Whether you are making an old-fashioned sampler or a pillow, many people find cross stitching to be a fun and relaxing hobby. One of the major advantages of cross stitching is that it does not require years of sewing skill. Basic cross stitching simply involves creating rows of X-shaped stitches in different colored floss. Best of all once you have the basic technique down, you can move quickly on to more complicated patterns.
What you will need:
- Counted cross stitch kit
- Tapestry needles (any size will do)
- Embroidery hoop
- Masking tape or no-fray liquid
- Crafter’s magnifying glass (optional)
- Preparing to Cross Stitch-You should get all the counted cross stitch supplies at once. It is often recommended that beginners should start with a kit that has a smaller design because this will make it easier to learn how to cross stitch. It is best to begin with Aida cloth that has a large thread count per inch. The color of the fabric can also affect the difficulty; it is harder to see the holes in dark fabric. Even if the kit comes with the cross stitch needle, you should buy extra in case it gets lost. A size #22 needle is generally used for fabric that is 14 count, while size #24 or #26 needles are used for 18 or larger count fabric. Using an embroidery hoop will keep the fabric taught, but your hands may tire more quickly.
- Prepare the fabric-If the fabric is dark and you are not sure whether it is colorfast, rinse it in clear water. If dye comes out in the water, you should continue to rinse until the water runs clear. Then you must allow the fabric to almost dry and press with an iron to finish drying and remove any creases. It can be helpful to trim off any selvage edges to prevent uneven stress on the fabric. You can then finish the edge by either folding masking tape over the edge or using a no-fray liquid.
- Starting the project-Start by finding the center of the fabric by folding it in half and then fold it in half in the opposite direction. The inside corner will be the center of the fabric. You should mark it with a safety pin or insert a thread of contrasting color. You can then find the center of the pattern and mark it as well. Start by threading the needle with the color floss that is in the center of the pattern. Beginning to cross stitch at this point will make sure the design will be centered. Be sure to separate the floss completely. Although you cannot prevent the floss from completely twisting, separating the floss can help. Be sure to check the instructions that come with the pattern to determine how many strands are to be used. You will want to measure approximately 18 to 20 inches of the floss and thread the needles. Be sure that you do not put a knot in the end of the thread.
- Beginning to cross stitch-Insert the fabric in the embroidery hoop. Whether the fabric is pulled taut or not is also a personal preference. Be sure to look at the center of the pattern and determine how many cross stitches of the color floss that is on the needle will be in that section. You will first insert the needle from the underside of the fabric, coming up next to the center mark. Pull the thread almost out, holding approximately 1 inch on the underside with a finger of your opposite hand. You will then secure the floss by looping several stitches over it as you make the first four or five cross stitches. You can cross stitch by one of two methods. You can cross stitch each X completely before moving to the next one or you can cross stitch all the bottom parts of the Xs on one row, stitching from left to right and then cross stitch the top parts of the Xs by moving right to left. Continue with this process until all the Xs in that color for that section are done. You can finish the thread in the similar manner as you began it. When you have approximately 2 inches of thread left on the needle, turn the fabric over and feed the thread under four or five stitches to secure the end. You should then cut off the excess.