If you’re new to needlework, you might find it a challenge to wrap your head around all the different types of needle crafts you could try out. From knitting and crocheting to needlepoint and embroidery, there are lots of fun options to get started with.
Embroidery is one of the oldest and most popular forms of needlework. However, you might have come across a fun, easy-to-learn, thread craft called cross stitching.
What exactly is cross-stitch and how does it differ from embroidery? Cross stitch is a form of counted hand embroidery that uses mostly X-shaped stitches and conforms to a tiled pattern. Embroidery, on the other hand, is a broader term that refers to the art of creating decorative designs on fabric with needle and thread.
Let’s now take a closer look at these two forms of art.
What is Embroidery?
Embroidery is a decorative art form that involves using a needle, thread, and a combination of different kinds of stitches, as well as embellishments like pearls and beads to create beautiful designs on fabric.
Embroidery designs can be made by hand or by using embroidery machines. Hand embroidery, however, can be used with a wider selection of fabrics and allows for more unique designs.
Hand embroidery designs are special works of art that carry the personal touch of the designer.
Besides cross stitch, there are numerous other types of hand embroidery such as crewelwork, needlepoint, drawn thread embroidery, and stumpwork, to name a few.
There are lots of different stitches and knots that can be combined to create patterns and designs. This, as you’ll see, is one major difference between embroidery and cross-stitch, as the latter relies heavily on just one kind of stitch.
What is Cross Stitch?
Cross stitch is one of the oldest forms of hand embroidery. It has grown in popularity in recent years, and for good reason. Cross stitch is an excellent choice for beginner needleworkers for a couple of reasons.
First, cross stitch uses the basic x-shaped stitch, which is rather simple to learn. The x-stitch or cross-stitch can be used to create an entire piece of cross stitch art. Thus, you won’t need to learn different stitch methods to get started.
A second reason why cross stitch is ideal for beginners is that it is a form of counted thread embroidery and uses a tiled pattern. When working with cross-stitch, you could use a pre-planned design that is stamped onto the selected fabric or follow a colored cross-stitch chart.
Since cross stitch uses a tiled pattern, designs often appear boxy and angular. Nonetheless, it can be used to create amazingly intricate designs. It’s often used to embroider words or slogans onto fabrics.
Cross stitching is often done on woven fabrics which have a grid system of holes where the colored thread should go. The most commonly used fabric for beginners is the cotton Aida fabric. Other options include Lugana and Jobelan fabrics.
Cross stitch uses embroidery thread but only 2 or 3 of the 6 strands are necessary. The end product of cross stitches often lays flat on the material compared to other types of embroidery which have more texture.
The main stitches used in cross stitch are:
- the full stitch (the X shape),
- half stitch (a slanted line),
- quarter stitch (half of a half stitch)
- three-quarters stitch (three-quarters of a half stitch)
- backstitch (a straight line)
These few stitches can be varied in numerous ways to create a wide range of patterns and designs.
Types of Cross Stitch
There are two major approaches to cross stitching:
- Stamped cross stitch
- Counted cross stitch
1. Stamped Cross Stitch
In the stamped cross stitch approach, the desired pattern is stamped or printed on the target fabric. The stamped pattern then serves as a guide for the designer to follow when stitching.
Once the stitching is completed, the fabric can be washed to remove the printed design.
Stamped cross stitch projects usually come in kits with the design and instructions included. All you’ll have to do is find the corresponding colored floss and stitch on the stamped pattern.
2. Stamped Cross Stitch
Counted cross-stitch, like the name implies, requires the embroiderer to start at the center of the fabric and count stitches outward until the design is finished.
The fabric is initially blank, but as you follow the pattern for the design you want, you’ll end up with a beautiful work of art.
When working with counted cross stitch, many embroiderers make use of cross stitch charts that use colored grids that can be counted and then applied to the fabric. These charts are like a map that you simply have to follow to get a finished design.
Regardless of the approach used, the end result is the same. Some people find the counted cross stitch method easier to follow while others find the stamped method to be more intuitive.
How to Create a Cross Stitch Project
If you’re ready to start cross stitching, the most important thing you’ll need is a design or pattern to follow. Of course, you’ll also need basic supplies such as a cross-stitch needle, fabric, and floss.
The 14 count Aida fabric is the recommended fabric for a newbie.
Once you have the supplies, you’ll need to get your design. You can find cross stitch designs of varying complexity on the internet. You can also purchase a pattern from a craft store or design your own.
One of our favorite cross-stitch patterns is this one from Amazon.
However you get your pattern, make sure to study it carefully. If you have a chart, ensure that you understand the symbols. Of course, if you’re just starting out, it’s best to choose a simple design with full cross stitches.
Next, prepare your fabric. Before you do that, though, give your hands a thorough washing to avoid staining the fabric. Then, cut the required size and secure the edges to prevent it from fraying while you work.
You also have to ensure that you have the right color of floss. If you get the recommended 6 strand cotton floss, you’ll need to separate the strands. You’ll need only two or three strands for a regular project. Once you’ve separated the strands, thread your needle.
Now, you’re ready to start stitching with the basic X stitch.
Is Cross Stitch Easier Than Embroidery?
Cross stitch is much easier to get started with than other types of embroidery. Considering that cross stitch is a form of hand embroidery, it’s a great entry point to embroidery in general.
Of course, every craft requires a lot of practice to perfect and cross stitching is no exception.
That said, if you don’t have any experience with any type of needlework and you’re looking for the easiest path to creating beautiful art on fabrics, cross-stitching is the right place to get started.
Is Cross Stitch Thread The Same as Embroidery Thread?
Technically, yes. You’ll need to get some colourful embroidery thread if you want to cross stitch.
However, most of the time, you’ll only need two or three strands from the thread for your work.
Since embroidery thread usually comes in six strands, you will have to separate the strands you need from the rest of the thread.
What Supplies Do You Need to Start Embroidering?
The cool thing about hand embroidery is that you only need a limited number of supplies to get started. You don’t need to invest in a ton of items. Over time, you can add more items to your toolbox.
If you’re a beginner, the easiest way to get started is to get an embroidery kit. These kits often contain all the necessary embroidery supplies.
If you want to get them yourself, however, here’s what you should look for.
Your choice of fabric, thread, and needle will depend on the type of embroidery you plan on doing.
If you want to get started with cross-stitching, go for a loose weave fabric with a grid system such as Aida fabric. Linen and silk fabrics are also commonly used for embroidery.
Stranded cotton threads are the most commonly used thread for embroidery. Other types include silk thread, pearl cotton, Persian yarn, and crewel yarn. Blunt tapestry needles are best for cross stitch and needlepoint. For other types of embroidery, you’ll need sharp crewel needles.
What are the Alternatives to Cross Stitching?
Like we’ve explained above, if you’re getting started with embroidery, cross stitching is a great place to start. However, there are other types of hand embroidery that you might want to experiment with for different kinds of projects once you get the hang of embroidery.
Stumpwork embroidery, or raised embroidery, is an advanced form of embroidery that involves creating three-dimensional works of art using a technique known as layering stitching.
Thread painting, also called needle painting, is another type of embroidery that employs a combination of short and long stitches to create images that look like paintings. Thread painting art pieces can look similar to photorealistic paintings or impressionist paintings depending on the artist’s choice of threads and fabric.
Of course, there are other types of embroidery such as crewel embroidery, which employs two wool threads simultaneously, blackwork embroidery, and surface or freestyle embroidery, which is common among contemporary stitchers today.
Up Next: The 7 Best Cross Stitch Frames