Cross Stitch Basics

My mum taught me to cross stitch when I was in my teens so thought I would pass it on plus some bits I’ve learnt along the way.
First what do you sew on?
left: 14 count white aida
top middle: waste canvas
bottom middle: 28 count evenweave
top right: plastic canvas
bottom right: pink 12 count aida
14 Count Aida
This is the most common material used for cross stitch. Aida can be bought in variety of colours and sizes.
Waste Canvas
This can be used to cross stitch a design onto to normal material or clothes then removed after use. you can tack it on do your design as normal then take away.
To take waste canvas off you soak it for about a minute in warm water & slowly take the strands out with tweezers sounds time consuming but is relatively quick job
As can see easily removed even when dry.
28 Count Evenweave
Evenweave has a higher count than aida so is often softer & makes the holes less noticeable. This comes in variety of earthy colours mostly beiges.
Comes in variety of counts all high. When sewing this you don’t use every hole like usual you only use every other hole.
Project using evenweave.
Plastic Canvas
This is a flexible plastic with holes for cross stitch. Perfect for decorations because can sew & cut out unlike normal aida which frays. This material is also good for making fabric boxes sturdy.
12 Count Aida
If hadn’t realised the smaller the normal the bigger the ‘holes’ look. The higher the number the smaller because the count refers to how many threads make up the fabric. This is good for bigger projects like cushions. The crosses done will be bigger than with 14 or high count.
Project using this aida.
Mum’s tips
These are the top tips I was taught!
  • When start a new project start with the light colours & work your way up to dark & bright ones. This is to prevent the dark showing through under bare parts of your work or worse through the light stitching.
  • Do all stitches in same direction because although can see in picture below its barely noticeable there is a very subtle difference if go in different directions.


  • Use an embroidery hoop. This keeps your work steady & the aida evenly spread. If you don’t use a hoop your work can get squashed up & look uneven when finished
  • Handy tools to have to hand are: embroidery scissors, pen or crayon for marking which squares you’ve sewn, spare needle & something to put them all in.
How To
We start with 2 strands together & a needle.


Put your needle through start point leaving about 1 inch at back.


On other side put needle back in towards the back diagonal to other stitch to create a slanted stitch. The first half of your cross.







At the back you can trap your tail under stitches you’re doing. This makes it neat & importantly keeps it flat with no bulky knots.
This is example of sewing in same direction.Sew in rows doing all half stitches.



Once you have finished your row work your way back by crossing your stitches as shown.


When you finish a strand you can trap the excess in existing stitches. Stop sewing with about 2 inches to spare you will mostly likely find it too hard to sew .


Now to back-stitch. When you back-stitch you only use 1 strand of thread with your needle.


You start again at back leaving 1 inch to the back. Because we’re sewing in a straight line you can’t ‘trap’ the excess the same so you should do this before starting sewing. Pull it to front and insert back in the hole to the right, next to it.


Bring back to the front through next hole to the right…


.. & back towards the back through the hole to the left, so you complete your line as you go rather than come back. Continue till all done & secure at back.



Hope this was helpful & any questions feel free to comment or email me personally at

I am a mum of 2 boys and 1 girl.

Posted in Embroidery, Tracy's Tutorials
3 comments on “Cross Stitch Basics
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