Your guide to cross stitching for the first time

By helencrazymag, Wed, 2013-09-18 10:39

New to cross stitching, or need a refresher? Use our handy step by step guide to take you through your projects!>


1. Find your design

Crazy issue 181's beautiful bunting kit is great for new stitchers. It’s worked in whole stitches (the little crosses which make up the main design), plus backstitch to outline it. Other common stitches include fractional stitches and French knots. You can find out more about these on page 88 of Crazy, but you needn’t worry about them for this project.


2. Get your gear

Make sure you have everything you need. Inside your kit you’ll find threads and perforated paper, but you’ll also want a size 24 tapestry needle. Different-sized needles are used for different counts of fabric, with the fabric count measured by the number of holes per inch (HPI). The most commonly used fabric is 14-count aida, but for this you’ll be stitching on 14-count paper. 


3. Reading charts

Next, find the three charts and the key on page 9. Each symbol on the chart has a corresponding symbol on the key, along with a thread colour description – this tells you which thread to use for each stitch. Using the list in the key, organise your cottons and make sure you know which colour belongs to which symbol. If using your own threads, stick to just one brand.


4. Sort it out

Keep your threads organised by making yourself a simple thread sorter. Take the plain card from inside your kit, punch holes down the side, and feed the different thread colours through each hole. Then write the symbol from the key alongside the corresponding holes.


5. Centre point

Now find the centre of your stitching area. Normally with fabric you would fold the piece of material in half horizontally, then vertically, to locate its middle – where the two fold lines cross is the exact centre. With these paper card pennants, though, simply count to the middle. At 16 holes high by 16 wide, the centre lies eight holes in from the side and up from the bottom, so you’ll make your first stitch here.


6. Split the strand

Identify the first thread you need by looking for the central symbol on the chart – the one where the two bold gridlines cross. Find the corresponding thread, which is actually made up of six individual strands. Separate the thread and pull out two strands to thread through your needle – the key will usually tell you how many strands to stitch with.


7. Start stitching!

Work the cross stitches, or whole stitches, first. Each stitch uses a four hole square. To start your stitch, bring the needle up through the bottom left hand corner of the square, and leave a tail of a couple of inches beneath the card – hold onto this so it doesn’t slip through. Take your needle down through the fabric in the top right hole, then up through the bottom right and down again through the top left, and that’s your first whole stitch done! Add more stitches in the same way, working your way out from the centre. Make sure you work all your stitches from right to left, then left to right so the top ‘arm’ of each stitch points in the same direction.


8. Anchored away

Remember that tail of cotton you were holding on to? As you add more stitches, you can keep it in place by holding it in position behind each new stitch, looping the thread around it. Once the tail is secure (four or five stitches should do it), trim off any excess.


9. Pick up speed

When working a row of stitches all in one colour, it can be quicker to stitch all the bottom arms first, and the top arms second. Bring the needle up through the bottom left hole, down through the top right, and then up at the bottom right. From here, start the next stitch, and continue until you get to the end of the row. Then change direction and come back on yourself, finishing off the top arms of each stitch. 


10. Thread ends

To finish a thread, stop stitching with three or four inches left. Anchor this tail by running your needle under the back of a row of similarly coloured stitches. Then, snip away any remaining thread.


11. Back to back

Once you’ve worked all your whole stitches, add on the backstitch. Start your thread in the same way as before, and following the line on the chart, bring your needle up through the hole, and down into the next one. Then, come up again one hole behind your previous stitch, and back down next to your first stitch. Continue until complete.


12. Finishing touch

Once you’ve stitched all three of your triangles, feed them onto the longer piece of thread, securing each one with a knot along the top. Although you won’t do this with these paper designs, it’s a good idea to gently handwash your stitched piece when it’s complete, then iron it on a low heat to make sure it looks its best. 


13. Change it up

To change the colours in these designs, just count the number of shades used and replace with an alternate thread. Assign a symbol on the chart to each of your new hues and start stitching! 



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