different flosses as you practice. Keep in mind that some patterns will call for specific colors or brands; all colors can be cross referenced between brands, however, if you prefer one over another. Visit the floss manufacturer’s website to see the conversion numbers between brands.
Materials for Cross Stitch
- Aida or linen cloth
- Embroidery floss
- Embroidery needle
- Graph paper
- Colored pencils
- Transfer pencil
Instructions for Making the Stitch
Before you begin a pattern or designing a pattern of your own, take the time to practice the actual stitch several times, and with several thread counts first.
- Take a piece of fabric and place it over the bottom hoop. Set the top hoop over it and tighten until your fabric is pulled taut.
- Separate out your embroidery floss to a single thread to start with. You can move on to multiple threads later, once you learn the basic stitch.
- Thread your needle and knot off the end. This will double the thickness of your thread.
- Examine the fabric. It should be made up of a series of textured boxes or squares. Each one of your stitches will be made within one square.
- Push your needle from the underside of the fabric up through the top at the corner of one of the boxes on the fabric.
- Push your needle back down into the top of the fabric in the opposite corner of the box from where you pulled it up.
- Bring the needle back up in the third corner of the box so it comes up between the two corners already used.
- Push the needle back down into the top of the fabric in the last remaining corner of the box. This will produce an X in the fabric.
If you are planning on using this color in surrounding or adjacent boxes, continue to stitch until you need to change color or area of the design, then knot off the thread below and cut.
Instructions for Transferring a Pattern
There are many different cross stitch patterns available. Most will include instructions for color placement, as well as what colors to purchase to complete the design. In some cases, the pattern is so simple that you can simply lay it nearby as you stitch, referring back to it and counting squares as you go. In many other cases, however, you will need to transfer the pattern onto the cloth to make it easy to see what you are doing.
The vast majority of patterns are transferable, meaning that they can be ironed directly onto your fabric. Every transfer is slightly different, so be sure to read the instructions and the heat settings for the fabric you are using – linen takes a higher heat than Aida.
- Place your fabric on a flat, heat proof surface.
- Line up the pattern on the fabric where you want it to sit.
- Place the pattern ink-side down on the fabric.
- Run the iron over it for the recommended amount of time until the pattern transfers.
Designing Your Own Pattern
After you’ve been stitching for a while, you’ll probably want to try your hand at designing your own patterns. The easiest way to do this is with graph paper. The pattern on the graph paper mimics the grid on the fabric, making it easy to design intricate patterns.
To make the most of your pattern, follow these tips:
- Use colored pencils that closely relate to the colors of your floss to give yourself a realistic idea of what the finished product will look like.
- Use the same Xs in the graph paper squares as you would on the fabric to make the pattern transfer more easily.
- Once you have your pattern drawn, place tracing paper over it and use a transfer pencil to copy the pattern on to the tracing paper.
- Iron the copied pattern onto your cloth, and use your original as a visual guide.
You can also learn to use programs such as Photoshop to create your patterns on. Just print them out right on transfer paper to use them.
Learning how to do cross stitch will open up a world of different possibilities for you in the field of handicrafts. Once you get started, you may find yourself wanting to learn how to sell your work, or you may find yourself designing patterns for other people to use. Cross stitch is an infinitely versatile stitching method that can let you reproduce just about any picture or design on cloth, letting you create a variety of different art projects in textile form. Learn how to do cross stitch today, and begin opening up the door to a future filled with a variety of handicrafts.