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Handy hints and tips for cross stitch

Cross stitching is an easy and enjoyable way to get into crafts. You can create beautiful designs with just a needle, thread and a canvas. Read these handy hints and tips to help you with your stitching. 

cross stitch

Hints and tips

  • Stranded cotton is also known as 'silk' or floss, particularly in American kits or charts
  • Always choose a piece of fabric that is at least 4" – 6" bigger on all sides than the design area
  • Start stitching the largest colour area first followed by the smaller blocks of colour
  • Where possible, start stitching darker colours; leaving lighter colours until last will keep your work cleaner
  • Where a chart has a whole row of stitches in the same colour, stitch a row of half crosses then go back and complete the crosses as a row. Always make the top half of the crosses lie in the same direction to give it a tidy appearance. (Diagram C)
  • Count your stitches regularly as mistakes are easier to put right if they are spotted early
  • To keep an even tension, don’t pull the thread too tight
  • Always work in a good light
  • If your thread gets twisted let the needle hang down straight until it unravels
  • Blend a strand of metallic thread with one of stranded cotton to create subtle highlights to your design
  • To add beads to a design, select a single strand of cotton, usually in a colour to match the colour of the bead. Do the first half of the cross stitch as usual, pass the needle through the bead before passing the needle through the fabric to finish your cross stitch in the usual way. This will secure the bead in place.
  • Do not tie a knot to start or cast off, thread your needle under a few stitches at the back of your work
  • Never leave a needle or hoop in your work when storing it as it may distort or mark the fabric
  • To prevent your work from creasing, roll it around a tube when putting it away
  • Cross stitch is not just for pictures. For example, it can be used for cards as well as inserts for pot lids, handbag mirrors and key rings 
  • Use waste canvas to cross stitch any design onto clothing or accessories
  • This is a temporary canvas tacked to your finished product before you start
  • You cross stitch the design in the usual way then dampen and remove the waste canvas, leaving your design in place



Last updated: over 3 years ago