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Getting Started with Cross Stitch

What is Cross Stitch?

Cross stitch is comprised of X-shaped stitches. Aida is the most popular base, it has small holes on the corner of easy to see squares. Evenweave fabric  have threads woven singly rather than in blocks.

Cross Stitch Charts

Cross stitches are represented by colour/symbol squares on a grid. Use the chart legend to match the symbols to the floss colours.

Choosing your Fabric 

Your chart will indicate what is a suitable count for your project. The smaller the count of stitches per inch, the bigger the stitches will look. 14 count is easy to view and the most popular base. Choose a high count fabric if you would like to fit more detail into your work.

Preparing your Fabric 

Depending on the size of your project, you may like to use a hoop (smaller projects), or snap frame (larger projects) to secure your work. These keep your fabric tight and easier to stitch on.

Choosing your Thread

The best quality stranded thread (the most popular type for cross stitch) you can buy is made from 100% Egyptian cotton and double mercerised for softness and sheen. Both DMC and Itchy Stitchy cottons are made from these materials.

Speciality threads, such as satin, and light effects are sometimes incorporated into a project to add something a bit special!

Preparing your Thread

Cut a length about 30cm long from the skein to use. Stranded floss is made up of 6 strands. Your chart will indicate how many strands to use.

Choosing your Needle

Cross stitch needles have blunt ends. The size you use depends on the count of your fabric. The smaller the number #, the thicker the needle. #24 and #26 are good choices for 14 count, the most popular aida count used for cross stitch. #22 is suitable for lower counts and #28 is suitable for 18 count and higher.

Stitching over 1 or 2

Stitches are usually stitched ‘over 1’ on aida and ‘over 2’ on evenweave. For example, if stitching ‘over 2’ on 32 count, the stitch size will be the equivalent to a 16 count ‘over 1’ stitch.


A complete stitch method can be worked, or a number of half stitches along a row before returning to the start. All top stitches should face the same direction.

Patterns may indicate variations of the cross stitch, such as three quarter stitches or half stitches. Back-stitching is a popular stitch to outline cross stitches in an area.

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