All you need to get started with cross stitch
In this beginners guide you'll find everything you need to know to get started with cross stitch, from basic information about threads and stitches through to simple diagrams and handy tips.
Most stitchers begin by using aida. This is a stiffly woven fabric with a grid pattern of regularly spaced holes for stitching through, making it clear where to place each stitch.
It comes in various colours and 'counts' the most popular being 14, 16 and 18 – 14 count is ideal for the beginner. The count refers to the number of holes per inch so the higher the count, the finer the stitching will be.
Alternative choices of fabric are evenweave and linen. These are softer fabrics to hold and come in finer counts for the more experienced stitcher.
Stranded cotton is used to stitch most designs. This is available in a huge array of colours and is made up of six individual strands of thread. You will need to separate the number of strands you require for stitching.
To do this, cut a length of about 45cm of thread, take hold of one of the loose ends and pull gently. Repeat this for each strand to avoid tangling then recombine the number of strands you need to stitch with. Specialist threads, ie metallic give a different finished look to your work.
When cross stitching on aida or evenweave it is best to use a blunt tapestry needle.
Choose one slightly smaller than the holes in the fabric, for 11 or 14 count – size 24 needle, for 16 count and above – size 26 needle.
Cross stitch chart
Your cross stitch design can be worked from a chart – each symbol on the chart represents a stitch and each chart has a key which tells you the symbol to follow for each colour. The key also tells you the number of strands to cross stitch with and how many strands to use for other types of stitches. Generally most cross stitch is worked with two strands of embroidery thread.
A hoop or frame can be used to hold your work in place while you stitch. Beads are effective to add dimension to your work.
Last updated: almost 2 years ago