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How To Cross Stitch

People often consider cross stitch to be a complicated craft. However, It is in fact incredibly easy to get started, as there are only a few simple stitches involved! Find out how to do cross stitch with our handy guide to cross stitching for beginners and check out our fantastic cross stitch kits for beginners. Our cross stitch video tutorials will help you get stitching today!

Cross stitch is very versatile; not only can you create impressive samplers and pictures, you can also use it to embellish and customise clothing, bags, accessories and even other craft projects. Once you know how to cross stitch, you’ll be able to work with any chart you choose.

Let’s go back to basics…

Cross stitch is made up of squares or parts of squares. Each cross stitch pattern is transferred to a fabric by matching the weave of the fabric to the squares of the pattern or chart. This is done by counting the squares on the chart and matching them to the threads of the fabric, so each stitch appears in the right place.

Things to take into consideration are the type of fabric and the count. The count of the fabric is the number of threads per inch. If the fabric were 14 count there would be 14 threads per inch, therefore 18 count means 18 threads per inch and so forth. There are three types of fabric you can choose from; Aida, linen and Evenweave. Find out more about choosing a cross stitch fabric.

Getting started

The first step on how to do cross stitch is deciding how you’re going to get started! When working a counted cross stitch design, it is always best to start stitching from the centre and work outward. This will ensure your design is correctly positioned on the fabric. Cross stitch charts usually have their centres indicated. The easiest way to find the fabric centre is as follows: fold the fabric in half vertically and then horizontally, pressing firmly on the folds to create definite creases, when the fabric is laid out flat again it will be divided into quarters. Work a line of tacking down each cease (in a contrasting colour to the fabric) and where they cross is the centre of the fabric piece.

Individual cross stitch



Looking at the stitch as a square, bring the needle out at the bottom left (1) and work a diagonal stitch to top right (2). Then bring the needle through in the bottom right (3) and cross the first stitch with another diagonal stitch into the top left (4).


Cross stitch row by row

Bring the needle out and work a row of diagonal stitches from bottom left to top right. Then bring the needle through and work a row of diagonal stitches crossing the first ones, bottom right to top left, as shown in the diagram below. The rows can be worked left to right or right to left, whichever feels most comfortable to you, whether you are right or left handed. Continue to create diagonal stitches in this way until you have the desired number in that row. At the end of the row, pull the needle up through the bottom right hole of the final square in the row and then down through the top left hole to create an X shape. Continue in this way until you reach the beginning of the row to create a line of cross stitches.

NOTE: For a professional finish, it is important when working cross stitch to make sure that all your top stitches cross in the same direction.

Don't forget to take a look at our beginners cross stitch kits to help you get started.

Half cross stitch




Half cross stitch is simply a single diagonal stitch, as it states, in fact half a cross stitch. Worked either from bottom right to top left, or from bottom left to top right depending on your preference.

How to cross stitch on Aida and Evenweave fabric

When cross stitching on Aida fabric, each cross stitch is worked over three holes. Cross stitching on Evenweave fabric is the same as Aida, only each cross is worked over three holes instead of two. Cross stitch can also be worked on finer fabrics such as linen. Working on linen gives an even more professional finish as the holes in the fabric are less visible. However, this also makes it more fiddly to work with!





Backstitch, as it hints, is worked backwards. Work a stitch, then bring the needle out a stitch length ahead and then back to link up the line. Backstitch can be worked in any direction and is used to outline designs and add detail. Because of this, backstitch is usually done on top of the cross stitch once the main design has been completed.

Starting and finishing

It is important not to use knots to start or finish as they can create lumps and may eventually work loose or catch. Working from the front push the needle through about 4cm (1½in) to the left of the starting point. Then start stitching the first line of cross stitch making sure you catch in the thread at the back, once it is secure pull the end through to the back. If this proves difficult you can simply pull the end back through to the wrong side of the fabric when you have finished that piece of stitching. Thread it through the needle and darn the end under a few stitches, this is also the best way to finish off.


Free eBook: Cross Stitch For Beginners


With Cross Stitch For Beginners, you will get all the information you will need on how to do cross stitch. With three free cross stitch charts included, you will have some nice samplers to start your collection of what could become a lifelong hobby. Access the free PDF eBook now.
Here at SewandSo, we have some really great
beginners cross stitch kits, which include everything you need to get started and to complete the design. Be sure to check out our cross stitch books to get inspired and explore different designs – Home Sweet Home Cross Stitch has some great samplers.

Happy Stitching!

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