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How to stitch

General Information for Cross Stitch or Counted Thread

Fabric - Aida or Linen

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 colors.

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 more hints.

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 knotting.

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 needlecraft shops.

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 ideas.

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 for you.

Fabric - Aida or Linen

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