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Cross Stitch Tips And Tutorials


8. Beading for Cross Stitch

Beads add sparkle and a three dimensional look to your cross stitch piece.  There are many different colors of beads to choose from.   One of the most popular company providing glass bead supplies is Mill Hill.  They have a variety of colors and sizes to choose from and their beads are top quality.   Mill Hill has Glass Seed BeadsAntique Glass BeadsPetite Glass BeadsPebble Glass Beads,  Frosted Glass BeadsSize 6 and Size 8 Beads; Small, Medium and Large Bugle Beads, and Magnifica Beads to choose from.  They also carry Mill Hill Treasures  which are beads that come in beautiful shapes like hearts, stars, roses, pumpkins, jewels,  tear drops, and many other shapes. They can add a very unique look to any piece.  You can choose from GlassCrystal, or Metal Treasures.

Magnifica Beads

CLICK HERE for a complete Mill Hill Bead Inventory and Size Guide


Attaching Beads:

 You may use one strand of floss (similar in color to your fabric) to attach your beads or beading floss  called Nymo thread that is a little stronger and designed specifically for beading.  I suggest the Nymo thread.  Nymo thread comes in black and white.  Chose the color that best suits the color of your fabric.  You will need a needle with a small head to fit through the beads.  I carry a beading needle made specifically for beading on cross stitch that is thin enough to fit through the beads and short enough to apply beads to your fabric.    Bring the threaded needle up through hole 1, thread with a bead and bring the needle down  through hole 2 as in a half stitch.

   Beads are generally attached after you have completed all of the stitching on your piece, including outlining. 

    I generally pour a layer of beads in a small dish or in a bead wheel organizer that keeps the different colors separate.  Then I spread a few beads of the color I am working with on a Tacky Bob.  Tacky Bobs (Box foBeads) come in a little 4 x 4 inch  case that looks like a small CD case and the inside is covered with a substance similar to fly paper.  It's a great way to separate your beads out and get a hold of each one with your needle.   Maneuver the  bead onto your needle off of the Tacky Bob and attach it to the fabric with a half stitch. The Tacky Bob's have very pretty decorative covers. There is even a magnet to attach your needle to when you are not working on it.    I really like my Tacky Bob.  It makes beading much easier.  I have put together a small beading kit for customers who like to bead often.


Buttons and Charms

Ceramic Buttons and Charms add character and fun to your cross stitch piece.  There are many hand painted buttons by Mill HillDebbie Mumm, and Jim Shore,  and they come in several different shapes with lots of detail.  The buttons are any where from half an inch to an  inch square, so they are just right for a cross stitch design.  They can be easily attached with a half stitch.  Add Charms to your piece to mark a special occasions or to make your cross stitch unique and special.  Charms are metal and some of them have stones in them.  There are several different styles and shapes of charms to choose from.  Try something new on your project today.


9. Finishing Touches

     Now that you have spent many hours completing your cross stitch project, it's time to put those finishing touches on it.  Go back over your piece and make sure you didn't miss any stitches or make any obvious mistakes.  If your are keeping your piece or giving it to a friend or relative as a gift, you may want to stitch your signature or initials on the front of the piece.  Make sure it's tastefully small. 


Washing your cross stitch:

     Some people chose to hand wash their cross stitch when they are finished in cool tap water or distilled water  using a mild liquid detergent.  I am not comfortable with this process, so proceed at your own risk.  Rinse the soap out with cool water and lay a white towel on your cross stitch and roll it up to dry.  Do not wring out your cross stitch.  Do not dry clean.  I generally just check my cross stitch for any marks  and spot clean if necessary with a clean, white, wet cloth.  If your are careful with your project while you are stitching and store it appropriately when you are not working on it, there should be little or no spots to deal with.  To store it appropriately take it out of the hoop or Q-snap when you are not working on it and roll the fabric and store it in a plastic bag to avoid stains from accidents or dust.  You can also purchase a beautiful fabric roll to keep your projects in when you are not working on them called a Needlework Project Keeper. Keep in a sewing basket or tote where you keep the rest of your stitching supplies.


Watch for Color bleeding when washing your design. 

      Color 'bleeding' or 'running' is when the dye from floss comes  off of where it should be, and attaches itself to another part of the cross stitch.   It is generally  red dye bleeding onto light colored fabric. Fortunately, it does not happen often, but you have to watch for it. This is why I am not comfortable with washing a cross stitch after you have spent hours and hours stitching it.  The cause is usually excess dye that was not completely washed out of the threads in the dying process. This is why it is recommended that you prewash red threads before you stitch, but in reality,  very few people do this. What you do want to do is watch carefully for any signs of bleeding when you are hand washing. If you see any signs of bleeding, stop washing, and start rinsing under  cold running water right away. Rinse for several minutes until the water runs clear. 



     You will want to gently iron your piece on a medium setting to remove any creases or wrinkles. Make sure your iron is clean of starch or water residue before using it.   Be careful not to "burn" your piece.  Do not use steam.  It may be helpful to us a pressing clothto iron your piece.  Follow the instructions given on the pressing cloth.  Any wrinkles not removed in this process will likely disappear when stretching your cross stitch on a frame when mounting.


To frame or not to frame:

     There are many ways to display your cross stitch after you have completed it.  You can sew it onto a pillow, put it in a decorative embroidery hoop, hang it with bell pulls, frame it, sew it into a table cloth, or quilt,  etc. 

     I prefer to frame my pieces and display them all over the house.  I suggest you have your piece professionally framed with acid free products to avoid yellowing of your fabric.  Choose a border that compliments your design. There is glare free glass available that works nicely.  Just consult your local framing shop.  Framing can be very expensive, so if you have a family member or friend that is good with woodwork, you may want to ask them if they can frame your picture for you if you pay for the supplies.


Storing your piece:

     If you prefer to store you piece until you decide what you want to do with it, lay it flat on a soft cloth,  roll it, put it in a plastic or cloth bag and keep it in a moisture free place in your house. 


10. Beware of De Quervain’s

   I know what you’re thinking.  Beware of whom? 


     De Quervain’s Disease is swelling and inflammation of the tendon or tendon sheath on the side of your wrist where your thumb is. 


     De Quervain’s is generally an over use injury as a result of activities that require lots of repetitive thumb and wrist movement like cross stitch and needle point.  People who do a lot of fine needle work can be susceptible.  Using a keyboard and mouse a lot can be a problem as well.


     Symptoms are swelling, pain or weakness along the thumb, wrist or arm.  Numbness in the hand, wrist, or fingers.   Pain will be more sever with lifting or pouring motions.         


Prevention tips: 

- Take frequent breaks while sewing. 

- When taking these breaks, don’t do something else that requires a lot of wrist action. (ie. like using a      keyboard or mouse), because these activities can be aggravating to the wrist as well

- Change position occasionally when sewing

- Stretch you wrist out a couple of times a day

- Do exercises that strengthen your wrist

-Use proper equipment when sewing

-Swimming is great for your wrist and arms


11. Make Your Own Cross Stitch Design

     If you like to draw then you can create your very own cross stitch designs. All you need is some graph paper, pencils, colored pencils, DMC color card,Kreinik Color Chart, and a Mill Hill Bead color chart.  For an even easier way to may your own patterns, try out a Transgraph Cross Stitch Kit


     Transgraph-X is the design-your-own counted needle art kit for creative customers who “just can’t find the right pattern.” The sturdy, clear plastic grid overlays help convert photos, drawings, or designs into counted needleart charts. Kit includes six graphs plotted 5, 11, 14, 18, 22, & 25 squares/inch; instructions. You will need a DMC color card to go with the Transgraph. Item number PRCOLCARD.


     Draw your picture on your graph paper with pencil so you can easily erase mistakes.  The larger the picture you draw, the more detailed it will be and the more colors you can use.  You can stitch the picture on any count fabric that you want.  The larger the fabric count, the smaller the picture will be once stitched. 


     Color your picture in carefully with your colored pencils.  Consider which side of your picture the sun is on, and shade your picture accordingly.  When blending colors together, it is important to use tweeding.  That is the blending of two or more colors of floss.


     Finally, you need to decide which floss colors you will use for your design.  This is where the DMC color card and Kreinik color chart come in handy.   They have samples of all of the different colors that Kreinik and DMC have available.   Use the Kreiniks for things like wings on fairies and angles, or edging on dresses.  Beads are great for things like flowers and berries on your picture or buttons. 


     Chose different symbols for the different colors of floss and beads to put on your graph to finish your chart.  Don't forget to use outlining for different areas of your design, like to accent the facial features of your design.  Now you are ready to stitch your own design and see how it comes out.  Click here for some basic cross stitch instructions.