What is Cross Stitch? A Quick Start Guide for this Fun and Easy Needle Craft
16 March 2009
Author: Catherine Matthews-Scanlon
Cross Stitch is a style of embroidery that is easy to identify by the way the stitches cross each other to make an X. Cross Stitch is an easy and fun needlecraft that you can do just about anywhere when you have a few minutes to spare. You can also find projects suitable for children to complete! If you’re just getting started with Cross Stitch, there are a few things you need to know before you go to the craft store.
You can choose from two styles of Cross Stitch. Both utilize the same basic stitches and both involve following a chart that uses symbols to indicate thread colors.
Stamped Cross Stitch: You will stitch on a fabric printed with the Xs and follow the chart for color placement. Some fabrics are printed with a tiny space between the Xs so that it is easy to see each individual X. However, you should always stitch the Xs so that their points touch.
Counted Cross Stitch: You will stitch onto a blank evenweave fabric following a chart created on grid. The fabric most commonly used is Aida cloth, a fabric that is woven into small squares. You count from the squares on the chart to the squares on the fabric to place your stitches.
As a beginner, kits are the easiest way to get started in this hobby. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to find out if you like the craft before investing in the hundreds of colors of floss, patterns and fabrics that are available to us today. A kit includes the fabric, floss, needle, chart, and instructions including stitch diagrams to complete the project. The designer has chosen the fabric and thread colors for you and everything is included. There are many beautiful designs available in kits today from simple to exquisite.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can opt to buy your charts in booklet form and choose your own fabric and threads. As you become even more knowledgeable, you can purchase a computer program that will convert a photograph into a Cross Stitch pattern complete with a color chart. You can even create your own designs on graph paper and assign your favorite colors to each stitch.
A word of caution: this has been known to be a highly addictive activity—you will start to think of everything in terms of what a pretty Cross Stitch design it would make!
Aida Cloth: an evenweave fabric that has easy-to-count squares as a result of the way it is woven. This fabric is usually made of cotton and comes in sizes that range from 7 squares per inch up to 18 squares per inch. Before starting any project on Aida cloth you should tape or zig-zag stitch the edges of the fabric, approximately ½” from the edge to prevent fraying. You should not wash this fabric before beginning your project.
Floss: embroidery floss is the cotton thread that is used to stitch your Cross Stitch designs. It is a 6-strand thread that comes in a wide range of colors. For most Cross Stitch projects, you will separate the floss into individual strands before stitching. Typically you’ll be using 2-3 strands at a time in the needle.