10 Things You Didn’t Know About Cross Stitch

the simpsons cross stitch

You may have been cross stitching for some time, however like all hobbies, there are always things we don’t know. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about cross stitch.

1 – A samurai once brought cross stitch to Japan without knowing it

We’re big fans of Japan here at Lord Libidan, however a recent story we went into looked at how one samurai accidently brought cross stitch to Japan, all due to a runny nose.

Hitomezashi sashiko
Hitomezashi sashiko

2 – Pattern books are super old

It might seem surprising to modern cross stitchers, but the very first cross stitch pattern books were sold as far back at the 14th century. The oldest surviving one is from 1545AD.

3 – Cross stitch is actually an emulation of Berlin wool work

What!?! I hear you cry. When cross stitches were first brought to the world, the was no set structure. However Berlin wool work, similar to needlepoint today, structured the design by using something similar to aida. The English thought this looked more attractive and stopped using linen, and started using aida to make their own Berlin wool work type designs.

4 – Cross stitch have been found on fabric dating all the way back to the 6th Century

Whilst we look at older embroidery in our history of cross stitch, the first cross stitches ever found were from the 6th Century!

5 – Cross stitch is the oldest form of embroidery and can be found all over the world

On that note, cross stitch is world wide. So much so that even without the internet, cross stitch was the oldest embroidery technique that was found around the globe.

6 – The largest cross stitch in the world is oer 9 million stitches

Think thats big? In our post about the world record breaking cross stitch we see a cross stitch project with over 97 million cross stitches.
largest cross stitch display

7 – While most folk embroidery is no longer popular, cross stitch is heavily used in Palestinian dressmaking

Traditionally, before cross stitch became samplers, it was used in traditional folk dress. However, modern Palestinian dressmaking still uses cross stitch heavily!

8 – Cross Stitch crossed social class boundaries

Don’t think that cross stitch jumped from folk to fancy samplers though. Cross stitch has been created from the poorest to richest parts of society. In world war 2 prisoners of war stitched, the 18th century it was fancy samplers, in the 80s it was mine workers. Cross stitch is for everyone.

sampler by Major Alexis Casdagli
Sampler by Major Alexis Casdagli (source: V&A website)

9 – Most modern patterns cross stitch an object, but Assisi embroidery the stitches are reversed

In traditional Assisi embroidery, cross stitches are used, but instead of stitching an object or sampler, the background is stitch instead.

10 – There are loads of celebrities that cross stitch

From Thor to M, there are loads of famous people who cross stitch!
judi dench cross stitcher

Bonus fact: Cross stitch has featured in games, TV and film!

Whilst we think cross stitch is quite a popular hobby, we don’t realise that cross stitch has been in LOADS of TV, games and films.
the simpsons cross stitch

Needles are sized based on thickness, not length https://lordlibidan.com/why-are-embroidery-needles-given-random-size-numbers/

The Best Of Cross Stitch Maps

stardewvalley map cross stitch by Bunia

I’ve always loved maps. Bit of a cartophile. However, it looks like I’m not alone, as there are a wealth of awesome cross stitch maps out there just begging for some limelight!

Stardew Valely

The reason I started looking into cross stitch maps was this. Not only is Stardew Valley an awesome game map, but Bunia has recreated the in-game map into a fantastic micro scale map with all the details of the original and more.
stardewvalley map cross stitch by Bunia
Just to take it one step further, she also offered the pattern for free!

Zelda

Jumping back a step though, sometimes video game maps are awesome on there own. In my mind however, Zelda’s Ocarina of Time map was a little sparse on details. BUT, it looked great from above. This cross stitcher thought so too and make a cracking recreation.
legend of zelda ocarina of time cross stitch map
But lest we forget the awesome Zelda map Servotron created that has been recreated by this stitcher:
Legend Of Zelda Map Cross Stitch

Mario

Whilst we’re on the topic of video game maps, lets talk about the weirdly shaped ones. Mario has always had great maps, but this third world map stitch by cross stitch ninja is frankly jaw dropping. The weird shape, the fact that is has a massive III lake, and the deserty finish make it one of my all time favorite maps.
mario cross stitch map by cross stitch ninja

Game Of Thrones

But sometimes, video games and other things combine. Like this Game of Thrones Mario mashup cross stitch map, which not only having a nice nod to both worlds, but has a shocking amount of accuracy too. Credit to MonkeeCatcher (the stitcher) and titan413 (the designer).
game of thrones mario world map cross stitch
But as one of the most watched TV shows in history, its no surprise that the original map got some love too. This design by Randomly Generated reminds me of the book map sooo much.
game of thrones map cross stitch

Pokemon

But where would a Lord Libidan post be without a bit of Pokemon?
Now, its no secret that I’ve created my own Pokemon maps in the past:
Pokemon National Map cross stitch by Lord Libidan
And loads of other people, like merichan27 and KDstitching have too:
pokemon johto map cross stitch by kdstitchinghoenn pokemon map cross stitch by merichan27
However, my out and out favorite cross stitch maps? They have to be these stellar mini maps by StrangenessIsConservative. Not only are they super cute, and based on in game sprites most people would have looked over, but they are the only images of the cross stitch world that exist in the Pokemon universe. AND the patterns are avalible for free!
pokemon region maps by strangenessisconserved

Cross Stitch in Games, TV and Film

the simpsons cross stitch

We’re not shy of showing off some awesome pop culture cross stitch on Lord Libidan before, however what about the times when pop culture shows off cross stitch? Here are some awesome examples of when TV shows, games and movies show off cross stitch!

Bioshock

The Bioshock games have a simple premis; the world was too complicated, so people went off to found a better city. In the third instalment of the game, gone were the art deco statues and famous artworks, and in came the simple world of cross stitch.
cross stitch in bioshock
What not a lot of people know however is that the game is filled with cross stitches, including in the lighthouse at the end of the game.
cross stitch in bioshock 3

The Simpsons

Marge Simpson, one of our celebrities who cross stitch, is actually an accomplished cross stitcher. In Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder Marge creates a series of samplers for Lenny.
the simpsons cross stitch

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

A more modern TV show, Brooklyn has a character that cross stitches. She’s even called a ‘stitch skipper’…

Fargo

Whilst a lot of people know Fargo as the TV shows, which used knitting in its promotional posters, had a movie forerunner. And that forerunner had it poster made from (you guessed it) cross stitch.
fargo movie poster
Know of any other times cross stitch was used in pop culture? Drop us a line!

World Record Breaking Cross Stitch

largest cross stitch display

We’re not afraid to post seriously epic stitches here on Lord Libidan, such as the highly anticipated epic pokemon cross stitch pattern, however when it comes to epic these following stitches blow the socks off any our patterns can.
 

Worlds Largest Published Cross Stitch Pattern

Less than 1 Epic Pokemon Patterns
Stitches: 628,296
Finished Size: 40″ x 80″ or 100cm x 200cm
sistine chapel ceiling cross stitch worlds largest pattern
Joanna Lopianowki-Roberts published the largest ever cross stitch pattern in 2011, which whilst being super massive as a pattern, was actually stitched. To give you some extra stats, it took over ten years to stitch with 2,872 hours put into the project. Despite that, its still only 90% of our Epic Pokemon cross stitch.
You can pick up a copy of the pattern (split into 34 different patterns for ease) over on Amazon.
 

Worlds Largest Cross Stitch By A Single Person

1.6 Epic Pokemon Patterns
Stitches: 1,111,396
Size: 871w x 1276h
Finished Size: 194cm x 134cm
However, Peter Volna from the Slovak Republic takes the title of largest cross stitch by a single person, with a replica of part of The Last Supper by da Vinvi. It also took ten years, but we also know it has over 48 kilometers of thread in it!
the last super cross stitch world largest
 

Worlds Largest Cross Stitch

More than 11 Epic Pokemon Patterns
Stitches: 7,897,840
Size: 4304w x 1835h
Finished Size: 920cm x 405cm
battle of grunwald worlds largest cross stitch
Yeh, lets get serious for a second here. The worlds largest cross stitch. It was stitched by a group of people in Poland, seperated into 50 sections, each stitched together to make one awesome stitch. Without the thread stitching the sections together, it has over 150 kilometers of embrodiery thread in it.
 

Worlds Largest Embroidery Display

More than 140 Epic Pokemon Patterns
Stitches: 96,963,750
largest cross stitch display
However, if we want to talk big, we need to look at the worlds largest embroidery display. These are seperate peices displayed together, but there are 1170 of them. Each cross stitch itself was made up of 82,000 stitches, meaning it was over 140 times larger that our epic Pokemon cross stitch pattern.
It was created by the Trichy Innovative Ladies’ United Needlework Association in India to raise money for charity, and is still growing as more and more panels are stitched.
 
If you’re still wanting to stitch an epic cross stitch of your own, how about one of our smaller epic Pokemon stitches?

The Time Cross Stitch ALMOST Made It To Space

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg's stuffed toy dinosaur floats on the International Space Station Credit NASA

xstitch magazine issue 3 cover
A few of you may know that I make patterns for the XStitch Magazine, however starting with issue 3, I also write a piece for each edition in an article entitled “Libidan’s Lectures!”. For the space themed first lecture I explored the relationship space has with art, and the various (and frankly numerus) art instalations held in space. However, during my research I kept coming back to a single question:

Has cross stitch ever flown to space?

Well, the answer was a resounding no. BUT sewing and embroidery has.
Astronauts are a superstitious bunch, peeing on bus wheels, eating peanuts and watching Russian movies aside, they have one tradition of note. During take off, especially in the Soyuz spacecraft, astronauts look directly up, with everything strapped down to avoid it floating once they reach space. However, if that’s the case, how to you know when zero gravity starts? In comes the cuddly toy!
r2d2 in space soyuz launch credit starspaceRussian cosmonaut Alexandr Samokutyae with his zero gravity toy
In order to show when you’re in space, you dangle a cuddly toy from the control panel. Now, these are genuine tools used in space, dont be confused with their cuddly exterior. Whilst they used to be plastic pens, as time progressed astronauts let their imaginations go wild and picked a whole series of things to travel with. Many include sewing and embroidery in a series of styles. I looked through hundreds (I’m not joking) of toys to see if any had cross stitch. Nope.
 
In addition to toys flown from Earth though, there is one other interesting example worth exploring.

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg's stuffed toy dinosaur floats on the International Space Station Credit NASA
Credit: NASA
In 2013, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg brought to space an idea; to craft. Using tools found around the International Space Station Karen created a small stuffed dinosaur to bring back to her son on Earth. Now, this isn’t the greatest sewing on earth, however lets just think about something for a minute. There are no needles in space. There are no scissors in space. There are no threads in space. Karen managed to make her tools while she was up there too. Now that, is impressive.

Saving Money In Cross Stitch

gold cross stitch needles

Our recent post on cheap embroidery threads got a lot of attention, not only due to us busting some myths, but opening the world of cross stitch up to people who can’t afford as much. So this got us thinking; how much could you save?
We used an example project from the world of art (Specifally the Mona Lisa) to give us some good estimates on how much you can save; then we hit the shops!

Threads

As we pointed out during our cheap embroidery threads post, brands such as CXC are actually good competitors to brands like DMC, and you can pick them up at a fraction of the cost on sites like Ebay and AliExpress.
18 threads
DMC – $12.96
CXC – $2.07
Saving: $10.89 84%

Full set of DMC threads
Full set of DMC threads

Needles

We like to keep things simple, so we looked for 6 size 24 needles, no gold plating, not petite, no easy thread. However its worth stating that you can find some really great finds, so I would suggest that anyone look for the needles they want to use; the prices really don’t jump that high. For this test we found two levels of needles in our favorite cross stitch store; the expensive John James, and the silightly cheaper DMC. It should be noted that you can find multipacks of no brand needles for much cheaper, but we wanted only six.
6 size 24 embroidery needles
John James – $1.71
DMC – $1.43
Saving: $0.28 16%

Aida

Initially, the only aida brand we could come up with at a reasonable price was Zweigart, and frankly their aida is great, however if you step into the world of fabric shops, you suddenly get a lot more choices. Firstly, larger sections can be purchased at a reduced price, and whilst you might not have the same level of choice as with a premium brand, you can pick up quality aida at a low price.
Still struggling to find some? Try looking for Binka or Binca fabric. Its the same stuff, but slightly firmer before washed.
14 count white 30cm square
Zweigart – $12.47
No Brand – $4.32
Saving: $8.15 65%

Frames/Hoops

We actually struggled a lot here. Turns out you can get some really cheap hoops, but once we got them in our hands; they just aren’t fit for purpose. So we went out of our way to find branded hoops to test. In our test we found Elbesee hoops to be the cheapest, however we’ve been using them for years and I would personally say the quality is slightly better than the Milward premium choice.
10inch (25cm) wooden embroidery hoop
Milward – $4.88
Elbesee – $3.85
Saving: $1.03 21%

Patterns

Now we have everything we need (bar scissors, which I assume you have in your house), we talk patterns.
We first started searching for the specific pattern we wanted on stores, and as its a very specific request, our options were limited. However of the 6 options we found, Etsy had the most expensive, and Ebay the least. But before we finished, we also tried our hand at creating our own pattern; which worked out free!
18 color 8inch tall (20cm) Mona Lisa pattern
Etsy – $10.15
Ebay – $4.40
Making it yourself – FREE
Saving: $10.15 100%

Pattern Making Software

Pattern making software seems like a big step for someone that wants a cheap hobby, and whilst there are shockingly expensive options, such as DP Software, most software is in the $50 range. But there are an increasing amount of online services that can convert patterns for a one off fee of $5 to $10, and some which are free, including the great stitchfiddle.com which ranks best of all online pattern making software in our reviews.
Software capable of converting our image to a pattern of set size and threads
DP Software Cross Stitch Pro Platinum – $182
stitchfiddle.com – FREE
Saving: $182 100%

Total Saving: $212.87 94%

So there is is, a saving that could buy you an iPhone. Cross stitch doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby.
Now, I would state that we felt all of the cheaper options needed to be checked before you use them, and we suggest getting the best quality product whenever you can (you’ll see the improvement in your work), but if you need to get something on the cheap; there are options out there.
 
As a final note; we are aware you can get the premium choice items cheaper, we used costs from our favorite UK based supplier for this test.

FOR SCIENCE! The Best Science Cross Stitch

Central Limit Theorem cross stitch

Sassy cross stitch? Cute cross stitch? Surprising cross stitch? NSFW cross stitch? These are all fairly common things we’ve covered before on this blog, but there is a larger and larger community of stitchers looking to teach as they stitch. Today, we look at the best science cross stitch!

Maths!

Just…wow. This awesome stitch was found when someone asked a question online about distribution. Turns out we should all be thinking about the Central Limit Theorem.
Central Limit Theorem cross stitch

Brain Surgery!

Cross stitching artist Lada Dedic created this awesome self portrait of her brain scan in 2010., Whilst initially it looks cool, you can really get a good grasp of anatomy thanks to its realistic design.
Lada Dedic – Self Portrait, Artist’s Brain (2010) in Cross Stitch

History/Nature/Geology!

OK, this one was slightly a harder to categorise, but look at how awesome these trilobite stitches are! Trilobites you ask? They are a fossil group of extinct marine arachnomorph arthropods. See, you’re learning already!
trilobite cross stitch by adventures in stitching

Space!

There are actually a lot of space based cross stitches out there, but by far my favorite is this sun one by Climbing Goat Designs. Mostly due to its super realistic sun design, something you don’t see often. I’m in love with the soar flare.
solar system by climbinggoatdesigns

Disease!

I know, we already had brain surgery, so why neuroscience? Well, it had science in the title… In reality these stitches by Alicia Watkins cover everything from diseases to coffee.
neuron cross stitch by aliciawatkins

The Celebrities That Cross Stitch

chris hemsworth cross stitcher

A few names have been bounded around with hushed tones, as people suspect cross stitch is not only cool, but celebrity cool. Well, I’m here to tell you it is. Not only is it super cool, but some of its fans might just surpise you.

Thor/Chris Hemsworth

chris hemsworth cross stitcher
Yeh, that’s right; Thor. Well, Chris Hemsworth who plays Thor… Apparently the only thing that interested him as a kid was cross stitch. Like long stitcher. Maybe he’s reading now… Chris?
Proof
 

Judi Dench

judi dench cross stitcher
We haven’t just put those two images together randomly either. Judi Dench, devoted cross stitcher decided to offer some of her stitchings to her Pride and Prejudice co-stars Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen, specifically “You’re a c*nt” and “You Are a F*cking Sh*t”. No word on if Keira or Matthew put them up in their homes…
Proof
 

Miranda Richardson

miranda richardson cross stitcher
The star has been known to cross stitch in a few films, including that of Black Adder and Young Victoria. Taking a few ques from Judi she stitched rude words into hankies. No word on if they cross stitch together or not.
Proof
 

Rosey Grier

rosey grier cross stitcher
Jumping back to the 1970’s, the American Football player Rosey Grier not only admitted to cross stitching on a regular basis, but even brought out a rather good book showing that men really do cross stitch!
Proof
 

Henry Fonda

henry fonda cross stitcher gif
Yeh, film legend Henry Fonda. Turns out that cross stitching between shoots is old hat! Credited with over 100 movies, Henry stitched throughout the 60s and 70s, but it wasn’t until his twilight years that cross stitch really became important when he would stitch when he was recharging his pacemaker (yeh, you used to have to charge them up).
Proof
 

Marge Simpson

the simpsons cross stitch
OK, Marge isn’t technically real, but she cross stitches all the same! We love you Lenny!

Are Cheap Embroidery Threads Worth It?

Full set of DMC threads

We’ve all heard the horror stories over threads about melting threads and bleeds, and as a result settled with DMC threads. Now, I’m a DMC fan, so I was thinking I’d try a few threads out, complain about how they sucked and go on my jolly way. Well, I was wrong. Turns out that all those horror stories are pretty much exactly that; stories. Whilst most do have some truth to them, cheaper Chinese copy threads aren’t all that bad.
I took a new DMC thread, a DMC thread from 1998, a DMC thread from 2016 that had been on a shop floor, an Anchor thread, a CXC thread (known as a Chinese DMC copy), and a Royal Broderie thread (a Chinese DMC copy that mostly goes without a brand name online). I then stitched some test squares, projects and a few party favours to test them all against some of the compaints people had.
Below are my findings which show that those Chinese threads aren’t that bad after all. I will state for the record, that I still use DMC threads though.
 

The Colors Don’t Match

FALSE(ish)

DMC 3861 dye lot differences
DMC 3861 dye lot differences. Courtesy of Cindi Csraze
This was the number one complaint I came across during my research, and I was expecting to see some serious color mis-matches. My first initial stitches showed a slight difference in color, but nothing great enough to phone home about. But then I got to some of the other DMC threads. I said above I used three DMC threads, new ones, ones from 1998, and some from 2016 that were stored on a shop floor under hallogen lights. The difference in these threads were astonishing. Far greater than the difference in the chinese copies, the older DMC threads lost there lustre and most looked a little greyed out.
This is an issue I’ve seen before. In fact, batches of the same color from DNC come out differently too. In the below picture you can see a significant difference between dye lots.

They’re Plastic!

TRUE(ish)
This rumor centers around the CXC threads in particular. They’re made from a composite of poleyester and cotton (much like a dress shirt is). Despite some online retailers stating they are 100% cotton, which is where this rumor comes from. Now from a tradition stand point, the threads of cross stitch should be cotton. However, does that mean you shouldn’t use the composite ones? I think not.
Now being plastic composite does have some impact on the threads, which we talk about below, but being part plastic isn’t a terrible thing.
In addition to this, its only CXC threads that are like this. The slightly cheaper, often no-brand, threads by Royal Broderie are 100% cotton.

They Melt!

FALSE
Yes, some threads include plastic. But melting? No.
Polyester is a high temperature fibre, and it does melt at some point, however the melting temperature is 50 degrees higher than the ignition point of cotton. Yes, you heard that right. The cotton threads would have had to burst into flames before the polyester threads started melting. This story has to be completely made up. I know a few people who know people who have melted threads, but no one could give me proof, and there is always a chance that it was some super cheap thread which might melt.

They Don’t Fit Needles!

TRUE(ish)
For some reason I’m yet to work out, the strands of thread in the Chinese variants are slightly thicker. This goes for both the CXC and generic threads. However, they are only slightly bigger. Increase the needle size by one, and you’re sorted!

They Destroy Needles!

TRUE(ish)
As per above, the needles used with these Chinese threads need to be slightly bigger. If they’re bigger, then there is no problem. However smaller needles will catch at the fibers, destroying your needle eye.

They Break And Knot!

JURY IS OUT
I tested 17 colors of each thread, and with it I got breakages, and knots. However they were all fairly spread over each brand. The cheapest Royal Broderie threads broke most, without a doubt, but the CXC threads didn’t break at all; instead they knotted a lot. In fact, CXC threads knotted a lot when being taken off the skein, however I have heard removing them a different way helps with this.
I know from experience that breaks and knots happen, and most can be avoided by good technique, but I didn’t find anything that suggested more problems with the cheaper threads.

They’re Dull!

TRUE
I don’t want to get too technical here, but both of the tested Chinese threads had less of a shine. Was it noticable? Yes. Is it a problem? Well, no. Combining the threads would look bad, you could see it as clear as day, however when only using the single brand it was hard to see any real difference.
In addition I feel Anchor threads have less of a shine than DMC, and they are one of the most expensive threads to buy.

The Colors Run!

FALSE & TRUE
Cotton can be dyed in two ways, a color fast way, or a ‘quick dye’ which bleeds and runs. The Royal Broderie threads are a quick dye, so they bleed. It wasn’t obvious as first, however you can simulate wear on threads by washing with higher heats, which shows a very clear bleed.
CXC threads on the other hand, don’t. This is probably due to their polyester cotton blend, which needs the color fast dye method to dye them in the first place.

They’re Hard To Get!

FALSE(ish)
You can get either CXC threads or Royal Broiderie from ebay, amazon or alibaba. Getting them to your house quickly; that’s harder. Getting exact colors; also hard.
Now, in recent times picking up specific colors has got a lot easier, however in general you pick up packs of 50 threads, random colors. This can work out really well (you can get a full set quickly and cheaply), however picking a single skein of a specific color is still a pain to do. Most of the time they come from China (being Chinese and all), so postage is a few weeks.
So long as you prepare ahead of time, its not a big deal.

TL;DR

If its a no-brand Chinese thread, its terrible quality, don’t touch them.
DMC is superior to CXC, but consider the downsides to cost, as it may be a viable thread, especially for people starting in the hobby.
CXC threads tend to knot, they are duller than DMC, they aren’t 100% cotton, you needle to use a larger needle and they can be fiddly to get hold of sometimes. I know a lot of people that will be turned off by this list, myself included, however the price difference between DMC (£0.89 at the time of this test) compared with an average CXC skein (£0.22 at the time of this test) is a massive difference. Using a slightly inferior thread for less might be a viable option to many. They really aren’t as bad as some of the rumors suggest…
 
I just wanted to thank a few resources that have done similar test; reddit comparison by Damaniel2, crossstitch forum and thread-bare
CXC threads forum comments