8 Bad Cross Stitching Habits We All Need To Stop

I know some people refer to me as a “cross stitch master” but I don’t. I class myself as a cross stitcher with some terrible habits. And it’s those habits I wanted to speak about today.
I know talking about habits seems negative, but the reason I’m speaking about them is that by changing these habits, we’ll massively improve our cross stitch.

Living In Mess

The first habit is one I feel strongly about; mess. With more and more cross stitch accessories hitting the market, we end up with a whole bunch of stuff in our “hand reach” area.
These favored tools are all great, but do they really need to be everywhere? By making our cross stitch space chocked full of stuff we leave ourselves feeling cramped and less creative. Cross stitch is meant to be about feeling the joy of it after all.
Another bugbear is storing things too. I love interesting fabrics, and whilst I hardly ever stitch with them (I know, I know), I need to store them somewhere. I used to stack them up on a table, but then it started exploding and toppling over. I had to organize my cross stitch fabric in the end.
And don’t get my started on threads! It’s super important to store your cross stitch threads properly, otherwise you’ll get sun damage, dust, stains, or even discoloration!
How to fix it: Start organising. Sure, it’ll take a while to set up, but once done, you never have to think about it again.

Homemade Cross Stitch Pattern Holders by Ms_Pebbles (Source scrapbook.com)
Homemade Cross Stitch Pattern Holders by Ms_Pebbles (Source scrapbook.com)

Trying To Stitch In The Dark

It doesn’t matter how many carrots you eat, you can’t see in the dark. But many of us either sit down without proper light or like me, sit down with natural light and forget the sunsets.
I know I talk about this a lot, so I’ll keep it short, but our eyesight is one of the most important parts of cross stitch, and whilst we can stitch in relative darkness, it’s doing long-term damage to our eyesight. By adding in more light we can see better, stitch easier, and we keep our eyesight to cross stitch at a later date.
My nan taught me to stitch and thanks to deteriorating eyesight, now she can’t. Keep care of your eyes as long as possible people!
We feel we should add that here that whilst there are fancy lighting options like daylight bulbs for cross stitch, any light is better than no light.
How to fix it: Get some more light. It could be a fancy bulb, a tracing pad, or just a lamp.

Daylight Slimline Table Lamp (source: Amazon)
Daylight Slimline Table Lamp (source: Amazon)

Slumping In Your Seat

I slump in my seat. A lot. And honestly, it’s a habit I’ve tried (and struggled) to stop for a long time, so I can tell you how hard it is to break a habit, but your sitting position is just as important as light.
You can, and most likely will, get back problems from cross stitch by sitting poorly. I hurt my back from rugby when a teen, so maybe I’m more susceptible than most, but trust me; back issues are no joke.
How to fix it: Assess your stitching position. You might need a pillow, a better chair, or maybe a desk to help you sit better.

Ikea desk chair cross stitch hack (Source: Pinterest)
Ikea desk chair cross stitch hack (Source: Pinterest)

Stitching With Dirty Hands

I’m speaking from experience here; wash your hands. I never licked my threads, but I did use to just pick up my cross stitch after work and get to it. I didn’t realize the oils on my hands were seeping into my cross stitch. I never realized it was a thing, let alone a thing that could ruin my cross stitch. And I mean that; look at the design below and see the brown stains. Ruined!
Now, you can alleviate this somewhat by washing your cross stitch, but there are many people out there that prefer not to wash their cross stitch, and in those situations, this habit really starts becoming an issue.
How to fix it: Wash your hands before stitching.

Brown Spots on Cross Stitch
Brown Spots on Cross Stitch

Losing Needles

Stepped on a needle before? Sat on a needle? Managed to get one stuck in your hand whilst on your hands and knees desperately trying to find a needle on the ground knowing that you need to find it or the dog will get it?
Losing needles and dropping needles happens; there’s no way around that, but you can make it less likely. Using a needle minder or even needle minder alternatives you’ll stop it happening so often. I personally use a needle minder, but I keep it in my kit instead, removing the needle after every stitching session.
How to fix it: Think about getting a needle minder, or needle case, and store your cross stitch needles when not in use.

DMC Magnetic Needle Case (Source: Etsy)
DMC Magnetic Needle Case (Source: Etsy)

Using Scissors For Other Things

Scissors get blunt. Blunt scissors are REALLY bad at cutting.
I have a pair of ‘house scissors’, a pair of thread scissors, and a pair of fabric scissors. Sure, this is a little overkill, but once you’ve found the right cross stitch scissors for you we implore you, to keep them for cross stitch.
You’ve not experienced the hell of trying to cut aida with blunt scissors and ending up with warped and unsightly edges. And don’t get my started on threads; if you use blunt scissors you’ll pull threads, end up with choppy ends that somehow unravel themselves!
How to fix it: Only use your cross stitch scissors for cross stitch.

Premax 4 inch weavers scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Premax 4 inch weavers scissors (source: kreinik.com)

Letting The Little Stuff Get To You

This one is a tough one. When you make a mistake in cross stitch it feels horrid. You have the choice to rip it all out, work around the error, or just give up. All valid options, but sometimes we forget about that other choice; live with it.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again:

I’ve made a mistake in every cross stitch I’ve completed.

And that’s not a joke, every single one. And sometimes these aren’t small. Take my Saturn V blueprint cross stitch I made for the Xstitch Magazine. A major part of it was the labels. And I spelled one wrong. The one right at the top, right in the center. Can’t avoid it; you see it. But I left it. It went to print. And to be honest, I’m happy. It shows that it’s mine. And it shows I can’t spell (let’s face it, you’ve read my posts, you know that)!
Sometimes it’s OK to accept the mistake.
How to fix it: Just accept the mistakes. And if you’re ever in doubt; just remember that I have mistakes in every single project I’ve completed.

Giving Up Just Before You Finish

I’m not guilty of this one; the only one on the list, but I see it a lot. It’s OK to give up on a cross stitch project, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, but sometimes we’re all guilty of wanting to move on a bit too quick.
With more and more patterns on places like Etsy that drives us on, and seemingly larger and larger projects to take up our time, we often find ourselves hoarding cross stitch patterns. But some of us start a new one without finishing the old one. Once again; that’s OK, but don’t forget about the old one!
There was once a time when you wanted more than anything to finish the project you were on so you could stitch the one you’re giving up. You’ve spent untold hours on it and maybe a fair wack of money too. So why forget about the poor guy?
How to fix it: Make a note and don’t forget about the old cross stitches (or just resign yourself to never finishing it).
Are there any cross stitch habits you have that you need to fix?
Happy stitching!
Lord Libidan

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  1. Gail Jahn

    Here’s a good motto: “If you’re ready to quit, think about why you began.” However, if you’ve decided you really hate a project you’ve started – give it the heave ho.