Is Cross Stitch Hard? 6 Tips to Help Start Your First Cross Stitch Project

Posted by Tracey M. Kramer on 26th May 2020

Is Cross Stitch Hard?  Many people have asked this question. The actual act of making a cross stitch, in fact, is very easy. All you are doing is making an “X” on a pattern that involves making two half cross stitches in opposite directions that intersect each other. Cross stitch can be made easy or difficult depending on the following factors: 

  • The Type of Material Used

Using a cloth like Aida where the holes are easily seen for you to insert your needle makes the cross stitching much easier because the strands in the Aida cloth are gathered to form grid squares with holes on each corner of the square. Because of this, you will be able to stitch much faster and be self-assured as to where your stitches are going. If you decide to use a cloth like evenweave, it becomes more difficult because there are no grid squares or gathered strands to define the holes. You simply have to go by counting threads like stitching 1 over or 2 threads over etc. Usually more experienced stitchers like to use evenweave, but it’s just a little harder to see the holes of the material which can be time-consuming if you’re not used to it. 

  • The Count of the Fabric Used: 

With Aida cloth, the smaller the count you use, the easier the pattern will be. For example, 14ct Aida cloth fabric has larger grid squares and it’s easier to see the holes than 18ct Aida. If you’re a beginner and new to cross stitch, I would recommend starting out with a 14ct pattern or smaller. When you’ve gotten used to stitching on this, take it a notch higher and try 16ct, then 18ct, etc. Pretty soon you might develop enough nerve to try evenweave. Incidentally, evenweave count-wise simply is the double of Aida count. For instance, if you have Aida cloth that is 16ct, if you want the same gauge on evenweave, you would purchase 32ct evenweave. 

  • Stitch Configuration: 

Cross stitch is a lot easier when there are large blocks of the same color situated together. However, the less you have of the same color together, the more difficult it can become, especially if there is a color change after each color. If this is the case, you may have experienced what is called “confetti stitching.” Confetti stitching takes a lot of patience due to the frequent color changes, but this becomes easier if you are familiar with “The Parking Method.” This method alleviates the cutting of floss after each color change, and you simply park the needle into the hole where you see that color again.  

  • Types of Stitches Used: 

Some cross stitch patterns require highly specialized stitches which can make the pattern suddenly difficult complete. For instance, you may have a pattern that has a lot of stars in the sky or a pattern that has small pin-dot flowers which are often represented by the dreaded French Knot stitch. I usually try to avoid patterns like these because French knots are not my forte. I usually have a devil of a time completing them and when you have a pattern that is loaded with them, they can be a pain. I consider myself an experienced stitcher, but I must admit I have yet to master an acceptable looking French Knot, and I don’t care to stitch patterns loaded with them. 

  • Blended Colors vs. Full Color Stitches: 

Patterns where the majority or all of the stitching is done with full color stitches are a lot easier than ones stitched with blended colors. With blended color patterns, you have the painstaking task of coordinating one strand of one color to another strand of a different color which can oftentimes slow down the process of stitching immensely. On the other hand, full color patterns are easier to stitch because you don’t have to worry about coordinating two different colors, and you can just stitch with the solid colors with ease. In fact, it makes the stitching process go a lot faster. I personally only like to stitch patterns that use full color stitches instead of blended color stitches for that reason. 

  • Whole Stitches vs. Half or Quarter Stitches: 

Patterns with whole stitches are easier to stitch because you are simply filling up the grid square entirely with a whole stitch. If the pattern requires half stitches inside the same grid square or quarter stitches, it can be very hard to squeeze these stitches into a tight space meant for one stitch, and sometimes even harder to see the symbols in those cases. For me personally, I only like to stitch patterns that require full stitches.

So you see, cross stitch for the most part can be easy or difficult depending on the above variables. If you are a beginner, I would highly recommend starting out with 14ct Aida cloth with a pattern that uses whole stitches, full colors and no specialized stitches and work your way up to evenweave, higher count cloth, etc. I personally like stitching on 18ct Aida cloth and it still gives my project a finished polished look much like a tapestry. If you want patterns that use nothing but whole stitches, patterns that use full color stitches instead of blended colors, and patterns that look very realistic to the original artwork, Sunrays Creations Needlearts the place to go where you can find very simple patterns for beginners all the way up to patterns for the very experienced Big League stitcher. Enjoy stitching!