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!

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Diana Folsom

    Using DMC 25. Will try shorter lengths. Thanks.

  2. Diana Folsom

    Hard to describe but what causes my floss to thread though itself. Then it will not feed through the eye of needle? I will then un-thread one of the two floss strands (one will usually flow properly through the eye) and then I will have to some how unwind remaining floss that is hung up. This usually happens half way or towards the end of floss.

    1. LordLibidan

      Floss does stuff like that all the time. I would suggest using smaller lengths of thread. Can I ask what brand of thread you’re using? Some of the polyester blend threads, or specialty threads, tend to do this as they are made up of lots of little stands.

  3. CMC

    Hi LordLibidan,
    I have just enrolled in a Cross Stitch course & I am currently unable to answer this question:
    “Samantha is working on a new project but it’s facing the wrong way when she does the stitches. She doesn’t understand why this is happening. Explain to her why is project is facing the wrong way & how she can fix it?”
    Can you please help?

    1. LordLibidan

      Hi there Carolyn,
      Most of those cross stitch courses aren’t very good; they tend to be filled with questions that don’t really make much sense. This I one of them…
      Based on how the question is said, it sounds like Samantha is using either counting from left to right (or right to left) when she should be counting the other way, or she’s using a pattern that is a mirror image of what she wants.
      I hope that helps!

  4. Nancy

    Do you have any hints for using black thread on a white or cream background so that the black threads don’t create a shadow?

    1. LordLibidan

      What do you mean by a shadow? The threads showing through the white aida when you skip stitches? In which case, you should always work from light colors to dark colors.

      1. Nancy

        Yes, I mean the threads showing through the white. I’m using ONLY black. It’s a signature of a famous author, so it’s not a lot. Should I just cut the thread after each letter of the signature?

        1. LordLibidan

          I guess that depends how far the letters are apart. However, I have another suggestion that might help. Cut a small piece of aida and place it behind the area the signature is on. Then stitch through both bits of aida as normal. The double thickness of aida usually stops any threads from showing. I do this on mono-color pieces a lot.
          Hope that helps!

          1. Nancy

            That sounds like a perfect solution! Thanks so much.

  5. kaisersz

    Hello , my question is my completed cross stitch is obliqued , It is finished but i dont know how to fix it. it is pretty detalied one so , i am affraid to iron it. are there any safe way to fix it ? ty

    1. LordLibidan

      That happens sometimes! Buy yourself a set of pins, and a matting board (you can also use floor mats). Wash the peice, then to dry you should pin it to the floor mat. Stretch it out so that its all straight and let it dry. Once you unpin it, it should be all nice and straight.
      Hope that helps!

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