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
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
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. AS

    Okay…. it’s pretty horrible so turn away if you need to… I’m nine months in (2/3rds finished) on a 12×12 solid coverage project. It’s a kit. It arrived with a thread sorter (cardboard w/ holes in it.) I cannot recall if the thread was already IN the holes, and just needed me to add the symbols, or if I had to separate the threads, and put them into the sorter, and add the symbols. I tend to think it was already in the sorter because I can’t believe I would make such an obvious mistake…. !!!!!! (Sob). So there are lots of greens in this, most of them in the chartreuse/avacado family. Two of them are ‘regular’ greens however, one obviously lighter than the other, named by the kit as Green and Dark Green.

    I haven’t been happy w/ the overall colors from the beginning — they’re a lot brighter (less rich looking) than the image I saw online, and brighter even than the printed picture that came w/ the kit. Anyway, so I’ve been suffering from the color differential throughout my progress to date.

    But tonight, I looked closer and realized that all the Dark Green stitching has been done using ‘Green’, and all the Green stitching has been done using ‘Dark Green.’

    There is simply no way to rip it out, because it’s sprinkled throughout in small patches and too much else will get disrupted w/ all the thread ends I have everywhere double tunneled (I tunnel under 5 in one direction and tunnel back 4 in the other direction).

    I could always order another kit and start again, or just ignore it (no one would ever notice) but I think I’m just going to stitch over the incorrect color stitches w/ the correct color. I tried a few and it isn’t obvious.

    What’s funny is that I can’t find any mention online of this tactic — I don’t believe I’m the first to do this so maybe it’s just so taboo people are ashamed of admitting it?

    1. LordLibidan

      I have seen this done a few times, don’t worry! People tend to take out stitches where possible, but I’ve seen people stitch over things before. The only thing you should look out for it raised sections once you’re finished. These can draw the eye and make it look a bit weird.
      Out of interest, where did you get the pattern? Its always good to know where people get patterns they aren’t happy with.

    2. Cat

      I am working a very very complex pattern wherein i have most likely made every error in the book! I have ripped some out and redone but for the most part i have been able to add a half stitch in the correct shade or over stitch fully, add a extra stitch in a column or make other adjustments no one but me will ever notice…so i just keep going….i have found if i need to i can usually cut out a single stitch, put in the correct color and by the time the new stitch is in the loose ends underneath are usually firmly anchored. A tip: if you do have a thread you think is questionable i have used some of my Fray Block to kind of keep it from loosening without discoloring it. Once matted and framed it is then unlikely to come undone.

  2. Parvin K Padham

    Hi,i hope you can help i stitching Custom Cross stitch picture of my son in the picture hes wearing blue but seller send me pink it would alright if it was girls jumper ,so i tried to change whole jumper thats where everything went wrong.I feel i massed up what do i do i want take all out or start all again or. maybe i can use fabric die.What and how i can change all the color in my chart how do that Thank you

    1. LordLibidan

      Hi Parvin,
      Its hard to say what the best option is without seeing the pattern and how much you’ve stitched. If you’ve only stitched a small area of pink, its probably worth pulling the stitches out and redoing them in blue. However if there is a large amount of pink, it might be worth starting over.
      In regards to the pattern, I would definately contact the person who made it and ask them to send a correct pattern.
      I would strongly suggest avoiding fabric dye though.

  3. LordLibidan

    I’m afraid you don’t have much option here. You need to inpick the cross stitch, tie the threads off around it, and restitch that area.

  4. Cassandra

    what happens if a single cross stitch snaps? How do you repair a single cross stitch?

  5. debra chalke

    I realised I missed a couple stitches after professional framed it…