How To Cross Stitch Faster

I regularly get asked how I can cross stitch so fast, and whilst it probably has a lot to do with how many hours I stitch in, there are various ways to speed up your cross stitching. We’ll start off with some different techniques to try, before going into some tips for speeding up your cross stitch.

The Danish Technique

Traditionally there are two ways to cross stitch, the English technique and Danish technique. Generally people use the Danish technique, where you lay down a line of stitches in one direction, and then go back with the other direction. We use this technique in our how to cross stitch guide for a reason; it makes things far faster.
How to cross stitch animated gif
If you want to find out more about the differences between both, peacockandfig has a great guide.

Two Hand Technique

The two handed technique requires you to have a hands free frame. This means that instead of flipping the frame over to find the needle, you simple grab the needle with your otherhand and push it back up through the fabric. This means that you don’t have to put the needle far to straighten the thread, or take your eye off the fabric holes.

Double Sided Needle

One of the best ways to acheive the two hand technique is to change your needle to a twin pointed or double sided variety. Its basically a standard needle that you don’t have to swin around, cutting even more time off.

Double ended cross stitch needle
Source: reddit

You can pick some up at 123stitch.

“In Hand” Technique

Sometimes refered to as the ‘sewing’ method, this technique requires you to not use a frame. For smaller projects, this is fine, however just not workable for larger ones. The idea is to pucker the fabric so you place an in and out hole in one go. The below video explains this process very well:

General Tips:

Have the right equipment

Whlist you can change your stitching style, or using fancy needles, there is always a need to have the right equipment, and regularly, without realising it, many people don’t have what they need to stitch fast.

  • Needle
    • Should always be the correct size for the fabric
    • Consider using a petite needle or one size smaller
    • Should always be a blunt embroidery needle (there are sharp ones)
    • Use gold plated needles if possible (they slide through better)
  • Frame
    • Should always be as taught as possible (unless using the “in the hand” technique)
    • Should be appropriate the fabric size (no hoops on massive projects)
  • Scissors
  • Fabrics count

    There are loads of different fabric types you can use to cross stitch on, and due to their differences, some are easier to stitch on. If you want a fast project, use aida.
    In addition, the count can drastically change the speed of stitching. Try using a larger count for faster stitching.

    Stick with the same color

    Another great tip is stitching with one color as long as possible. Firstly, this means no awkward thread changes, but also means you havelots of nearby references for where to stitch next (so no pesky counting).

    Pre-thread needles

    One way to help yourself when sticking with a color is to prepare lots of needles. I regularly set up 8 needles with 8 threads ready to go, so I don’t have to keep start stopping to rethread. It saves far more time than you realise and makes use of all those needles you collect.

    Use the correct thread length

    Many new cross stitchers make the mistake of having a very large piece of thread hanging off the needle. In theory, the larger the thread, the less needle preperation. However, in reality, the larger the thread, the more tangles. Instead, you should have a smaller piece of thread. A good guide is measure from the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your elbow.

    Organise, organise, organise

    Finally, you have to organise. Whilst it can seem a bit tedious, this actually saves you massive amounts of time. I would suggest taking all of your skeins off and onto thread cards. By doing this your not only making it easier to grab the thread you need, but you’re untwisting the threads, making sure they don’t knot on the skein, and making selection easier. They also look super pretty.

    Full set of DMC threads
    My full set of DMC threads

    So there you have it. Now you have everything in your disposal to cross stitch faster. However, as a final note, I would say that sometimes taking your time can have added benefits, such as curbing stress.

    The Best Cross Stitch Forums

    Following our super popular post on how to show cross stitch offline we’ve received a few comments about the best forums to display your work on. On the last count there were about 30 forums, and so we’ve reviewed and ordered the list from most active community to least active community, based on a test every day for 28 days. forum
    Owner of a whole slew of cross stitch magazines its no surprise that has a massive following. Whilst the content of the website is a little hit and miss in my mind, the forums are epic. Not only are they massive but at any one time they have about 150-300 people logged in. The sheer size is a big draw, however, unlike a lot of other forums they don’t have any moderators, due to the community being so well behaved and helpful.
    I would say that there are two small negatives; the first is that there appear to only have a few true experts, with most posts being about how to cross stitch, and secondly, its very traditional.


    reddit /r/crossstitch
    In a stark contrast to’s forum, reddit’s /r/CrossStitch is far more contemporary (although there is a fair share of traditional in there), and MUCH more international. There are roughly 50 people logged into the forum at any time, and whilst that’s much smaller in size, the particiation is much greater, and often this is where the cross stitch masters hang their hat.
    There’s a bit of a learning curve needed though, as each time you post, you have to add a code to the start of your message, but once you’ve picked it up, its actually super easy to navigate.


    cross stitch forum
    Starting to get on the less busy side now, we have the CrossStitchForum, who’s whole purpose in life is a forum for cross stitchers. Whilst it was extreamly popular back in 2007, its suffered with low figures for a while, and I think we may see the end of it soon. However, in those archives are some of the best cross stitch question and answers you’ve ever seen. Whenever I have a question I look up the answer here first.


    craftster cross stitch
    A much larger forum, is craftster, which in itself is a massive beast, however the cross stitch and needlepoint section seems to have dwindled in the last 5 years. Whilst its a great place to show off your completed projects and WIPs, the community isn’t really there, and there isn’t much participation past the occassional “well done”.

    The Cross Stitch Guild

    cross stitch gold
    The Cross Stitch Guild, unlike all our other entries, has never been a busy forum. However, the one saving grace, is anyone posting is likely been stitching for decades. This means that any questions you have will not only be answered, but be answered by someone who has gone through the exact same things thousands of times before. Not too busy, but worth its weight in gold; pun intented.
    If you know of any good forums, even if they’re specific to certain parts of cross stitch, then drop me a line and I’ll review them!

    The Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch Book Review

    mr x stitch guide to cross stitch Cover
    It’s rare that I review a cross stitch book, and I know many of you want them, but there is rarely a reason. Most books are either mass patterns, which you will love or hate based on personal taste, or a historical tome, which either appeals or doesn’t. But this book review is different. Other than being written by my good pal Mr X Stitch (Jamie), the Mr X Stitch Guide To Cross Stitch book is not a normal cross stitch book. In my mind that should give you enough information to want to read it anyway, however, we got our hands on a pre-published copy, so onto the detailed review!
    mr x stitch guide to cross stitch inside page 58-59
    So the first thing to say is it has 20 patterns. These are all in the modern and contemporary style, such as small pixelated Mona Lisa, or a pineapple (actually three pineapples). The idea of the patterns, whilst being great projects, is to help explain the craft. And that’s because this book is about EVERYTHING cross stitch. It starts simple, instructions for basic patterns, and moves on to more and more complicated parts of the craft, including pattern making. But instead of stopping there Jamie goes from the very humble beginnings of cross stitch to some of the most extreme stitching around, with four key outliers of the craft (myself included), who push the boundaries of the craft. This is all backed with tips and tricks from decades of expert advice, add combined into one of the best looking cross stitch books around.
    mr x stitch guide to cross stitch inside page 8-9
    Jamie has always been someone to push cross stitch as an art form, and I’ve gone into some detail about is cross stitch is art or craft before (which includes a picture of Jamie stitching the Mona Lisa from the book), but instead of focusing on how people think about cross stitch, Jamie actively changes your mind. His tips of color blending and using materials such as glow in the dark threads shows you how being a little braver with your own stitches can bring a cutting edge twist to your art.

    For many, cross stitch conjures up images of cute kittens and country cottages, but this book shows people that there’s a different side to cross stitching that it’s an art in its own right, and will encourage them to be a little braver with their art.

    If at this point you’re not super excited, and convinced by the photos, then I don’t know what will get you excited. Frankly, I think this might be the best cross stitch book in existence.

    You can pick up a copy from the publisher searchpress or your local book store.

    The Rise Of The Manbroiderer

    [man-broi-duh-ree, -dree]


    1. A movement of men who cross-stitch or embroider. A subversion of a traditionally female art form.
    2. Any piece of embroidery or cross-stitch done by a guy

    We detailed in some depth about the role of women in the history of cross stitch, and its always been a female pursuit in popular culture. However that doesn’t mean men don’t stitch, as we discussed in our post about dudes who cross stitch , and it definitely doesn’t mean they haven’t stitched in the past. In fact male embroidery can thank cheap German wool, the industrial revolution and some prisoners.
    The modern manbroidery movement, has brought a lot of men into the cross stitching and embroidery world, however there’s a lot more to the movement than men just started to stitch one day. In fact, it starts back in German some 300 years ago, when thread in Britain became a comodity most people could afford. Up until this time cross stitch was firmly a female pursuit, with young ladies creating samplers to prove they could run a household. However when this cheap influx of thread came into Britain, suddely it fell out of fassion to create samplers. This all came, as at a time of economic change in Britain; the Industrial revolution.
    The first men recorded to move into embroidery were actually fishermen, used to knotting together fishing nets on mass. They realised that their skills weren’t transferable to the new industries, and so set up the Arts and Crafts movement.

    fine cell work prisoners cross stitching
    Fine Cell Work – A prisoner cross stitching in his cell

    We’ll fast forward over what was quite a termoil filled time, and start again in the 1960s with Lady Anne Tree who visited HMP Holloway women’s prison to help two female inmates. They started cross stitching and Lady Tree decided that the time spent in prison should be put to good use. She campaigned heavily for decades before the government allowed prisoners to earn money whilst in prison and finally in the late 1990s got exactly that. She created Fine Cell Work, which teaches male prisoners to cross stitch end embroider. These inmates were so good at stitching they have been featured in the Victoria and Albert, commissioned by English Heritage and been used by some of the worlds leading interior designers.
    Finally, we get to the modern age. The rise of MrXStitch did a massive part to help push the 2011 craft push (helped out by the recession) and now we have flickr groups, designers creating patterns just for men, and the likes of Mr X Stitch holding the flag for all the male embroiderers.
    This TEDx talk MrXStitch made actually features a lot of male embroidery, including my own stuff, it goes into detail on why cross stitch is important.

    XStitch Magazine Review

    On our series covering the best cross stitch magazines we review the newest, and most contemporary mag, XStitch.
    To do this review we’ve compiled a series of reviews from industry leaders, as well as feefo reviews.
    xstitch magazine cover 1
    Traditionally cross stitch gets the rep of being about teddies, flowers and all things cottage, however following the end of a few eminant cross stitch mags, Mr X Stitch, a previous pattern designer for the CrossStitcher magazine decided to take on a new challenge, and make a cross stitch magazine for all the young contemporary stitchers. As a direct result, the mag has a very different edge to its competitors, offering stylish pages, well written content, and a great heap of important cross stitchers (the first magazine had 12 designers from all over the world, including Jane Greenoff and Emily Peacock).

    How has no one ever made a magazine like this before?! THIS is what I want.


    Inside you’ll find only 20 patterns, but each will be crafted to a specific and topical theme each edition. Up to 50 designers submit patterns and only the best are chosen. These are then converted into 4 pattern types which are all downloadable with the mag. In addition to the usual content such as topical articles and reviews there is also an online playlist chosen by the designers to listen to as you read.
    The biggest thing you’ll notice however, is there aren’t any adverts. The magazine has been put together for the readers, and its not full of filler.
    As the only contemporary magazine on the market, it will either appeal or not, however I think that’s its charm.
    $7 per quarter; all copies come with digital and print versions, downloadable patterns in 3 formats and online playlist

    Loads of patterns
    Lots of mainstream patterns
    Large readership
    Not many modern patterns
    Expensive outside of the UK
    Not many freebies

    Score: 9.9/10
    142 reviews on feefo

    If you liked this review, but you’re looking for something a bit more traditional you might like our review of the CrossStitcher, or The World Of Cross Stitching review.

    Cross Stitch Cufflinks

    As the Lord of cross stitch, its no wonder I wear cufflinks, but I feel all the manbroiderers and partners of cross stitchers should hold up the flag more often! Cufflinks are a great way to do this, but also pose quite a challenge to make in themselves.

    The first pair featuring characters from the Cave Story video game, are fantastic examples of super tiny cross stitching; these are 42 count! By Benjibot
    cave story cross stitch cufflinks by benjibot
    Alternatively you could lower the count and make something like these awesome Just Dance cross stitch cufflinks to show off that you can break into spontanious dance moves as soon as the suit is off.

    If video games aren’t your thing, you can always use them to monogram your shirts on the cheap. These linen based cross stitch cufflinks ooze class.

    Or, if you want hard wearing, how about resin filling a pair, like these from craftster?
    pacman cross stitch cufflinks

    8 Cross Stitch Must Haves

    Following on from our post a few weeks ago about the best cross stitch frame I’ve had a load of discussions on the best tools for cross stitch. So here are my suggestions for the 8 cross stitch must haves every stitcher should have!

    1 – Thread Shade Chart

    We have a copy of the DMC shade card on our site to see at any time, however there is nothing quite like a real chart, with thread samples. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked a color and found it was too red, or too green and so changed it for a better one. Whilst a lot of cross stitch pattern software does a great job, there’s nothing quite like the human eye.
    They cost about $20 for one with thread samples, and are definitely the one thing I would suggest EVERY stitcher gets.
    DMC thread card

    2 – All The Threads!

    Full set of DMC threads
    The only thing better than owning a thread shade card is owning the threads themselves. I always kept using the threads I had on hand, and until I got the whole set, I didn’t realise just how much I was making compromise; my colors have definitely got better. You can see how much a full set of DMC threads has helped us with our blog post about our journey to a complete set of cross stitch threads.
    Not the cheapest thing in the world, wait until you can buy a whole set in one go on an offer. The price can drop from $450 to $200. Just don’t be tempted by those cheap Chinese deals to see on ebay.

    3 – Thread Cutterz

    thread cutterz
    We recently posted about taking cross stitch on planes and public transport, and loved the thread cutterz for their ability to take them on international flights, however they’re just damn handy anyway. Far easier than scissors, they can be the quick cut you need.
    They retail for $12-$15 but can only be brought from ThreadCutterz themselves.

    4 – Great Cross Stitch Software

    pcstitch cross stitch software
    Sure, cross stitch pattern software isn’t a glamorous item, and doesn’t seem like a must have item, however if you use a free online one, or work patterns out on paper, you REALLY need to update it. And if you’re struggling through, its probably time to update to a better one. We have a super post on which is the best cross stitch pattern software, and they can vary in price from free to $200.

    5 – Funny Needle Keeps

    charizard needle keeper
    No one NEEDS a needle minder, but if you have all the right tools, sometimes you need a little fun. Needle keepers just hold you needle whilst you’re not stitching, so you want a light weight one. Most are magnetic, and you can get some really great ones. The image for example is a 3D printed charizard for $6, which is about the going rate.

    6 – Magazine Subscriptions

    cross stitcher magazine cover
    Magazines are fantastic for both giving you patterns, giving you inspiration, finding out about all the new products, and reading up on all the happenings of the cross stitch community. There are frankly a shocking amount out there, so its best to pick one or two you like the most, and getting a subscription to those. Prices vary, $20-$60 a year.

    7 – The Perfect Frame

    There’s nothing worse in cross stitch than Repetitive Strain Injury. It normally happens as a result of having to hold frames, so its no wonder that one of the best things you can get is a good frame. They vary in price from $2 to $30 depending on a lot of factors. We’ve made a post about the perfect cross stitch frame to help you pick.

    8 – A Good Pair Of Scissors

    cross stitch scissors
    I personally use a pair of Fiskars scissors, but I know many people prefer snip style scissors like the image, however there is one thing everyone agrees on, and that’s that some scissors just fit your hand better than others. As a cross stitcher you’re going to spend a lot of time with your hands in a pair, so make sure they’re the best ones for you. I would suggest specific thread or fishing line scissors, as they are sharper and have a small “snip” area. Also make sure to only use them for thread; scissors get blunt really easily.

    Do guys cross stitch?

    YES! We do. In fact, there are a lot more men stitching than you realise!

    We’ve shown off works by some of the greatest male cross stitchers out there, and whilst a lot of the traditional style and modern cross stitch doesn’t particularly appeal to men, a lot of custom patterns are being made by men. Its because of this that about 50% of the things we post are by men, including killer pieces like the fantastic Star Wars Tapestry that was even posted in a national newspaper.

    However that isn’t the first and only time male cross stitchers have hit the news. In 2015 the BBC news recorded a tweet-by-tweet running news post on election night when Tom Katsumi decided to stitch the general election results live. And even this massively English passive aggressive credit card cross stitch when a a man just didn’t get his new card in a timely manner covered by the BBC.

    santander cross stitch by keithstitch
    Santander cross stitch by keithstitch

    However, despite this, many male stitchers still fly under the radar and go unnoticed by the public. But you know what, I’d much prefer to sit down in the evening with a cross stitch and a brew than off to the pub to watch a “game”. And others feel the same. MrXStitch even has regular posts on male cross stitchers, which in my opinion is some of the best stuff on the site.

    There’s actually a lot of information out there devoted to male cross stitch, including a killer post on Cross Stitch for Men by Stitchtastic, and this video by Peacock & Fig below:

    She also goes into more detail on her manbroidery blog!

    If you want to know more about male embroiderers, have you checked out our post about The Rise Of The Manbroiderer?

    I’m featured in the XStitch Magazine!

    It’s been a rather busy few months for me this year, with my upcoming Hello Kitty Kit coming out, and a feature in Mr X Stitch’s Guide to Cross Stitch Book. However, when I heard about the new cross stitch magazine, XStitch, on kick starter, I just HAD to get involved.
    I’m keeping my pattern secret for now, however it is one of the patterns featured on the cover below.
    xstitch magazine cover 1
    The first issue comes out Summer 2017, with 80 pages, and all kinds of great things like thought provoking columns, interviews, product reviews and tips and techniques to help you improve your stitching. And to make it stand out from the competiton (just encase the contemporary side of things wasn’t enough) each issue will have a collaborative playlist to listen along to as you read.
    It stands to be one of the best magazines around in my mind, and I’m just crazy happy about being able to get involved from the very first issue.
    Lord Libidan in the xstitch magazine
    I’ve now been published quite a few times. I’ve been the author and contributor to the Hello Kitty Cross Stitch Kit, the Star Wars Cross Stitch Kit, the Star Trek Cross-Stitch: Explore Strange New Worlds of Crafting book, the Disney Classic Cross Stitch Kit, and the Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch book. I’ve also been involved a series of magazines such as the CrossStitcher twice, the CrossStitcher Designer Stitches magazine, CrossStitchCrazy, and the XStitch Mag.
    You can check out a full unbiased review of the XStitch Magazine at our recap of the best cross stitch magazines.

    Cross Stitch Fabric Types

    Moving on from my history of cross stitch, I’ve started looking into the various parts of cross stitch and breaking down some of the walls people see when starting out. One of these has got to be the fabrics used for cross stitch.

    Simply put, there are four types of fabric used:

    • Aida (the most widely used)
    • Hardanger
    • Linen
    • Evenweave

    There are then also specialist fabrics:

    • Waste Canvas
    • Plastic Canvas

    A note on counts:
    Before we get into what makes up a fabric, we should mention counts. In short, this is the amount of full cross stitches you can get in a line, for an inch. The most common type is a 14 count, which is an Aida. Some fabrics come only in set sizes.


    14 count aida cross stitch fabricAida was invented in 1986 specifically for cross stitch and counted cross stitch. As a result its the most widely used fabric for cross stitch, and is very likely to be the type your using.
    Its made up of regular holes on a semi rigid starch heavy cotton. It allows you to cross stitch in perfect squares by using the holes given.
    They come in different size counts, from 10 to 32.


    Hardanger cross stitch fabric exampleHardanger is very similar to aida, however is 100% cotton without starch, meaning its very easy to stretch and warp. It comes in 22 count only,, however cross stitch can be done over 2 “sets” giving 11 count. Prior to 1986 this was the most common fabric for cross stitch, and most historic examples of cross stitch are on Hardanger. Since the invention of aida Hardanger has dropped massively in popularity and is very rare currently.


    linen cross stitch fabricLinen is a very traditional fabric used for embroidery, made up of flax, an untreated cotton. It can come in a large varience of types, with smaller or larger holes, however its normally found as a 22 to 36 count.


    aida and evenweave togetherEvenweave however is a combination of multiple fabric types. Officially aida is a type of linen, but with added starch and even spacing. Evenweave however is linen with even spacing, but no starch. The image here shows that whilst Evenweave is normally much higher count, it can vary from 18 to 32.

    Waste Canvas

    14-Count-Waste-Canvas cross stitch fabricThe first of out specialist fabrics, waste canvas is made to either dissolve in contact with water, or to be able to pull it apart when wet. Its effectively a type of aida, but with larger holes and special starch that washes out. It usually only comes in 14 count.
    Despite its very specific purpose, you can still cross stitch objects without waste canvas.

    Plastic Canvas

    different types of plastic canvas cross stitch fabricGoing the other way for a specialist thread, plastic canvas is made to be stiff, so you can make 3D objects. It comes in a variety of types, as seen in the image, and some plastics are stiffer than others, meaning you can use them for different purposes. They come in 14 count normally, however I have seen 16, 18 and 22.
    An example of what can be acheived with plastic canvas is my transforming cross stitch robot.