How to Cross Stitch
Learning how to cross stitch is one of the easiest things you will ever do. It takes very little time to master, and the necessary supplies are few in number. So let's get started!
There are a few things you will need to do before I can tell you how to cross stitch (you know, a little initiation into the club!) First, let's make sure you have the tools. You will need a needle, thread, Aida cloth (we will discuss this a little later), a pattern, a small pair of crafts scissors, and a hoop. After all the supplies have been purchased, you will need to place your cloth on the hoop. Some craftsmen feel this is an unnecessary piece of equipment, but I suggest using it even for the more weathered craftsmen, and certainly for beginners. Find the center of your cloth. An easy way of accomplishing this is by folding the cloth in half vertically, and then folding it again horizontally. The closed corner is your center. Place a pin in the corner to mark the center, and unfold. Once you've located the center of you cloth, separate the two rings that make up your hoop. Lay the cloth over the inner ring, and place the outer ring over it. Tighten the screw just a little bit. Pull at all sides of the cloth to ensure that it is laying flat in the hoop, and tighten the screw completely around the cloth.
Now that you have your cloth on your hoop, you can almost start stitching! The last preparatory step to cross stitching is threading your needle. Threading the needle can be a little tricky at first, but no worries, you will get the hang of it quickly.
(Note: for those stitchers who simple cannot master this step, there is an easy solution. Needle threaders can be purchased in any crafts store. This device looks like a needle with an enlarged eye. Simply thread the threader, a much easier task than threading a normal needle, and stick the needle end through the eye of your regular needle. Pull the thread through, and you've successfully threaded your needle. Don't worry; no one has to know you had help!)
Embroidery thread usually comes in strands of six mercerized cotton threads, sort of like a bushel of wheat softly twisted together. Your pattern will call for a specific number of threads (usually one or two). Separate the amount necessary, and thread your needle with both strands of thread. It's a good idea to lay each strand out separately before threading the needle. This will minimize tangling and knots.
And now the moment you've all been waiting for! Once your cloth is hooped, and your needle is threaded, you can begin your cross stitch. Hold the needle in your right hand, and the hoop in your left (these instructions are for right handed people. If you are left-handed, reverse the directions.) Hold the needle carefully but lightly between your thumb and pointer finger. It's a good idea too keep the tightening screw of the hoop on your left side where it will be out of the way of your stitches. Aida clothes are made up of many tiny squares. Remember the pin you used to mark the center of your cloth? Well, now you can remove it from the cloth, and locate the bottom left corner of that square. Starting from behind the cloth, place your needle through the hole, and bring it up through to the other side of the cloth (your needle should now be in front of the cloth). Pull the thread almost completely through to the other side, making sure to leave a few inches of thread on the back side of the cloth.
Next, place the needle in the hole diagonally across from the one you started with, the upper right corner, and pull through. This two step process you've just done is called a half stitch. Be sure to keep your stitches relaxed. Pulling the thread too tightly will result in tense fabric or a bunched up appearance. Now your needle should be on the back side of the cloth again. Place the needle into the bottom right corner of the same square you've been working. Pull through, but not all the way. Leave yourself a small loop of thread on the back side. Using your needle, your finger, or anything small enough, tuck the tail end (that is the last few inches that you didn't pull through from your fist stitch) of the thread under the stitch you are in the middle of (i.e. pull it into the loop).
Now finish your stitch by pulling the thread completely through to the other side. What this should have accomplished is trapping the loose end of the string under your stitch. To finish this cross stitch, insert the needle into the upper left corner, and pull through. This is one complete cross stitch, and should look like an "X" over your square. To secure the thread, run the needle under your stitch (on the back side of the cloth), and pull tight. Continue along the row of squares, stitching a complete cross stitch in each one.
You've just learned how to cross stitch one square. Cross stitching is usually worked in rows or blocks of the same color. There are basically two different ways of stitching a row. Sometimes it will be better for you to work one complete row of half stitches, and then come back to do the other half. Other times, you would do best to stitch each stitch individually and wholly. Different types of patterns will call for either of the two methods on various parts of the design. The most important thing to remember when cross stitching is to be consistent. Regardless of which method you are using (and even if you use both methods in one pattern), always make sure that the stitch on top is going in the same direction throughout your project. In other words, you can have the top stitch going from bottom left to upper right/upper right to bottom left for a stitch that looks like this /, or bottom right to upper left/upper left to bottom right for a stitch that looks like this \. Again, whichever one you use, just make sure it is the same throughout your project.
Congratulations, you have learned how to cross stitch. I hope this brief how to cross stitch tutorial has been helpful to you. For more information on cross stitching, as well as fun pattern ideas, and handy tips, check out our other articles. Happy crafting!
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| February 23, 2019
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