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how to cross stitch

Cross stitch is one of today’s most popular craft hobbies. A cross stitch is an embroidery, stitching two diagonal lines across each other in each square of the cross stitch fabric, creating an x shape. It is more often known as counted cross stitch as you need to count the number of stitches to see where to place the stitch.

Cross stitch would make lovely gifts for friends and family or to decorate your house, because you can make them so personal. The cross stitch process takes time and effort, but it would be all worth it when you complete the embroidery.

Here are some tips & techniques on how to make a cross stitch.



Tip & Techniques

Choosing the Fabric

There are dozens of fabrics to choose from, such as aida, linen and evenweave.

Aida fabric is the most common fabric for cross stitch and recommended for cross stitch beginners. Aida has squares woven on the fabric, so you can follow the squares to stitch on your design.

The number of counts on aida fabric indicate how many squares are on the fabric per inch. For example, a 14 count fabric would have 14 squares per inch.

Evenweave fabrics are more complicated to stitch on. Unlike aida fabric which uses squares, evenweave only has threads shown on the fabric. Normally you have to stitch over 2 threads on the fabric to make up a "square".

The number of counts on evenweave fabric doubles the count on aida fabric. For example if you are stitching a 14 count cross stitch design, you will need to use a 28 count evenweave fabric.


Stitches & Sizes

There is usually a height and width measurement on cross stitch kits like this "28h x 112w stitches". These numbers indicate the number of stitches of the finished project. And the size of the finished project would depend on the number of counts.


Counts & Sizes 

The size of your finished design is determined by the number of counts. The greater the counts, the smaller the size of fabric.

For example, a design that has 28h x 112w stitches. For 14 counts, the design will have 2 inches (5.08cm) width and 8 inches (20.32cm) height. For 11 counts will have a 2.54 inches (6.46cm) width and 10.18 inches (25.86cm) height, and so on. 

When choosing the size of your fabric, make sure you leave a 3 to 5 cm space around the fabric for displaying later on.



To aviod misplaced stitches, you should draw a grid on the fabric that matches the griding in the design set. The stitch count grids is usually 10 x 10.

The grids could be sewed on or drawn by washable pens.


Floss & Threads

Cross stitch floss is a cotton thread used for stitching. Each floss has 6 strands, but you normally use less strands at a time for stitching.

Normally for 11 counts, you use 2-3 strands for stitching and 1-2 strands for back stitching. For 14 counts, you use 1-2 strands for stitching and 1 strand for back stitching.

But it is really up to you the number of strands to use, depending on how packed you want the design to look.


Stitch Method

The traditional method of making a cross stitch is to stitch one direction to the end of the row, then making the crosses in the return direction, making a X of each one.

Whatever direction you start, you should make sure that the top stitches should go in the same direction, so the finished design would look even.


Bury Thread

When you just finished a thread of certain colour, turn to the back of the cross stitch and run the threaded needle horizontally beneath the vertical lines of fabric. Repeat this 3-4 times to make sure the thread is buried firmly.


Back Stitch

Back stitch is used to outline designs when you have completed all the cross stitches. You should use one less strand of thread for back stitch than for cross stitch. However back stitch is not necessary if you want your design to look more realistic.



After completing the cross stitch design, you need to wash and iron the fabric.

You must make sure that the grids or other markings you made previously on the cross stitch is washed out before hanging the fabric to dry. When it is nearly dried, iron the fabric at approx 100°C.

You should keep your hands and equipments clean during this process.