Glass or No Glass; Whats Best When Framing Cross Stitch?

Parts of a artwork frame (Source: agora-gallery.com)

When it comes to finishing your cross stitch, there aren’t many things that go through your head other than “I need to show this to everyone!”, however many people feel unsure or confused about framing. However, that really doesn’t need to be the case. We’ve got a detailed guide on how to frame cross stitch on the blog already, but there is one big question that keeps coming up; should I add glass or not?
 
Sadly, this is one of those questions that doesn’t have an absolute answer. Sometimes you should, and sometimes you shouldn’t.

When You Should

In most cases, when you frame cross stitch, you should use glass. There are loads of benefits, such as keeping it clean, stopping strong sunlight and making it look more professional. However all of those things can only be achieved if you frame your cross stith correctly. Let’s look at the parts of a frame to get a better look at this:

Parts of a artwork frame (Source: agora-gallery.com)
Parts of a artwork frame (Source: agora-gallery.com)

When you want to protect it

As you can see from above, there are loads of parts to a standard frame, and each of these has their own purpose. The big two we’ll look at though, are the glass (obviously) and the window mat. This window mat is often the thing people forget, however its purpose is to keep the work away from the glass. In most cases this isn’t too important, but when it comes to cross stitch, where the stitches extend beyond the aida, its super important. Without it, the stitches get squashed against the frame.

When its required for the pattern

Sometimes however, you might need to get rid of the matting. And that’s fine! Take my Star Trek Voyager LCARS cross stitch for example. I wanted to make it look like it was a computer screen on a wall, and as a result putting in matting would ruin the look. But I still used glass. How did I get away with that? I used spacers. There are loads of different types, but they all work the same way; small bits of plastic that push the glass away from the cross stitch.

Star Trek Voyager LCARS Blueprint cross stitch by Lord Libidan
Star Trek Voyager LCARS Blueprint cross stitch by Lord Libidan

You don’t like the look of framed work

But what if you don’t like the idea of framed work? Well, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t frame it. Take a look at the example below I found on Reddit. It’s a pacman screenshot cross stitch, fairly average (although well stitched) and when framing it, they added a bold yellow matting. The framing technique here has allowed the whole piece to stand out like a classic arcade cabinet. Now, bright yellow might not work for the cross stitch you’re doing, but by using clever framing, you can not only add to the cross stitch, but elevate it.

Pacman screenshot cross stitch in frame by gmatom (Source: reddit)
Pacman screenshot cross stitch in frame by gmatom (Source: reddit)

When You Should Not

Now, that said, there are times when you should ditch the glass. By doing this, you’ll loose the benefits of having glass, so you need to be more careful (see our tips at the bottom of the page) but sometimes glass just won’t work.

When you don’t like the glass

Yes, you can have a glass preference. 😛
When it comes to glass, some people don’t like the shine it creates, and if your artwork is somewhere glare is a problem, then you might know what I mean. So glass companies came up with solutions. Two specifically. The first is a slightly bumpy textured glass, which in my opinion makes the artwork harder to see. If you had a small count, this wouldn’t work. Equally, there is another type with a green coating on it (like eye glasses) which ruins the look if you’ve stitching with anything other than green.
The only solution? Ditch the glass.

Glasses with anti-glare coating (Source: youtube)
Glasses with anti-glare coating (Source: youtube)

When its required for the pattern

The other instance when you might not include glass is when its required for the pattern. Now, there really aren’t many patterns like this, so I’ve had to use another example of mine. In the below Pokemon 3D cave cross stitch you can see the cross stitch extends out of the frame, by nearly 30cm. There was no way I could frame this with glass, so I had to ditch it.

3D Pokemon Cave Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan, bottom view
3D Pokemon Cave Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan, bottom view

Tips for framing without glass

As seen above, sometimes there is a valid reason for not framing with glass, and honestly, that’s not a problem. However there are impacts of not framing with glass. With these tips, you should be able to keep those to a minimum!

  • Make sure its washed and ironed before you frame it; it’ll last longer
  • Keep it away from direct sunlight; the threads will keep their color longer
  • Use a special acid-free backing paper for framing to stop dust leeching into the artwork

How to identify threads if you don’t know the brand

thread plastic rings (source: DMC)

If you’ve ever inherited a stash of cross stitch supplies you’ll know that you’re both super lucky, and super confused. You see, most people cast off those little thread top labels, meaning you no longer know if the threads you have are generic, or specialist. Being able to identify these threads, or a too-good-to-be-true online sale, is important. You could compare the colors to a color chart, you could look at the quality of the thread, or even the label that’s left on it, but no one has time for that. Especially as there is a 100% guarenteed way to work out what brand your thread is; the barcode.

How to tell

I’m not going to go in depth about barcodes here, but if you’re super interested, this is how barcodes work. The important bit of information for us, is the start. Specifically the first 2 to 6 numbers.

CXC embroidery floss (Source: Etsy)
CXC embroidery floss (Source: Etsy)

The first two numbers state where the brand’s head quarters are. For DMC is in the US. For Anchor its France, and for CXC (and generic threads) its China. The next four numbers are the brand’s own code. Now, whilst it would be great to remember all of these numbers, its frankly not going to happen. Lucky for us, there aren’t that many brands, and most have different head office locations, so instead, we learn just the first 2 numbers.

DMC – 07
Anchor – 71
CXC & generic – 69

It’s that simple. If you see a barcode starting with 71, you know you have Anchor threads. So now you can go out and

But what about generic and branded Chinese threads?

OK, so this is where it get’s a little more confusing. You see, almost all the embroidery threads that come out of China come from the same factory. Specifically, brand 69-4696. So if its Chinese, we need to do a little more digging. Now, we look at the end 2 numbers. There are two numbers that really matter, 14 and 41. You see each item made by a brand has different number for each type of product. In the brand of importance, 14 stands for the CXC threads. 41 stands for Rosace threads. Now, I you’re going to be asking one of two questions at this point:

 

Is CXC the same as generic?
What are Rosace threads?

 
Well, the answer to those is simple. The same factory produces LOADS of different threads. Some are made well, some are made cheap. CXC are the brands top quality product, even though they are CONSIDERABLY cheaper than DMC or Anchor. Rosace is their low tier product line. In fact, when you purchase generic threads, they’re almost always Rosace.

And its that simple. Now go out and identify those threads!

Find The Perfect Hair Color – DMC Threads

Hair Color Cross Stitch Thread Table by Lord Libidan

We have a lot of people using our skin tone thread image to replace skin tones in cross stitch patterns. However we also get a lot of requests for hair colors too. So without further ado, we present the best hair colors for replacement in cross stitch patterns.
Just pick your hair type (blonde, brown, black, grey or red) and pikc a color of the main body of hair from the left hand column, and you’ll see the best highlights and shadows.

Hair Color Cross Stitch Thread Table by Lord Libidan
Hair Color Cross Stitch Thread Table by Lord Libidan

Hair Color Cross Stitch Thread Table 2 by Lord Libidan
Hair Color Cross Stitch Thread Table 2 by Lord Libidan

We’ve also created this second table so you can look up colors slightly different. It’s the same info, just a different format!

How to Make Sure You Buy a Quality Cross Stitch Pattern

Octopus Tea Cross Stitch Pattern by LoLaLottaShop (Source: Etsy)

With websites like Etsy, eBay and a whole host of other sites selling cross stitch patterns, you could be fooled into thinking all of these cross stitch patterns are going to great to stitch. But the frank, and sometimes disappointing truth is that some, even most, are bad patterns.
Whilst that might not seem too bad considering the cost of some of these cross stitch patterns are less than $5, however do you really want to spend 100 hours stitching to find only at the end that the pattern didn’t live up to the hype?
Well I’m here to help you pick the best quality cross stitch patterns, everytime. With these 5 simple rules, you can make sure the cross stitch pattern will come out like its supposed to.

Is there a stitched example?

The first thing to think about when selecting a cross stitch pattern is how it looks. Not the design, but how it looks stitched.
A lot of sellers, particularly on Etsy, sell patterns without ever stitching them. This is worrying for two reasons; firstly you don’t know how the image actually looks with threads; just computer generated Xs. Secondly, with no one actually stitching it, you don’t know if its full of confetti or not. As a result, I would NEVER buy a pattern without seeing a real stitched example.
But that doesn’t mean any post without a stitched example should be avoided. Let me explain using two examples of good patterns from Etsy.

Octopus Tea Cross Stitch Pattern by LoLaLottaShop (Source: Etsy)
Octopus Tea Cross Stitch Pattern by LoLaLottaShop (Source: Etsy)

Stitched examples of Octopus Tea Cross Stitch Pattern by LoLaLottaShop (Source: Etsy)
Stitched examples of Octopus Tea Cross Stitch Pattern by LoLaLottaShop (Source: Etsy)

The above pattern is a great example of someone who shows a stitched example, they have 8 pictures of 6 stitched examples on their store front. You can see, this is a great pattern. Our second example below however only has the inital computer make pattern image:
Giant Squid vs Great White Shark Cross Stitch Pattern by Richearts (Source: Etsy)
Giant Squid vs Great White Shark Cross Stitch Pattern by Richearts (Source: Etsy)

However, with some searching in the comments on the shop, you can see 4 different stitched examples by customers. This pattern, is a good one. They just haven’t stitched it themselves. So sometimes, you have to go searching!

Look for stitch and color counts

When it comes to cross stitch patterns, sometimes, you need it to be high detail. And that’s great, but when you put an image through a cross stitch pattern generator without knowing what you’re doing, it comes out massive, with a lot of colors, and whole load of confetti.
Once again, we’ll look at the Octopus Tea cross stitch pattern by LoLaLottaShop on Etsy. In the octopus you have a wave of colors and detail. But they’ve specifially gone through the image to both reduce the size, amount of colors and still keep the design to a high standard. However looking at the below example I’ve recreated another way; making it big, and adding as many colors as I could. In the below example is over 300 stitches wide, and has over 50 colors. Yet the quality, is clearly not as good.

Bad Quality Cross Stitch Pattern
Bad Quality Cross Stitch Pattern

A big pattern will look like it has a lot of detail, however the sacrafice is a lot of threads (which can cost a fortune) and making it truly hell to stitch.

Is it copyrighted?

Yes. Copyright; everyone’s least favorite topic. Sadly, in cross stitch copyright is a serious problem. A simple tip often used is to ask yourself “is it a recognisable character/image?” and normally, you can side step most major copyright holders. However, that doesn’t mean the pattern you’re about to buy isn’t copyrighted.
Imagine a pattern that envokes feelings of Disney; its fan art of some kind. Looks like a painting. It’s nicely done. This might not be copyrighted by Disney, as its fan art. But the maker of the cross stitch pattern is almost definately not the artwork’s original creator. That original creator, has copyright on his image. ALWAYS look to see any copyright messaging on cross stitch patterns before you buy. Using our Octopus Tea Cross Stitch Pattern again, we can see a little message in the notes:

“Octopus” counted cross stitch pattern. Designed by Vik Dollin.

We can see that this pattern has been made by someone else and the permission was given to make a cross stitch pattern. You should always be able to see a message like this, even if it is created by the pattern designer.

Is the price super low? Its probably stolen.

Another possible issue plaguing sites like Etsy are stolen patterns. Some people purchase a pattern from a reputable place, such as floss and mischief, who recently won awards for her cross stitch patterns two years running, and then they’ll sell them on at a really really low price.
As a result, you should look at price. Most cross stitch patterns (not kits) sell between $5 and $20, based on size and complexity. However a quick search of Etsy and I can see some patterns sold for as low as 20 cents. No designer worth their salt can produce quality patterns for anything less than $5 a time.
If you see any lower than that, they’re either stolen from someone or seriously poor quality.
When researching for this post we actually found my Pokemon Great Wave Cross Stitch sold, using my images. The issue is that I’ve never released this pattern. Instead they put my image, with watermark through pattern making software. The result was nothing like the original, and even included my watermark…

Is it from a reputable source?

This one is a little more difficult to judge. If you were to buy a pattern from, lets say peacock & fig you’d know its a quality pattern. The reason, is that she’s a real designer (who does it as a day job) and is bound by laws as she’s making her living from it. But places like Etsy and eBay are known to have issues with copyright. Therefore you need to be far more careful when selecting patterns from these sites. Equally, the rise of Aliexpress in cross stitch is a serious problem; a lot of these patterns are stolen, of bad quality or just knock off (don’t start us about the kits), therefore I wouldn’t suggest buying any patterns.

Don’t swap

OK, this one isn’t actually about finding quality cross stitch patterns, but it is important (its also our 6th point, sorry!). Cross stitch designers regularly make little to no profit and so when you find a pattern you like; don’t give it to a friend once you’re finished. Tell them about it, so they can buy a copy themselves. If everyone shared their patterns; the best designers wouldn’t be able to make more patterns.
 
And that’s it! With a few simple steps you can see if the pattern you want to buy, is going to be a good one or not. I hope this helps, and enjoy never having a bad pattern ever again!

Do designers spend 100 hours making a cross stitch pattern?

MacStitch Screenshot with example Pikachu pattern

I was on a facebook group the other day and I heard a seller of pattern software say “designers will make you think they spend 100 hours on a pattern, but you can do it yourself in 30 seconds!” Whilst this sounds like a great sales pitch, it put my back up. You see, whilst I’m not a designer per-say, this just isn’t true. For a few reasons. So, I decided to make sure the message was straight when it comes to pattern making.

Does it take 100 hours to make a pattern?

Sometimes

Does it take 100 hours to make a commerical pattern?

No.

How long does it take?

Well, it might take 100 hours, it might also take 30 seconds. Yes, I see how confusing that is.
I have spent 100 hours making a cross stitch pattern, and I’ve also spent 30 seconds. When it comes to pattern making, there are a few things you need to take into account: Complexity, experience & quality.

Complexity

I’ve spoken many times about finding the right cross stitch pattern software for you and I’m always talking about what you need it for. Some patterns are simply harder to make thanks to different elements. Let’s take a few of my patterns as examples.

Optimus Prime Transforming 3D Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan in robot form
Optimus Prime Transforming 3D Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan in robot form

The first is my transforming cross stitch which whilst having a simple color palette, was totally new. There wasn’t an image to work from to start, there wasn’t a guide on how pieces could go together, and there wasn’t a nice easy way to make the pattern. As a result I had to put each stitch together, in such a way that it made sense when making a series of boxes, that then get strung together to move. This pattern took me 100 hours.
Mass Effect N7 Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Mass Effect N7 Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

However, the next example is my N7 mass effect cross stitch. I took an image, put it through a pattern maker, and stitched it. It took me 30 seconds.
The difference between these two was how complicated the pattern was, and how much I could work from to start. Pattern designers need to stay way from anything possibly copyrighted, so have to make everything themselves, which takes time.

Experience

The second thing is experience. If you’ve been making patterns a while, you get the software, you get the way you need to make a pattern, you get the tools and can picture exactly what you want before you start. As a result, it doesn’t take that long. Again, lets use some examples.
Portal Tattoo Cross Stitch by Lord LibidanPokemon Tattoo Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
The above two patterns were roughly the same amount of work. They have similar stitch counts, similarly complex and they’re similar in design. However the difference, is they were made a year apart. The first, the Portal tattoo cross stitch took me 100 hours. The second, the Pokemon tattoo cross stitch took me 5. Yes, that’s 20 times less, in only a year.

Quality

The final thing is quality. We’ve spoken about quality of pattern makers before in our post about if free cross stitch pattern makers better than paid however lets put that to a side for a moment, as pattern makers themselves aren’t to blame here. You can make a 30 second pattern in any pattern maker, and you can make a 100 hour pattern in any pattern maker too.
The difference, is what you do with the time. You can add dithering, you can reduce stitches, colors, add in effects, change the tones, you can rearrange stitches and move things around. The pattern you make in 30 seconds, is going to be a considerably worse pattern thanks to that. If those extra 99 hours and 59 minutes and 30 seconds were worth it or not is besides the point.
Designers want you to spend your money on their patterns. As a result, they want to give you a quality product, so they spend more than 30 seconds on a pattern.

So do designers take 100 hours on a pattern?

Well, its hard to say. However, I doubt it.
We know their patterns are detailed, they can’t work from imagery so have to a make it themselves, and they make high quality patterns. However its their job. They’ve been doing this professionally for some time, and as a result, should be significantly faster than the rest of us at pattern making. So yes, they might take 10 or so hours, but not 100. In fact, the two projects I’ve shown above that took me 100 hours, were the only two, and they were both made only 1 year into me starting to cross stitch.
That said, I can guarentee you that any pattern designer worth their salt can make a considerably better pattern than any 30 second pattern maker.

Going back to the original quote “designers will make you think they spend 100 hours on a pattern, but you can do it yourself in 30 seconds!” I would have to say, by in large, its kinda correct. Designers do spend a long time making patterns, and you can make one yourself in 30 seconds. But those two patterns aren’t comparable.

How to keep up motivation while tackling a big cross stitch project

pokemon epic all generations cross stitch by samarin6 (source: spritestitch.com)

We’ve spoken at length about how to get cross stitch inspiration and how cross stitch can help you destress but there is one problem we hear a lot about, especially as we give away epic pokemon cross stitch patterns and that’s burnout.
If you’re a youtube watcher, you’ve probably heard about recent videos on content burnout, where youtubers are constantly having to churn out video content, and it takes away the fun. Well, that happens with cross stitch too. Sure, you might not have an audience to satisfy, you’re probably your own worst critic, but keeping up your cross stitch mojo, especially when you’re tackling a big project, can be hard. Real hard. But there are ways to solve that problem!

eat sleep stitch repeat cross stitch by stitchkits (Source: notonthehighstreet.com)
Sometimes this ISN’T what you want. Eat Sleep Stitch Repeat cross stitch by stitchkits (Source: notonthehighstreet.com)

Stitch up some small projects

One of the greatest ways to get through a big project, or even a rut you might be having, is to pick up small stitches. Thoses small stitches might take you a weekend, and you might not even be super into them, but they acomplish two things. The first, is it gives you that completion high all cross stitchers know, and secondly, it gives you renewed enthusiasm for what you’re currently doing. Yeh, you might be stitching away at the same page for 3 months solid, but doing a throw away project gives you that perspective that actually, what you’re stitching right now is going to be awesome.

Look for inspiration

We mentioned cross stitch inspiration at the top of this blog, but actually, inspiration is one of the best things for you. Yes, you might come away with a list as long as your arm of things you want to stitch, and might even have a few patterns to boot, but it’ll remind you why you like stitching, and why you like stitching that epic you’re on currently.

Go on a cross stitch holiday

Tried that? Not helping you out? OK, then stop stitching. I know, I know, it sounds stupid, especially if you’re half the way through to just drop it, but seperation from cross stitch might actually be exactly what you need. You don’t have to sit there thinking about it either, go out, pick up another hobby, knit, sew or just read a book. I personally play computer games. That break helps you renew, just like a holiday. Not only that, but you might find yourself wanting and wanting to revisit it, and once that happens, you know the rut is over.

Don’t beat yourself up

You’re thinking to yourself “but I’m X of the way through, I can’t stop”. Well, I’m here to tell you its OK. You can stop beating yourself up. I’m the type of person that likes a plan, and I like to stick with it, so if I can’t stitch as much as I planned or the project is taking longer than I expected I tend to beat myself up. But there’s no reason to. It’s OK to be late.

Failure is always an option

And in fact, its OK to give up. One of my personal heros is known for a simple notion; that failure is always an option. Sometimes things just don’t work, and giving up is not only an acceptable thing to do, but sometimes, its the best thing to do.

How To Cross Stitch On Black Aida

Black aida (Source: Etsy)

I personally love black aida, it can really make a piece sing, however I’ve also heard of people scared to use dark and black aida due to the issues involved. Ad while I understand their point of view, dark aida really isn’t to be feared. In fact, with some really simple changes you can make stitching on black aida a breeze!

Light it up like crazy

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

The first thing that everyone says when it comes to dark aida is light it up. I would personally suggest stitching somewhere so well lit up that it doesn’t matter if you have dark aida or not, but investing in a really reliable and bright light can work wonders for your work. If you’re interested we looked at if daylight bulbs are really worth it and we even mention the use of dark aidas.
But people often ask me about how they should light their area. I’ve regularlly heard about lighting under your work as well as on top, and whilst I understand why, I think that this isn’t the way to go. I would light from the top only.

Cover your lap with white (or use a light box)

Tracing pad (source: Amazon)
Tracing pad (source: Amazon)

And here’s why I think you should light from the top only; you should light from the bottom differently. Instead of using a traditional bulb, you should either use a large white sheet to reflect light, or, my personal favorite; a tracing pad. You can pick tracing pads up from amazon for a dozen dollars, and they’re super light and thin so you can rest them on your lap, or table without issue. The advantage is that unlike standard light, a tracing pad both lights and gives a white backdrop at the same time, meaning you can see right through those holes.

Grid it

Thread grid cross stitch by medlow studio tapesty needlepoint (source: thehappycross-stitcher.com)
Thread grid cross stitch by medlow studio tapesty needlepoint (source: thehappycross-stitcher.com)

I used to hate the idea of gridding, and honestly, I’m not too sure why, but for an average project, I still don’t grid. But that isn’t the case for dark fabrics. For dark fabrics I ALWAYS grid. Half the battle with a dark fabric is the effort of counting, and with a simple grid you can make it so much easier.
Check out our cross stitch gridding techniques if you’re new like I was!

Frame it

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

You probably frame your work when you stitch, however with dark aida it becomes super important. You want a nice frame that will stretch out the fabric as tight as possible to ensure the holes in the aida open up so you can see through them. You can pick any of the best cross stitch frames out there, but make sure the fabric is really tight.

Magnify it

With all this extra light, gridding, framing and whatnot its no suprise that looking at dark aida is a strain on the eyes. We would suggest taking regular breaks anyway (we’re big fans of the 20-20-20 rule), but there is something else you can do to help your eye sight; magnification. Put simply, the larger the aida, the clearer it is. As simple as that!

Use your needle to ‘feel’ the fabric

When stitching, I like to watch TV, as I’m sure many of you do too, but by doing this I accidently developed a skill I didn’t even know was a posibility; feeling the fabric. I personally think this explination from StitchedModern is the best at describing it, so I’ll leave it to them:

If you slowly and lightly drag the tip of your needle over the fabric, it will dip where there are holes. Do this before you take a stitch and you are more likely to find the hole instead of piercing the fabric fibers. This takes a little practice, but eventually you get the feel of it.

A simple, but truly effective method for dealing with dark aida…

Black aida (Source: Etsy)
Black aida (Source: Etsy)

How many stitches can you get out of a 8m skein?

Discontinued US only DMC threads (source: 123stitch.com)

When anyone starts a new project there is one question that plagues cross stitchers everywhere. How many skeins of thread do I need?
 
What makes this question even harder is it isn’t the same for everyone. You see, people stitch in different ways, and generally that means you can be more or less efficient. So we stitched one color in an efficient and inefficient way to get a scale of how many stitches you can make using a whole 8m skein of thread.

CountInefficient
Stitches
Average
Stitches
Efficient
Stitches
10120012501300
12145015001550
14165017501850
16195019502050
18220022502300
20245025002550
22270027502800

 

Inefficient vs Efficient Stitches

A few people have asked what make the difference between efficient and inefficient stitches, so to help you stitch more economically, here is what we did.
Inefficient – Stitched in the “English Method”, with knots in the starts of the threads and ends of threads. Shorter lengths of threads were used, and all threads were used till at least 2 inches were left.
Efficient – Stitched in the “Danish Method”, no knots in the start or end (thread ends tucked), long lengths of thread and only 1 inch left before ending the thread.
 
If you want to increase your stitching efficiency, you might want to read our post on how to cross stitch faster.

How To Find A Perfect Needle Minder

Oreo Cookie Needle Minder by FandomCrossStitchery (Source: Etsy)

It’s fair to say at this point that I’m a big fan of needle minders. So much so that I included them in my cross stitcher christmas gift list this year, as well as devote a whole post to some weird and wonderful needle minders. But whilst stitching my Star Trek Voyager cross stitch I realised that finding the perfect needle minder for you, isn’t just its design.

Functionality

Everyone knows that needle minders are meant to hold needles for you, but a needle minder can be so much more. I’ve seen loads of different uses, from magnifiers to and the ever popular needle threaders, some of which we covered in last weeks needle threaders. By adding in something that you’re going to use anyway, you can stop that ever painful moment scrabbling around the floor trying to find one of those small tools.

Needle Minders with built in needle threaders by NeedleKeepEmporium (Source: Etsy)
Needle Minders with built in needle threaders by NeedleKeep Emporium (Source: Etsy)

Size

However in my mind, there’s something much more important to look out for with needle minders. Size. When you’re stitching up a massive cross stitch, this isn’t so important, afterall, you have the space. But when you’re working on a smaller project, or even worse, travelling, the need for a needle minder is even higher! Yet large needle minders are frankly unwieldy. That’s why I use a super small needle minder when I can, such as these tiny 1cm kittens!

Tiny Kitten Needle Minders by Snarky Crafter (Source: Etsy)
Tiny Kitten Needle Minders by Snarky Crafter (Source: Etsy)

Weight

But this of course opens up another thing to consider, weight. You see, whilst some needle minders can be small and as a result work better for smaller projects, a lot of needle minders are metal, meaning they’re heavy. This not only causes more pressure for the frame/hoop, but can even warp your aida depending on what frame you use. As a result its a good idea to have a light weight needle minder in your collection too.
We personally love the idea of combining some of these options, like this awesome 2cm tiny needle minder made from lightweight plastic by FandomCrossStitchery.

Oreo Cookie Needle Minder by FandomCrossStitchery (Source: Etsy)
Oreo Cookie Needle Minder by FandomCrossStitchery (Source: Etsy)

You can win both NeedleKeepEmporium’s and FandomCrossStitchery’s needle minders in our free cross stitch giveaway!

What Do You Need To Start Cross Stitching?

Self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

We know that a lot of people take up new hobbies around new year, so we thought we’d give a run down on what you need to start cross stitching. Whilst most cross stitchers probably know whats needed, there are some things that can totally change your hobby that you only learn years after starting; so we’re giving you a leg up.

A Cross Stitch Kit/Pattern

The first thing any cross stitcher needs is a kit or pattern. This is the thing you work from allowing you to make the design. Most starters go for a kit, as this gives you the pattern, the fabric, the thread, and a needle. Some might even include a hoop to go with it, which as you can see from below, are also needed.

Mini Donut Cross Stitch Kit by Stitchonomy (source: Etsy)
Mini Donut Cross Stitch Kit by Stitchonomy (source: Etsy)

If you’re at a loss of where to get a kit or pattern, we would suggest you check out Stitchonomy on Etsy not only do they have some awesome patterns and kits, but they even have super tiny ones like the above. You can even win one of her kits in our giveaway. However if their style isn’t to you liking there are THOUSANDS of cross stitch kits and patterns on Etsy.
If your pattern doesn’t come with a guide, we can tell you how to cross stitch like a rock star.

Aida (Fabric)

14 Count Aida Cross Stitch Fabric (source: ebay)
14 Count Aida Cross Stitch Fabric (source: ebay)
The fabric you stitch on will be called ‘aida’, there are other types of fabric for cross stitch, such as evenweave, but for a starter is best to use aida. It has a simple repeating pattern with little holes so you know exactly where to stitch. You’ll want to look for a ’14 count’ aida. This means there you can stitch 14 little crosses within an inch. It’s the standard size, however if you want you can choose a higher number (harder) or a lower number (easier), which might be good for getting kids involved.
I would also advise you to purchase more than you need. To start, you’ll want to add 4 inches around the edge of your design. So if your design is 2 inches square, you’ll want an 10 inch square bit of fabric. This might seem excessive, but the way you hold the fabric, and how you might frame it change the fabric requirements. As you start cross stitching more often you can change up the sizes to fit you better.

Tapestry Needles

John James Pebble needles (source: sewandso.com)
John James Pebble needles (source: sewandso.com)
Needles! But specifically tapestry needles. I made this mistake myself when I started, in short, tapestry needles have a bigger eye (the bit at the end you thread) which can allow for embroidery thread, and it doesn’t have a sharp end. If you’ve chosen a 14 count aida fabric you’ll want a size 24 needle (confusing, right?) however if you’ve gone for a different count fabric you can check our handly guide on what size cross stitch needle you need.
You might also want to consider getting yourself a needle threader. They’re super cheap, and can make threading the needle a breeze.

Embroidery Thread

6 stands of cross stitch embroidery thread illustration (source: DMC)
6 stands of a standard embroidery thread (source: DMC)
The next thing you’ll need is embroidery thread. This is a very specific thread used by embroidery fans. It comes in 8m long lengths and is actually 6 different threads wound together. You’ll need to split these up to stitch, but your kit or pattern guide should tell you more about this.
DMC is the most used brand, however you can also get more expensive threads such as Anchor, or cheaper ones like CXC. At the moment you really don’t need expensive threads, however price is something to consider going forward. A full set of DMC threads might cost you $400, where as a full set of CXC threads, which are the same colors, might cost you $60. There is also hardly any difference between expensive and cheap embroidery threads.

Embroidery Hoop

Embroidery Hoops of Various Sizes (source: sewandso.com)
Embroidery Hoops of Various Sizes (source: sewandso.com)
You’ll also want an embroidery hoop. This isn’t super important for something less than 2 inches, but for anything larger, its a requirement. It holds the fabric taught so you can see the holes easier. You can pick up a small 4 inch embroidery hoop from Etsy for a few dollars.
You can invest in a bigger and better cross stitch frame if you want to later, we have a guide on finding the best cross stitch frame for you, however a hoop is cheap, effective and used by a lot of cross stitchers by preference.

Embroidery Scissors

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

Once again, we want to be specific here; you need EMBROIDERY scissors, but just your regular table scissors. So what’s the difference? The tips. Unliek normal scissors, embroidery scissors are short, and super sharp, and have a fine point. They allow you to get right in there with the tips to cut only the thread you want. I would start off with something like a 1 inch embroidery scissors, however you can also check out our guide on finding the right cross stitch scissors for you.

The Knowledge That It Might Not Be Perfect

One of the biggest things stopping people taking up cross stitch is the fear of getting it wrong. The fear that it might be mocked by other cross stitchers. Well, I’m here to tell you thats BS. Not only is the cross stitch community super nice, especially to beginners, but there are so many ways of doing things that you basically can’t do it ‘wrong’. So long as there are crosses, you’ve done it.
You might have also heard about keeping the back of your work neat, and I’m not going to lie; the back of your work will probably look terrible, but I can also tell you that it doesn’t matter what the back of your cross stitch looks like.
And if you have to pull stitches out, don’t worry, EVERYONE frogs.
&nsbp;
Finally, know that if you ever have questions, just drop me an email, check reddit, or even a cross stitch facebook group.