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 – 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. Pat Marcellino

    I was stitching Mickey Mouse and started his ear in the wrong place. Pulled out the stitches but how can I reshape the holes so they are not so obvious.

    1. LordLibidan

      Don’t worry! When you wash your work when you’re finished they’ll reshape themselves!

  2. Donna Watson

    I washed an old and yellowed cross stitch in Oxiclean, but the bright golden yellow stitches faded. It was the only color that faded (I did a color fast test before washing). Any suggestions to brighten that area of the cross stitch? The item has sentimental value.

    1. LordLibidan

      Eesh, sounds like it wasn’t color proof thread. There’s no way to add color back in sadly, other than removing the threads and restitching!

  3. Natasha

    I recently finished a cross stuch which took over 6 months but I’ve noticed that the older stitches are squashed and are becoming fluffy. Will the fluffiness go if I wash it? Or will I have to restitch it

    1. LordLibidan

      That’s a pretty common thing. You probably crushed the stitches when using your frame or something. Happens all the time!
      Just wash and block it and they’ll come right out 😀

  4. Josie

    Hello I’m currently using a kit, and the kit I’m using has suggested 3 thread stitching and I was doing that, but during the last few days I’ve been using two threads haven forgotten about the three thread is it a big deal can I just continue with using three threads again, or will it be too noticeable if so is there any other suggestions other than picking it, I don’t know how much thread I have spare within the pack

    1. LordLibidan

      It’s probably going to be visible I’m afraid. Using three stands will make the stitches bulkier and so you’ll see the less bulky stitches once washed and stitched. I would suggest unpicking the stitches you did in 2 strands.
      If you’re using a kit, they probably state non-sequential numbers. These are the color codes from the brand they’ve used. It’s probably DMC, and you can buy some more.
      Hope that helps!

      1. Josie

        Okay thank you, and yeah there is number coded colours within the kit

  5. Renae Dotson

    I stitched wording in the wrong place (maroon on white cloth) so I carefully took it out. Now I have a shadow where the wrong stitches were. I used a soft toothbrush to try to remove any “hairs” left but to no avail. I’m afraid to wash it because of the maroon bleading but would it help remove the shadows from removing my mistake? Help, this piece is years in the making and I REALLY don’t want to mess it up. Thanks

    1. LordLibidan

      What brand of thread are you using? Only hand-dyed threads tend to bleed. I would suggest washing it as the first step and then using the toothbrush on the wet cloth.