Getting Started With Cross Stitch

Pink Floral Cross Stitch
Cross-stitched floral design on a linen project bag. Pattern by Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby.

Cross stitch is a fun craft with lots of beautiful patterns to choose from and countless ways to use your finished projects. It is a beautiful way to embellish clothing, accessories or home decor. This embroidery technique is done by making an X-shape on your fabric. It is a form of counted thread embroidery and is best on even or open weave fabric, but can also be done on other materials. The collective X’s can create an image or form lettering. There are lots of cross stitch kits available or you can use a pattern along with your own materials. You can also create your own cross stitch patterns from pictures or drawings.

Tools and supplies needed

  • Pattern
  • Aida or an even weave fabric
  • Embroidery floss
  • Needles
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Scissors

Selecting a cross stitch pattern

Start off with a simple cross stitch pattern. There are lots of free patterns available to get you started. A simple pattern is a great way to practice your stitching and have a manageable project that you can complete in a short period of time. Patterns may use a combination of colours and symbols that you can follow. Some patterns may only be in black and white symbols. Patterns will generally have a thread guide or a map to help you identity which colours each stitch is meant to be. The instructions are basically a picture with grid lines.

Choosing the fabric

Aida fabric is a basket-weave fabric and is most commonly used for cross stitch. It is woven to include tiny holes that you can stitch into. The fabric is available in different colours and fabric count. The lower the fabric count, the further apart the holes. I recommend starting with a 14 count Aida, which means that there are 14 holes/squares per inch of fabric.

Your pattern may also recommend the fabric count size. Adjusting the count size will make your finished design bigger or smaller. Aida fabric is great for beginners; however, you can also use linen fabric or other fabric in combination with waste canvas. Waste canvas will provide an even weave surface to cross stitch on other fabrics. After stitching, you will remove the waste canvas one thread at a time.

Tip! Using natural light can make it much easier to work. It is especially helpful when using waste canvas as the lines can be a bit difficult to see.

Working with embroidery floss

Embroidery floss is the type of thread commonly used for embroidery. There are many different types of embroidery floss available. The selection of colours vary from brand to brand. Generally, you will select your embroidery floss colours based on your pattern; however, you can also create your own colour palette. When using a six-strand embroidery floss, you may want to use two or three strands for your project. Work with shorter lengths and carefully separate your strands to avoid tangles. I recommend trying DMC brand embroidery floss because for its quality and vast colour selection.


There are so may needles available; however, you should try to use a cross stitch/tapestry needle. Your cross stitch needle is a round end tapestry needle with a small hole large enough for your embroidery floss. They are available in different sizes. The size you use will depend on your fabric. Thread your needle the same as you would a sewing needle.

Embroidery hoop

The embroidery hoop is a great way to keep your work flat while you work on your project. Embroidery hoops are made from different materials and are available in different sizes. You can work without an embroidery hoop but, it makes the project easier. An embroidery hoop can also be used to display your finished project. Hoop your fabric so you can start your project in the middle of the material and start stitching from the middle of the pattern working outward.


Using special embroidery scissors is an option, but you can also use regular scissors. Scissors are needed for cutting your embroidery floss, and are also helpful for cutting your fabric or waste canvas.

Tip! If you are ironing your finished piece, put a towel on your ironing board and iron your project with the right side facing down on the towel. By ironing on the back of your project, it will stop your stitches from becoming flat. As an alternative, you can also try to iron around your stitches.

Once you have gathered all of your cross stitching supplies, you are ready to get started with your first project. I have provided some links to resources below that you may find helpful as you continue to explore your new craft.

Happy stitching!



Introduction to Cross Stitch – Crafted Spaces

What Size Needle To Use For Cross Stitch by Susan Fitzgerald – Stitched Modern

7 Free Beginner Cross-Stitch Patterns by Mollie Johanson – The Spruce Crafts

How To Make A Cross Stitch Pattern – Wiki How



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