Stitch Tips- The Cross Stitch
This is a new series I’m starting with quick tips on different types of needlework. They will be brief, with quick tips and pictures (and sometimes videos.) Follow along for weekly stitch tips that you can try out for yourself. Up first:
The Cross Stitch
Now, before we get started, let’s learn about where the hell Cross Stitch even came from…
Needlework dates as far back as the sixth century BC. Evidence of these stitchings have even been found in the tombs of ancient Egypt. It wasn’t until the 16th century, during Henry VII’s rein that Catherine of Aragon brought “blackwork” to England. Blackwork was originally worked with black sheep’s wool on white linen and is thought to be the beginnings of the cross stitch.
Throughout the years, pattern books and samplers became popular, intending to teach young women to sew and memorize the alphabet. Because linen (the traditional fabric) was expensive, a new fabric was created specifically for cross stitch in 1890. It was called Aida. Cross stitch, as we know it today was introduced in the 60’s.
Fast forward to today… we still use Aida cloth! You can find it at your local craft store. It comes in different “counts” which is the size of the squares you stitch on. The lower the number, the bigger the squares. I personally prefer to use 14-count for my projects, but it’s all preference.
Cross stitch is where I got my start. It’s easy and soothing, allowing you to tune out for a bit.
Cloth– Pick an aida cloth with pre perforated squares. I prefer to use a 14-count aida cloth, but I have found that 16 and 11 are also good depending on how tight you want your letters and/or images to be. Frame your cloth in a hoop to keep it taut while you stitch. If you stitch without something to hold it tight, you may find your project gaps or pulls at weird angles.
Thread– You can buy a pack of thread or individuals from your local craft store. The thread is actually 6 threads tightly wound.
- Cut your thread to a manageable length. I usually cut about 24 inches of thread (folded over it’s about a foot of thread to work with.
- Separate the strands. I cross stitch with one strand of thread (folded over the needle so it’s 2 ply) but it’s your preference. The more strands you use, the fuller and sometimes “puffier” your stitches will look.
- To knot or not to knot. I don’t knot the end of my thread, but some stitchers like to to hold it still. I usually pull my needle up through the thread and fold over the tail and stitch over it on the backside so it holds. For me, it keeps the back a little cleaner without as many bumpy knots to work around.
Plan– I use a water soluble pen to mark my pattern before I start stitching. It’s way easier to wash away a mistake than it is to undo all of your stitches. Find fonts you like or free hand your text. Then simply stitch over your pen, and dab away any pen marks that peek out with a wet cloth.
Stitch!– And you thought all we’d be talking about is stitches, eh? Cross stitching works best when you formulate a system. The key to moving fast and uniform is to fill in your pattern with a color all in one direction, and then make the “x” coming back. So for example, I start my stitch at the bottom left hole in a square and move it to the top right corner. I go that direction all with the color I’m using, and come back the opposite way to form the x. This allows you to not use as much thread and keep the back of your work cleaner.
Questions? Let me know in the comments!
Also, if you have any cross stitch work, show me what you’re working on!