Although it looks quite complicated, cross stitch is actually relatively simple to do – the real task is keeping patient over however many weeks it takes you to complete your piece. Cross stitch is a great stress reliever and an easy way to impress your friends with a homemade gift. In reality, you’re making hundreds of ‘X’ shapes with different coloured threads, which beats a box of chocolates hands down!
You will need:
– A pattern: design your own, buy a magazine with patterns inside or go online, which is great if you prefer to follow a pattern on your laptop rather than from a magazine page.
– Aida Fabric to stitch on.
– Threads: can be bought online or in craft stores. Tip: the pattern will list which threads you need, as well as which type, for example DMC or Anchor. Make sure you check this!
– A hoop: this helps to tighten the fabric so it’s easier to stitch. I say easier, it’s nearly impossible to do it without a hoop.
– Needle: Obviously! Make sure it’s small enough to go through the holes in the fabric. It’s also worth noting that they’re quite easy to break, so maybe buy a couple.
– Highlighter: this can be useful if you’re working from a magazine so you can highlight parts of the pattern you’ve already completed.
Step One: The initial stage of cross stitch is to fold your material into quarters to find the centre point. Make sure you have your needle threaded with the correct colour.
”With cross stitch you work outwards, so you begin with the centre and work your way out”
Step Two: Once you’ve found the centre of the aida fabric, you then need to find the central part of your pattern. With cross stitch you work outwards, so you begin with the centre and work your way out. Once you have both the centre of the pattern and aida, you can then secure a strand of thread to the material so you can start stitching.
”There’s a fair bit of counting involved to make sure you haven’t missed any stitches, but if it’s a bigger pattern it tends not to matter as much”
Step Three: Follow the pattern using the correct colour that you have begun with, and switch to another colour once you’ve finished that section of the pattern. There’s a fair bit of counting involved to make sure you haven’t missed any stitches, but if it’s a bigger pattern it tends not to matter as much, as you can always unpick these stitches and do it again. Highlight as you go along and make sure to switch up which colour you’re working on if there are big blocks of the same ones to stop you getting bored. Once you get into the swing of it, it can be quite fun – I promise!
Step Four: To finish off a piece of thread once you’ve completed a section, or are running out of thread, simply secure it by passing it through the other stitches on the back of the aida, so as not to obscure the design you’re working on, and cut off any extra thread that remains.
”Tiny projects might only take a few hours, but huge pieces may make you cry several times over a decade or so’’
Step Five: Time isn’t an issue; tiny projects might only take a few hours, but huge pieces may make you cry several times over a decade or so. However long it takes you, wash the finished piece – you can put it in a washing machine as long as you’ve ensured all of the thread is secure, and then gently rub an iron over it before making it into whatever you choose. There are lots of instructions online on how to make t-shirts, cushions and how to frame pieces of cross stitch which are great and very easy to follow.
Have fun and good luck!
Image Credit: Nicola Huckle
Photography by Ginny Moore