Reading a Cross Stitch Pattern
Cross Stitch patterns are typically called charts because designs are charted out by squares, each square represents a square on your cloth and when the square is filled in, that means a stitch goes there. Cross stitch charts contain a key, that key shows you which thread colors are used in the pattern. Each thread color is represented by a symbol and a color. You typically want to start stitching from the very center of your pattern. You can find the center of your pattern by following the arrows on the sides, top and bottom that point to the middle.
STEP #1: Prepare Your Thread
Embroidery floss is composed of six strands that are twisted together, which are easy to divide. All of Leia Pattern’s designs use only two strands of floss, so you will need to separate them. Find the end of the thread on your skein of floss. Slowly pull the end out from the skein to about a 20” length of floss and cut it off. To separate it, pull one strand out slowly from the rest of the stands.
STEP #2: Thread Your Needle
Take your 1 strand of thread and put it through the eye (or hole) in your needle. Pull the strand half way through the eye of the needle so that the ends of the strand are of equal length on each side. Then tie the ends of the strand of floss together. Make sure to tie a knot a few times to ensure that it will stay.
STEP #3 Finding the Center of Your Cloth
You should start stitching in the middle of your cloth. To find the center, fold the fabric in half and then in half again; the center of the fabric is where the folds intersect. You can mark the center with a light pencil mark to help you to remember where to start.
STEP #4: Placing Your Cloth in the Hoop
If you purchased a hoop with your kit, here is how to use the embroidery hoop: Loosen the screw on the top of the embroidery hoop and separate the inner and outer rings. The outer ring holds the fabric over the inner ring. Place the inner ring on a flat surface. Place your cloth over it, and center the cloth over the ring. Then press the outer ring over the cloth until the bottom ring is snugly inside the outer ring. Tug the corners of the fabric slightly to make the fabric taut – make sure this is as tight as possible so the fabric won’t slip out of the hoop. Be sure your cloth is not crooked inside the hoop. Once you have the fabric in place, tighten the screw securely. Now you are ready to cross stitch!
If you don’t plan to frame your cross stitch in the hoop, try not to leave your work in the hoop for an extended period of time. This can cause creases in the fabric that are difficult to remove. If you are planning to keep your project in the hoop once it’s finished, then there is no need to remove it.
STEP #5: How to Cross Stitch
To cross stitch, first find the middle of your cross stitch on your pattern so that you know what color floss to be using. You can find the middle of your pattern by following the arrows on the sides, top, and bottom of the pattern. Once you have the correct color on your needle, hold your threaded needle at the back of your cross stitch cloth. Now put the needle through the back of one of the holes (start at the middle of your pattern and cloth) so that the needle pokes out towards the frontside of the cloth. Now pull your needle and thread all the way up through the hole of the cross stitch cloth so that it is now at the front of your project. Make sure to pull the length of the floss all the way through.
Now the hole you went through is going to be the D hole (see figure below) or lower right hole. Now take your needle and put it through the upper left hole or “A” hole and pull your needle and thread all the way through the hole so that it is now at the backside of the cloth again. Then put the needle through the “C” hole or lower left hole. Make sure you put the needle in from the backside of the cloth. Finally put the needle through the “B” hole or upper right hole, this time make sure to put the needle in the hole from the frontside of the cloth. Then repeat the process by stitching the next square and so on. Now you know how to do the basic cross stitch!
- Each stitch or square should make an X on your cloth.
- When stitching make sure your stitches lie flat. If your thread becomes twisted while stitching, drop the needle and allow the needle to hang freely. The thread will untwist by itself.
- Keep the tension on your stitches even.
- Work the design area first and any plain background last.
- Work the darker colors first, and the lighter colors last.
- Sometimes you’ll stitch only a few stitches in one area, and then jump to another area with that same color.
Step #6: Ending a Thread
To end a thread, run your threaded needle under the last few stitches on the back of the fabric, and clip off the excess thread. You can also tie a small knot if you want it to be extra secure.