Learn How To Cross Stitch & Find Great Project Ideas
Cross-stitch is a type of needlework that consists of an X stitch repeated to make up a pattern. Because of the square nature of the stitches, the end designs have a pixelated look about them, which has therefore made it more accessible to young people currently as a way to create 'geeky' art depicting gaming characters like Super Mario, and as an ode to retro tech.
This craft may be regarded as old fashioned still by many, but as well as a great wealth of traditional patterns, there are now a large number of modern patterns so that it appeals to younger people and hopefully will help to stop this versatile technique from dying out.
On this page I have compiled brilliant beginner guides for starting cross stitch, plus links to many inspiring blogs and interesting projects for you to try. There are links to my favorite free patterns and charts too.
I hope it provides a good resource for you :)
Cross Stitch On Paper
Best Cross-Stitch Kits & Supplies
Aida cloth, embroidery floss, an embroidery hoop and a needle are the must-haves for this craft, and all-inclusive kits are a brilliant way for beginners to start.
So What Is Cross Stitch?
Cross stitch is where simple 'X' stitches are applied to fabric in an even and ordered fashion. The design can be small or only consist of few, spaced-out stitches, or an entire piece of fabric can be covered with cross stitches with no gaps in between.
Usually the fabric will be an 'evenweave' mesh made of cotton, which is perfect for cross stitch because it consists of evenly spaced holes, and you simply thread your stitches through these holes to ensure they are all of equal size. When buying this kind of fabric, it will be labelled with how many holes are present per square inch e.g. '14 count' means that there are 14 holes per inch.
The most popular evenweave fabric is 'Aida' cloth which has a woven mesh.
Fabric can have a design pre-printed onto it to give you a guide for your stitching, or you can transfer the design from a separate cross-stitch chart (the 'counted cross stitch' technique), or you can go freestyle!
Embroidery floss is usually the type of thread used for the stitches, with floss being a thread made up of 6 separate cotton strands. If you're using a cross-stitch chart or kit it will tell you how many strands to use. The higher the count of fabric you are using, the more holes there will be per inch and therefore less strands of thread will be used because the stitches will need to be finer (there will not be enough space for many strands to go through the holes). Anchor and DMC are the most popular brands of floss.
Cross stitch is one of the oldest types of embroidery and has a lot in common with other forms of needlework. Cross stitch traditionally was used to decorate plain household items like dishcloths, but now it is used for a wider range of decorative objects and is often used in modern designs now rather than 'old-fashioned' images. A type of cross-stitch popular with younger generations is pop culture cross-stitch, which includes fan art for TV shows and video games, and the more daring 'subversive' cross-stitching which can be more than a bit cheeky!
Cross Stitch Tutorial Videos
Cherry Blossom Hoops
Cross-Stitch Tutorials for Beginners
- Cross-Stitch Walkthrough
Stitch how-to and starter info.
- How to Frame Your Work
A pretty how-to for displaying your cross stitch.
- Free Cross Stitch Pattern Maker
Transform a photo into a pattern chart with this online software.
- Cross Stitch Basics
Everything you need to know to get started.
- Create Your Own Design
By drawing your cross stitch pattern on paper first.
- Heart Pattern Walkthrough
Learn how to stitch a simple heart pattern with step-by-step instructions.
- Finish Off Your Work
Tidy up your work to display it in the embroidery hoop.
- Custom Printable Graph Paper
Useful for if you want to draw out your own patterns.
- Woven Fabric Guide
Find out what evenweave and Aida fabrics are, and what the numbers mean.
- How To Use Waste Canvas
A brilliant tutorial for cross stitching on clothes, bags and more.
The 'X' Stitch
The cross stitch itself is so simple, and all you need to do is:
- Push your needle up from the back of the fabric (e.g. Aida cloth) through one of the holes. You usually start in the center of the fabric and work outwards, but it's not compulsory.
- Pull the needle through to the top, leaving a tail of thread about 2 inches long at the back.
- Push the needle back down through the hole diagonal to the one you've just used. I always use the order shown in the diagram, so I go right one hole and up on hole.
- Pull the needle through to the back, making sure you don't pull hard enough to drag the thread tail through the fabric.
- You have now completed a half stitch.
- Now you push the needle up through the fabric one space above where you started.
- Push the needle back through to the back, going through the hole to the right of where you started.
- In conclusion, you go up through hole A, down through hole B, up through hole C and down through hole D.
I have seen instructions for different orders, such as ABDC and BACD. It doesn't really matter as long as you use a consistent technique across your whole project, so just do the order that you prefer :)
Colorful Handmade Hairband
Inspiring Examples Of Needlework & Blogs Full Of Ideas
- Cross Stitch Gallery
Inspiring Flickr gallery of work.
Lovely blog with many finished pieces displayed and patterns to print.
- Mr X Stitch
Funny patterns in all embroidery types.
- DMC Threads
Professional blog with lots of photos, news and background info.
- Deep Fried Cupcake
Blog with brilliant pattern examples.
- One Stitch At A Time
Regular updates on intricate cross stitch projects.
- Final Fantasy Monopoly
Very impressive project where someone embroidered a Monopoly set.
- Pin Pals
Contemporary stitched designs on jewelry and other handmade items.
- Subversive Cross Stitch
Modern, contemporary and naughty designs.
Pop Culture Designs
To see the shop that sells this awesome Breakfast Club cross stitch pattern, click here.
Photo by Wee Little Stitches.
Snow Globe Ornament
Cross-Stitch Projects & Patterns
- Cross Stitch Pendant
Necklace pendant with a geometrical design.
- A-Z Free Patterns
Loads of cross stitch charts to use.
- Cross Stitch Projects
Scroll down a little for some lovely freebies.
- Cross Stitch Pumpkin
Fab Halloween project.
- Free Patterns Online
Including alphabet and holiday designs.
- Free Cross Stitch Patterns
More advanced patterns for the adventurous.
- Free Downloads
Free patterns for bookmarks and other accessories.
- Disney's Jasmine
A pattern for the princess in Aladdin with the fabulous hair!
- Cross Stitch Alphabets
An array of fancy lettering for you to try.
Abraham Lincoln Portrait
Top-Rated Cross Stitch Books
Estonian Patterned Pincushion
More Free Patterns & Creative Things To Stitch
- Bird Cross Stitch
Lots of hummingbird and other lovely bird templates.
- Pegboard Cross Stitch
Giant cross stitches make fab wall art.
- Heart & Arrow Pincushion
Free template for creating a dainty Valentine's day themed design.
- Stitched Heart Card
Romantic card for Valentine's day.
- Tardis Cross Stitch
Geeky pattern which can be used on a Valentine's day card.
- Mario Across The Ages
A selection of Mario patterns in different versions.
- Everything Is Going To Be Amazing
Fab text design from Bugs and Fishes.
- Valentine's LOVE
'LOVE' design inspired by the famous Philadelphia sculpture.
- Home Sweet Home Pillow
Cozy pillow with a cozy message.
- Free Geeky Patterns
Fun designs for Zelda, Star Wars, Doctor Who and more.
- Gene Simmons
Funny pattern of the rock star from Kiss.