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
  • 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