Make Your Own Cross Stitch Challenge

When it comes to cross stitch, most of us sit in our safe place. We might use white fabric, only use aida, or might stitch patterns from one preferred designer. But does it have to be that way?
I propose that you should try something different, try to expand your skillset, and make something truly awesome. You might find a new technique to use, a great fabric supplier, a new pattern designer, or you might just find an easier way to stitch. This is why you should challenge yourself.

Do Something You Think You Might Hate

I’m going to start with an idea that initially sounds horrid, but it’s not! Bare with us!
Try something you think you’ll hate. Now let’s be specific here, don’t do something you DO hate, but what about those things you’re not super sure of? What about those things you’ve never tried before but heard are bad?
I personally hate french knots, I just can’t abide them, but I LOVE when they’re creatively used. Our friend and designer, Peacock & Fig, uses them a lot in her designs and they simply rock. She has no issue with them.

Cherry Blossom Cross Stitch by Peacock & Fig (source:
Cherry Blossom Cross Stitch by Peacock & Fig (source:

If you’re trying this, you should probably limit yourself to a small pattern at first, but by pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, you can fall in love with where it can take you. This was the same for me and my transforming robot cross stitch. I wanted to push myself and see what plastic canvas could do, and it was a love affair!

Try A New Technique

Next up, we suggest trying something with a new technique. A good example here is railroading or gridding, which aren’t hard techniques, and they aren’t hated (by the majority) either. But these techniques can totally change your stitching experience.
Before I started grinding I used to always make mistakes, having to get the dreaded frogging tools out. But now I rarely make mistakes, I’m happier as I don’t have to rip stuff out, and I don’t have to count as much. It’s a win-win. Sure, this doesn’t change the overall look of my work, but it does make the stitching experience much nicer.
You don’t even need to stitch to traditional techniques here either; what about mixing things up by using a double eyed needle or blending threads?

railroaded cross stitch (source: Craftster)
railroaded cross stitch (source: Craftster)


Pick A Thread To Work With

But what about taking this in a different direction? Most of us scour the internet looking for a great pattern, buy it and stitch it (or store the pattern and probably forget it exists). But there is another way!
Instead of finding a pattern first, choose a thread. It might be variegated, it might just be a singular color you’ve always wanted to use or anything else! You could even try using metallic threads and combining the first challenge with this! Sure, you can make stitching with metallic threads easier (and I strongly suggest you do), or you could even try out different metallic thread types like the DMC Diamant thread range. You might just find a favorite thread and make a kick-ass cross stitch while you’re at it.

DMC Diamant Threads (Source:
DMC Diamant Threads (Source:


Find Your Fabric First

“But what about fabric”; I hear no one ask! I’m currently on a massive fabric obsession. From insane colors to hand-dyed aida. It turns out that there are loads of different fabrics out there, which are just begging to be stitched on and to make something crazy awesome.
By simply changing the aida from white to something else you’ve created a whole new look without any real effort. Find a fancy fabric that looks like the sea, or space, and find a pattern to fit it. You can even stitch on dark or black aida with ease, so don’t be shy of trying those either.
But you have even more choice! There are a whole bunch of different cross stitch fabrics you can choose, or if you’re feeling adventurous you can cross stitch on anything!

Various Hand Dyed Aida Pieces (Source: Etsy)
Various Hand Dyed Aida Pieces (Source: Etsy)


Try A New Tool

There are two tools in our cross stitch kit that we can’t live without, gold plated needles and micro scissors. Both of these are tools that were suggested by friends. In fact, I had gold-plated needles forced upon me after I failed to buy them after my friend suggested them. But they truly are amazing. And I wouldn’t have know unless I took a punt. Both of these are cross stitch tools for less than $20 so aren’t a big purchase, and they’re definitely worth it.

gold cross stitch needles (source: ebay)
gold cross stitch needles (source: ebay)

Have you got any other ideas on how you can challenge yourself with cross stitch? Drop us a comment below and we’ll include it in the post!
Happy stitching!
Lord Libidan

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  1. Shawna Gregg

    I first challenged myself as a teenager when I changed a pattern subtlety- changing colors of dresses to match what I had on hand, and, rather than cross stitching hair on the fabric, I went 3D and braided threads for plaits that hung down over the figure’s shoulders. I quickly realized that I could easily adjust things that felt off-balanced- adding or removing stitches to a pattern, or adjusting colors completely to suit my own tastes. From there I started drawing simple patterns of things I was most interested in stitching. Since then I mainly use PC Stitch rather than graph paper, and my patterns have gotten more detailed, though I find myself reaching for a sketchbook and graph paper on occasion. I still buy patterns, but I always wind up end up changing something about it. The fun about it is looking at the finished project and be unable to point out exactly what I’ve changed (as it blends in well with the original design), but I also love knowing that the finished project is uniquely mine.