How to cross stitch: 5 simple steps to get started

1. Choose your project…

Make sure you choose the right level for you – you’ll find this information in the Factbox on each of our projects. Absolute beginners should choose a design without fractional stitches.


2. Buy your materials…

The shopping list on each project will tell you what size and type of fabric you need, and also which needle to use. You’ll find details of the threads you need in the key.


3. Get ready…

We recommend always starting from the middle of the design. Follow the two heavy ‘0’ grid-lines on the chart and find a symbol near the centre. Look for this symbol on the key for the colour of thread you need, plus the number of strands. Thread your needle with this colour.


4. Get set…

Fold your fabric in half horizontally and vertically to find the centre of that as well. The folds will make a cross, which corresponds to the cross at the centre of your chart.


5. Get stitching!

To make a cross stitch, bring the needle up at the bottom left corner of a square and down at the top right corner. To finish a thread, leave a thread tail of 4cm (2in) on the back of the fabric, and catch it under your stitches to secure it. We recommend finishing all the cross stitch in your design before you work the backstitch or add any French knots.


Like that? Try these:

Cross stitch FAQ

Cross stitching techniques

Cross stitch tips

Five ways to get ahead for Christmas

Don’t let Christmas Day sneak up on you this year – plan your festive stitching now...

  1. Early bird

    It’s time to write a list and see how many cards you need to get through each week. If you want to get going now, try one of the free card kit gifts with The World of Cross Stitching – this Margaret Sherry design that came with issue 181 is ideal.
  2. Ready for Santa

    Start stitching kids’ stockings soon to ensure they are finished in time for old St Nick’s arrival. We adore this ‘Penguin Joy Stocking’, £26.99, by Janlynn. Buy it from Sew and So.

  3. Be prepared

    Make sure you’ve got all the inspiration and stash you need by heading to a festive craft fair near you. Check out our events page regularly to make sure you don't miss out on the best ones.

  4. Personal best

    Stitch a challenging kit as a treat. ‘Merry Christmas Santa’, £18.50, Dimensions Petites Gold, would make a nice, substantial stitch for in between all those quick cards. Email for stockists.

  5. Surprise, surprise!

    Allow plenty of time to stitch in secret if you are making gifts for close family. This ‘Let it Snow’ sampler, £25, would be great for a fan of the holiday season. Buy the kit from The Historical Sampler Company.


We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here