Cross Stitch Embroidery

It's no surprise that counted cross stitch is the most popular embroidery method. The stitches are easy to learn, and there are a variety of fabrics and patterns to suit every style.

cross stitch

It can be done in large, easy embroidery stitches or in smaller fine, detailed stitches.

This embroidery method requires an evenweave fabric so the squares are a consistent size. The designs look pixelated with tiny blocks of color.

Some people like to embellish with stitches on preprinted pictures. Others count colored squares or squares with symbols in them to follow a charted pattern, as I did for the counted butterfly ornament in the photo below.

embroidered butterfly ornamentI stitched this little butterfly as one off my first projects -- I love butterflies!

You can also use gingham as a base fabric with the color block grid serving as a guideline for stitches. This technique is called chicken scratch embroidery.

Cross Stitch Beginner Guide

Any beginner can quickly master the basic stitches found in pattern instructions.

The simple X stitch forms the base of the entire design. Other stitches form accents.

If you think about a pixilated graphic, that's the same concept of small squares making up a design. But stitching with thread has been around a lot longer than computer screens!

Basic X Stitch

Make two diagonal lines to form an X.

Be consistent about which diagonal is on the bottom and which is on top. If you do one backwards, your finished work won't have a smooth finish.

cross stitch basic x stitch

You can do a whole row of bottom diagonals then come back and cross the tops. That's it!

Other Stitches

Half Cross Stitch
Just do the bottom diagonal. This effect is sometimes used for shading because it allows more of the fabric to show.
3/4 Cross Stitch
Make the bottom diagonal. Make half of the top diagonal, ending where it crosses the bottom diagonal. This three quarter stitch is sometimes used to round corners.
Backstitch or Outline Stitch
Make a straight stitch. Move a square ahead then stitch back to continue making a straight line. This stitch is used for outlining.
Notice that the opposite side is showing than what you might call the right side in crewelwork. In the diagram below, it's up at 1, down 2, up 3, and down 4.
French Knot
This is a crewelwork stitch sometimes used to add detail to patterns.
cross stitch stitches

Materials to Get Started

There are only a few supplies required to get started. Aida cloth is easiest for beginners because it's slightly stiff and has the squares clearly visible.

On other evenweave fabrics and linens, the X stitches are usually worked over two threads. If the fabric is flimsy, you might need an embroidery hoop or frame to hold it smooth as you work.

More to Explore

design your own cross stitch
cross stitch fabric
fabric count
silk ribbon embroidery

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