Equipment Essentials for Cross Stitching

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Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Are you interested in cross stitch but not sure what gear you need to get started?

Like all hobbies and crafts, the shopping possibilities for cross stitching is endless, so in today’s blog we’ll unpack the absolute equipment essentials for cross stitching.

You don’t need much gear to start cross stitching and if you’re new to embroidery we recommend buying only the bare minimum. Just enough to get stitching and see if you like it.

Once you get going there are loads of fun things to buy, but we’ll talk about those another day. Lets go.

1. Even-weave Fabric

The first thing you need for a new cross stitch project is fabric to stitch on.

Cross stitching needs to be completed on a special type of fabric called ‘even-weave’. The term even-weave refers to fabrics where the vertical threads (warp) and the horizontal threads (weft) are both the same size.

Because the warp and weft threads are the same, your embroidery stitches will be a consistent size too.

There are lots of different types of even-weave fabrics — Aida cloth, linen, interlock canvas, mono canvas, jute and burlap are just a few examples.

But when you first start cross stitching we recommend using DMC 14 count Aida cloth for your projects. Aida cloth is a special type of even-weave fabric that has a mesh-like appearance and clear holes in between the warp and weft.

All the projects here at Cross Stitch Patterns Online are designed for 14 count Aida because it’s easy to work with and comes in a wide range of colours and painted backgrounds.

After you’ve been stitching for a while it’s fun to try new fabrics and experiment with different materials.

Did you know?

Cross stitch projects aren’t just limited to fabrics. You can also create beautiful wallets, bags, bookmarks and other cool stuff on plastic canvas.

2. Thread

Cross stitch projects require special thread called embroidery floss or stranded cotton. Stranded cotton is made up of 6 separate threads that are twisted together, but separated into 2 (or 3) strands for stitching.

There are many brands of embroidery floss — DMC, Anchor, Madeira, and Coates are some of the most well-known.

Here at Cross Stitch Patterns Online we like to use DMC 117 Embroidery Floss because there are more than 500 different colours and it’s made from long staple cotton and double mercerised.

Mercerised thread means your cross stitch projects can be safely washed and displayed, and still look amazing after years and years.

We actually have framed projects we stitched with DMC back in the mid-90s that haven’t faded or deteriorated in any way. You can see a few of them handing on the family wall in our earlier post The New Cross Stitch Place.

Did you know?

DMC is one of the oldest embroidery companies in the world (established in 1746) and one of the very first to mercerise their threads. Mercerising keeps the thread shiny, 100% colour fast, and fade resistant.

3. Needles

The best type of needle to use for a cross stitch project is a small tapestry needle. Tapestry needles are best because they have a:

  • Rounded tip (so you don’t hurt yourself).
  • Large eye (so they are easy to thread).
  • Blunt edge (so you don’t pierce the threads you have already stitched).

Cross stitch and tapestry needles come in different sizes that are numbered from No. 20 to No. 28.

For beginners we recommend using the No. 24 Tapestry Needle because it works perfectly with 14 count Aida cloth. Buy a small pack (they are so easy to lose) and a couple of needle threaders.

Did you know?

Needles come in the following sizes: No. 20, 22, 24, 26, 28. An easy reference is remembering: the smaller the number, the thicker the needle.

4. Scissors

When you’re cross stitching you always want a pair of sharp scissors close by.

Buy yourself a nice little set of embroidery scissors (or thread clippers) with stainless steel blades and comfortable handles.

Stainless steel stays sharper longer and produces a clean cut (so your embroidery threads don’t fray). The pointed tips are handy for unpicking mistakes (also known as frogging).

Embroidery scissors come in all shapes and sizes and prices. You can spend $50 (or more) on fancy looking scissors, but you can usually get a little set of thread clippers for under a dollar.

And one final tip, do keep your embroidery scissors under lock and key. There is no rage quite like it when you find your favourite snips are now blunt because the the kids (or a clueless partner) have used them to cut paper, wet string, or cardboard. Oh the rage.

5. Patterns

Cross stitch patterns are the blueprint of your finished design and generally come in three different formats:

  1. Pre-printed booklets and worksheets — usually sold with cross stitch kits that also include the pre-cut Aida cloth, thread, and needles.
  2. Stamped Aida cloth — the pattern is stamped or printed directly onto the fabric.
  3. Digital cross stitch patterns — sold online in PDF format and either printed, or displayed on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.

Here at Cross Stitch Patterns Online we specialise in PDF digital patterns because they are so durable and easy to use. If you’re new to digital charts look for our upcoming post, Switching From Paper to PDF Cross Stitch Patterns.

What else?

Are you ready to start your first cross stitch? Let’s quickly recap what you need to get started.

  1. Evenweave Fabric — 14 count Aida cloth.
  2. Thread — DMC 117 six stranded cotton.
  3. Needle — No. 24 tapestry needle.
  4. Scissors — Sharp embroidery scissors (or shears) with stainless steel blades.
  5. Pattern — PDF pattern either printed onto A4 or displayed on a device.

Once you get going there’s lots of cool accessories that make cross stiching even more fun — hoops, fabric frames, thread organisers, bobbins, embroidery boxes, painted fabrics, plastic canvas, magnifiers, markers, stitching apps, and marking threads. We’ll look at all of these in future posts, but you don’t need them for your very first project.

Choose your first cross stitch

Now you know what equipment you need for cross stitching, you can go ahead and jump right into a new and fantastic hobby. And if you haven’t picked your first design yet, read our blog 5 Steps to Choosing Your First Cross Stitch Project.

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