Today I’m answering a reader question about the right or wrong way to cross stitch, as well as giving some details to make your projects truly shine.
Is there a right or wrong way to cross stitch?
If you end up with a little cross formed by two stitches that you’re happy with, then you’re doing it right. Yay!
Some people may disagree with me but I think we are all the first person to enjoy our own projects and all opinions are subjective. If you are happy with it, then it is perfect.
That said, here are some things to think about:
Are all your top stitches going the same way?
Your crosses are made out of two stitches – a lower stitch and a top stitch. If you have all the top stitches going the same way, then your work will look even and consistent giving a neater finish to the whole project. Over the years, I have got into the habit of stitching my lower stitch from bottom left to upper right corner, then the top stitch from lower right corner to upper left corner. Even when I work the two stitches from the top corners to the bottom corners, I still have the same direction stitch on top.
Are you stitching one cross at a time or a row of stitches?
Sometimes it is easy to work the lower stitch of a whole row of crosses, then work back across the row adding the top stitches. It is easy to work a block of colour this way rather than changing colours all the time.
But be aware that as you work your crosses, you may twist your thread slightly with each stitch so that the thread naturally gets thinner as you go along. If you don’t ‘un-twist’ the thread every few stitches, you will see that the crosses get thinner too and more of the background fabric will show through. The result is that your overall project will look a little patchy and uneven with more or less background fabric showing through the stitches.
To ‘un-twist’ your thread:
- if you can work out which way you twist, then make it a habit to twist the thread the opposite way every few stitches.
- Hold your project upside down and then the needle and thread dangle down. Usually, the thread will naturally unwind as it hangs there.
Are you using enough strands of thread to cover the fabric?
Cross-stitch is usually stitched on even weave fabric like Aida or linen. The weave of these fabrics creates small squares and the crosses will cover the squares as you create your project. These fabrics come in different ‘thread counts’ which relate to the size of the squares that are formed by the woven threads. Often stranded embroidery thread is used which separates neatly into 6 strands. Many patterns will tell you what thread count fabric to use and how many strands of thread, but you may not have exactly what the pattern asks for, or the pattern may not state a particular fabric. In either case, you want to make sure that you are using enough strands of thread that the squares are mostly covered by your cross stitches. In many cases, you will be fine with two strands of thread, but stitch a few crosses and make sure you are happy with the coverage of the fabric.
Are you using the same number of threads throughout the project?
Once you have decided how many strands of thread to use for a project, you would usually use the same number of strands for all your crosses. Sometimes a pattern may ask you to use less or more strands to create texture in a particular section of the project, but otherwise use the same number of strands throughout. This will create a consistent texture and coverage of the fabric.
Cross stitch is one of the easiest embroidery stitches to master but it is the little details that will make your project truly beautiful art. Like all things, practice makes your skills improve over time so don’t be afraid to get stitching. Hopefully, I’ve given you some details to work on!