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.

instagram

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

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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.

Aida

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

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

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

Evenweave

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.

Cross Sti and the hilarious misspelled cross stitch

Sometimes things go wrong. Maybe it was auto correct, maybe it was miscounting, but regardless, its crazy funny when it doesn’t happen to you. This are some of the best cross stitch mistakes out there.

We start with someone who even made it to a book, specifically Craft Fail: When Homemade Goes Horribly Wrong By Heather Mann, where an entreped cross stitcher spent hours stitching the beginning of her hobby only to realise once she’d finished that it wasn’t all she cracked it up to be.
you are begining misspelled cross stitch

Sometimes people realise a lot earlier though, like this cross stitcher who only drew the letters on, and then realised the missing H. Most shocking of all though, he’s trying to sell it on ebay for $15…
cures artrhitis misspelled cross stitch

Sometimes though, spellings are on purpose. This sarky stitch sadly fools more people than it should, but is a great way to make a mistake a feature.
vilage idiot misspelled cross stitch

Finally though, by far the most common cross stitch mistake I could find; gob. Sadly, some of these are massive pieces.
gob bless this house misspelled cross stitch

Find The Perfect Skin Tone – DMC Threads

Finding the right skin tone threads can be VERY hard, normally resulting in a super pink face, or a washed out face. However, with the sheer volume of threads out there, its not actually that hard to create really realistic skin tones.
skin tone DMC thread table 3
We’ve created the above table so you can look up the skin tone you want to stitch and see both highlight and shadow thread colors for DMC to go with it. Equally, you can go down the table to see darker skin tones progressively.
With this you can edit existing patterns to match skin tones you want, or you can make your own patterns with quality skin colors.

The Best Game Of Thrones Cross Stitch

Who holds the iron cross stitch throne? We’ll it will take less than 8 seasons to find out, beleive me. However when you see how awesome these Game of Thrones cross stitches are you’ll be itching for the new season in July!
game of thrones map cross stitch
What round up would be complete without a map of Westeros? This is a map that’s been recreated a lot on the internet, but I tracked down the first version.
game of thrones mario world map cross stitch
However, that isn’t to say other versions are bad. This Mario Game of Thrones mash up is just brilliant!
Game of Thrones Pokemon Cross Stitch
Another mash up in the form of this Pokemon stitch, back when we thought Jon and Khaleesi would fight it out… *fingers crossed for them getting married*
game of thrones house banner cross stitch on linen
Speaking of alliances, hows this banner based cross stitch, done on linen to make it look older and more in fitting with the lore of Game of Thrones.
hodor cross stitch
Hodor hodor hodor hodor. Hodor.
let it snow game of thrones christmas cross stitch
And finally, some way off from Christmas, I know… but its so darn clever.

What is the best cross stitch magazine?

There are loads of cross stitch magazines out there, and with magazines like Cross Stitch and Needlework and Cross Stitch Collection coming to and end, I felt it was a good time to go through some of the most popular cross stitch magazines out there and give a bit more detail so you can pick the best one for you.

CrossStitcher

crossstitcher magazine cover
$2 – $6 per month; digital and print

Currently the second most popular cross stitch magazine out there, but on the rise, CrossStitcher focuses on modern cross stitch. The contemporary, bright, bold designs are better suited to a 16-50 age bracket, with great finishing ideas, and loads of freebies every issue. Its also the only magazine to offer a digital only option, which at $2 is a steal in itself, although with a physical copy for only $6 it might be worth getting that, as you get the digital copy for free.
Many prominent artists have been featured, including myself back in 2012, 2013 and 2015
Score 9.4/10
Full CrossStitcher review

The World Of Cross Stitching

the world of cross stitching magazine cover$6 – $12 per month; digital and print

The World of Cross Stitching (or TWOCS as its sometimes known) is the longest running cross stitching magazine in world wide production, and you can see why quite quickly; its very mainstream. If this is what you’re looking for then its a great magazine, full of patterns, and the largest in size on the list. It plays up on being British for the American market, and so as a Brit you might find it a little unrealistic, but it has lots of other animal, teddy, flower, heart, etc based patterns. They theme on seasons heavily, to the point where every issue is a holiday of some kind. They include free items, but these tend to be knickknacks and not pattern stitching items, however they do include waste canvas often, which can be hard to get your hands on. In recent years its started to struggle as people have moved to other magazines on the list, however still commands a massive following.
Score 9.2/10
Full The World Of Cross Stitching review

Cross Stitch Crazy

cross stitch crazy magazine cover
$12 – $14 per month; print only

Cross Stitch Crazy is a very similar magazine to The World Of Cross Stitching, however tends to appeal to the English market better, with less American holidays, less playing up to being British and more kit giveaways. However, its main draw back, which people are very vocal about is its Christmas period. For the three months leading, all the magazines are devoted to Christmas. This tends to get on people’s nerves a bit. Other than that, its a good magazine, but it might be worth a flick through before buying each month as its a bit hit and miss.
Score 8.3/10

Cross Stitch Gold

cross stitch gold magazine cover
$7 – $9 per month; print only

Cross Stitch Gold appeals to the established stitcher, with sometimes VERY complex and large patterns, focuses towards traditional. All the patterns are from established designers, such as Joan Elliott, and most of the projects will take you more than a month to finish. There are no freebies, and most patterns are focused on landscapes, portraits, houses, fairies, samurai, etc much like traditional cross stitch patterns.
Score 8.0/10

Cross Stitch Favourites

cross stitch favourites magazine cover
$5 – $8 per quarter; print only

A new comer to the cross stitch magazine scene, its demographic is hard to pin down. Almost every cover has “cute” written on it in large, and patterns tend to side with teddy bears and baby congratulations. Its only been going a year, and doesn’t theme for seasons, but barely comes with any free gifts, and never includes enough to make a pattern from the mag.
Score 6.1/10

Enjoy Cross Stitch

enjoy cross stitch magazine cover
$11 – $14 per month; print only

Enjoy Cross Stitch Magazine is a new magazine, out less than a year, and clearly aimed at getting young girls into cross stitch. The patterns are all very easy, oriented towards pink, and the magazine comes with enough included to get at least 3 patterns made. Each magazine is themed, but never seasonal. However, of all the magazines on the list, its the only one that has a lot of “other” magazine content. You’re likely to find interviews with popular artists, snippets from books, and quizzes not related to cross stitch.
Score 4.9/10

XStitch

xstitch magazine cover 1
$7 per quarter

Made by MrXStitch this kickstarter based magazine was created as a direct opposite to the girly magazines the scene is full of. Its simple message, is bringing cross stitch up to date, with very modern patterns, and features that a lot of magazines don’t have; such as everyone gets print and online versions, with larger patterns to see better, a podcast of songs to go with all the patterns, a online community for further support and showing off, etc. Unlike the rest of the entries on the list XStitch is not full of patterns by one main designer, but instead each issue has 12 different designers from around the world (including people like Jane Greenoff and myself), specifically chosen for the themes, which are must more radical than the usual.
Score 9.9/10

Just Cross Stitch

just cross stitch magazine cover
$7 per month; print only; USA only

The only US only magazine on the list, Just Cross Stitch has been going just over 30 years, and has had a bit of a rocky start since it was sold last year. The patterns are sometimes inspired, but can occasionally look tired. It has a modern design, and most patterns follow this ideal, and it features lesser known internet cross stitch celebrities. Its big pull is the Christmas ornament issue (not to be confused with the Christmas issue coming out the month after), which includes a large supply of free things, and features nothing but unique ways to make cross stitch ornaments. Its worth looking into if you’re US based, but they currently don’t have any plans to supply the rest of the world.
Score 7.6/10