Learn the basics of cross-stitch
Here's all the advice youll need
Whether you’re new to stitching or just want a refresh, we’ve got all the advice you’ll need. All it takes is a little bit of practice and you’ll be a pro in no time
Tools of the trade: basic equipment
Stranded cotton: embroidery thread is also commonly known as stranded cotton. Each thread length is made up of six strands twisted together. The key will indicate how many strands of cotton you’ll need to stitch the design with.
Embroidery scissors: an absolute must-have for stitchers, these can be picked up for just a few pounds. Keep yours sharp by only using them to cut threads – that way a decent pair should last you a lifetime.
Hoops and frames: Though not essential, we do recommend using an embroidery hoop or frame to keep an even stitching tension, which helps to keep your stitches really neat. Just make sure it’s big enough to fit your entire design in.
Needles: For basic stitching you’ll need a tapestry needle which has a blunt tip and large eye. Use a size 24 needle for most aidas, and a size 26 for evenweaves and linens. Use a sharp embroidery needle for finer details such as backstitch and French knots.
Fabrics: aida or evenweave
Whatever your ability, choosing fabric is just as important as the stitching itself.
Aida and evenweave are the most common cross stitch fabrics and are available in a huge variety of different counts and colours. 14 count aida is ideal for beginners, while 25 or even 28 count evenweaves are perfect for when you’ve gained a bit of stitching confidence.
Evenweave fabric is much simpler to work on than you might think. Even if you find it difficult at first, you’ll be surprised at how quickly it becomes second nature. Instead of stitching over a single aida block, you just stitch over two evenweave threads instead.
A design worked on 14 count aida will end up being slightly larger than if it was worked on 16 c.ount aida. For an even smaller finish, try 18 count aida!
Be brave and make your first stitch with confidence using our simple guide
Start stitching in the centre of your fabric at the centre of your chart. Bring your needle up from the back of the fabric for your first stitch. Make a diagonal half cross stitch over a single aida block or two evenweave threads.
Make a second diagonal stitch to complete the cross. The direction of your diagonals are up to you, just be sure all your top crosses face in the same direction. Otherwise, your design will end up looking uneven.
Once the cross stitched areas are finished, you can add the backstitch outlines. You’ll find it helpful to change to a sharp embroidery needle. Weave your thread through the reverse of your stitches to secure before you begin the backstitch.
Make a backstitch over about 1-3 aida blocks, following the chart. For the second stitch, bring your needle up 1-3 aida blocks away from this stitch and take it down next to your previous stitch, and so on.
Making it secure
Working from front to back, pull your needle almost all the way through your fabric. Use your finger to hold about 3cm of thread on the back. Stitch as normal, guiding the backs of your stitches so they cover the thread tail. Once it’s been covered by at least four stitches, release your finger and continue stitching.
When using just two threads, work a loop knot by cutting a length of thread twice as long as you need it to be and folding in half. Thread your needle as normal and make a half cross stitch. As you pull your thread through the reverse of your fabric,carefully loop your needle through the thread loop to secure. This is a really great way to start stitching without having to tie a knot!
Waste and soluble canvas
Waste canvas and Soluble Canvas are used when stitching onto fabrics other than aida and evenweave. Tack onto your fabric and stitch as normal. When you’ve finished, soak in warm water. Soluble Canvas will dissolve completely in water. For waste canvas, you’ll need to remove each each strand individually.
Visit www.crossstitchermagazine.co.uk for more easy-to-follow guides.