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 illustration

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 simply grab the needle with your other hand 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 achieve 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 swing around, cutting even more time off.

Double-ended cross stitch needle (source: Reddit)

You can pick some up at 123stitch.

“In Hand” Technique

Sometimes referred 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

Whilst you can change your stitching style, or using fancy needles, there is always a need to have the right equipment, and regularly, without realizing 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 have lots of nearby references for where to stitch next (so no pesky counting).

    Pre-thread needles

    One way to help yourself when sticking with 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 realize 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 preparation. However, in reality, the larger the thread, the more tangles. Instead, you should have a smaller piece of thread. A good guide is measured from the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your elbow.

    Organise, organise, organise

    Finally, you have to organize. 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.

    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.

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    This Post Has 8 Comments

    1. Abby

      Hi! Thanks for everything you do, I use your guidance all the time. I like the 8 needles idea. How do you keep them neat and organized in your WIP?

      1. LordLibidan

        I keep a magnetic strip on the side of my frame, and I simply magnetize them to there.

    2. Amy C

      Question – on Correct Thread Length: When you mention the correct thread length to have “hanging from your needle”, are you referring to the free length of thread that is not attached to the fabric being the length of middle finger to elbow long? or the entire length of thread you are sewing with?

      I hate to end/tie off thread more frequently than necessary and often work just until I notice the floss beginning to thin.

      1. LordLibidan

        The total length of the thread you’re sewing with.
        I also personally use longer than the “middle finger to elbow” rule most of the time myself too!

    3. Amy C

      For two handed stitching, with my dominant hand on the back of the fabric, I often push the needle up through the fabric EYE first. It works well as long as I avoid pulling enough thread through to get in the way or pierce the thread with the needle. It does seem to create more wear on the thread, so I use shorter pieces when doing this.

    4. Amelia

      These are some really great ideas. I create my own kits with the pattern, fabric, thread, hoop and everything else I need in it in plastic zip lock bags so I can just grab it and go. It’s helpful for when I go on the ferry and stuff.

      1. LordLibidan

        I always “kit up” my projects, makes things soooo much easier and faster!

    5. Ana

      Thankyou this helped me a lot