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29 Ridiculously Helpful Tips For Anyone Who Wants To Learn How To Cross-Stitch

Including how to organize your embroidery floss, understand Aida cloth counts, and cross-stitch on other fabrics!

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Charlotte Gomez

We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales from the links on this page.

1. To get started, invest in a cross-stitch pattern book with classic alphabets and symbols, simple symbols, and/or NSFW sampler patterns.

amazon.com, amazon.com, amazon.com

Get them from Amazon: 2001 Cross Stitch Designs for $15.25+, Mega Mini Cross Stitch for $9.98, and Subversive Cross Stitch: 50 F*cking Clever Designs for Your Sassy Side for $13.55.

2. Maybe get your feet wet with an easy cross-stitch kit, like this cute kitty, or go all in with an elaborate kit like this Japanese garden scene.

amazon.com, amazon.com

Note: If you purchase a kit, skip to #8.

Get them from Amazon: Cute kitty for $3.07 and Japanese garden for $29.24

3. Consider downloading a PDF pattern from Etsy in varying difficulty, like the log lady from Twin Peaks or these friendly avocados.

etsy.com, etsy.com

Pre-made pattern offerings vary from simple and classic to kitschy and elaborate.

Download the PDF patterns from Etsy: log lady from Pyro Dog Pins for $5.89 or avocados from MagicCrossStitch for $2.99

4. Or, just create your own pattern from a printed picture with coloring pencils, freezer paper, and graph paper!

Simply print out a design you like, print out some graph paper for free, and get to drawing! See the full tutorial on The Homesteady.Get this downloadable PDF print from Maiden on Etsy for $2.
thehomesteady.com

Simply print out a design you like, print out some graph paper for free, and get to drawing! See the full tutorial on The Homesteady.

Get this downloadable PDF print from Maiden on Etsy for $2.

5. Pay attention to Aida cloth — aka cross-stitch cloth — sizing. The higher the Aida count, the smaller the stitches and overall project will appear.

For example, this 14-count fabric has 14 squares per inch and each square represents a cross-stitch or "X." Some common Aida counts include 11, 14, 16, 18, and 28. It's available in large swaths or smaller pieces.Get a four-pack of white Aida cloth from Amazon for $8.99. / Check out some colorful options.
amazon.com

For example, this 14-count fabric has 14 squares per inch and each square represents a cross-stitch or "X." Some common Aida counts include 11, 14, 16, 18, and 28. It's available in large swaths or smaller pieces.

Get a four-pack of white Aida cloth from Amazon for $8.99. / Check out some colorful options.

6. Or, if you want a non-basic background color, paint your Aida cloth.

Read the full tutorial on Wee Little Stitches.

7. Get close and personal with embroidery floss, which comes in DMC floss, Cosmo floss, and aurifloss. But DMC floss is most commonly found and budget-friendly.

DMC cotton embroidery floss is available in craft stores, basically, everywhere. It's sold in a individual skein — which includes six strands that are easily separated — or a pack of skeins (like this one pictured). The floss comes in 454 solid colors and 18 variegated colors. Get more info on the DMC site. Get this pack from Amazon for $17.86.
amazon.com

DMC cotton embroidery floss is available in craft stores, basically, everywhere. It's sold in a individual skein — which includes six strands that are easily separated — or a pack of skeins (like this one pictured). The floss comes in 454 solid colors and 18 variegated colors. Get more info on the DMC site.

Get this pack from Amazon for $17.86.

8. If you're not working from a kit, buy all your thread for one project at the same time.

Thread is colored in dye lots, which can lead to varying shades if you buy a specific color in different batches. BUT, if buying from different dye lots can't be avoided, take one strand from the old and one strand from the new to blend.Get this elaborate kit from Amazon for $25.49.
amazon.com

Thread is colored in dye lots, which can lead to varying shades if you buy a specific color in different batches. BUT, if buying from different dye lots can't be avoided, take one strand from the old and one strand from the new to blend.

Get this elaborate kit from Amazon for $25.49.

9. Count and organize your thread colors...and if you want to stay ~super~ organized, wind them on some plastic bobbins and label them.

Set aside the amount of each color you'll need for your project. Often, cross-stitching kits will come with cardboard guides that'll help you keep track of strands and the difference between similar floss colors like beige and cream.Get a 28-pack of these plastic bobbins from Amazon for $6.24.
amazon.com

Set aside the amount of each color you'll need for your project. Often, cross-stitching kits will come with cardboard guides that'll help you keep track of strands and the difference between similar floss colors like beige and cream.

Get a 28-pack of these plastic bobbins from Amazon for $6.24.

10. Determine your thread coverage with this handy guide that breaks down how thread count and the amount of strands you use change your pattern's outcome.

Floss coverage from left to right: 18-count, 14-count, 11-count, and 9-count (18-count over two threads). Get the full guide on Better Cross Stitch Patterns.
better-cross-stitch-patterns.com

Floss coverage from left to right: 18-count, 14-count, 11-count, and 9-count (18-count over two threads). Get the full guide on Better Cross Stitch Patterns.

11. Tape the edges of fabric or use fabric glue to keep it from fraying as you stitch.

amazon.com, amazon.com

Get them from Amazon: .94-Inch x 30-yardsroll of masking tape for $6.59 and a two-pack of glue from Amazon for $9

12. Prevent pattern distortion by using a wood tension-dial hoop (top) or spring tension hoop as you stitch.

Read an incredibly detailed, helpful beginner's guide to cross-stitching on Storypiece here.Get them from Amazon: Set of six 12" wood hoops for $14.95 and 7" spring tension hoop for $5.74.
storypiece.net

Read an incredibly detailed, helpful beginner's guide to cross-stitching on Storypiece here.

Get them from Amazon: Set of six 12" wood hoops for $14.95 and 7" spring tension hoop for $5.74.

13. Choose blunt tapestry needles based on the size of your Aida fabric. The higher your Aida cloth count (see #5), the thinner your needle should be.

Read a breakdown of needle size and Aida cloth size on Cross-stitching.com.Get them from Amazon for $4.56.
amazon.com

Read a breakdown of needle size and Aida cloth size on Cross-stitching.com.

Get them from Amazon for $4.56.

14. Make threading your needle less maddening with a (totally optional) threader.

Get a 100-pack from Amazon for $2.50.
amazon.com

Get a 100-pack from Amazon for $2.50.

15. Measure out the right length of thread so you won't waste precious thread with tangles.

Get more info on this and nine of Dana's other cross-stitching tips on Peacock & Fig.
peacockandfig.com

Get more info on this and nine of Dana's other cross-stitching tips on Peacock & Fig.

16. If you have enough needles, keep them on a DIY organizer with the corresponding thread color name and symbol as seen on your pattern.

Learn more about this organizational idea on Less Bitching, More Stitching.
lessb1tchingmorestitching.blogspot.com

Learn more about this organizational idea on Less Bitching, More Stitching.

17. Wash your hands before you start! Dirt and oils on your hands can stain your Aida cloth and floss.

See a full cross-stitching guide on WikiHow.
wikihow.com

See a full cross-stitching guide on WikiHow.

18. Start off by stitching a simple guide with one strand of dark embroidery floss to mark the center of your fabric and guide you in counting stitches.

Read more on starting a cross-stitch project on Imagine Gnats.Need some more geometric guidance for keeping your pattern on track? Check out a guide on gridding your fabric with a mechanical pencil on Peacock & Fig.
imaginegnats.com

Read more on starting a cross-stitch project on Imagine Gnats.

Need some more geometric guidance for keeping your pattern on track? Check out a guide on gridding your fabric with a mechanical pencil on Peacock & Fig.

19. Learn the basics of cross-stitch types.

Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed

20. And master the art of the French knot.

Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed

21. Keep track of your count by checking your pattern as you go along.

Get the kit from Stitchering on Etsy for $29.90.
etsy.com

Get the kit from Stitchering on Etsy for $29.90.

22. Don't wash your finished project! (That can lead to color bleeding.) Instead, spot clean and roll a lint roller over it. Then iron the back to remove creases.

amazon.com, amazon.com

Just make sure to iron without steam to avoid color bleeding.

Get them from Amazon: five lint rollers with 95 sheets each for $9.54 and the 1200-watt iron for $19.99

23. Finish it for hoop display with this method that'll keep it looking as neat on the back as it does on the front.

Get the full tutorial by Little Dorrit & Co. for Sew Mama Sew.

24. Prep your cross-stitch for a frame with the lace method for a tight, pro-level finish.

See the full tutorial on Kiwi Gets Crafty.
kiwigetscrafty.blogspot.com

See the full tutorial on Kiwi Gets Crafty.

25. Or, mount your design on canvas.

Check out the full tutorial from Cupcake Cutie .Get a 10-pack of 8"x10" canvases from Amazon for $18.61.
cupcakecutie1.blogspot.ca

Check out the full tutorial from Cupcake Cutie .

Get a 10-pack of 8"x10" canvases from Amazon for $18.61.

26. Take your newfound skills to different applications like this cross-stitch fox on a crochet pillow.

Read the full tutorial from Sewrella or watch the video tutorial on YouTube.
sewrella.com

Read the full tutorial from Sewrella or watch the video tutorial on YouTube.

27. Or by learning how to cross-stitch on fabric while maintaining the grid.

Read the full tutorial on Sometimes Crafter.
sometimescrafter.com

Read the full tutorial on Sometimes Crafter.

28. Share your genius creations, gather inspo, and ask the tough questions on the cross-stitch subreddit.

Check out the CrossStitch subreddit.

29. But remember that cross-stitching's more art than science! And if all else fails, you can buy a finished product on Etsy and pass it off as your own.

Get it from The Pin + Needle on Etsy for $29.99+.
etsy.com

Get it from The Pin + Needle on Etsy for $29.99+.

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