Guide to Cross Stitching

Cross Stitching

These days machines do most of our work but a lot of beautiful things are still created by human hands. Embroidery is an example of such artwork that many people still do by hands. Cross stitching is a simpler form of embroidery in which small cross (X) stitches are made to form a picture or pattern. It is an easy way to create beautiful and elegant artwork that can either be sold or preserved for generations to come.

The History of Cross Stitching

Cross stitching has been around as an art form for thousands of years. Cross stitched pieces have been found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. The oldest complete cross stitch piece from around 500 AD was discovered in a Coptic tomb in Egypt.
The Chinese are credited with the development of cross stitching and it is said to have flourished during T’ang Dynasty (618 AD to 906 AD). Maori, the ancient people of New Zealand, used to decorate their costumes with cross stitch patterns. Its examples can be found in almost all parts of the world in the artifacts of ancient civilizations.
Earlier cross stitch patterns were fairly simple, but in the eighteenth century more complex designs started to emerge such as landscapes. An unprecedented interest in cross stitching emerged in the nineteenth century when women of all classes of the society actively pursued cross-stitched fabrics.
Love cross stitch: A brief history of cross stitching
Classic cross stitch: This site presents a detailed history of needlework in general and cross stitching in particular
Cross Stitch 101: Learn cross stitching in just 5 minutes with the help of a video tutorial and text instructions
Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials: Cross stitching and other embroidery text tutorials with photos are available here to easily understand the procedure of embroidery
Cross Stitching for Beginners: Here is a complete guide to cross stitching for beginners which also offers expert help for develop sewing skills
Sewing Adventure: An informative YouTube channel containing a series of video tutorials for cross stitching and other sewing techniques beginners

Cross Stitch Terms

Some of the commonly used cross stitching terms include:

  • Floss: The thread used in cross stitching is called floss
  • Aida: This is the cloth commonly used for making cross stitched patterns
  • Count: This is one of the primary terms which refers to the number of holes in one inch of fabric. The number of holes ranges from 6 to 55. The most commonly used count is 14 in Aida.
  • Tapestry Needle: A needle with a large eye
  • Backstitch: This stitch is used to add final details to a design with a 'two steps forward, one step back' motion
  • Counted Cross Stitch: When a pattern is not printed on the cloth, you count the squares to determine where to stitch
  • Stamped Cross Stitch: Here the pattern is already stamped on the cloth so no need to count the squares to stitch.

Glossary of Cross Stitching Terminology: Definitions of basic cross stitching terms to clarify any confusions of novice cross stitching enthusiasts
Yarn Tree: Learn cross stitching in just 5 minutes and review a big collection of cross stitching patterns
EMS Cross Stitch Academy: This cross stitch academy offers beginner, sample, card charts and machine files used for understanding and doing cross stitching easily
Cross Stitch Embroidery: A comprehensive 48 page book on cross stitch embroidery that can be read online or purchased/borrowed physically
Free Cross Stitching Online: A number of free cross stitching patterns are available for instant download
Pinoy Stitch: A wide range of cross stitching patterns based on famous paintings and images posted by users

Cross Stitching Methods and Techniques

The two most commonly used methods of cross-stitching are:
Stabbing method: In this method, the needle is pushed through the front of the fabric and pulled through the back so that stitches come out in one direction in a row and then the cross is made by bringing them from the other direction to complete the X. This method is particularly suitable for beginners who are making stitches in vertical rows.
Sewing method: Contrary to the stabbing method, complete cross stitches are made in sewing method. So you will finish one stitch and then move to the other. It works better without a hoop or a frame. This method is not suitable for beginners because there is a lot of shifting of hands involved that can affect the fabric.
Handmaiden Cross Stitch: A variety of handmade cross stitch patterns available for instant download after purchasing
Stitch the Night Away: A good resource with options for cross stitch pattern auction and a fabric calculator is also available
Permin of Copmenhagen: A comprehensive catalogue of cross stitching, embroidery, hardanger, tapestry and needlepoint
Seams So Easy: Free video tutorials on sewing, cross stitching and other embroideries
ABC Stitch Therapy: This group supplies a wide range of cross stitching products all over the world at affordable prices
Needlecraft Express: All sorts of cross stitching stuff from leading brands is available on this site
These are some of the commonly used techniques:
Backstitching: This is used for accentuating and highlighting an object on the design. In this technique, a 'two steps forward, one step back' motion is used. It is perceived to be a little difficult by many stitchers but it really isn’t.
Half stitching or fractional stitching: In this technique, instead of using a traditional X stitch, a half stitch is used that is half of X. It is normally used for creating backgrounds or landscapes.
Railroading: In railroading, threads are separated to give a neat look to the design. When applying this technique, use at least two different colored floss or more, but it must be an even number. Bring the needle up through the fabric and when inserting it back, insert between two threads.
Reversible cross stitching: This is an advanced technique in which the back of the stitching design is very similar to the front of the design.
Julie’s X Stitch: An online store that provides everything related to cross stitching and tips on different embroidery techniques are also offered
Stitchtastic: A unique collection of cross stitch patterns, kits and charts
Coricamo: Here you can find cross stitch patterns, kits, accessories, magazines, jewelry designs, etc.
The Art of Stitching: Good quality cross stitching patterns available in various sizes to download instantly after purchasing

Useful Tips

  • As in any trade, if you are a beginner, start small. Use a small card design that has whole stitches with backstitch.
  • Most people find Aida to be the best and easiest fabric to use; 14 Aida is the most commonly used
  • Use a stitch guide to determine the quantity of fabric to use and always have extra so that your project can be mounted or framed easily
  • Top stitches should be in the same direction
  • Keep your thread to a manageable length, 12 inch pieces are generally easy to handle and don’t cause any tangles
  • Use a hoop to keep the right tension on the fabric and it is also makes handling the fabric easy
  • It is a good idea to start with the largest colored area in the design and leave back stitches for last

Cross Stitch This: A 5 simple steps procedure by which a photo or image can be converted into a cross stitch pattern
PowerStitch: A design studio that offers high quality embroidery digitizing services in different parts of the world
X-Stitch Birds: A website with realistic bird designs in counted cross stitch. A complete kit along with the fabric is delivered to the customer.
Cross Stitching: A useful resource that contains video tutorials, free downloadable patterns, charts and tips

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