Do It Your Ownself

Didn’t your grandmother teach you how to cross stitch?

Doesn’t she love you?

Well, whatever. To hell with your grandma.

We love you enough to teach you this time-honored and revered craft.

Click the arrows below to uncover the Ancient Secrets of Cross Stitch:

The Basics
Note that each “string” of floss is six separate strands. Take out one strand (leaving 5 remaining). You’ll fold this in half to make two strands. Cross stitches are typically made with two strands, and backstitching typically uses one strand, unless otherwise noted in the pattern.

Locate the center of the pattern: there are two small black arrows marking the midpoint across the top and down the left side of the chart- follow these to the middle to find the center of your pattern. Approximate the center of your fabric, and find a section nearby to begin stitching. While it’s possible to begin stitching anywhere, if you stitch outward from the center, you’re assured that you won’t run out of fabric before you reach the edge of the pattern.

To complete the sampler, you want to transfer what you see on the chart to your fabric. Each square on the pattern represents one square of fabric. A square of fabric is inside a box of 4 holes- both the chart and the fabric are grids. The different symbols on the chart are matched to the colors of thread to stitch those squares.

To start, take your single strand of floss and fold it in half. Thread the two ends through the eye of your needle. Now you have two strands of floss connected by a loop at the end. Find the square you wish to start your stitch in, and from the back of the fabric, bring your needle through the bottom left hole. Don’t pull the thread all the way through!

Cross the square to the upper right hole, and push your needle through it. Turn the fabric over to the back and find the loop that holds the two threads together. Pass your needle through the loop and pull your thread to tighten- now your thread is attached to the fabric and you’re ready to continue stitching.

Cross Stitches
Cross stitches are made just like they look, like “X”s. You can either work in one direction across a row (“////”) (these are called half stitches) and then back across the row in the opposite direction (“\\\\”), or work each “X” individually (“/” “\”). Working half stitches across and back (“//// \\\\”) works best for stitching horizontally, and individual “X”s work best for stitching vertically. The important thing is that you want all of your “X”s to be consistent. The top thread of the “X”s should always cross in the same direction, or your finished sampler will look uneven.

Backstitching is stitched in straight lines just like it looks on the chart. Because it is often used to outline or detail an image on the pattern, it is important to always make your cross stitches before you begin backstitching.

Quarter Stitch
On the pattern, a Quarter Stitch will look like half of a square, divided down the diagonal. This stitch is made by coming up from the corner of the square opposite the diagonal, and down into the center of the square. Your stitch can begin from any corner of the square, depending on the particular design of the pattern. Try not to pierce the fibers of the fabric; gently separate them with your needle- it will slide easily into the space where the fibers cross the center of the square.

Here’s what it might look like in a pattern:


And here’s what it might look like on the cloth:

quarterstitch real

French Knots
French Knots may seem intimidating if you’ve never tried stitching them before, but with practice, you’ll find them easy, and appreciate the detail they bring to your needlework.

To complete the French knot, bring your needle up where the knot is placed on the pattern. Point your needle back down towards the fabric and wrap the thread around your needle twice. With the thread wound around, insert the needle back into the fabric close to where your needle came up (not in the very same space, or your knot won’t stay on the front of the sampler- perhaps move one fiber away from that spot). As you pull the needle back through the fabric, the knot will slide down into place. If you’ve never tried them before, you might want to practice a few French knots along the margins of your fabric. There are also many tutorials online if you need additional assistance- videos, too. Oh la la!

Lazy Daisy
To make the Lazy Daisy, bring your needle from the back, out the front at the point where the stitch originates. Make a loop and go back down into the same hole– don’t pull the loop all the way through! Next, from the back of the fabric, come back through the front at the point you want to be the top of the loop, inside the loop you made. Pull the thread so that it tightens the loop to the tension that you prefer- remember that you want the Lazy Daisy to have a little bit of a flowery, petal shape, so don’t pull it too taught. Cross your needle and thread over the loop and plunge back into your fabric just to the outside of the loop. Voila, a Lazy Daisy.

Long Diagonal
The “Long Diagonal” stitch, a Steotch specialty, is fairly exclusive to our designs. Once you understand the process, you’ll see that it’s really easy!

In these stitches, you will see three small squares in one pattern square, and another tiny square in an adjacent square, such that they make up a diagonal across two pattern squares. To make this stitch (and truly be a ninja), you need to identify the four fibers running in each direction of the square of Aida fabric.

To make the stitch with the three small squares, you will plunge the needle into the fabric 3 fibers in each direction (up/down, and over), leaving one fiber in each direction (up/down and over) between the needle and the hole.

On the pattern it might look like this:


On the cloth it might look like this:


Don’t forget to complete the cross stitch, finishing the “X” – unless the pattern requires you to make the half stitch first. Remember, you want all of the top threads of your stitches to be consistent.

To make the stitch with the one small square inside the pattern square, use the same technique as before, only cross just one fiber in each direction (up/down and across). It’s a very small stitch!

Vertical Half-Stitch
Vertical Half-Stitch- In this stitch, you’ll see a column of tiny squares running from top to bottom of the pattern square, meaning you make an “X” along half the width of the Aida square (like a skinny “X”). To do this, plunge the needle between the two vertical center threads, bisecting them, even with the holes at the corners of the square.


Horizontal Half Stitch
In this stitch, you’ll see a row of tiny squares across the top or bottom of the pattern square, meaning you make an “X” across half of the height of the Aida square (like a flattened “X”). To do this, plunge the needle between the horizontal center threads, bisecting them, even with the holes at the corners of the square. Most of the time in this pattern, there will be a complementary color making up the matching X” in the other half of the square.


The ¾ Stitch
The ¾ Stitch is a combination of the Quarter Stitch with a Half Stitch (which is one half of a cross stitch, or one complete leg of the “X”).

The ¾ Stitch looks like a small symbol tucked into a corner. Note the difference between these stitches and the Quarter stitches in the bottom of the frame in our example – Quarter stitches sit inside a small box.


To make the ¾ Stitch, first make a Quarter stitch starting in the corner of that symbol, and cross over the Quarter stitch with a Half Stitch across the diagonal of that square as it corresponds to the pattern.


Additional Notes
Try to keep your stitches even as you are working- you want them to lie flat against the cloth, but not so tight that they bunch up the fabric. Don’t worry if you eff it up. Every stitcher miscounts from time to time, and it’s easy to take the stitches out, just be patient and gentle.

Sometimes you will need to carry your thread across the back of your fabric, to reach another section of the pattern. Dark bras threads are often visible behind white fabric, and especially through the holes, so it’s sometimes preferable to avoid crossing long spans of fabric by securing and cutting your thread and starting your stitches again in the new section.

When you are not stitching, be sure to store your needlework somewhere safe and clean. Pin your needle somewhere along the edge of your fabric, outside of your stitching area, and put your work in a zipped plastic bag or another enclosure to keep it clean and free of dust.

Some people prefer to wash their needlework once they have finished stitching. If you wish, you may wash it in cold water with a small amount of a gentle liquid detergent. Do not wring it dry, but rather roll it between clean towels. Press your piece gently with a warm iron if needed- but don’t burn your fabric!

We didn’t really mean what we said about your grandma.

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