Cross-eyed with this stitch – no never! It is a great simple stitch, useful for many different projects and always looks good. There are a few easy steps to learning how to do cross stitch and starting out with a small sampler will make all the difference. When you have your fabric and a design, practice a few stitches to get into the rhythm of this stitch.
Cross Stitch – A little bit of history
Cross stitch is the oldest form of embroidery and has traveled across countries and over many centuries to become a versatile stitch used today. It is more than just an embroidery stitch, it is a craft that has been integrated into all sorts of needle and thread art forms.
Because it is a simple stitch, different fabrics and thread textures add variety to the outcome of the item you are making.
Initially, cross stitch was used to decorate bed linen and tableware, but nowadays cross stitch can be used to decorate many things. Cross stitch is used in crewel embroidery, needlepoint, tapestry and even rug-making. Over the years cross stitch has had new techniques added to its definition. There are now reversed cross stitch patterns and a double cross stitch known as the Leviathan cross stitch. It is worked with a normal cross stitch combined with an upright cross stitch and is very effective.
What can you use cross stitch for today?
Cross stitch is a wonderful beginner stitch useful for fine embroidery or for big chunky items. It is very decorative and especially useful for borders on serviettes, tray cloths and really anything that takes your fancy. It looks stunning on peasant blouses and creates an interesting border for a skirt with a country look.
What fabric is used for cross stitch?
Beginners should try Aida fabric with a thread count of 14. Aida fabric is simply an open weave fabric commonly used for embroidery and cross stitch. Unlike many embroidery fabrics, it is quite stiff and therefore can be sewn without an embroidery hoop. The advantage of using Aida is that you can count the threads, enabling you to get more symmetrical stitches.
There are other fabrics and different counts available and you may want to use a more practical fabric if you are embellishing clothing. For my samples, I used an unbleached calico.
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How to do Cross Stitch Embroidery
Step one: When you have knotted your thread or let your first thread hang at the back to be included later, you are ready to start.
When you are learning, it may be easier to draw some little squares to practice in. The size of the stitches will be determined by the size of the square.
Push your needle from the back to the right side of the fabric at the top left of your imaginary square at(1).
Step two: Your first stitch is from the upper corner (1) diagonally across to the bottom right corner (2).
Now you have made the first diagonal line you are ready to begin the second part of the cross.
Step 3: Push the needle in a straight line at the back of the fabric and come up at the bottom left (3) which is in line with your first stitch (1).
Look at the photo below. It is much easier than it sounds! See 1,2,3. UP-DOWN-UP
Your needle should pop out the bottom left of the cross at a point parallel to where the thread entered the fabric at (1). The first part of the cross is complete!
Step four: Take your needle diagonally across from the bottom left corner (3) to the top right corner (4). Your thread will cross the thread from the first diagonal forming the cross stitch.
If you only plan on a single cross stitch, then stop there and turn to the back of your work to finish off.
Step five: If you plan on further stitches then take your needle at the back of your work and bring it up at the top corner of your next stitch (5) and follow the same pattern you stitched for the first cross.
You can start to see a rhythm as you sew from left to right and side to side. Always have the symmetrical square in your mind’s eye or even draw a little diagram on paper to remind you while you are learning how to do cross stitch.
Alternate Method of Cross Stitch
When doing larger block rows of stitches in the one thread color (like my red cross sampler), I find it easier to do this alternate method.
First, you do one direction and then reverse back to complete the cross.
One word of warning on using this method – Don’t pull the stitches too tight or it can result in your fabric puckering and not lying flat. It is best suited to really stiff fabrics that won’t pull.
How to do Cross Stitch
Learning how to do cross stitch is a bit like learning to conduct an orchestra.
Say to yourself there are 4 beats to the bar and four stitches to the cross – one, two, three and you have the cross done then four leads you onto the next cross and away you go to making a masterpiece with a needle and a thread.