Cross Stitching: Tips for Beginners

Cross Stitching Do's and Don'ts |

A little over six months ago, I took up the hobby of cross stitching. I had a couple friends who had crafty hobbies (knitting, perlers, etc.) and I was inspired to take up something crafty myself. So I started cross stitching. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest and Youtube looking up tutorials. Since March, I’ve stitched up about 25 pieces and I’ve learned something new with almost every single one. Feel free to check out my finished work on Instagram. While there is still plenty to learn, here I am going to share some things I wish I knew when I started cross stitching.

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Cross Stitching Do's and Don'ts |

Always have a clear plan to follow

Whether it’s a pattern from Etsy or an original pattern, it will make life easier to have a guide. For original pieces, I like to use Microsoft Excel or use graph paper to draw it out. For patterns I find online, especially if big ones, I like to print it out and use a highlighter to keep track of where I am. Here are some samples of my drawn out patterns.
Cross Stitching Do's and Don'ts |
Along with this, I’d like to add another important tip about planning: count how many stitches you have to do before you start each line. There are few things that are more annoying than having to restitch a line because you did too many or too little stitches. It’s much better to take your time and pay attention than to have to redo the whole thing over again.

Don’t use knots for the end of a thread

This is something that I wasn’t able to find in a blog or tutorial. What I would do was make a little knot at the end of my thread and pull that until it was at the back of the cloth, then start stitching. However I learned much later that knots aren’t necessary while stitching. I find this method much easier and cleaner than making knots. The following picture shows an easy way to start your thread. This is the view from the back of the cloth:
Cross Stitching Do's and Don'ts |
Clockwise starting in the top right picture: Take your needle (with thread ready in the hole) and thread in the bottom left hand corner. Don’t pull the thread all the way through – leave about a half inch behind. Thread the needle through the top right hand corner, being careful not to pull the thread tight. Thread the needle in the bottom right corner, over the thread that we left hanging before. Now pull the thread tight to hold the hanging thread in place. Continue to stitch from the bottom left corner to the top right corner, keeping the hanging thread within as you do more stitches.

Iron your finished stitching

Another thing I didn’t know about was that I could use an iron on my finished pieces to straighten them out. I use a wooden embroidery hoop to keep my cloth straight while I stitch. Since the hoop is circular, it can leave an imprint on the cloth and it won’t look as nice when you put it in a frame. To iron, I take a towel, fold it in half, and place my cloth in between the halves. This way the heat goes through the towel and not directly on the cloth. Below is a before and after picture.
Cross Stitching Do's and Don'ts |

If you’re new to cross stitch, I hope this helped you!

Check me out on Instagram for more of my work: @kathleenxcrafts


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  • Donna L Horgan

    I’ve been cross stitching for years; when I first started, I was living in Louisiana and was having all my work framed by someone down there at a very reasonable rate. Since I moved years ago, I have no one in my area that will frame cross stitch work. How do you frame your work – it looks awesome. I have quite a few pieces that need to be framed, and am scared to death to attack it myself; especially after putting all the hours into a piece. Thank you.

    • KCG

      Thank you! I do all my framing by myself. I don’t really have any secrets to it, it just takes a lot of patience and precision. Take your time to measure and plan how the frame will look. I’m sure you can do it! 🙂