A Guest Tutorial for First Time Cross Stitchers

Brooke Petermann runs the gorgeous Etsy shop grace and light, selling modern and happy cross stitch and I'm super excited that she has offered to show us some simple techniques with this beginners tutorial. So get your thread, needle & Aida cloth ready.....

For this project, I am using the following supplies:
  • 4” wooden hoop
  • Embroidery floss
  • Size 5 embroidery needle
  • 14 count (14 stitches/inch) cross stitching fabric (Aida brand)
  • Sharp scissors
  • An elephant pattern that I designed
Before You Start
  • When you purchase embroidery floss, the “rope” of floss is made up of 6 individual strands.  Depending on the type of fabric you are using in your cross stitch project, you will use varying numbers of these strands.
  • When using 14 count Aida fabric, I recommend 2 strands.  To separate the strands from one another, hold two between your thumb and index finger and the others with your other fingers of the same hand or with your other hand – whatever is comfortable for you.
  • Once you have two strands separated from the other four, you need to thread those threads onto your needle.

Getting Started
  • Because you will want your pattern centered, it is usually best to start stitching in the middle of your pattern – which should correspond with the middle of your fabric.  If you are just starting, it may be helpful to allow yourself a lot of room for error on either side.  To do this, just cut your piece of fabric significantly larger than what you will actually need.  This will waste some fabric, but should help you to not make the error of running your pattern off of the edge of your fabric. 
  • Begin by threading your needle through the punched hole in the Aida fabric.  Pull the thread through until there is only a small amount left on the back side of your fabric.  (I usually leave about 1 centimeter.)
  • Hold onto that small “tail” of thread with one hand while pushing your needle back through a diagonal hole from where it came up.  It should look like a forward slash ( / ) on the front of your fabric and like a straight line ( I ) on the back.  Each time that you pull your thread from back to front, you should be stitching over the 1 cm tail, to secure it.
  • Continue to by stitching through the hole directly below on the back and through the diagonal hole on the front.  When you make a row, the front of your fabric will look like this: ////////// and the back of your fabric will look like this: IIIIIIIII
It is important to always do all of your completed “x” stitches in the same direction.  I always make my first stitch from bottom left to top right ( / ) and then go back to finish the “x” from bottom right to top left ( \ ).  Being consistent with this, will help your finished project to look smooth and finished. 

Continue stitching around your design.   
In this design, I completed the outline first, all in one direction, and then reversed direction to complete each “x.”

  • If you are working on a pattern that is filled in, it is usually easiest to complete each row of stitches in one direction and then go back to complete each “x” in that row before you start the next row.  
  • When your thread becomes too short to continue stitching, bring your thread to the back of the fabric and thread your needle under four or five stitches.  Pull your needle through and cut off the remaining bit of thread.
  • Thread your needle and start with the next stitch the same way that you started at the very beginning – stitching over the end of the thread. 
  • (Note: I do not use a hoop when I cross stitch.  When I use hoops, I tend to pull my thread too tightly and warp the fabric.  If you feel more comfortable using a hoop, please do so.  Not using one is simply a personal preference.)

  • Once your design is completed, you may iron it, if it has become dented from a hoop or is otherwise creased or wrinkled.
  • Finished pieces may simply be framed in a traditional photo frame or they can be stretched in a hoop for framing. 
  • To complete this piece, I centered the elephant in the circle of the hoop, then flipped it over and pushed the outside piece over the inside piece.  I tightened the screw to hold it in place, cut off the excess fabric and used a glue gun to attach the edges to the inner ring of the hoop.

Brooke also writes a corresponding blog titled grace and light studio that features modern and happy design.  Her mission is to promote good design and to encourage the world to appreciate the uniqueness and beauty of handmade goods. 

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