Cross stitch for beginners: 20 top tips

A top tip at the right moment can make a huge difference to how you stitch and how you look after your finished stitching. Our team of cross stitch experts share their top tips for upping your cross stitch game!

Cross stitch pin cushions
1

Choose the right kit for you!

Cross stitch kits vary hugely from small designs that take a few hours to whip up to massive charts where you have to source the projects and get to spend weeks, months or even years working on a really stunning design. Follow our top tips for picking a design that is both attractive and suited to your stitching needs in our How to find the right Kit post.

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2

Organise your threads

Are the threads for your project pre-sorted on to an organiser? If not, will it be an easy job to identify the colours and mark them on an organiser. This feels like a bit of effort when you start but trust us, it will speed up your stitching and save you so much time later trying to find the right thread and stop them getting tangled up.

3

Experiment with your stitching

If you always stick to working on aida, then try evenweave for a change; if you normally work on evenweave, then try stitching a design on linen.

4

Fantastic framing

Always buy enough material so that you’ve got a decent margin around your stitched piece for framing.

5

Start a cross stitch club

Gather together a group of fellow cross stitch fans for regular meet ups. Try to appeal to stitchers of all abilities and make sure those who are just beginners feel welcome then they will have lots of fun and tell all their friends. Make posters or flyers – it’s easy these days just on a home computer. Put these up in your local library, post office, community centre etc to advertise your meetings.

6

Keep your stitching looking good

Always stitch with clean hands – any grease on your fingers will be transferred to your fabric, and keep family pets away from you while you are stitching (unless you can’t resist them curling up on your lap / hoop!).

7

Tip for getting kids stitching

Choose a low count fabric, like an 11- or 14-count fabric, for a child’s first project. They’ll be able to see the holes clearly and their stitching will grow fairly quickly.

8

Stay focused

Try and stick to stitching just one project at a time – if you can’t quite manage this (we feel you) then keep each separate project in a clear zip-up wallet, so your stitching time can be spent doing just that, rather than rummaging in a cupboard for that design you haven’t worked on for six months!

9

It’s all in the presentation

Use non-reflective glass when framing your work. It’s more expensive, but as you’ve spent so much time and effort stitching your design, it’s worth it to be able to see the work clearly from all angles.

10

Think outside the frame

If you don’t have much wall space, turn your designs into cushions! To put a design in a cushion cover, cut around the design, leaving a border of fabric then fray the edges. Carefully pin the stitching to the cushion cover and use a matching sewing thread to stitch along the first un-frayed row, securing the fabric to the cushion.

11

Mounting lighter fabrics on to dark cards

Iron-on interfacing is helpful when mounting lighter coloured fabrics on darker cards. This reduces the visibility of the holes.

12

Back your stitching with iron-on interfacing

It will stiffen the fabric and prevent fraying. This is especially helpful when using evenweave.

13

Try a canvas finish

Mounting your stitching over a stretched canvas creates a modern finish. To do this, follow the same steps you would use to lace your work (see our guide to framing your work) but use staples to secure the fabric at the back of the canvas instead.

14

Revamp old frames

Try giving old frames a luck of paint for a new look.

15

Make sure your frame doesn’t overwhelm your stitching

There’s only one star of the show and it’s your work! Before you commit to a frame, lay out your stitching in front of it and step back to view it from a distance. The frame should let the stitching shine, not take attention away from it.

16

Easy cross stitch cards

To patch your stitching onto a card, cut your design to size, leaving three or four squares of aida all the way around, then fray the outer edge. Back the stitched area with paper and use double-sided tape to stick it in place on the card.

17

Pressing your work

When ironing your work, gently iron the back of the work on a cool setting.

18

Try framing your work in an embroidery hoop

Embroidery hoops work well for framing circular designs – read our guide to presenting your work in a hoop.

19

Washing your finished stitching

Only use a very small amount of detergent. Soapy suds are hard to wash out.

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20

Design your own cross stitch

There’s nothing more satisfying that stithing a one-of-a kind design that you’ve created yourself. If you’d like to try creating your own cross stitch pattern, read our beginner’s guide to designing cross stitch patterns!