How to embroider cross stitch

Cross-stitching can be done in a bunch of different ways, depending on how neat you want to keep it. When the really talented embroidery pro’s show the back of their embroidery it usually looks as good as the front. They tend to put a lot of effort into making it that way, but if you don’t it can easily end up like a bird’s nest - and that is OK, too!

As a beginner it can be a lot to keep track of so we think it’s more important to actually create something than making everything perfect from the start.

Preparations before stitching (a summary)

  1. Find the center of the fabric by folding it in both ways making a crease marking the middle. Start with the top left section of the pattern. Keep track of the center of the pattern and the center of the fabric when you start to stitch.
  2. Make sure you’ve separated the embroidery floss and that you’re using the right amount of strands when threading the needle.
  3. For every time you start with a new piece of thread you need to either attach it later or use the loop technique that attaches it right away. Read more about this in step 4 (About embroidery floss). If you don’t use the loop technique you need to make a little stitch on the front of the fabric about 2-3 cm from where your first cross will be. Then when pulling the thread through to the other side, make sure you leave “a little tail” about 3-5 cm of the thread in the front of the fabric. When you’re ready to secure the thread just pull it all through to the back and fasten it like usual.

Stitch a single cross

Cross-stitches can be done either one at the time or by making them one row at the time as half-stitches one way and completed crosses on the way back.

A single cross-stitch is created by pricking the needle through from the back to the front. Then pulling it through to the back again by pricking the hole in the cloth diagonally to where the needle went up. This creates a half-stitch.

To create a cross-stitch you need to move the needle on the back of the cloth and prick it through the hole right below the one you just used. Then, while on the front, prick it through to the back again by moving it to the diagonal on the opposite side. (See the illustration below)

Stitch multiple crosses on a row

Often you’ll find you need to make several crosses of the same color right next to each other. The most effective way to do this is to first make them as half-stitches one way and complete the crosses by stitching them the way back.

Stitching multiple crosses vertically

Kors som är sammanlänkade men på höjden görs oftast ett i taget.

PRO TIP: To make your embroidery look really neat and tidy you need to make sure you always make your crosses in the same direction. The first half of any cross-stitch should be directed up-right and the second half-stitch (making it a cross-stitch) should be directed down-left.

The space between the crosses

It is not uncommon that your embroidery pattern contains spaces between the crosses. Either an actual space or that there is another color in between. Sometimes the space is small, 1-2 squares, but sometimes it can be as much as 4 or more. Depending on the distance you can handle this in a couple of ways.

For short distances of 1-2 squares you can easily skip the space by just letting the thread run on the back of the fabric.

If you’ve stitched stitches right next to the space you can also thread the thread through those stitches on the back, keeping the thread in place.

PLEASE NOTE: We do not recommend skipping too many squares, especially with dark/strong colors since they might be visible from the front. Instead we recommend fastening the thread at the end of the section and starting over with a new thread at the new section.

Switch floss color

For patterns with more than one color you need to switch the threads once in a while. Some prefer to complete all crosses of a color before they switch to the next color and some prefer to complete a smaller section completely at the time. You decide which way works best for you. Just make sure to fasten the thread when you switch color.

How to attach/secure/fasten your embroidery floss

When you’re running out of thread on your needle or you’re done with a section you need to secure the thread. You do this by pulling the needle and thread through the stitches you most recently made on the back of the fabric, as if the stitches are a tunnel. When the thread is pulled through a couple of stitches (4-5) you can cut the thread.