ITS RUINED! How to fix common cross stitch mistakes

There are two reasons you might be reading this; either you’re currently sitting over a ruined stitch, or you’ve made a few too many mistakes in the past. The good news is at some point everyone has made the same mistake, so don’t fret!

This is fine
This is fine – honestly, the house is NOT on fire.

First things first

Take a breather. If you’ve just noticed your mistake, don’t fear there is ALWAYS a way out. So let’s get into the list:

Knots on the back

I should state now, you need a smaller bit of thread. As standard, you should look for about a lower arm’s length.
If you have a small knot pull on the knot and pull towards to hoop. Then pull all the following threads tight like a shoelace.
If the knot is big (or there’s no hoop) then this won’t do. Instead, start chopping. Make sure to only cut threads involved in the knot and leave as much “free” thread as possible. Once the knot is gone and you have a series of loose strands, start stitching the surrounding area, and stitch over the loose threads. By the time you’ve finished the surrounding areas, the threads will be all stitched up. Alternatively, you can push the loose threads under the backs of the stitches like you would end a thread.

You’ve spilt something on it

Yeh, normally tea, right? Well this is super simple, just wash it. However, as you haven’t yet finished, make sure you don’t iron it.

Missed stitch

This happens a lot. I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t managed to do it. You should really look into future ways to avoid this, like thread breaking, and fabric pens, however, you have two possible solutions.

White Out

Let’s say we have a missing stitch marked on our Pikachu performing iron tail, with a blue blob.

Pikachu cross stitch pattern missing stitch example

You could then think about removing the lines from that point on towards the end of the piece, marked with dark blue lines.
Pikachu cross stitch pattern missing stitch possible solution example

This means you have to be prepared to edit your pattern in a big way, but sometimes is the only way to get it to work. The Pikachu still looks fine:

Fill it

Depending on the stitch in question, it might not matter a whole lot, much like the Pikachu pattern, you could easily fill it with yellow and no one would ever know.

Unpick it

Well, sometimes that’s the easiest way…

Wrong stitch placement

The whiteout technique about might be a good idea here, however, for the most part, you probably want to unpick what you have. But let’s say its a massive area, its obvious and you can’t do a whiteout. Cut it out.
Now, this seems harsh, but if you cut out the offending area, and stitch a new small piece of aida on top it’ll be totally hidden by the time you finish. Easy!

Know of any other stitching disasters? Throw me a line and I’ll help!

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This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. Susanne Williams

    Hi, It’s my first cross stitch and there is a fair amount of confetti and my travelling threads are showing through the front of my 11ct aida. How can I fix that please? Thank you. Sue

    1. LordLibidan

      Are you stitching with three threads? In some situations, thread does show through, especially with 11 count fabric, but once you back your work with something after you’ve finished, they should be much harder to see!

      1. Susanne Williams

        Yes its 3 strands , thank you for your answer. I’m thinking I may have to stuff some white soft cotton or other material under the strand when I’m done and ready to frame it… we shall see!

  2. Barbara Ridge

    Hello. Newbie here. I just started an 11 count Aida sampler. I used two strands of floss, but I don’t like the lack of coverage. Can I stitch over the portion I started or should I tear it out and start over?

    1. LordLibidan

      I would suggest taking it out (frogging) and then starting over. You can stitch on top, but all of those new threads will lay on top of the old ones, meaning it’ll sit high compared to other stitches you haven’t done yet.

  3. Joan Rois

    I did the same thing only with 30 count linen. Can I add to the bottom of linen?

    1. LordLibidan

      If you’re using evenweave, then yes. It will be harder than aida, but it is possible.
      If it isn’t evenweave, then you’re mostly out of luck. It’s possible, but you need to be extremely careful!

  4. JoJo

    Help ! Chart is six separate pages, and somehow I screwed up the centering for start stitch. Now I’m half done with the project (years invested) and coming up short of fabric by at least 2 inches along the bottom of the design. The design is such that I cannot just leave that section off. It is black 11 count aida with Ink Circles intricate design with gold variegated thread. Any suggestions how to add on a strip of aida cloth? Thanks.

    1. LordLibidan

      It happens!
      Add another piece of aida and stitch over both pieces. You need about 1 inch of overlap to make it work properly. Just be aware that you need to hit the same holes in both!