How to stitch
General Information for Cross Stitch
or Counted Thread
Fabric - Aida or
1. There are several items for holding your
fabric straight and taut while stitching. Your local needlecraft shop
can help you select the one best for you and your project. Some people
stitch without the aid of any kind of stretcher.
2. Some kits may not include the best floss. You may want to purchase
better floss at your local needlecraft shop. They will help you with the
3. To keep your fabric from unraveling while you stitch, you should
finish the edges either on the sewing machine using a zigzag stitch or
buy using Fraycheck, sold at most fabric stores and needlecraft shops.
4. The suggest length of embroidery floss is 18”. This keeps the floss
from getting worn and too thin as you pull it through the fabric.
5. It is important to keep the stitches even and not too tight without
letting them sag loosely. If you can see the whole in the fabric when
you are finished, your tension is too tight.
6. The number of strands of embroidery floss is usually suggested, but
you can experiment to get the look you like.
7. Do not knot the thread to start or end stitching. Instead leave about
a 1 inch “tail” on the back of the fabric and stitch over it to start.
Then to start a new piece of floss gently go under the previously made
4-5 stitches. To end your stitching go under already stitched sections.
Do not leave long pieces of floss on the back of the fabric, because it
will show through when you finish the piece.
8. Fractional stitches (1/4, 1/2, or 3/4) are made using parts of the
“X”. They are added to the design to make items look round. NOTE: See
“How to Cross Stitch on Aida” and “How to Cross Stitch on Linen” for
9. To prevent twisting and knotting of your floss—occasionally hold up
your fabric and let the needle and thread dangle free. You will see it
spin, this is making the floss straight, and you will have less
10. If you are stitching a large or very detailed piece you may want to
photocopy the pattern and use colored pencils or markers to mark where
you have stitched. REMEMBER THAT CHARTS ARE COPYRIGHTED SO YOU MAY NOT
COPY THEM TO GIVE TO ANOTHER PERSON OR SELL THEM THIS IS AGAINST THE
LAW! It also hurts designers and shops who depend on the sale of their
charts for their business and their living. Some designers give you
permission to copy their charts for stitching purposes only!
11. If you are adding beads or special buttons to the piece, these are
added after all the other stitching is complete. Most bead packages or
companies have instructions on the proper way to add them to your work.
12. At times a chart may call for blending two colors for kinds of
floss. This is easy and fun to do and will create a different look to
your stitching. Again most companies have a web site telling you how
best to use their products and how to care for them.
13. It is best not to use hand lotions/creams while stitching your piece
and to wash your hands frequently. The oil in the lotion soak into the
fabric and can damage it or leave stains. If you must use it I suggest
using “Udderly Smooth”. It is a greaseless cream and used on the udders
of cows. Sound crazy but it works and is sold in lots of store including
14. It is also recommended that as you hold the piece, you fold the back
forward over the front piece far enough that your hands never touch the
front of the piece.
15. If you need to clean the piece before you frame it or finish it, use
only recommended cleaning soaps or solutions. Check with your local
needlecraft shop for their recommendations!
16. While stitching your piece do not leave the embroidery hoop on the
piece overnight, because this will cause stretching and leave rings on
your work. Store in a zip lock bag to keep it out of reach of children,
spills and pets.
17. If you are using dark color of floss you may want to “wash” your
floss before you use it! Do this by gently putting the skein of floss
into cool to lukewarm water for a few minutes, then take it out and dry
on a paper towel overnight before using it for stitching. You can add a
little white vinegar to the water to set the dyes.
18. If you do not wash your floss and the dye runs onto your fabric when
you are cleaning it, it’s time to panic, but do not dry it! Instead,
carefully put it back into cool water. Either leave it there for several
hours and see if the dye will come out or gently rub in a small amount
of “Shout” spot remover and let it soak or just run lots of water
through the piece. Hopefully the spot will come out. Rinse lots!!
19. There are several ways to finish your needlework, from framing to
pillows to wall hangings to bell pulls to box toppers to serving tray
inserts and many more! Visit your local needlecraft shop for many more
20. There are several other kinds of fabrics such as silk gauze, waste
canvas, and paper to stitch on, each requiring special directions. Most
needlecraft shops give classes, give them a try!
21. The needles used for most cross stitch vary, generally use what you
like to stitch with! Some needles are blunt and some are pointed. The
pointed ones are easier to use if you are doing a lot of quarter
stitches on Aida and need to separate the fabric, but pointed needles
also separate the fabric where you don’t want them to, so use with care.
Once you stitch with both kinds of needles you will find what works best
Fabric - Aida