100 Cross Stitch Terms That Every Cross Stitcher Needs to Know

Over the last 13 years of cross stitch, I’ve learned a lot of cross stitch specific terms and phrases. I went to talk at a school recently and a lot of teens looked at me with confused looks. Turns out, cross stitch really is like another language. So here are as many terms as I could find that will hopefully help those new to the craft to make heads or tails of what’s going on.


BAP – Big Ass Project – Can be used in reference to epic cross stitches, or just large full coverage cross stitches like HAEDs.
FO – Finished Object – A cross stitch pattern that has been finished as per the pattern. Patterns with backstitch are sometimes photographed before backstitch and after, with the FO tag accompanying the later.
FFO – Fully Finished Object – Similar to an FO, but also framed.
HAED – Heaven And Earth Designs – A specific brand of cross stitch patterns. They supply large full covereage cross stitch patterns with only full stitches.
LNS – Local Needlework Store – This is in reference to a brick and mortor store somewhere close to the purchaser. Tends to be more expensive, but you can pick up last minute supplies.
ORT – Other Random Threads – Short ends of threads cut off when finishing with a length of thread. Often collected in ORT jars.
RAK – Random Act of Kindness – Cross stitchers may give away surplus threads, aida and patterns on message boards and cross stitch forums. Nothing is expected in return.
SALStitch-A-Long – A pattern that is given bit by bit, to be stitched with other cross stitchers.
UFO – Unfinished Object – An unfinished cross stitch project that is no longer worked on.
WIP – Work In Project – An unfinished cross stitch project.


Aida – A starched fabric most commonly used for cross stitch. Has small holes allowing you to form an X with your thread in a gridded way. Often count in counts from 11 to 28.
Band – A strip of fabric, usually aida, 1 inch or 2 inches tall with an ornamental border on top and bottom.
Binca – A fabric similar to aida, but firmer and tends to come in only 6 and 11 count. Fabric stores may incorrectly refer to aida as binca.
Brittany Lugana – A commonly used evenweave fabric from Zweigart. It comes in 28 count.
Evenweave – A softer fabric used for cross stitch. The fibers of the thread are placed differently to aida and a different stitching technique must be used.
Linen – Evenweave fabric made from flax, a natural fiber. Cross stitches will not lay flat on this fabric.
Magic Guide Fabric – An aida fabric from DMC with blocks of 10 stitches marked out with colored threads. The threads marking the blocks change color once wet.
Murano – A commonly used evenweave fabric from Zweigart. It comes in 32 count.
Perforated Card – Similar to plastic canvas, but made from one sheet of card with holes cut into it.
Plastic Canvas – A sheet of plastic which allows cross stitch to be stitched onto it. It can come in a style emulating aida, or a singular sheet with holes cut.
Pre Gridded Aida – An aida fabric with threads marking ten stitch blocks. The threads marking the blocks change color once wet.
Soluble Canvas – A plastic sheet with holes cut out that can be used as a guide to cross stitch onto fabrics without a grid. The canvas dissolves in warm water.
Waste Canvas – An even weave fabric that has a lower level of starch. Use to stitch onto other fabrics without a grid, and then removed by pulling the fibers out one by one.

Fabric Terms

1 over 1 – A standard cross stitch where each cross stitch is made up using the least amount of holes within a griddedn fabric.
2 over 2 – A cross stitch that is double the size of a 1 over 1 cross stitch on gridded fabric. Often used in higher count evenweave. An evenweave with 32 count 2 over 2 will create a 16 count cross stitch.
Count – A number that refers to the amount of cross stitches you can stitch into the fabric in one line using a 1 over 1 technique within 1 inch. The standard count is 14, but comes in 6, 11, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 16, 28 and 32.
Gridding – A way of marking out blocks of 10 stitches onto the fabric before stitching. This avoids the complications of counting incorrectly.
Warp – The threads that run horizontally through your fabric.
Weft – The threads that run vertically through your fabric.

Thread Terms

Bobbin – A small plastic or paper shape you can hold your thread on. Allows for easier thread storage.
Bobbin Box – A box used to store embroidery threads on bobbins.
Embroidery Thread – Thread used in cross stitch. Made up of 6 floss strands loosely spun together. Embroidery floss is broken down and not stitched with.
Étoile – A type of thread from DMC. Contains a small bit of glitter in the thread to help it shine.
Floss – The strand of embroidery floss used to actually stitch.
Light Effects – A type of thread from DMC. Speciality threads that are neon, glow in the dark, metallic or wired.
Skein – An 8m length of embroidery thread. Often the way most will buy embroidery thread.
Variations – A type of thread from DMC. The strand of thread changes color through its length in a repeating pattern.
Variegated – A type of thread from DMC. The strand of thread changes intensity of color through its legth in a repeating pattern.
Perle – An embroidery thread mostly used for embroidery, but can be used with cross stitch. This thread cannot be seperated into floss and must be stitched with whole.


Aperture card – A card with a window cut out allowing you to place a completed cross stitch behind it. This allows you to either make a cross stitch card or to help with framing your work.
Beading Needle – A needle that holds a bead and helps when adding beads to your pattern.
Bobbin Winder – A small tool that allows you to take the thread off the skein and place it onto a bobbin. Made to sit on the side of a bobbin box.
Bobbin Ring – A large metal ring that allows you to hold bobbins eye the hole at the top. Used for storage of bobbins used on a current project, and not long term storage.
Color Card – A flyer with either printed examples of a full thread range, or samples of the threads to help you pick colors when designing patterns.
Cross Stitch Needle – An alternative name for a tapestry needle.
Embroidery Hoop – A wooden or plastic hoop used to hold your fabric taut so you can cross stitch onto it neatly.
Embroidery Scissors – Small sharp scissors that are used to cut threads. It can come in many forms.
Floor Stand – A wooden or metal stand that allows you to clip a cross stitch hoop or frame to it allowing you to stitch “hands-free”.
Frame – A wooden frame that allows you to hold your fabric taut so you can cross stitch onto it neatly. Larger than a hoop.
Fray Check – A glue applied to the edges of the fabric that stop it fraying or breaking apart.
Lap Stand – A small stand that allows you to clip a cross stitch hoop or frame to it allowing you to stitch “hands-free”. You place the foot of the frame under your leg and sit on top of it.
Needle Eye – The hole at the top of a needle that you place your thread through.
Needle Minder – A small magnetic object you can attach to either side of your fabric that hold your needle either whilst not stitch, or using the parking method.
Needle Threader – A small tool that helps you push the floss through the eye of a needle. It comes in many types.
Q-Snap – A cross stitch frame made out of plastic tubes/PVC pipe that holds your fabric taut so you can cross stitch onto it neatly.
Seam Ripper – A sewing tool that helps with the removal of stitches by cutting the threads.
Scroll Frame – A wooden frame that allows you to hold your fabric taut so you can cross stitch onto it neatly. It allows you to scroll through a large piece of fabric so you don’t need to keep changing its position. Different types can either be sewn or clipped into the frame.
Stork Scissors – A type of embroidery scissors shaped like a stork bird. This is a traditional design that helps you make cuts closer to the body of your work.
Table Clamp – A small clamp that holds onto your table that allows you to clip a cross stitch hoop or frame to it allowing you to stitch “hands-free”.
Table Stand – A small wooden stand that allows you to clip a cross stitch hoop or frame to it allowing you to stitch “hands-free”.
Tapestry Needle – A blunt-tipped hand sewing needle with a long eye. Used specifically for cross stitch. Comes in a variance of sizes.
Thread Conditioner – A wax substance that helps threads go through fabric, stops it fraying and stops oils getting to the threads.


Backstitch – A running stitch that lied on top of the cross stitches to help define the details of the pattern.
Colonial Knot – A small knot made by wrapping the thread around your needle. Used to add extra details to your pattern. Easier than a french knot.
French Knot – A small knot made by wrapping the thread around your needle. Used to add extra details to your pattern.
Full Cross Stitch – A standard cross stitch.
Half Stitch – Half of a full cross stitch, just one stitch in a \ or / direction.
Petit Point – A full cross stitch that takes up the space of 1/4 of a normal stitch. On 14 count fabric a petit point stitch would be in 28 count.
Quarter Stitch (1/4 Stitch) – A quarter of a full cross stitch. Made up of a stitch in a \ or / direction only covering half of its full length.
Three Quarter Stitch (3/4 Stitch) – Three quarters of a full cross stitch. Made up of a stitch without one quarter stitched, leaving a small stitch in a \ or / direction missing.


Blending – A mix of different colors of types of threads stitched at the same time with the same needle. Used to create a new color, add detail, or help blend two different color blocks on patterns.
Confetti stitches – Single stitches that are spread around your pattern, or are not located near any other stitching in non-full coverage patterns.
Cross Country – Stitching one color in your pattern at your time, requiring you to move all-around your pattern.
Danish cross stitch – A form of stitching where you complete only half of each cross stitch before moving onto the next stitch. Once a row has been completed you go back on yourself and complete the stitches.
English cross stitch – A form of stitching where you complete each cross stitch in full before moving onto the next stitch.
Frogging – The removal of stitches as they were incorrectly placed.
Parking – A method of keeping active threads on your cross stitch. You stitch with one needle, and then attach it to the side of your work without removing the thread. You start on another color and then go back to the ‘parked’ thread you were using previously.
Railroading – A stitching method that allows your thread to lay flat and look neater. Often expected in cross stitch competitions. A tool called a railroad dowel can help with this technique.
Loop Method – Alternatively called the Knotless Method. A way of starting your thread. You take one length of thread and fold it in half. Thread both loose ends of the floss into the needle eye and start your stitch from back to front. When placing the stitch from the front to back, catch the loop at the back of the work.
Waste Knot Method – A way to start your thread. Tie a knot at the end of your thread, and insert the thread from the front to the back a few stitches into the line of stitches you wish to create. Start stitching as planned. Snip off the knot once done and the thread should be held by your new stitches.


Anchor – Thread manufacturer. The second most common threads used for cross stitch.
DMC – Thread manufacturer. The most common threads used for cross stitch.
Elbesee – Embroidery stand/hoop manufacturer.
Fiskars – Scissor manufacturer. Simply designed scissors for various purposes, including fabric and thread cutting.
John James – Needle manufacturer. The most common needle supplier for cross stitch and embroidery.
Milward – Needle manufacturer. Also supply scissors, hoops and other supplies.
Siesta – Embroidery stand/hoop manufacturer. Supply smaller hoops such as 3 inch hoops.
Thread Heaven – A brand of thread conditioner that is no longer in production.
Zweigart – Fabric manufacturer. The inventor of aida, and the most used aida and evenweave supplier in cross stitch.

Other Terms

Counted Cross Stitch – The standard form of cross stitch where one follows a pattern and uses a plain gridded fabric to recreate the design.
Markup App – A program used on devices like phones and iPads that allow you to mark which stitches of a cross stitch pattern you have completed.
Motif – A small image that makes up a part, or the whole, of a cross stitch pattern. An example is a singular bird or a Christmas Tree.
PDF – A file type that digital patterns come in. It can be opened by most phones and computers without additional software.
Sampler – A traditional form of cross stitch made up of a varied set of stitches. Often refers to a cross stitch with text and imagery.
Stamped Cross Stitch – A counted cross stitch with fabric pre-printed with the pattern. You stitch on top of the fabric and the color washes out once wet.
Stash – The mass of cross stitch supplies you have but aren’t currently using.
Symbol – The small icon used in cross stitch patterns used to highlight a specific color thread.
#WIPwednesday – A common phrased used online where stitchers share images of works in progress. It should only be used on a Wednesday.
Are there any other terms you need to be explained? Leave a comment below and I’ll update the list!

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Shelly

    I still like the term tweeding instead of blending.

  2. Eva

    I miss: “Hands only” for all of us who don’t use hoops, qsnaps or frames. “Sewing method” and “Stabbing method” with explanation. I also miss “Pattern Keeper” that should be in the list when “Markup R-XP” is. I would also love that the rest of the world was acknowledged by including metric measurements in addition to the imperial ones. Where I live no store has 14ct while 5,4/cm is easy to find.

    1. LordLibidan

      Oh wow. You don’t see counts?
      May I ask what country you’re from? In the UK, Europe and the US we get all the counts in inches.

    2. J

      I’ve heard it called “in hand”

  3. Lauren

    Not sure your definition for Variegated is correct – while DMC do produce variegated thread, they’re not the only company who do! Variegated is also sometimes called overdyed.