Cross-stitching is a form of embroidery which is used to create pictures and patterns by stitching a series of ‘x’s in different colours. It gives a pixelated effect but it can also create texture when combined with other types of embroidery stitches.
Cross-stitching is simple (with a little practice and patience) but like most crafts it can be a little time-consuming. Personally, I think that the end result is worth all the effort and time. Also, once you get used to it, you’ll be able to cross-stitch as if by default while you’re watching a movie or listening to music or a podcast ~ Yay multitasking ^^
What you need:
- Embroidery needle
- Embroidery thread
- Fabric (if you’re a beginner I recommend using Aida which is available at most fabric/craft shops as it is lined with little holes so it’s much easier to keep the size of your ‘x’s consistent and in line with each other)
- Embroidery hoop (optional)
- Find inspiration – for me, this is the most time-consuming part. Pick out your colours and the image you want to create. There are tons of free patterns available online (I have linked a bunch of cool websites below). If you want to make your own pattern, I find it helps to draw on graph paper then pixelate the image using colouring pencils in the colours of the threads you want to use. However, for the purpose of this tutorial I’ll be using a simple cat silhouette pattern which I found for free online.
- Cut out your fabric. If you’re using an embroidery hoop make sure the fabric is cut bigger than the size of the hoop. First, take your embroidery hoop and separate the inner and outer rings.Next, lay your fabric which you cut to size over the smaller ring and fit the larger ring back over both the fabric and the smaller ring. once everything is in place, tug gently at the edges of the fabric so it is nice and taught inside your embroidery hoop – just don’t pull it too tight. It should look something like this at this point.
- Thread your embroidery needle. Everyone has their own way of doing this. The correct way is to split the embroidery thread which is made of 6 smaller threads in half so that you’re threading your needle with a band of 3 threads with a knot at the end but the 3 threads are not doubled (knotted into a loop). I prefer to take just one of the 6 threads and double it and then put a knot at the very end because I like it when the fabric is peeking through, also I find it easier to manage this way as it’s not so easy to pull the needle off my thread. It depends on how opaque or subtle you want the colour to be. If you vary the thickness of threads you can get some really interesting depth and texture in your embroidery. For the purpose of this tutorial, I’m only going to use one strand and double it because this will make the ‘x’s more visible for you guys. As you can see I have my thread looped with a simple knot at the end.
- Start stitching! Come in from the back of your fabric (make sure your thread is knotted). With Aida, you have a series of boxes composed of 4 holes – 2 on top and 2 directly below – which make each individual ‘x’. Start by taking your thread in from the back of one corner but don’t pull the thread the whole way through, leave a little tail at the back of your fabric. Now stick your needle through the front of the corner which is diagonal from it and when you come out through the back again slip your needle through the loop in the tail you left earlier.Pull through to secure your knot at the back of your pattern. It should look like this from the front now. Then starting from the back again go out through your 3rd corner and in through your 4th corner which is diagonal from it. You now have your first ‘x’!
- Repeat. Keep filling boxes diagonally until you’ve finished your pattern.
- Knot the back. Once you’ve finished (or run out thread or have to swap colours) tie a knot at the back and cut off the excess thread. Simple right? Just like the initial knot when you start stitching, I like to secure any knots I make by slipping my needle under a previous stitch (without going through to the front of your pattern) like so which leaves you with a little loop then I slip my needle under and through that loop and pull all the way through to secure your knot – if you’re using a metallic thread I recommend doing this at least twice.Now all that’s left is to snip off your excess thread and we’re done ^^
I hope you guys found this helpful and enjoy cross-stitching! I know it’s one of my favourite things to do when I’m itching to do something craftsy but I’m too tired to do anything that takes too much preparation and concentration or effort.
* Like I mentioned earlier I just doubled one thread which is why the pattern is quite transparent but if you would like your cross-stitching to be more opaque just use more thread on your needle – try doubling two strands as this would give the same effect as 4 single strands and will definitely fill out the boxes more.