"Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” - Edward de Bono
Painting, knitting, sewing, and even scrapbooking are all activities that are probably less popular than you think. For example, things like baking and DIY are more popular. However, embroidery is a great way to relax and put together some nice little gifts. With some thread, fabric, and an embroidery or cross-stitch kit, you can get started.
In this article, we'll take a look at what a cross-stitch is, what equipment you need to get started with cross-stitch, how to use patterns to complete projects, getting started with cross-stitch, and how you can move from cross-stitch to embroidery.
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What Is a Cross-stitch?
Have you decided you want to learn how to embroider but don’t have anyone to teach you?
Working from patterns isn’t as difficult as you might think but to make things easier, you might want to start with a cross-stitch.
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Cross-stitch, as the name indicates, is when you make a stitch in the shape of a cross. This type of embroidery uses only one type of stitch to make very recognisable designs. The main difference between cross-stitch and embroidery is that cross-stitches are very uniform. For example, the activity of cross-stitch is effectively embroidery where you only use cross-stitches.
In embroidery, the cross-stitch is just one of several stitches you can use. For example, you can use a backstitch, split stitch, stem stitch, etc.
By doing cross-stitch, you will limit yourself to only using the cross-stitch. That said, the cross-stitch is universal; it’s used by embroiderers the world over and is famous for its trademark “x” shape.
For beginners, it’s also easy to cross-stitch by following a pattern. You just have to stitch the appropriate colours in the right places. In many cases, you can find the pattern printed directly on the fabric. If this isn’t the case, you can just look at the pattern, count the number of stitches, and replicate this on your fabric. This is quite easily done if you have cross-stitch canvas.
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What Equipment Do You Need for Cross-stitch?
To get started with embroidery and cross-stitch, in particular, there’s plenty of equipment that you’ll need to get. In addition to the needles and thread, you also need to think about the fabric you want to get.
It's quite easy to pick up cross-stitch supplies.
A lot of people swear by DMC thread on account of its quality. If you’re happy doing your cross-stitch on specialised fabric, you won’t require needles that are too pointy. However, if you’d like to also use them for embroidery, you’ll need needles with a fine point. Make sure you also pay attention to how thick the thread is and ensure the eye of the needle is big enough.
When it comes to the fabric, you have a few choices for cross-stitch. Linen, cotton, clothes, canvas, Aida cloth, etc. Beginners should start with Aida cloth. This cloth has a grid on it much like graph paper at school and is useful for cross-stitch projects. This makes ensuring that your cross-stitches are uniform very easy. Once you’ve finished your project, you won’t be able to see the grid anymore. You can also find this fabric in a variety of different colours.
Experienced embroiderers will be able to use fabrics like linen. However, the weave can move around a lot, making embroidery difficult. You’ll need to count the threads to ensure that your embroidery is uniform. The advantage is that it will make it easier to alter the look of your project.
To cross-stitch onto a garment, there are special canvases you can get. These are known as waste canvas. This is because once you’ve finished cross-stitching, you can pull the threads of the canvas away leaving the cross-stitch pattern attached to the clothing. Of course, if you’re feeling particularly confident, you can always embroider directly onto clothing.
To make things easier, you should invest in an embroidery hoop. This allows you to stretch a fabric taut, making it easier to embroider or cross-stitch onto.
Everything we’ve mentioned is fairly basic embroidery equipment. Of course, you can get accessories like ribbons to integrate into your cross-stitch. You could also get rhinestones, faux diamonds, glitter, etc. to decorate your project. These things aren’t essential, but they are pretty.
Using Cross-stitch Patterns
To cross-stitch, you can use patterns to help you. These are diagrams that can show you how to cross-stitch all sorts of things like a cactus, butterfly, house, etc.
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You can keep it alongside you as you work on your project. Just count the number of stitches of a particular colour. While you may get into a rhythm, make sure you pay attention throughout your entire project. You don’t want to miss a line, stitch, or get the colour wrong.
You can also get patterns that are integrated into the canvases themselves. It’s much harder to get these wrong as you have to stitch directly onto the pattern and mistakes are far less likely. However, you can only choose from the patterns on sale. You can find patterns in haberdasheries and arts and crafts shops. These specialist stores sell things for knitting, crochet, sewing, patchwork, etc. and will often embroidery books. A lot of these will include plenty of patterns, explain the different stitches, and even detail projects like customising a cushion or a garment. These books may be a good idea if you’re teaching yourself.
Make the most of your time in the shop to check out the other embroidery equipment like hoops, needles, scissors, kits, etc.
You can also find patterns online and there are plenty of sites with patterns for all levels.
Once you’ve got all your equipment, you can get started. Keep in mind that you should always start in the centre of your project. If you’re using a canvas with the pattern printed on it, the centre is usually indicated. If you’re not using a pattern, you can always fold your fabric in four to find the centre.
Start by threading the needle, leaving around 15cm of string.
There are two main cross-stitch techniques you can use.
The traditional technique involves making small crosses one after the other. You need to make a diagonal with the thread and then again to form the cross. You’ll do a / and then a \. You’ll finish with your first cross “x”. The traditional technique is usually only used in isolated cases.
The Danish Method is used far more often in cross-stitch. In this case, you’ll do the entire line of a particular colour with the first set of diagonals. You’ll then come back across the lines to finish off each of the crosses. Once you’re back at where you started, you’ll have a line of cross-stitches.
No matter which technique you want to use, think about always sewing in the same direction so that each stitch is the same.
To get started, make sure you follow the instructions in your embroidery or cross-stitch kit.
Moving from Cross-stitch to Embroidery
Cross-stitch is just one aspect of embroidery. It’s considered to be the easiest stitch, which is why it’s recommended you start with it. In embroidery, there are many types of stitch including the backstitch, stem stitch, etc.
Starting with cross-stitch is a way to learn the basics of embroidery and is great for both children and beginners. That said, cross-stitch isn’t just for beginners as some patterns are rather complicated.
Whatever your goal, starting with cross-stitch is a great way to later move on to embroidery. If you want to learn new stitches, you can pick up some embroidery books or get embroidery private tutorials. There are also plenty of useful cross-stitch and embroidery resources online. Have fun!
Have a look on Superprof for some cross-stitch or embroidery tutors. There are tutors from all over the world and you can find face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. Many of the tutors even offer free tuition for the first hour so you can try a few of them out, see if you get along, and see if their teaching style is right for you. Like you would with your cross-stitch equipment, shop around before settling on what you want.
Once you've found the right tutor for you, you're ready to start creating some beautiful arts and crafts!