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  • Writer's pictureKristina Crog

Cross Stitching Starter Guide

Welcome to the wonderful world of cross stitching! Whether you're looking to start a new hobby, unwind after a long day, or create beautiful, handmade gifts, cross stitching is the perfect craft to explore. In this blog post, we'll guide you through the basics of cross stitching, from selecting your materials to mastering your first pattern. By the end, you'll be well on your way to creating your very own stitched masterpieces. So, grab your needle and thread, and let's dive into the art of cross stitching with this cross stitching starter guide!

Cross Stitching Starter Guide to Selecting Supplies


Aida and Evenweave are the most common fabrics for cross stitch. These fabrics are ideal because they are woven evenly, creating a polished finished project.

Three examples of different Aida thread counts

Aida is a cotton fabric perfect for beginners because it has a wide, open weave that makes the holes easy to see. A fabric's count is the number of wholes per inch, which determines the number of stitches per inch. The larger the fabric count, the smaller the wholes and smaller the overall project. Aida 14 is easy to find and is the best choice for stitchers who are just starting out.

Needle and Thread

Whether you use our favorite thread company, DMC, or other amazing choices like Anchor, each color has a unique number located near the barcode. 

Four skeins of DMC thread in shades of grey, green and brown

PRO TIP: To avoid tangles when pulling off sections of thread, begin pulling from the loose end of the skein closest to the numbered label.

Size 24 Tapestry needles are best for cross stitch.

Prepping the Needle

Pull a section of thread skein approximately one arm in length. 

Each section contains 6 strands of thread. Separate the number of threads you need. Most cross stitches use 2 strands, while back stitching calls for one strand

Hand holding yellow embroidery thread showing six strands

PRO TIP: When using an even number, thread half the number you need through the needle (i.e. if pattern calls for 2 threads, put 1 thread through the eye of the needle). Fold the thread in half and knot together at the bottom. This will make threading the eye easier and secure your needle when stitching. 

Directional Stitching

Cross stitching is when we create a series of X's from either left to right or right to left. Refer to your chart to determine where you will be starting. 

Starting from the backside of the hoop, bring your needle through the hole toward the front. Make sure the thread is knotted in the back, so that the knot hits resistance against the hole.  

Pass your needle through a hole that is diagonal from where you started making a half of a cross stitch (\). Continue down the row for the number of stitches displayed in your pattern in that color.. 

Graphic of cross stitch fabric with orange arrows indicating how to make a cross stitch embroidery stitch

When you complete the correct number, cross the alternative way back across your row. The stitches should lie flat across the fabric without being so tight it warps the weave. 

When you finished with that section, knot off the thread on the backside of the hoop. 

Back Stitching

Bring the needle up from the back of the fabric at 1. Insert the needle in new hole at 2. Bring the needle up at 3, inserting it back at 2 until there is a straight line. Continue as needed.

Needle entering thread with numbers indicating sequence

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