Cross Stitch Tips for Beginners, 8 Valuable Tips on How to Get Started
Posted by Tracey M. Kramer on 17th Jun 2020
If you’ve never cross stitched before and you’ve always wanted to, you are in for a treat! Hopefully, your first experience will be a positive one like mine and you’ll be hooked in no time. To get started, there are certain steps you must follow to become a confident stitcher.
Finding that Perfect Beginner Cross Stitch Pattern
One of the first things you should do is to search for an easy pattern, one for beginners, preferably something in 14ct Aida. Choose a design that is simple in nature and not as detailed. You can either buy just the pattern only or you can buy a kit that would have most of the items you would need to complete the project. Actually, I would recommend getting an easy kit first so you can become acquainted with stitching and completing a project. This requires choosing a kit or a pattern that has large areas of one color. In contrast, patterns that have frequent color changes are ones to stay away from until you become more advanced in your skills.
Reading the Instructions Carefully
Remove the pattern from the package and read the instructions from start to finish. If you bought only the pattern, you will need to find the floss list in the pattern and use it to purchase your floss to make the project. Pay attention to how much floss is needed for each color when you buy. Check the Internet to see which major craft stores around you are having sales on their floss before you buy. You could catch a sale and save yourself some money!
Calculating the Amount of Material Needed
Next, check the amount of material needed for your project. I would strongly recommend Aida cloth because it will be easier for you to see the holes to place your needle in the fabric. The pattern will tell you the measurements or dimensions of the stitched design area, but you need to take into account extra material for when the project will be framed. So, using the dimensions of the stitched area, add 6.5 inches to both the width and height. That will give you the amount of material to purchase for your project, and it will give the framers the extra material they need in order to frame your project. For instance, if the stitched design area is 8 inches in width and 10 inches in height (8w X 10h), adding 6.5 inches to the width and height would give you 8 + 6.5 = 14.5 inches in width and 10 + 6.5 = 16.5 inches in height. So now your material should measure 14.5w X 16.6h.
Choosing the Correct Frame
Next, I would recommend using some sort of frame to begin stitching. Some people like to stitch on embroidery ring frames while others prefer Q-snap or scroll frames. Some embroidery rings tend to leave marks in your fabric which is why I don’t use them. Q-snap frames are okay. I have tried them all, but the one I have settled on for all of my projects is the scroll frame. Purchase a frame large enough to accommodate your project.
Using Cross Stitch Tools of the Trade
Other essential accessories you may need are scissors, a seam ripper, needles, lighting, magnifier and highlighters. A pair of large scissors is needed to cut your material and small scissors can be used to cut thread. The seam ripper is used to cautiously rip out mistakes, or you can use a blunt needle to pull out thread from a mistake you’ve made. Highlighters are used to help you keep track of your progress to show where you’ve stitched on your pattern. The reasons for the other tools are self-explanatory. House your small accessories in a small zippable tote or cosmetic pouch that is small enough to have nearby and handy when needed. The tote I have is the size of a small cosmetic bag.
Using the Correct Lighting
It is always important to have proper lighting when stitching. I prefer to use the OTTLite. I have a floor version including a tabletop model for times when I sit at a table to stitch. The OTTLite is beneficial in that it provides light that is closest to natural sunlight which is best for stitching.
Finding the Perfect Place to Stitch
Once you have found a pattern suited to your skill level, pick out a special place in your home where you would like to stitch. It should be a comfortable spot free from chaos. I have two favorite stitching places. One is my family room where the TV is which would allow me to watch a good show or movie while I stitch. The other area is my bedroom where it’s quiet, and again I have TV access, but the room also has a lot of natural lighting to make the room perfect for stitching. Since you are a beginner, I would forget about watching TV as that can come later when your skills are more advanced. As a beginner, you will need to focus and concentrate on what you are doing, and TV can be a distraction at this point. Just so you won’t feel so alone while you are stitching, a good idea would be to put on some easy listening music (instrumental music) as music with words or singing can also be a distraction for the beginner. You should have comfortable seating. You can sit in a recliner and stitch, sit at a table and stitch, or sit in an upright chair using a floor stand frame to stitch. As long as you are comfortable, that’s all that matters.
Locate Your Starting Point
Now that you have all of the tools necessary, you will need to find your starting point to make your first stitch (which would be an X). You can use the “finding the center” approach which is used when your pattern only comes in one large folded sheet or the “3-inch across/3-inch down” method when your pattern comes in multiple pages. For finding the center approach, you first need to find the center of your material. To do that simply take your material and fold it half and then into quarters and press with your fingertips. Then unfold the material and where those folds converge in the center of the material is your starting point on the cloth. To find the centermarks on your pattern, there should be centermarks represented as a black arrow at the top of one of your pattern pages and a black arrow at the left side of a page. Follow the top centermark with the index finger of your right hand in a downward motion and at the same time locate the centermark on the left side of the next pages with your index finger of left hand and bring them together simultaneously and where they converge, that would be your starting point on your pattern. I put together a video on finding the centermark which you can follow. Or, if you have a multiple page pattern with a background, you can simply take your material and measure 3 inches over to the right from the top left corner of your material, mark it in light with pencil, then measure 3 inches down from that mark and that would be your starting point if your pattern comes in pages instead of one large folded sheet.
Now that you have all you need, you are ready to stitch. Most patterns require two strands of floss for stitch coverage. Following the pattern and when you have used up the thread on the needle for that particular color and it’s time to cut the thread to move onto a different color, turn your frame over and imbed the needle into the worked stitches on the back. Then cut the thread. Using your highlighter, mark off the corresponding stitches you just stitched on your pattern. As you do more and start to feel comfortable, the excitement will build, and soon you’ll be purchasing more and more patterns in anticipation of working on them and you will have become a full-fledge stitcher! Enjoy!