How to make a cross stitch nativity scene

Try your hand at simple appliqué in this cross stitch nativity from Lisa Reakes – it’s so easy to stitch!

cross stitch nativity main

Many of us have happy memories of childhood nativity plays. Whether you remember your own theatrical debut as narrator or angel (or the second innkeeper’s wife!), or cherish the time a child or grandchild took to the stage, they are an occasion to be celebrated. You can capture the excitement and charm of the story with your needle and thread, as you stitch this cross stitch nativity patchwork hanging from Lisa Reakes. The design is brought to life with some simple but stunning appliqué detailing. Don’t worry if you’ve not tried appliqué before – you’ll find step-by-step instructions to guide you through it. You can find out more about this cool technique in our hand appliqué tutorial.

This hanging is sure to become a much-loved part of your festive decor that you and your family look forward to putting up every year – and with a lot more patchwork colour to enjoy than your average cross stitch nativity scene, too!

About the cross stitch nativity scene

  •  Stitching Time Approx. 15 hours 
  • Type of Stitches Cross stitch, backstitch
  •  Ease of Stitching Beginner/intermediate
  •  Fabric 14-count white aida measuring 23x23cm (9x9in) 
  •  Threads Stranded cotton as listed in the key 
  •  Needle Size 24 tapestry needle

If you’d like a refresher on the different stitches used, check out our beginners guide to cross stitch article.

Download the cross stitch nativity pattern.

Click to download the cross stitch nativity pattern. The download is a PDF with 2 a4 pages, with cross stitch chart, key and the templates you need to cut the appliqué pieces.


You Will Need

  • Fabric scraps
  • Stranded cotton
  • 14 count aida fabric

Step 1

cross stitch nativity patchwork1

First cut your patches. With tracing paper, carefully trace around each of the templates and cut out. Using the picture of the finished stitching as a guide, pin each template to the correct fabric. Trim each patch to size.

If you haven’t got tracing paper to hand, greaseproof paper is a great alternative

Step 2

cross stitch nativity steps 2

Position each patch on your nativity picture and pin in place. Using fabric glue sparingly, glue each patch in position one by one. Allow to dry completely before moving on to step 3.

If your aida has warped during stitching, iron before gluing the patches in place

Step 3

cross stitch nativity pattern

Once the glue is dry, make the securing stitches as indicated on the chart. Use a normal sewing needle to easily pierce the fabric. Use the holes in the aida to guide your stitches and work carefully for a neat finish.

Hold the edges of the fabric down when stitching near the edge to prevent fraying

Step 4


cross stitch nativity pattern 4

Complete the scene by adding the wooden star button. Use a loop knot start and matching brown cotton to attach the button. If necessary, give your stitching another press ready for framing.

When you iron your finished piece, lie a towel on top of it to protect the button

cross stitch nativity cut out

Cross stitch nativity frame

  1. Cut yourself two squares of sturdy cardboard measuring 23x23cm (9x9in). Cut a central aperture in one measuring 16.5×16.5cm (6½x6½in).
  2. Lay your patchwork squares out on a surface, face down, following the shape of the cardboard frame. When you are happy with the positioning, pin the squares together and mark around the edge of the frame and the aperture with dressmakers chalk.
  3. Work your way around the patchwork and stitch the squares together using the zig zag stitch on a sewing machine with a red sewing cotton.
  4.  Place the stitched square face down on a flat surface and apply a thin layer of glue to your cardboard frame. Lower it glue-side down into the back of the fabric squares, positioning it above the chalk outline you made earlier. Press into place.
  5.  Trim the patchwork fabric leaving 1cm (½in) around the edge of the frame and inside the aperture. Cut notches into the corners so you can fold these neatly. 
  6. Apply a thin layer of glue to the back of the frame, and fold the patchwork fabric around the frame, securing it behind the frame by pressing it onto the glue.
  7. Leave to dry and then mount your stitching into the frame using double-sided tape, as you would with a card aperture. Stick the second cardboard square to the back using double-sided tape.
  8. Punch a hole at each top corner of the frame for the hanging loop, and thread string through to finish, tying each end together behind the frame.

Projects to complement your cross stitch nativity scene

Looking for more cross stitch design to display in your home this Christmas? Why not choose one of these to complement your cross stitch nativity scene? They are free to enjoy on Gathered!

cross stitch nativity scene american

Looking for quick motifs for cards and makes to give as gifts. Try our American Christmas cross stitch patterns.

cross stitch nativity scene cushion

For a special heirloom you can bring out year after year, stitch this Christmas cross stitch sampler cushion

cross stitch nativity scene american

Craft sweet tree ornaments with lovely motifs from our American Christmas cross stitch patterns – there are 40 to choose from!

cross stitch nativity scene snowman

Why choose between snowmen and a Christmas tree when  you can have both with this snowman Christmas tree cross stitch pattern

cross stitch nativity scene teddy

For a special card, mini cushion or tree ornament, don’t miss this Christmas teddy bear cross stitch pattern