Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cross-Stitch: An Introduction

point de croix, point compté, points comptes,
Cross-stitch or counted thread embroidery consists of reproducing, on fabric (usually one with even weaving so stitches can be easily counted), a design laid out in a chart. On the chart, symbols indicate color, number of threads used and stitches required, and location of stitches. Stitches are counted and usually consist of a simple X-shaped stitch.

For beginners, it's useful to buy a kit where all the thread is supplied and the pattern is printed on the fabric.



  • Many colors of embroidery floss
  • Fabric


  • Sewing hoop
  • Small embroidery scissors, thin and pointed
  • Thimble
  • Needles
    • rounded ends (n° 19-24) for Aïda or Unifil fabric
    • pointed ends (n° 5) when using waste canvas on fabrics


  • Generally, it's advised not to use more than 2 strands of floss at a time.

  • The cross stitch consists of 2 diagonal stitches that cross to form an X.
point de croix, broderie

  • You can embroider your work by stitch for by line. However, if you want your embroidery to be high-quality, pay attention to the direction fo each half-stitch: if you embroider left to right, the top stitch will always be the one pointing up to the right.


  • To start a new piece of floss, fold a piece of about 80 cm (31-1/2 inches) in half and thread the 2 ends a small distance through your needle. Make the first half-stitch of the X, not pulling the end loop all the way through, and when the needle comes out again on the wrong side of the fabric, pass it through the loop. This way, you won't have to hold the end of the thread under 2 or 3 stitches until it's held in place and the work will be neat.

  • Use a different needle for each color. That way, you won't need to constantly detach and reattach your needle.

  • For isolated stitches, use a single thread and do the stitch twice. It will be solid and there won't be any risk of fraying.

  • Use a magnifying glass to avoid straining your eyes. There are light, hands-free versions that can be worn around the neck.

  • Photocopy your charts, magnifying them 50% or 100%. They're easier to read that way.

  • Mark the squares of the chart that you've already done. That way, you'll always know where you are.

  • Once a work is finished, don't hesitate to wash it by hand. Let it air dry and iron it on the wrong side, covered with a wet cloth.

point de croix salle de bain

Thank you to Jasmine for sending us her beautiful work.


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