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Cross-Stitching - Is it easy or difficult, cheap or expensive?

These are questions cross stitchers get asked by the curious. My niece has been asked, “Isn’t it for old people?” Um, a big resounding, “NO!” Or maybe the answer is, “yes.” Cross-stitching is for the young, the old, and everyone in between. My son’s girlfriend told him she wants to start doing some “crafting” but does not know where to start. She named knitting, crocheting, or cross-stitching. Out of those, I think that cross-stitching is the easiest to start with if you are a novice to the needle arts. It actually uses a basic sewing pattern. It is like sewing on a button - over and over and over again! And the end result looks so pretty.

If you are going to start cross-stitching, we can go over some basics.

  • You will need a pattern to sew. Try to find a very easy one to give you the confidence in your ability to move into more complicated patterns. The easiest option is the preassembled kits. Most crafting stores have inexpensive, ready-made kits that include the pattern, floss (thread), and Aida fabric. Personally, I always make a colored copy of my instructions so I can highlight the areas I have done. Or in case the dog eats it.

  • It is also recommended to have a hoop or Q-Snap frame to hold the fabric pretty taut when stitching. If the project needs a scroll rod, it might be a little ambitious for the first-time stitcher.

  • When threading a needle, the easiest way (and not having to worry about knotting the end or covering the tails with stitches) is to start with a loop threading. Cut your floss around 24” long, double it, matching the ends, and put the loop part thru the needle’s eye. Pull the loop down to shorten the tails. Take the needle and thread it thru the fabric where the first stitch goes, leaving a measure of the loop on the bottom side. Now insert the needle into the hole on the diagonal and thru the loop, catching it.

  • The first stitch is usually in the center (the instruction sheet normally has arrows on the side and top to follow to find the middle of the pattern). Important: Whichever way you make your first stitch, / or \, is the direction each of your stitches for this project will have the first stitch of every cross. And every half stitch. The cross will be in the opposite direction. I have included pictures that hopefully illustrate this for you. I try to use the thread for the stitches that are located nearby rather than cutting and restarting the thread. When you are starting, you can do one cross at a time, however, you will use a lot of floss. Eventually, you may do a row of stitches or area the pattern indicates and then come back to “cross” the stitches. Interestingly, my sister does a two “x” pattern.

Now to answer the money question. Is cross stitching cheap or expensive? Yes, is the answer. Like most hobbies or activities, cross-stitching can be pretty inexpensive but once you get into more intricate patterns and more expensive fabrics, it can get pricey. Having nicer tools for the trade also makes for a more enjoyable past time. They need not be expensive but moderately priced: multiple needles that do not bend or break, Needle Minders that keep them from getting lost, a sharp pair of scissors for non-frayed threads, Blooming Daisies Crafts Grime Guards to protect the Aida cloth from getting dirty. Normally the most expensive part is once the piece is finished. Framing your projects can be expensive if you have the project professionally framed. Or, you can do it yourself with a frame found on sale. Hobby Lobby will cut mats for your projects for reasonable rates.

One of the most easy and inexpensive projects is plastic canvas cross-stitch. “Wizzlers” is a popular line offered by Jannlynn that my sister has used. They are small in size, pretty quick to complete, the instructions can be used multiple times and are easy to customize with different thread colors. Finishing the project is easy as well. Just trim the excess plastic canvas and, if you choose, use wire or cording to finish.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me. I will be happy to get back to you with better explanations, if needed.

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