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Cross Stitching Basics

By: Roxanne McDonald - Updated: 10 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Cross Stitching Basics Cross Stitch

The beauty of the craft of cross stitching is that the required steps are 1 2. That’s about it. One stitch lapping another to make a small x and then repeated some two or three thousand times!There are, therefore, few cross stitching basics to learn.

Preparing to Cross Stitch

Cross Stitching Supplies:If you are ready to forego the pre-packaged cross stitch kit and don’t want to do a pre-printed pattern, you might opt for a cross stitch pattern and cross stitch chart only, using blank fabric and separately purchased floss.

If that’s the case, you can find hundreds of cross stitch freebies online or can consult a design magazine. Then, you’ll need a few cross stitch supplies, all of which will be noted on the pattern.

The first thing you'll need is fabric.You will be directed to purchase a particular colour, size, and count. The information is on the package and the count (in Aida fabric, for example, available in 11, 14, 16, 18, and 22) refers to what will be the completed number of cross stitches per square inch of fabric.

You'll also need a hoop or scroll bar frame.You may want a manageable hoop or a more involved frame to work your cross stitch pattern. You can try out different tools—deciding whether you prefer the generous surface space to work with on a frame, a less cumbersome hoop, one that allows more control over thread tension, the one that allows for more taut material, or the one that is easier on the hands.

You will just want to make sure you have a hoop or frame that:

  • will take the weight of a work in progress
  • will have enough give that it can be closed around already embroidered sections without crushing the design
  • is large enough to have ample surface workplace but not so large as to be cumbersome.
Another essential is floss. Cross stitching practitioners most often use embroidery floss, which is either wool, linen, or cotton—cotton being the most typical choice for cross stitching. The brand, colour number, and number of strands are all indicated on the cross stitch pattern you will be working.

Last but certainly not least, you'll need needles. Included in the cross stitching basics manual is a whole set of suggestions on what size needle to use. Most agree the best cross stitching needles are tapestry needles, which come in sizes 22, 24, 26, and 28.

Cross Stitching Basics

The Full Stitch

As the name implies, the cross stitch is made by bringing the needle up at one hole in the square and putting the needle down through the opposing corner hole (this making one single stitch or half stitch) and repeating for the other two opposing holes in the square.

NOTE: When working a cross stitch project, make sure all the crosses are going in the same direction. That is, if you do the second, crossover stitch moves bottom left to top right, make all crossover stitches moves from bottom left to top right.

The Half Stitch

Sometimes a pattern calls for a half stitch. This will give a “soft focus” background effect, for instance. The half stitch is merely the single stitch without the top stitch (without the crossover stitch).

The Quarter Stitch

Sometimes a pattern calls for a quarter stitch. This is to offer detail or to give shape. Begin as if to make a half stitch, bringing the needle up at one corner. Then, rather than push the needle down at the opposing corner, take the needle point only to the centre of the square and insert/pull through.

The Back Stitch

The back stitch is typically used to outline, to give emphasis or definition.Bring the needle up from the back and through the fabric at the starting point. Take the needle back down from the front through to the back about 1/8 of an inch from the first entry point. Come back up through about 1/8 of an inch away from the second point, starting a new stitch. To go back down through this time, put the needle into the threads of the first stitch. Repeat for a long line of outline stitches.

So now you can begin your enjoyment of the simplest, but no less beautiful, of needle crafts. Through trial and error and by way of your own style, you can create stunning gifts that look as quaint as a country sampler or as involved as a painting, if you wish. It’s all up to you, for this is your craft.

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