Are Online Cross Stitch Courses Worth It?

How to cross stitch animated gif illustration

There are frankly, hundreds of courses online, and with many aimed at cross stitchers, both beginner and advanced, I often get asked a fairly simple question: “Are they worth it?”
The question might be simple, but the answer isn’t. In short; it depends on what type of course is being offered.
 
We tried out 95 cross stitch courses and rated them all so we can tell you if they’re worth it or not. We broke them down into 4 separate categories (with rough price guides) to help you out!

Cheap Online Videos – Less than $30

Whilst we’re calling these “cheap” videos, we want to be clear that the production value is rarely cheap. In fact, of all the online courses we were most surprised by the quality of the lowest price offering.
These online courses are usually part of online repositories like SkillShare, Coursera, or the like. They tend to be about 10 videos long and are aimed at beginners. Nothing is particularly new about these videos, in fact, you can find most of the content of these videos on youtube videos, in books, or even on blogs like our how to cross stitch guide. However, as videos go, they are by far superior in quality. Therefore, if you are learning cross stitch, these are a great resource.
 
Verdict – WORTH IT
 

Cheap Online Courses – $30 to $300

The second category for courses is actually the most common one we get asked about. They tend to be online still, but are usually run by companies claiming to be accredited. We tried 30 of these courses, from a range of providers and we can say, without a doubt, we learned nothing more than we would have on the cheaper online videos. The content here is usually slightly poorer quality than those online videos, and they’re mostly built by people that don’t cross stitch. In fact, we found them hard to follow and we can only pray for those beginner cross stitchers who take these courses.
 
The higher price point of these courses is usually given thanks to the words “Certified Course” and “Accredited Course”. These are warning signs, not selling points. Starting with the certificate, you can, in most cases get a certificate, however, this is always an optional paid extra, which ranges from $15 to $100 depending on the course. However in order to get one of these certificates, you don’t have to prove your knowledge, you just have to pay. As a result, it offers nothing. Officially you can use the hours as CPD points, however, most CPD needs to be in a relevant field, so it’s irrelevant. Finally, “accredited” means that someone said its good. That’s it. There is no ruling to say who can and can’t accredit a course and in most cases, it’s shell companies that are set up just to slap their name on a course somewhere.
Another warning sign is terminology like “Chinese cross stitch”, which has just been made up. These aren’t intermediate or advance cross stitch techniques.
 
That might all sound like doom and gloom, but there are some courses of this type out there that are fantastic. The Royal School of Needlework has a series on non-cross stitch embroidery that we love. However, we weren’t able to find one cross stitch specific course that was any good. Be wary of spending your money here.
 
Verdict – NOT WORTH IT
 

Expensive Online Courses – $300 – $1000

Thankfully, we didn’t find many of these when we searched, but there are a few out there. Very similar to the lesser-priced online courses, these courses can range in price up to $1000 or more. Unlike their cheaper counterparts, they often have coursework and exams to take. That is, sadly, where the differences end. They are total scams. They’re just like the cheaper courses in their quality, they have the same content, and they’re just as hollow as the others. They’re often sold as “foundation courses” for universities but are offered online. The big warning light here is that foundation courses are put on by universities; if it’s not a well-known university; it’s worthless.
 
Verdict – NOT WORTH IT
 

Degree Level Courses – $1000+

Finally, we come to the degree level courses. There really aren’t many of these out there, and they’re usually embroidery courses as opposed to cross stitch courses. These are genuine degree level courses, these will add letters to the end of your name. As a result, they are actually accredited, they have more than a cheap certificate, and are well worth it as you’ll be spending years on them and learning things that only a degree level graduate would know.
But please be aware of what you’re buying here. If anyone offers you this type of course online, its probably a scam; these are courses that require in-person teaching, exams, and coursework.
 
Verdict – WORTH IT

You should wash your aida BEFORE you use it

Water samples from colored aida. Left to right; Cream Aida, Black Aida, Navy Aida, Moss Green Aida, Christmas Red Aida, Red Aida

I’m a big believer in washing my cross stitch after I’m finished, and whilst I know there are people out there that don’t wash their cross stitch, I recently started washing my aida before I cross stitch.
 
I know this initially sounds crazy, however there is a method to my madness, and washing your aida (or any fabric) before you start your cross stitch has one major benefit.

Why you should you wash it?

I short, dyes. Unlike problems with thread dye lot issues, this is a dye problem that goes under the eyes of many of us cross stitchers. In fact, it took a decade before I actually started to think about what was happening.
 
When you wash your fabric, the dye leaks out. And I don’t just mean a bit of leakage, I mean loads. And its not just black aida that has this either. We tested all of the best cross stitch aida brands using an inch by inch square in a pint of cold water for 10 minutes.

Water samples from colored aida.
Left to right; Cream Aida, Black Aida, Navy Aida, Moss Green Aida, Christmas Red Aida, Red Aida
Water samples from 1 inch squared colored aida in a pint of cold water. 
Left to right; Cream Aida, Black Aida, Navy Aida, Moss Green Aida, Christmas Red Aida, Red Aida

This dye on its own might not seem that problematic considering it’s only a little bit, but our test was using a 1 inch by 1 inch square in a pint of water. If you scale this up, its like stitching a 12 by 12 inch bit of aida in a whole bath of water. I imagine there are only a few of us out there willing to use a whole bath of water to wash our cross stitch, even if you aren’t an eco cross stitcher.
 
This dye isn’t going to totally change the color of your threads, however it will take that shine off, leaving you with something with a little less pop. This can be a serious problem with cross stitches of bright colors on black aida like my recent Star Trek Enterprise LCARS cross stitch, but it’ll even have impacts on smaller projects too.

How to wash it

Now we have the “why” sorted out, the solution is simple, wash your aida. And we don’t mean you have to go fancy like how you wash your cross stitch. No, you can just chuck the whole thing in a bowl of water for half an hour. Rinse once your done (just to make sure none of the dye is left on the fabric and dry). You don’t have to iron, blot or stretch the fabric either, as the cross stitch frame or hoop will do the work for you.

Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)
Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)

How To Mount Your Cross Stitch On Canvas

Finished cross stitch mounted to canvas on display (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

We’ve explored the blurred line between cross stitch as art or craft before, and wherever you stand on that issue, there is one thing that can elevate anyone’s cross stitch; framing.
 
We’re also no stranger to framing cross stitch either, we have a great guide on how to frame cross stitch. But this isn’t the only way to frame cross stitch, you can also mount them to canvas.

Cross stitch stapled to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)
Cross stitch stapled to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

The Benefits

There are many advantages to mounting cross stitch to canvas instead of framing them normally. Firstly, you don’t have to concern yourself with framing with or without glass, which is a headache on its own. The framing can all be done at home, is super easy and cheap and the results arguably look better than standard framing.
However, there are downsides too. The two main ones are that the cross stitch is exposed to the elements, meaning you have to be careful where you store it to keep it looking its best. Therefore, before you read any further, we suggest you go and wash and iron your cross stitch. But also, and this is a big one; its a permanent framing technique. Once mounted to canvas, removal can cause serious issues with your cross stitch, and stop you from framing it in the future.

How to Mount Your Cross Stitch

OK, so you got this far, you’ve heard the negatives, but you still want in? Great, now you need a canvas.
 
There are loads of types of canvases out there, and frankly, it doesn’t really matter which one you get. Just be aware that your cross stitch needs to have enough fabric around it to cover the front, sides and an inch or two of the back. If you’re really committed to having it mounted to canvas, but can only just cover the sides, that’s OK too, but you’ll need some type of cover for the sides to make them look nice once you’re done.
 
Next up, you need to position your cross stitch on the aida. This is a super important step, as, I repeat, this is a permanent thing. If you put it in the wrong place, fixing it is a real pain. There are loads of ways to do this, from simple measuring to using fancy middle finding rulers. I’m going to gloss over this though; as you’ve got this, whatever way works for you.

Back of cross stitch stapled to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)
Back of cross stitch stapled to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

Then, we staple. Start by taking a stapler and stapling the top center of the work (on the back). Then pull the aida tightly up from the bottom and staple there too. You should aim to get a nice tight bit of aida, but not distorting your cross stitch. This is, by far, the hardest part of the whole thing. I keep flipping from front to back to make sure its perfectly placed before I staple it. All that effort now will help it look perfect.
 
Once you have those staples in, repeat this process for all-around your work.
Folding aida corners on cross stitch mounted to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)
Folding aida corners on cross stitch mounted to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

Then comes the corners. For a lot of people, the corners pose a concern, but honestly, they’re easy to deal with. The first bit of advice I’ll give you is, do not follow a guide on how to make corners on canvas. These guides are specifically for creating the canvas you’re mounting to, and require the canvas to be stretched. Your aida won’t like you if you try to stretch it like that.
However, exactly how you want to do it, is up to you. I like Hannah Hand Make’s approach to tuck as much in as you can with your nail, pull the excess around the back, and stick a staple in that sucker.
Finished cross stitch mounted to canvas on display (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)
Finished cross stitch mounted to canvas on display (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

Once done, flip your work around, stand back and admire. You might also want to think about signing your cross stitch too.

How to Cross Stitch Without Getting A Sore Back

A few months ago we looked into how cross stitch could be bad for your health and featured a few ways to help you keep healthy while stitching. This went down well, however, there was one area people wanted to know more about; their back.
 
When sitting and stitching there tends to be two positions people naturally fall into; the ‘lean over your work’, and the ‘slouch’. Neither of which are great for your back. Now, we could just say “watch your posture”, but being frank, that’s annoying and unuseful advice. So we’ve put together the ways you can improve your cross stitch, whilst also helping you avoid back problems!

Chairs Matter

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

We start off with chairs, or more specifically the single chair you probably stitch on. For most, you either have something like the above chair (with or without cross stitching) or you sit on the couch. Depending on which of these you use, you can vary in issues and solutions.

Desk Chair

Desk chairs or dining chairs are naturally hard backed. This allows you to sit upright, where your back is helped to be straight, but many of us lean forward to counteract it. This has its own problems, which is why we suggest getting back support. This somewhat uncomfortable item (at the start at least) forces your back into the correct curve. Most chairs aren’t rated for long periods of sitting (in fact, most are only rated for 2 hours or less), but back support will increase the time you can sit without having issues.

Couch

For you couch sitters, be wary. A couch is comfortable as it allows you to slump, this isn’t a position your body wants to sit in, and if you add leaning over cross stitch into the mix, it only gets worse. You should consider moving to a more upright chair, such as a desk chair or dining chair, however, if you don’t want to, it might be worth investing in a lumbar pillow. These pillows sit behind you and offer your back support to stop you from slumping, easing the pressure on the spinal cord. Some people choose to just put a pillow behind them, but spending £20 on a proper lumbar pillow will save you a lot of pain here; literally.

Frames Matter

Easy Clip Cross Stitch Frame (source: amazon)
Easy Clip Cross Stitch Frame (source: amazon)

Next we talk about a tool you use all the time; frames (or hoops). We’ve spoken about the best cross stitch frames before, however personal preference is only one thing to talk about. Depending on what type, and size, of frame you use, you can drastically change the curve of your back. The larger the frame the more this is a problem (Sorry to all of those people tackling epic cross stitch projects).
Think about using an appropriate sized frame for your sitting position. This may mean using a smaller frame, or hoop, or it could mean purchasing a standing frame or sitting frame to keep you working with the right form.

Light Matters

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

I talk about light a lot. In fact, we’ve even spoken about using light to keep your eyesight while cross stitching, so I’ll keep this short.
Light up your area and cross stitch, so you don’t have to strain your neck to get close. You might even want to consider investing in a cross stitch magnifier if you need things a little bigger.

Double Needles Can Be Helpful

Double-ended cross stitch needle (source: Reddit)
Double-ended cross stitch needle (source: Reddit)

Something not that many people think about, but the needle you use can help.
Specifically, double needles. These needles require you to use a standing or chair frame for your work as you’ll be using both hands to stitch with, but the form you need to take to use the needle is actually a perfect back position.
Some people don’t like double needles, and we do suggest finding the best cross stitch needles for you, but a double-ended needle can also help you cross stitch faster.

Take A Break and Stretch

Finally, let’s talk about taking a break. It doesn’t have to be a long break either! Go make a brew every half an hour, or sort the washing. So long as you regularly change positions and give your back a quick rest, you’ll find you have fewer problems. It might even help to stretch out your back and arms every so often just to keep the blood flowing!
 
We hope one or more of these helps you keep stitching for a long time yet, and hopefully stops you from having back issues!

Japanese Shrine Cross Stitch By Lord Libidan

Japanese Shrine Cross Stitch By Lord Libidan

Japanese Shrine Cross Stitch By Lord Libidan
Japanese Shrine Cross Stitch By Lord Libidan

Title: Okumiya Omamori Cross Stitch
Date Completed: September 2020
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: White
Colors: 11
Pop Culture: Japan
 
In Japan, religion is everywhere. It may not have as many followers as it used to, but Shinto and Buddhist shrines dot the country at a shocking intensity. At each shrine, you can purchase small objects, known as omamori, that give good luck. In most cases, these are small fabric pouches with wooden talismans inside. However, in recent times, these omamori have become a little more interesting. From small metal keychains to wooden pencils, to modeling clay foxes, giving not only luck but specific help, with love technology and beyond. But a new trend has started, one of small enamel pins.
Japanese shrine good luck charms omamori (Source: tokyoweekender.com)
Japanese shrine good luck charms omamori (Source: tokyoweekender.com)

I’ve seen a few of these pins in peoples cross stitch kits, converted to really interesting needle minders (I really need a frogging one). However, another trend in Japan is also crazy and interesting manhole covers.
Japanese manhole covers (Source: tsunagujapan.com)
Japanese manhole covers (Source: tsunagujapan.com)

This might seem a little strange, however, Japan has always had a strong relationship with illustration. I decided to combine these two for my recent pattern in the next issue of the Xstitch Magazine.
 
Combining a view of Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms, and a torii gate, I’ve created a small omamori good luck charm for “courage”.

5 Cross Stitch Tips It Took Us A Decade To Learn

DMC Thread Cones (Source: DMC.com)

We’ve always tried to stay away from blogs on cross stitch tips here on Lord Libidan. If you want those kinds of things, there are post all over the internet with the same basic tips repeated. But that’s the thing; they’re basic tips. What about the tips that it takes a decade to learn?
Today we’re looking into the tips and tricks we’ve seen online and in-person, hundreds of times, but ones we only actually took stock of after a decade of cross stitching.

Gridding

cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source: asatisfiedspirit.com)
cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source: asatisfiedspirit.com)

We start with something I actively avoided in the past. Gridding just looked like a load of effort, that I frankly, couldn’t be bothered with; I wanted to get into the cross stitching. However, miscounts happen, there is no way to avoid that. So for a while, I used cross stitch counting pins, which work, and I still use them for smaller projects, but there is nothing quite like having to frog out a whole section as you counted wrong 6 hours of stitching ago.
This is where gridding comes in. I had always thought gridding was a painful experience but with loads of different cross stitch gridding techniques its actually a breeze. It doesn’t take that long, and I can confirm that I have NEVER had to frog on projects I’ve gridded. Lifesaver.

Buy Cross Stitch Cones

DMC Thread Cones (Source: DMC.com)
DMC Thread Cones (Source: DMC.com)

Our second tip is actually about buying. Getting a great cross stitch thread deal is such a rush, and always helps us get closer to our journey to the complete DMC thread selection, but there is a better way to buy thread; DMC cones.
 
These cones are the way professionals by DMC thread, and there is a good reason; the sheer saving. Cones are either 100g or 500g weights (which is 51 and 257 skeins worth) but you can pick them up for as little as $20 a cone, which works out to 59c a skein, which is a price that none of the best online cross stitch stores can match.

The Drill Bobbin Trick


No one likes bobbin winders; no one. But with a lot of people choosing to store their cross stitch threads on bobbins, you have to know how to put cross stitch threads on a bobbin. This is where the drill technique comes in. You can actually use a sewing machine in the same way, we’re aware many cross stitchers also sew so you might have one of those too. This trick will save you hours and hours of effort and wrist ache – trust us!

Taking Care Of Your Stash

Clear Draws for Embroidery Thread Storage (Source: pinterest)
Clear Draws for Embroidery Thread Storage (Source: pinterest)

Next up we have storage. We’re mentioned in the past (more than a few times), that its important to properly store cross stitch threads and we’re firm belivers in this. You might choose to put your threads on bobbins, in bags, put them on show or whatever, but there is no reason to not take care of them. Threads really get effected by the sun, so much that we’re suggest not buying second hand threads, and there is good evidence to suggest the DMC dye lot issues people talk about are just due to poor storage. Its that important.
 
We would also include storage of completed cross stitch, storage of aida fabric and properly storing cross stitch needles as a trick definately worth learning too.

Finding The Perfect Pair Of Scissors

Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors (source: kreinik.com)

Let me tell you; there is nothing quite like finding the perfect pair of scissors. A tool that most of us don’t really think about, but a tool that we all use, all the time, is the humble scissors. I’m sure most of us started out using a random pair of semi-blunt scissors we found around the house and maybe upgraded to a fairly cheap pair of sewing scissors along the way. But if I were to ask you “do you love your scissors?” and the answer was no, then you need a new pair.
We spend ages with our scissors, from snipping threads to (annoyingly) frogging, our scissors journey with us through project after project. So why shouldn’t they be perfect?
 
I’ve written in the past about finding the perfect pair of cross stitch scissors in the past, and since then, I’ve still managed to find better and better scissors for me, like the amazing finger snip travel scissors. However, a great pair of scissors for me isn’t a great one for you. My trusted friend MrXStitch uses a rather stylish pair of scissors that I just cannot abide; but for him, they work. You deserve to find a pair for you.
 
I would actually go one step further here too. I love my thread scissors, but I also love my aida scissors. Yes, I have multiple pairs for different things. My aida scissors are big fabric cutting scissors with a diamond coating so they never get blunt (extreme overkill, I know), but they work for aida perfectly. But they would suck for cutting threads.

Under-Rated Tool Alert: The Laying Tool

Rosewood Laying Tools (Source: Pinterest)

I have a railroading tool, or to give it the correct name, a laying tool, in my cross stitch kit. And I use it all the time. But I don’t railroad my cross stitches. Perplexing, right?
 
Whilst a laying tool can be used to railroad, it can also be used for a whole bunch of other uses that make it one of the most underrated cross stitch tools out there. Considering they can be picked up from a dollar (but be warned they can also be really expensive depending on the type) I think they’re worth picking up, even if you don’t railroad. So, let’s go through their various uses.

Rosewood Laying Tools (Source: Pinterest)
Rosewood Laying Tools (Source: Pinterest)

Railroading

Well, it was obvious we were going to start with railroading, wasn’t it? Laying tools are used to help place stitches nicely, and while this is mostly used in other embroidery stitches, you can use it to lay cross stitches perfectly. This has a whole bunch of advantages, but many people ask if they should bother railroading at all. Whilst that’s a discussion for a different time, the laying tool can still be used for it if you’re so inclined.
 
Not sure how to use a laying tool? Check out the video below:

Metallic/Glow-in-the-dark Threads

The second advantage a laying tool brings is somewhat similar to the first. Metallic threads and glow in the dark threads are a pain to use, and whilst there are ways to make using metallic threads easier and tips for using glow-in-the-dark threads neither are as easy as simple cotton. By using the laying tool in exactly the same way as you would if railroading, you’ll have a much more pleasant experience and better final product. I should say though that you will probably struggle to railroad the threads, even if you do the same technique, specialty threads are just a pain like that.

Blending Threads

The third use is another “official” use; blending threads. In the image below you’ll see someone combining two threads to blend them, however, if you look at the stitching, it looks a bit…blotchy. Now, that could be the style they were going for, however if you use blending thread to make a color DMC haven’t got yet, or trying a dithering technique then this just won’t do. This is where the laying tool comes in.
 
You will be railroading here, but you don’t need to railroad your whole project, just the blended threads. Trust me, if you’ve ever blended, its worth it.
 
However, if you wanted to bypass the laying tool here, using a double eye needle for blending will save you the trouble.

Cross stitch using blended threads (Source: gathered.how)
Cross stitch using blended threads (Source: gathered.how)

Removing Knots

This is the actual reason I use my laying tool, and why I wrote this post. Knots suck, but they do happen, even if you’re doing everything you can to avoid them.
 
Most knots can just be pulled out, but this has two issues. The first is how you pull the thread. By pulling the knot out, you pull on the aida and thread, making the whole you just stitched through larger, and sometimes even warping the fabric. By using the laying tool with one hand you can pull the knot with the other (or visa versa) and be sure not to cause undue tension on the fabric or thread.
The second issue is fingers, or more specifically the oil on your fingers. We tend not to touch our cross stitches, only the needle, and while washing your hands is (hopefully) a major part of your stitching process, the needle only transfers a little bit of oil. However, if you get your hands right in there and touch threads and knots, expect oil transfer. The laying tool takes over the job of your fingers and avoids the nasty oil getting on your work.

Poking and Prodding

Sometimes threads just need a poke. It’s as simple as that. Maybe it doesn’t want to go in the hole? Poke the fabric to make the hole bigger. Maybe it just isn’t sitting right? Push it over. Whilst you can do both of these things with your cross stitch needle, needles are meant to go through things. A laying tool isn’t. That’s why its the perfect tool to push something around and make sure your stitching looks neat and tidy.

The Better DMC Metallic Threads: Diamant Threads

DMC Diamant Threads (Source: tattingcorner.com)

The question of how to use DMC’s metallic threads often raises its head. They aren’t as nice to use as the normal cotton range, but they give your project a little something more. No wonder cross stitchers look for a way to cheat the system, or at the very least, try to avoid all the pain and heartache.
 
But there is a better solution. A solution that has actually been around since 2013 when the sub-brand launched; DMC Diamant threads.
 
Unlike their metallic 6 ply cousins, the Diamant range is a viscose sheet wrapped with a metallic polyester coating and then covered in a thin layer of silicone. The advantage of this production method is that the thread at the end is smooth and supple. I’m going to repeat that in words a little nicer to hear; they aren’t like scratchy hard to use metallic threads.
Sadly, for a long time, these Japanese made threads were only really sold in Europe, but lately we’ve been seeing more and more of them in the US and Australia. And we propose, they’re better than any DMC metallic you can find.

DMC Diamant Threads in Presentation Box (Source: crossstitchworkshop.co.uk)
DMC Diamant Threads in Presentation Box (Source: crossstitchworkshop.co.uk)

The Benefits

The real benefit of Diamant threads is that they are a smooth thread. They act much more like a standard cotton thread (although slightly stiffer), and therefore, don’t have the same issues that normal metallics or light effects do.
Metallics tend to behave a bit like a wire with thorns all over it, whereas Diamant acts more like a thread that’s been starched too much. You can use smaller needles, it doesn’t catch on the needle or fabric, it glides through the fabric much easier, and it’s by far a nicer stitching experience.

The Negatives

Whilst I’m making out the Diamant threads to be amazing, there are two negatives to speak about.
The first is a simple size or gauge issue. Diamant thread is larger than the standard embroidery floss of DMC. This changes how you use the thread rather drastically, and we’ll cover that later, but just know that Diamant isn’t like standard

thread. But then again, DMC metallics aren’t really either.
The second big issue is the color selection. When Diamant first came out, it only had 4 colors, and whilst these have expanded into 14, there still isn’t a great deal of choice. Most are various shades of metal, which are nice, but limited in their use, with a black and white, red and green to round off the set. This doesn’t stop them offering a Diamant color card though. To me, the metallic range is much deeper in choice. I think this might change as more and more people use Diamant threads, but for now, its a little unloved.

DMC Diamant Threads (Source: tattingcorner.com)
DMC Diamant Threads (Source: tattingcorner.com)

How To Use Them

As I’ve already stated above, there is a different way to use Diamant threads. But before we say how, we need to talk about the two types of Diamant thread. Diamant, and Diamant Grande.
&nbps;
I want to be super clear here; you want to use Diamant thread; NOT Diamant Grande. In essence, the difference is that Diamant Grande is twice the thickness of Diamant thread. For cross stitch, it’s just not suitable.
 
So, with that out the way, let’s talk about how to use it. So Diamant thread is slightly thicker than a standard floss of thread. In fact, it’s twice the size. This means that when you normally stitch with 2 threads of floss, you will only use one thread of Diamant. Thankfully, Diamant flattens more than normal threads,

meaning the overall look will be very similar to using two threads anyway.
All the other ways to make cross stitching with metallics easier still apply, but with Diamant, it’s much easier from the get-go.

Kreinik threads in different thicknesses (source: Kreinik)
Different thread weights. Kreinik Very Fine #4 Braid, Fine #8 Braid, Blending Filament combined with floss, just floss. Source: Kreinik Threads (source: Kreinik)

The Alternatives

It would be remiss of me, in a post all about metallics, to not speak about alternatives. And whilst the metallic thread world at first seems narrow, there are some good alternatives that don’t get as much focus as they should.

DMC Metallics

We start with the standard for most cross stitchers when choosing metallics, with DMC’s range. We’ve compared the Diamant threads to these in the post above, but they aren’t all bad. Sure, they can be hard to use, they knot, twist weirdly, break needles, pull and cut fabric and feel rough in the hand. But they come in colors.

The biggest negative about Diamant threads is the lack of colors. I think as time goes on DMC might change the range to include more depth, but right now, it doesn’t have any. Therefore, if you want a colored metallic, DMC metallics are a good starting place. But maybe not the best option.

The DMC Golden Skein

Another option, all be it extremely unlikely, is the limited edition DMC golden skein. I used this thread on my Golden Zelda Cartridge cross stitch and I can tell you that it’s great to use. Sure, it costs an absolute bomb, its limited edition, and it looks the same as any other gold thread, but we like to cover our bases.

Kreinik Threads

However, the best option in my mind, by far, is Kreinik threads. This isn’t to say I’m a Kreinik fanboy or anything, in fact, I actually own more DMC metallics than I do Kreinik threads. The reason I’m saying Kreinik is better is down to their options, which you can see on our Kreinik color chart. Kreinik deals exclusively in specialty threads. This means that they not only produce a great product itself, but they understand the differences each project can bring. This means they offer different thicknesses of almost all of their threads, meaning you can do a straight swap, blend or even blend different metallics together. I’ve used a whole bunch before, and I can you from my Skyrim ruined lexicon cross stitch that a subtle addition can really make a big difference.
If you’re looking for a Diamant alternative from Kreinik, the best I could see was either Kreinik Metallics #4 Very Fine Braid or Japan threads #5.
 
Have you tried Diamant threads? What do you think?

6 Things To Do Before You Start Your Next Cross Stitch

Blanket Stitching Aida to Stop Fraying (Source: wikihow)

You’ve just finished your last project, it been nicely washed and ironed, and maybe even framed. So with an eager smile on your face, you pull out your next pattern, itching to get your needle into a new project. That ladies and gentlemen is when the fun police step in. “Stop what you’re doing, you need to prepare first!”
&nsbp;
Thing is, they kind of have a point. No one wants to go through a checklist of boring tasks before getting into cross stitching, but those tasks are there for a reason. With a bit of quick planning (and we mean quick) you can avoid a whole host of problems in your next project. Today, we go over 6 steps that’ll help you get right into stitching.

Plan Your Project

This one seems a bit obvious, doesn’t it? Well, it is, but there are a few things people often forget about that are important to consider.
First up we’d ask the question, where should you start your cross stitch? Almost every pattern you get has a center point, and most people start there. Nothing wrong with that. But is it the best for your project? In our epic Pokemon cross stitch patterns we see people cutting up the massive project into quarters, meaning they instead start in a corner. Or maybe you’re unsure if you’ll have enough fabric, so you start on one edge. It’s really up to you, but just because people tend to start in the center, doesn’t mean you always should. After all, no one wants to discover 90% of the way through their project that they’re not going to have enough fabric to finish.
 
Secondly, we want to ask another often ignored question: which direction should cross stitches lie? This seems a little random at first, so let me explain. Most people learn cross stitch in a specific way, meaning the top stitch of your cross goes from bottom left to top right. But your eye naturally follows this. This means that if you have a point of interest in your top left or bottom right, people aren’t looking at it. It might be worth changing the direction to get a better finish.

How to cross stitch animated gif illustration
How to cross stitch animated gif illustration

Buy Your Cross Stitch Materials

Next up, you need to buy your stuff. For most of us, you’ll have a bunch of fabric, threads, needles, and frames around you, so this is likely to be a small step, but it’s actually one of the most important.
If you use a lot of one color, specifically, more than one skein, in your project, have you thought about thread dye lot issues? It’s worth investing in all the colors you need before you start your project to ensure you’ve got the same tones throughout. We’d actually go one step further and suggest you buy cross stitch supplies online as there is a lower likelihood for dye lot issues (thanks to the way they store cross stitch threads).

DMC Thread Color 318 Old and New (Source: Facebook)
DMC Thread Color 318 Old and New (Source: Facebook)

Cut and Secure the Edges of Your Fabric

Next we suggest fixing the edges of your fabric. For those that stitch on evenweave or cross stitch fabrics other than aida this is even more important as your fabric has a tendancy to fray. You can stop cross stitch fabric fraying in loads of ways like hand sewing, stitching, gluing or using specific products however a quick wiz of a sewing machine will keep your cross stitch living a lot longer.

Blanket Stitching Aida to Stop Fraying (Source: wikihow)
Blanket Stitching Aida to Stop Fraying (Source: wikihow)

Wash Your Fabric

I’m firmly in the camp of those who think you need to wash your cross stitch however I’m actually going to suggest you wash it before you start too. There are two reasons for this. The first is simply a case of age. If you buy some fabric, how was it stored in the shop? How old is it? How dusty is it? By washing it before you start you avoid trapping any dust under your stitches that is really hard to get rid of once completed.
Secondly, your fabric can bleed. If you’re using dark fabric or even black aida bleeding is more likely. You can avoid the chances of this happening by buying a better brand of cross stitch aida, but its never guaranteed. Better safe than sorry.

Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)
Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)

Grid Your Fabric

I’m not actually telling you to grid your cross stitch. But I do want you to ask yourself if you should. Small projects don’t need gridding, but the larger and larger you get, the more and more miscounting can be a serious problem. Gridding is one, really good, way of avoiding that.
There are lots of ways to grid your cross stitch, some of which are super quick, so its really not as bad of a job as it at first seems.

cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source: asatisfiedspirit.com)
cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source: asatisfiedspirit.com)

Wash Your Hands

Finally, we end with a simple one; wash your hands. Oils from your hands RUIN cross stitch. Wash them before you start, every time, and you’ll stitch yourself an heirloom.

Where To Get Great Cross Stitch Alphabets

Mid Century Cross Stitch Alphabet Pattern Free Download by Lord Libidan

Last week we went over the best places to get free cross stitch patterns and we had a great response, but a lot of people were left asking “what about alphabets?
In a world where cross stitch generators are getting easier and easier to use, people are more often turning to making their own patterns. This, coupled with the rise of snarky stitching and phrase-based patterns often leads to people wanting to make text-based patterns. But unless you’re a secret font designer, people are left looking for alphabets and fonts they can use. So today, we round up where to get the best cross stitch alphabets for free, and paid.

Lord Libidan – Free

Yes, that’s right, we offer free cross stitch alphabets! In fact, 53 of them, in a range of sizes and styles to hopefully help you make an awesome pattern! But this post isn’t about what we offer, but about others, so let’s move on to other resources!

Mid Century Cross Stitch Alphabet Pattern Free Download by Lord Libidan
Mid Century Cross Stitch Alphabet Pattern Free Download by Lord Libidan

Online Generators – Free/Paid

The first place I would personally look are online cross stitch font generators. These awesome little tools allow you to search their font libraries, select a font, and type your words. They do all the work of making the pattern. They all have free and paid options, but if you intend to make loads of patterns, getting a subscription is a great idea.
There are two big ones out there to check out:

CrosStitch.com – Free & Paid
By far the largest is CrossStitch.com’s caption generator, with over 90 patterns and regular updates to add more. Only 6 are free, but at $12 for a year’s access, they’re a great resource.

StitchPoint.com – Free
Another option is StitchPoint.com’s offering, which is just as good but free. The downside is they only offer 7 patterns, so you’re a lot more limited.

Pinterest – Free

But what about something free I hear you say! Well, that’s where Pinterest comes in. Over the last few decades many cross stitch blogs, forums and designers have offered free cross stitch alphabets. These tend to disappear when the blogs/websites stop updating, but thanks to Pinterest, they’re all recorded to everyone to use. You can find specific boards purely saving cross stitch alphabets, or just go searching to find thousands of them for free.

Free Cross Stitch Fonts On Pinterest (Source: Pinterest)
Free Cross Stitch Fonts On Pinterest (Source: Pinterest)

Etsy – Paid

Sadly, whilst Pinterest does have a wealth of free patterns, sometimes they aren’t great quality patterns. This is where websites such as Etsy come in. Many people have lambasted Etsy in the past for its cross stitch copyright infringement, however, when it comes to cross stitch alphabets you’re free of copyright issues (by and large).
Thankfully the world’s cross stitch designers have put together cross stitch fonts on Etsy for you to browse and purchase. A quick search comes up with over 6000 different listings. What makes this even better is that most offer a pack of fonts for less than a few dollars, meaning you can stock up on as many fonts as you want for a low price.

Cross Stitch Generators – Paid

One of the most popular posts on this blog is our review of the best cross stitch software. Its also one of the main reasons we started writing this specific post, but many of the paid cross stitch generators offer free cross stitch fonts from within their apps. You do have to buy them in the first place to get access, but many cross stitchers have these already. You have to dig into the options to find them sometimes, but they all have them.
Our personal favorite is MacStitch and WinStitch’s font converter. It takes any font on your computer and converts it in real-time into a cross stitch pattern. This means you can find any font online you like the look of and it’ll do all the rest. Sometimes tiny fixes are needed, but for the most part, it’s fantastic. The whole cross stitch software is only $35, but the font converter is worth more than that in our eyes.

MacStitch Cross Stitch Generator Font Conversion Tool
MacStitch Cross Stitch Generator Font Conversion Tool