Whether you are 7 or 70, male or female, anyone can learn to cross stitch. I learned when I was 14 and was taught by my mother.
What materials do I need?
Here is a list of the basic materials you will need to get started. If you start with a kit, some of these materials will be included in the kit:
- Pattern (included in a kit)
- Fabric (included with a kit)
- Thread (included with a kit)
- Q Snap frame, hoop or scroll rod frame
Now let’s talk about a couple of these materials.
You don’t want to use the scissors you would use in your kitchen or anywhere else. You want a pair of embroidery scissors that you use ONLY for your cross stitch. There are many ones out there, but here is an example of one. I love unicorns so I love this one!
You can use any needle, but I have found certain ones I just like more than others because of how they feel and go through the fabric. They come in a few different sizes, but 24 count size works just about on anything. Unless you are working on a really small count of fabric, than you may want to use a 26 count. These are the needles I have found I like the best:
Q-Snaps, Hoops, and Scroll Rod Frames
Now if you are new to stitching, you probably have no clue what a q snap frame or a scroll rod frame is. You probably know what a hoop is (or can figure it out just by the name). I personally LOVE q-snap frames! If you haven’t tried them yet, you need to! You can purchase any size q snap frame you need by clicking on the picture below to be taken to our shop page.
Is a kit the best way to start?
When I first learned to stitch, I only knew about kits and that is all I did for many years! Then about 9 years ago I discovered a Facebook cross stitch group. It was here that I found out just how much more there was to cross stitch other than kits…and the addiction began! LOL Seriously, I never had a “stash”.
I always bought a kit and finished it before I started anything else. Now I have SO much stash! My most recent addiction that I have had to curb myself a bit from buying is hand-dyed fabrics, but we will discuss that in a bit.
So now back to the question of is a kit the best way to start? Yes and no. Maybe a small kit with all of your materials is the best way to start if you are not sure you want to keep stitching. But if you know you are already hooked and love cross stitch, I say no, a kit is not the best way to start.
Here are some problems I have come across with kits:
- Material is not usually a very good quality.
- Don’t get enough materials. I don’t know how many times I have run out of thread. Then if it was a DMC kit, I had to figure out the conversion to what that color would be in DMC.
I rarely ever do kits anymore unless I can’t find what I am looking for in just a pattern only. There are so many places to buy patterns online and local cross stitch shops (if you lucky to have a cross stitch shop near you).
Ways to organize your floss
I find the pattern I am looking for and if I don’t have the DMC threads I need, I go buy them. Then I wind them on plastic bobbins (I hate the cardboard ones because they don’t hold up very well and than the thread doesn’t stay wound on them nicely).
Then I store them in storage boxes like this one:
I have about 4 of these full of DMC floss. Another way some people like to store their floss is using what is called “Floss-A-Way” organizers. They are baggies you store your floss in. The advantage of using This is not having to wind all the floss onto a bobbin.
What type of material is best to learn on?
There are a few different kinds of materials to stitch on:
- Aida – most popular count is 14, 16 and 18.
Aida is what I stitched on for MANY years. It is only within the last year that I started to stitch on evenweave and linen and now I that is all I like to stitch on now. What is the difference? Click here to see what a piece of Aida looks like.
This is what it looks like to stitch on Aida, you are going over 1 hole.
You start in the bottom left hole of a square and go into the top right hole of that square and you continue across for as many stitches of that particular color you need. Then you come back and cross over from bottom right to top left.
Evenweave and linen are a bit different. After stitching on Aida for so many years, it was a little intimidating to try stitching on evenweave and linen. But so many people kept saying, “try it, you will love it and never go back to Aida”. Well I tried it once, and it was okay, but did not stick with it.
But than I did my first big piece on a piece of beautiful hand dyed linen and I LOVED how it turned out and by the time I was done with it, I was no longer intimidated and love stitching on it. This was my first big piece stitched on linen.
It is my wedding sampler. I know, definitely not your traditional wedding sampler and there is a good story behind how I got this design, but that is a story to be told at a later time This was designed by Sue Hillis.
If you have a lot of background, evenweave or linen is the fabric to use. It just has such a beauty to it that you don’t quite get with Aida. If you are a new stitcher, you have the advantage of not quite yet being used to Aida so stitching on evenweave or linen should be easier for you. It really is not hard.
Click here to see what a piece of evenweave looks like. The biggest thing to remember when stitching on evenweave or linen is that you are going over 2 holes instead of one. Here are some pictures to show you what I mean.
The pictures are of linen. So if you clicked to see what evenweave looks like, you can see what I mean about how the strands on this linen are not quite as even, some are thicker than others. But the concept of stitching on it are the same for evenweave and linen.
In the above picture, you can see that you start in the lower left corner, and skip 1 hole going up and skip 1 hole going over and going down in the upper right, just like on Aida.
Then you come down to the hole in the right corner, skipping 1 hole, and cross it over up in the left corner.
And wa-la! You have done your first cross stitch on linen (or evenweave). The difference between evenweave and linen is that linen is not completely “even” in how it is woven. Evenweave on the other hand, just like in its name, is more even and probably a better fabric to start with and than move to linen.
Linen and evenweave are much needle shop, where Aida tends to be stiffer so I have found it much more enjoyable to stitch on a softer fabric.
You will find a much nicer selection or beautiful hand dyed fabrics if you use evenweave or linen. I went into a local needle shop in Texas and was looking for a piece of hand dyed Aida fabric for a friend. Unfortunately they did not have much in Aida and said they did not get much of a request for it.
So based on that I would say that, at least there in Texas, more people stitch on evenweave and linen than Aida. It does all come down to your own preference, but I would give it a try and I think you will find the more you work on evenweave and linen, the more you will like it. Do not let it intimidate you and do not give up. Stick with it!
How do I start?
I will keep this section short. There are a couple different ways to start a pattern, but I am only going to discuss one here. At another time I will be adding a tutorial of another method.
The way I am going to discuss here involves starting in the middle. You take your piece of fabric and fold it in half and than in half again. When you open it back up, you will see you have a center point right in the middle created by the folds.
If you go to your pattern and you should see arrows on the top and sides and where those intersect is your starting point. Then you work out from there. I always work down. I always hated when I had all the bottom done and than had to work up.
But than one day someone in my cross stitch group said they just turn their pattern upside down as well as their stitching and still work down. DUH! Makes sense, don’t it? LOL
Where can I find patterns, fabric and floss?
There are so many places to find patterns, fabric and floss. One of my favorite places to get my patterns from is www.123stitch.com. Their shipping is extremely fast and they have almost anything you could ever want.
You can also search here on Amazon for lots of great patterns!
But if you can’t find what you are looking for, my next suggestion is to join this Facebook group, The Stitchers Stash. It is a business owned by my good friend, Jayme Makowski. Jayme has been a good friend and has helped me plan and organize the cross stitch retreats I host for my group each year.
If you haven’t heard yet about the retreats I host, please go here to see more details and maybe join us! We have A LOT of fun and you can make many great new friends!
Does it matter what my back looks like?
This is a bit of a controversial question among stitchers. My answer is yes and no. You want to keep it neat and free of knots so that it will lay nicely if you frame it. Does the back NEED to look exactly like the front? No, it doesn’t as no one is really going to see the back.
But you do not want to carry your thread too far. Meaning, you don’t want to skip more than 10 squares to get to the next stitch with that color. You are better off going down to the next row or ending that piece of thread and starting a new one at that next stitch.
But if you have stitches you can run the thread under, than you can skip more than 10 stitches and be okay. You just don’t want a bunch of loose thread as it can affect how the overall piece looks on the front. Here is the front and back of a piece I am currently working on.
So while the back does look a lot like the front, it is not going to be perfect. You just want to keep it neat and tidy to lay nicely when framed.
Stitching should be fun!
I hope you found some useful tips and learned a little something from this article. If you did, please leave me a comment below as I love hearing any and all feedback!
The most important thing to keep in mind as a new stitcher is that it should be fun! As I build my site out more, I plan to add more tutorials about the different kinds of stitches there are and how to do them.
There are lots of reasons people stitch. Some do it to relieve stress. Some are taught at an early age and than just keep going because they enjoy it (that is me). Although it is also a great stress reliever for me too!
But whatever the reason is, cross stitching is a beautiful art and it should always be enjoyable.
In another article coming soon, I will discuss and give you some great ideas of what all you can do with your wonderful cross stitch creations. There are so many ways you can make them into the perfect gifts!
If you ever have a request for a tutorial or have any questions about anything, please feel free to leave me a comment below or email me at email@example.com and I will be happy to help!