Here is my need-to-have list to begin your first cross-stitch project.
First, choose a design chart or a kit
Before you start cross-stitching, you will need to decide on a design. What do you like to cross-stitch? Do you want simple cartoons, funny sayings that make you smile every day or do you want a work of art adapted from the finest paintings that exists today. You can choose to get a standalone chart where you will have to get your own materials which is perfect if you already have leftover threads and fabric or you can get a kit that comes with everything you need to begin this exciting project.
The chart that you chose will indicate the recommended count for the design. Don't be intimidated if it says 25 or 32 count. This fabric count has smaller squares that you can stitch over 1 or 2 squares. If you prefer a bigger square fabric, do the design on a 14 or 18 count Aida. There are no restrictions at all. Of course, a design done on a 32-count fabric will result to a tighter more concise looking finished product but it will be just a beautiful on a 14-count fabric. Don't let this part stress you out. I've stitched for more than 10 years and I still prefer 18-count over a 32-count.
You will a needle to start a stitch. A fork or a chopstick won't do. There are a few different sizes to a tapestry needle. Here are the recommended sizes for the fabric count.
Size 18: 6-count Aida Size 20: 8-count Aida Size 22: 11-count Aida, 22/25/27 count even weave Size 24: 14-count Aida, 28-count even weave Size 26: 16-count Aida, 32-count even weave, 22-count hardanger Size 28: 18-count Aida, 36/55 count even weave
It's better to use the correct size needle to not stretch out the squares on a fabric. Plus why not make a biscornu for one of your cross-stitch projects? They make a beautiful and creative pin cushion. Seriously watch where you put those needles. It is not fun to sit on one.
There are so many beautiful brands of threads out there. The most widely used brand are DMC and Anchor. Both are six stranded cotton threads that can be divided easily into separate strands as per needed by the design. Other notable and popular threads used for cross-stitch are Kreinik Metallics, DMC Variations & Light Effects metallics. These threads even come with some that are glow in the dark! How cool is that?
A little tip on threads. When you are ready to stitch, don't cut the thread needed too long. It makes it harder to separate and it will twist and knot. It will be a waste of a thread when it get too knotted that you have it to junk it. Also, don't just pull the strands apart. Wiggle it between your fingers for at least the top 2 inches and then pull it to separate.
You will definitely need this to cut off extra thread and to trim you fabrics. You can just use a normal pair of scissors but there are wonderful embroidery scissors which not only cut but also help to pick out wrongly done stitches. These scissors are usually quite beautiful, some gold plated and carved like an antique. I'm still using a normal pair of scissor but getting one of these collectibles are in my list of things to get!
This is an optional item to help you with your stitches. It's not necessary and personally, for me I feel that it made my stitching experience worse. Of course, some might disagree and find it totally useful. The reason why I find it hard to use is because I need to stitch fast and I like to stitch the shortcut where you go all the way up/down on half a stitch and then you reverse and do the other half of the stitch. I can't do one cross at a time, it drives me nuts. A hoop will tighten your fabric that you will need to poke your stitch from above, then retrieve it from below. With this method, your stitches will be perfect though but beware of creases caused by hoops that are too tight. Some wooden hoops also leave a stain that is not a pretty sight.
That's about all you need to get started on this simple yet amazing hobby. If you have any tips or advice on cross-stitching, feel free to drop us an email and we would love to add your piece with full credit in our guide!
written by Hamidah Gul