Cross stitch glossary

New to cross stitching? Learn the lingo! Use our A-Z of common cross stitch terms to know your fractionals from your floss

A complete guide to cross stitch for beginners
Published: August 31, 2019 at 10:14 pm
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  • Aida band – a narrow strip of aida, available in varying widths, and finished with a decorative edge
  • Aperture – a hole through which a design is seen in cards and frames
  • Backstitch – used to add detail and definition. See how to stitch it in our guide on page 8
  • Beading needle – a longer, finer needle than a tapestry needle, used for adding seed beads to a design
  • Counted stitches – embroidery stitches worked on counted, or evenly woven, fabrics like aida and evenweave. Cross stitch is the most basic counted stitch
  • Fabric count – the number of holes per inch (HPI) on your fabric. The higher the number, the bigger your fabric will be
  • Fabric size – the size of fabric needed for the design, including allowance for making up or framing
  • Floss – USA term for stranded cotton thread
  • Fractional stitches – made from either a quarter or three-quarters of a cross stitch, these allow you to create ‘rounded’ edges. See how to make these in our guide on page 8
  • Half stitch – made up of only one half (‘arm’) of a cross stitch, it gives less dense coverage and an overall lighter effect in the design
  • Hoop – a wooden or spring-mounted plastic circular frame that holds your fabric taut
  • Key – a list of all the threads and stitches used in a design and their respective chart symbols
  • Longstitch – long backstitches, crossing larger fabric distances
  • Metallic threads – similar to stranded cotton thread, these have a metallic finish for shine and sparkle
  • Skein – a length of stranded cotton, bound together
  • Soluble canvas – temporary fabric which, like waste canvas, is used to add cross stitching to non-counted fabrics, and then dissolved away in water
  • Stitching over two – term used to describe stitching over two threads of the weave, such as on an evenweave fabric
  • Stranded cotton – the thread used for counted cross stitch, divisible by 6 strands
  • Thread conditioner – a product for conditioning your threads prior to use. Especially recommended for metallics
  • Variegated thread – specific type of stranded cotton, in which the colour changes along the length of the thread for a shaded effect
  • Waste canvas – loosely woven fabric, held together with soluble glue. Used to stitch onto non-counted fabrics similar to soluble canvas
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Authors

Heather NugentTechnical Editor on Love Embroidery

Heather is a designer and technical expert with over eight years of experience in craft publishing, and is the Technical Editor for Love Embroidery magazine. She first started sewing with her mum when she was five years old and has been hooked on all things stitched ever since. She's designed projects for Your Home, Today’s Quilter, Craftseller, Your Handmade Home, RSPB wild explorer, bbcgoodfood.com, Cross Stitch Crazy, The World of Cross Stitching and Lakeside needlecraft cross stitch books. Find her on instagram @heathers.handmade.hub

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