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Welcome to MyStitchWorld.com. Cross Stitch Distributors

Cross Stitch Tips And Tutorials 3

Table of Contents


6. Cross Stitch and Needlework Stitches

          How to cross stitch.  This is a simple tutorial on the basic stitches used in cross stitch.  To begin a cross stitch; bring your threaded needle up through the backside of your fabric, leaving a short tail of floss out the back.  Work your first few stitches over this tail to secure it.  You can also use what is called a loop knot.    A loop not is a good choice if you are using two strands of floss (which you do in most cross stitch) or when your design calls for just a few stitches like a flower, star, eye, etc.  Fold your threads in half and insert the cut ends in the eye of this needle, leaving a loop at the bottom or tail.  Bring the needle up through the back side of the fabric in step one, then down through the fabric in step two and then go through the loop on the back side, thus anchoring your thread down.    There are no knots in cross stitch.  To finish your row of stitches, run your floss under 3 or 4 stitches on the back. 

Single cross stitch:

          Work each square by bringing your needle and floss up through hole 1 and down through hole 2, up through 3 and down through 4 to make an X. 

Row of cross stitches:

Work from left to right first and then right to left.  Work in rows when ever possible.  Go up through hole 1, down through 2, up through 3, down 4, and so on. 

           The back of your fabric should be almost as neat as the front.  Try not to make jumps of more than 3 stitches of the same color thread on the back.  It wastes thread, may show through, and looks tacky.  Remember, the back of your cross stitch should be almost as neat as the front if you are a good stitcher.  When working a new area, secure the thread behind a few stitches, cut and start a new set of stitches in the new area. 


Video above is on basic cross stitch

Half stitch:

          For a softer look, your project may call for areas of half stitches.  Half stitches of one strand of floss are often used for the sky or mountains and tress in the back ground. A half stitch is half a cross stitch.  Up through hole 1, down hole 2,  and so on.   This is the same stitch used for petipoint and needlepoint, except that peti and needlepoint are worked on canvas.   Petipoint is worked on canvas with 16 or more count (or meshes) per inch, which makes it a smaller more delicate stitch. 


Video above is on half stitch

Back stitch:

          The back stitch is used to outline the design once you are done with all the cross stitches.  Outlining will define your design and make it more “finished” looking.  You generally use one strand of floss for this.  Bring your needle up through hole 1, down through 2, up through 3, and so on.



Video above is on back stitch

¼ stitch:

          ¼ stitches are used for contours in your design.  For a ¼ stitch, bring your thread up through hole 1 and then down through the center of the square you are working on.  This is a little harder when using Aida because you must push the needle through the center of the square.   When working with Linen, Jobelan, Lugana, and other fabrics there is a hole in the center of the square of the X, which makes quarter stitches much easier to do.

3/4 stitch:

          3/4 stitches are also used for contours in your design.  It is a 1/4 stitch and a 1/2 stitch combined. 


Video above is on 3/4 stitch

French Knot:

       French Knots are occasionally used in cross stitch, usually for things like flowers, buttons, etc.  They can give your piece a textured look.  First, bring you needle and thread up through hole 1.  Hold your needle with your right hand, take the thread with your left hand and wrap it around your needle twice while keeping the tension tight.  Keep holding the thread tightly and put the needle back down through the fabric at hole 2.  Pull on the loop so it stays wrapped tightly around the needle and pull the needle from the back to make your French Knot.

Stitching on Linen or and Evenweave fabric

Stitching over two

     When stitching on linen you generally stitch over two threads of fabric.  The basic stitch on linen is done from left to right, bottom to top.  Each square of fabric for each stitch (cross) is  like working in a tic-tac-toe grid.  Slant over two threads of fabric and up two threads of fabric.  Once you have work about three stitches, the eye will begin to see the pattern and it should make stitching easier.  Do your first row of stitches from left to right and then cross back from right to left.  The back side of your fabric will show vertical stitches (up and down). 


Video above is on Stitching over two threads.


Hoop-less Stitching

     It is not necessary to use a hoop when stitching on Linen.  Instead, hold you hand in a relaxed position with the thumb and forefinger grasping the cloth and the little finger anchoring it.  Use a sewing motion rather than a stab stitch.  A sewing stitch is one scooping movement in and out.  Be sure not to do the stitches too tight as to distort the fabric or too loose. 

   Remember, there are no knots in cross stitch.  Knots can either pull through the fabric, or leave bumps.   This makes your work sloppy and tacky.


    Hardanger is a embroidery or needlework method that began in Hardanger, Norway.  It was originally done on white or off white  Linen fabric with a similar color of thread.  Today there is a special 22 count fabric made just for doing Hardanger work called Hardanger fabric.  It comes mostly in neutral colors, but there are some colors like purple starting to come out.  Most of the stitching is done with either a size 5 Pearl Cotton floss and a size 8 floss for the finer work.  Hardanger can be combined with cross stitch to make a beautiful piece of work.  Hardanger is  easier than it looks.  I  just recently taught myself  how to do Hardanger.  Many of my ancestors were from Norway, so I found it interesting and fun.  It is so easy that I have already started to create my own patterns for Hardanger.  Once you learn the basic stitches, it is fun and easy to create your own patterns. 

    The most basic and easiest stitch used to create a Hardanger design is called the Satin Stitch. 


    Blackwork is a traditional method of cross stitch that is worked on a white linen fabric with a black thread.  Originally it was worked using black sheeps wool.  No other color was added to the design.  For a more modern twist on blackwork, you can us a colored floss to replace the black.   This type of design  is also referred to as a silhouette.   If you like to carry your work with you and don't want to bring a lot of supplies with you, this is a great compromise.  You only have to carry one type of floss, your fabric, a needle and scissors (a hoop if you use one). 

Relaxation, Berlin Embroidery (blackwork)

Relaxation (blackwork), by Berlin Embroidery Designs.

Swedish Weaving or Huck Weaving, Huck Embroidery.   Swedish weaving is stitched on ONE side of the fabric only.  This is accomplished by inserting the needle just under the float or vertical threads in the cloth you are working with.   The needle never penetrates the cloth.  This type of embroidery was very popular in the 1930's and 1040's.  I recently found a towel that my Grandmother stitched (pictured below) many years ago.  Swedish weaving can be done on any even weave fabric, but Huck fabric and Monks cloth are preferred by stitchers because they lend themselves well to the technique.  The type of floss or yarn you use will depend on the size and type of fabric you use for your design.  Pearl cotton thread or yarn is typically used to stitch Swedish Weaving.

Tips for Working a Large Pattern

Some cross stitch pattern designers make some very intricate designs.  They are often very large designs as well.  Designers like Heaven and Earth, Kustom Krafts, Cross Stitch Collectibles, and a few others, split their patterns into several pages.  The patterns are to be worked in 10 x 10 grids starting in the left hand corner of the fabric.  The best way to figure out where to start a gridded design is to take the stitch count of your pattern and divide it by the stitch count of your fabric.  Example:  Say the pattern is 240 x 240 stitches and the fabric is 16 count Aida.  Divide each side by 16.  In this case 240 divide by 16.  That means your design will be 15  inches square or 15x15 inches.  Find the center of your fabric by folding it in half lengthwise, then in half again by the width.  Get a tape measure.  From the center you will measure from the middle  to the top of the  fabric, half of the design height (in this case, half of 15 would be 7.5 inches).  Then measure  from that point (center/top)  again to the left,  half of the  width of your design.  (in this case also 15/2=7.5 inches)   That is where you should start the first block of 10 x 10 stitches.  Measure from the center up first, then from that point to the left side to figure out where to start your first grid of stitches, starting in the upper  left hand corner of your fabric.



7. Specialty Floss and Threads for Cross Stitch & Needlework

         There has been an explosion of different types of floss and threads used in needlework and cross stitch.  There are many wonderful textures and colors to choose from.  Silk, metallic, rayon, linen, filaments, wire, satin, etc.  We try to carry a large variety of the specialty floss and threads available that are used in many of the current cross stitch patterns on the market.

          Kreinik threads, originally known as Balger braids,  are a cross stitch and needlework thread that comes on a spool.  The side of the spool can be snapped off and on.  Snap the end off to find the start of the thread/floss.   Snap it back on to secure the rest of the thread.   Kreinik threads come in a variety of colors and styles. 


          Blending Filaments are very fine threads/floss and are somewhat difficult to use.  They fray easily, so use care when stitching with them.  Use short lengths of thread when stitching.  Blending filaments can be used alone or combined with other floss to create a highlight effect.  I like to use a thread conditioner when I am stitching with Kreiniks, especially the blending filaments. It coats the thread with a waxy type finish enough to hold it together better and allows it to slide through the fabric with less effort. Take your time.  It's not a race when you are using filaments.


          There are also Kreinik Braids and ribbons  which come in several different widths like #4#8#1, #5, #7, #1/8th and #1/16. etc. that are used in cross stitch.  These are thicker than the filaments and are a bit easier to use.  They can be very abrasive when pulled through your fabric, so use short lengths of thread/floss  to avoid too much pulling.   

          Some categories of Kreinik threads are high luster (HL), glow in the dark (F), cord (C),  vintage (V), Japan (J), cable (P),  and holographic (L)..   For example, BF024HL is blending filament 024, with a high luster.  The holographic floss is new and very interesting. 


         Glissen Gloss is another product line of metallic threads and floss.  They come wrapped on a bobbin and are easy to use.  The Rainbow blending thread is a metallic blending  filament wrapped with and supported by nylon fiber, for unbeatable strength, integrity, and memory. It will not stretch or break according to the manufacturer.  Many patterns call for the use of Rainbow blending filaments.  They are available in 52 sparkling colors.


        Glissen Gloss also has a product called Estaz.  It is similar to the garland on a Christmas tree in that it is fuzzy.  It's soft core is wrapped with evenly clipped strands to create fullness.  It adds  texture to you cross stitch piece.  Be careful where you hide your Estaz because husbands like to use it to create fishing lures.  Glissen Gloss also has a beautiful like of silk cross stitch floss that is varigated.  It is called Colorwash Silk floss. 


       DMC pearl cotton floss  is used for projects like Hardanger embroidery, embroidery, and needlepoint.  Pearl cotton floss comes in all the same colors as  the DMC Mouline 6 stranded floss.  Pearl cotton comes in different sizes.   Pearl cotton floss  comes in a few different sizes in skeins and balls.  The typical sizes are 5, 8 and 12. A highly mercerized, non-divisible, lustrous 100% cotton thread on a twisted skein. DMC Pearl Cotton skeins are available in two sizes - 3 and 5 (the higher the thread size, the finer/thinner the thread).   Size 5 (Art. 115/5) is available in 27 yard skeins in 292 solid and 20 variegated colors. It is ideal to use for cross-stitch, embroidery, needlepoint, hardanger, blackwork, redwork, pulled thread, smocking, applique and many types of creative stitchery.


      Pearl Cotton Variations (Art. 415)  Pearl Color Variations, DMC's new specialty thread. Pearl Cotton Variations is a lustrous multi-color, highly mercerized, non-divisible thread with an over-dyed look. Available in 36 beautiful shades with 27 yards per twisted skein.   Each skein of Pearl Cotton Variations is a combination of current DMC colors, allowing stitchers to coordinate Pearl Cotton Variations with DMC Pearl Cotton to create beautiful designs with colors that compliment one another perfectly.   Pearl Cotton Variations is 100% Colorfast, Fade Resistant, and offers guaranteed Color Consistency from one skein to another.  It is ideal to use for cross-stitch, embroidery, needlepoint, hardanger, blackwork, redwork, pulled thread, smocking, applique and many other types of creative stitchery.


     DMC Light Effects is made in France.  It is a 6 ply metallic floss.  You can use it just like DMC's standard Mouline' Stranded floss (their main brand of floss).  You can separate the strands and use 2 for a typical cross stitch, or more strands depending on your needs.  DMC suggests Light Effects:  DMC Light Effects is a line of 36 glistening specialty threads that will add reflective qualities to any needlework or craft project. The gorgeous shades include Precious Metals, Jewels, Antiques, and Pearlescent shades, plus trendy Fluorescents and Glow-in-the-Dark tones.  There was a smaller selection of these metallic threads available from DMC in the past that you may find on older patterns with DMC colors  that start with the number 5.  The new color numbers for the older patterns are E168=DMC5283, E310=DMC5279, E316=DMC5288, E317=DMC5287, E699=DMC5269, E815=DMC5270, E3837=DMC5289, E3843=DMC5290 and E3852=DMC5284.


     DMC Color Infusions  Memory Thread is made in France by DMC.  It is a soft fiber wrapped copper wire.  It allows you to add color, dimension and texture to your needlework or cross stitch.   Memory Thread is colorfast, fade resistant and acid free.  It is hand wrapped on a recyclable shuttle for easy use.  You can reuse the shuttle to hold other thread on it when you are finished with the Memory Thread that comes on it.  DMC Memory Thread comes in 36 vibrant colors.  Memory Thread, when used for needlework, is applied to the surface once the project is near completion. It is not intended to be threaded in a needle. Rather, Memory Thread is couched or tacked down to the project. The ends can be pushed through to the back side (through an enlarged hole) or they can be crimped back on themselves and stitched down on the front.


      Caron Collection Waterlilies Silk Floss.  A twelve-ply hand-dyed variegated silk. It gives a subtle sheen when stitched and has particularly good light reflection qualities. Use a single ply for very fine work or as many plies as necessary to suit stitch and ground fabric. Many of the colors match Watercolours and Wildflowers, but because the silk fibers take the dye differently, they may be more subdued.  Some of the Mirabilia patterns call for Waterlilies floss.  It is a very unique floss for cross stitch.

          Caron Collection Wildflowers.  A single strand hand-dyed cotton in variegated colors. It has more of a matte finish when stitched. Use one or more strands as required by the ground fabric. One strand is approximately the same weight as flower thread or Medicis wool. It is between a #8 and #12 pearl cotton in weight. It is available in all the same colors as Watercolours and the two threads can be used very successfully together for Hardanger embroidery. Can be used for bobbin work on quilts.


     Weeks Dyed Works floss is a hand  over-dyed, 6 stranded cotton fiber floss.  It comes in an extensive array of colors. Some solid and some variegated.  The color changes are very subtle for a soft effect.   Several Mirabilia patterns call for Weeks Dyed Works floss. I keep most in stock, but it takes awhile to reorder, so they can take a few weeks to come in at times.


     Valdani floss is a  6Ply floss that come in skeins - they are Hand-Overdyed colors in Cotton Floss.  Valdani floss comes in 121 colors.  Most are variegated.


     NeedlePaints floss  by Lavender and Lace (distributed by Wichelt) are being manufactured once again.   We were pleased to see them come back into production.  They are a made of 100% Egyptian cotton and are divisible.  They come in beautiful rich shades  of Robbins Egg Blue, Orchid and Lavender/Blue.  They are made specifically for several of Lavender and Laces patterns.