Embroidery technique: basic cross stitch

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Learn how to do basic cross stitch, one of the oldest and most simple of all the embroidery stitches.

This stitch consists of two diagonal strokes that cross over one another and can be worked in two different ways:

  • Creating long, continuous rows of half-crosses, then coming back and finishing them in all at the same time.
  • Making full cross stitches and completing each one before starting the next stitch.

If you’ve always wanted to try cross stitch, grab a needle and thread and give it a go right now. You can follow our step-by-step guide below.

Not sure what you need to do cross stitch? Read our articles Equipment Essentials For Cross Stitching and the Quick Guide to Preparing Materials For Cross Stitch.

1. Starting a row of cross stitch

Begin your first stitch by pushing the threaded needle up through one of the holes of your Aida cloth (ie, working from the back of the fabric to the front).

Now work your way along the row making diagonal strokes in the same direction. It actually doesn’t matter which direction you work, as long as you stay consistent.

starting a row of cross stitch
Your embroidery project will be much neater if all stitches are crossed in the same direction.

2. Securing the tail

At the back of the Aida cloth, leave a tail of about 5-7cm and hold in place with your index or middle finger. Make sure you secure the tail inside the stitches, then cut off the loose thread.

basic cross stitch from the back
We left this very long tail for for emphasis in the photograph. You can make yours a lot shorter.

3. Finishing the row

Now work your way back along the row (right to left) to form perfect cross stitches.

finishing a row of cross stitch

 4. Ending a section

When your thread starts getting short (or you need to change colour), turn to the back of the fabric and push the needle through 4-5 stitches (just like securing the tail). Clip off the thread and you’re ready for the next section.

full cross stitches in heart shape
Basic cross stitch looks great and is so easy to do.
single cross stitch in red thread
Single cross stitches on their own are sometimes called ‘orphaned stitches’.

Cross stitch sometime easy and fun

If you’re new to cross stitch and looking for an easy and fun project, this little windmill pattern is perfect for beginners.

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