What Do You Need To Start Cross Stitching?

Self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

We know that a lot of people take up new hobbies around new year, so we thought we’d give a run down on what you need to start cross stitching. Whilst most cross stitchers probably know whats needed, there are some things that can totally change your hobby that you only learn years after starting; so we’re giving you a leg up.

A Cross Stitch Kit/Pattern

The first thing any cross stitcher needs is a kit or pattern. This is the thing you work from allowing you to make the design. Most starters go for a kit, as this gives you the pattern, the fabric, the thread, and a needle. Some might even include a hoop to go with it, which as you can see from below, are also needed.

Mini Donut Cross Stitch Kit by Stitchonomy (source: Etsy)
Mini Donut Cross Stitch Kit by Stitchonomy (source: Etsy)

If you’re at a loss of where to get a kit or pattern, we would suggest you check out Stitchonomy on Etsy not only do they have some awesome patterns and kits, but they even have super tiny ones like the above. You can even win one of her kits in our giveaway. However if their style isn’t to you liking there are THOUSANDS of cross stitch kits and patterns on Etsy.
If your pattern doesn’t come with a guide, we can tell you how to cross stitch like a rock star.

Aida (Fabric)

14 Count Aida Cross Stitch Fabric (source: ebay)
14 Count Aida Cross Stitch Fabric (source: ebay)
The fabric you stitch on will be called ‘aida’, there are other types of fabric for cross stitch, such as evenweave, but for a starter is best to use aida. It has a simple repeating pattern with little holes so you know exactly where to stitch. You’ll want to look for a ’14 count’ aida. This means there you can stitch 14 little crosses within an inch. It’s the standard size, however if you want you can choose a higher number (harder) or a lower number (easier), which might be good for getting kids involved.
I would also advise you to purchase more than you need. To start, you’ll want to add 4 inches around the edge of your design. So if your design is 2 inches square, you’ll want an 10 inch square bit of fabric. This might seem excessive, but the way you hold the fabric, and how you might frame it change the fabric requirements. As you start cross stitching more often you can change up the sizes to fit you better.

Tapestry Needles

John James Pebble needles (source: sewandso.com)
John James Pebble needles (source: sewandso.com)
Needles! But specifically tapestry needles. I made this mistake myself when I started, in short, tapestry needles have a bigger eye (the bit at the end you thread) which can allow for embroidery thread, and it doesn’t have a sharp end. If you’ve chosen a 14 count aida fabric you’ll want a size 24 needle (confusing, right?) however if you’ve gone for a different count fabric you can check our handly guide on what size cross stitch needle you need.
You might also want to consider getting yourself a needle threader. They’re super cheap, and can make threading the needle a breeze.

Embroidery Thread

6 stands of cross stitch embroidery thread illustration (source: DMC)
6 stands of a standard embroidery thread (source: DMC)
The next thing you’ll need is embroidery thread. This is a very specific thread used by embroidery fans. It comes in 8m long lengths and is actually 6 different threads wound together. You’ll need to split these up to stitch, but your kit or pattern guide should tell you more about this.
DMC is the most used brand, however you can also get more expensive threads such as Anchor, or cheaper ones like CXC. At the moment you really don’t need expensive threads, however price is something to consider going forward. A full set of DMC threads might cost you $400, where as a full set of CXC threads, which are the same colors, might cost you $60. There is also hardly any difference between expensive and cheap embroidery threads.

Embroidery Hoop

Embroidery Hoops of Various Sizes (source: sewandso.com)
Embroidery Hoops of Various Sizes (source: sewandso.com)
You’ll also want an embroidery hoop. This isn’t super important for something less than 2 inches, but for anything larger, its a requirement. It holds the fabric taught so you can see the holes easier. You can pick up a small 4 inch embroidery hoop from Etsy for a few dollars.
You can invest in a bigger and better cross stitch frame if you want to later, we have a guide on finding the best cross stitch frame for you, however a hoop is cheap, effective and used by a lot of cross stitchers by preference.

Embroidery Scissors

Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors (source: kreinik.com)

Once again, we want to be specific here; you need EMBROIDERY scissors, but just your regular table scissors. So what’s the difference? The tips. Unliek normal scissors, embroidery scissors are short, and super sharp, and have a fine point. They allow you to get right in there with the tips to cut only the thread you want. I would start off with something like a 1 inch embroidery scissors, however you can also check out our guide on finding the right cross stitch scissors for you.

The Knowledge That It Might Not Be Perfect

One of the biggest things stopping people taking up cross stitch is the fear of getting it wrong. The fear that it might be mocked by other cross stitchers. Well, I’m here to tell you thats BS. Not only is the cross stitch community super nice, especially to beginners, but there are so many ways of doing things that you basically can’t do it ‘wrong’. So long as there are crosses, you’ve done it.
You might have also heard about keeping the back of your work neat, and I’m not going to lie; the back of your work will probably look terrible, but I can also tell you that it doesn’t matter what the back of your cross stitch looks like.
And if you have to pull stitches out, don’t worry, EVERYONE frogs.
&nsbp;
Finally, know that if you ever have questions, just drop me an email, check reddit, or even a cross stitch facebook group.

3D Printed Cross Stitch Ring by Lord Libidan

Cross Stitch Ring by Lord Libidan

Cross Stitch Ring by Lord Libidan
Cross Stitch Ring by Lord Libidan

Title: 3D Printed Cross Stitch Ring
Date Completed: December 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: 3D printed ring
Colours: 1
Size: US 8 (UK P)
 
For my last cross stitch of 2018, I knew I wanted to do something small, but as it happens, I was FINALLY able to complete a project I’d been working on for the last 5 years.
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I’d always loved the idea of 3D printing, and I think many of my 3D cross stitches, such as my Transforming cross stitch were routed in, however I recently got the ability to print accurately on a 3D printer in high detail. I used this excuse to pull a simple ring design, and then edited it to work with a line of cross stitch, in 14 count.
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In order to do this I had to pull a small interior ring to hold the back of the threads (so they don’t stick into your finger), and align the holes in a specific orientation to ensure the needle would fit through. You can see these changes in the below image a bit clearer.
3D Printed Ring for cross stitch by Lord Libidan
3D Printed Ring for cross stitch by Lord Libidan

However the hard work didn’t finish there. I had originally made two ring ideas, one with a 18 count, and one with 14. Whilst I was able to stitch both, the 18 count one simply didn’t work (the holes were too big). This however, wasn’t something I count fix. The size of the holes needed to be large enough that the smallest needles I could find (size 10 sharps) would fit through using a sewing thread (not embroidery).
However, all that work done, it was a simple case of stitching it up, and wearing it. I might actually offer a limited run of these on my Etsy if anyone is interested…
3D File for Printing Cross Stitch Ring by Lord Libidan
3D File for Printing Cross Stitch Ring by Lord Libidan

Next Year In Cross Stitch – 2019

Technology and cross stitch by Wei Chieh Shih (source: shihweichieh.com)

Over the last 10 years of cross stitch blogging I’ve seen a lot happen to the craft, and for the last few years I’ve created posts based on what I think is going to happen in 2017 and (with a little help from my cross stitchy friends) 2018. I’m normally pretty correct, so without further ado, lets look at what might happen in 2019.
 

Cross Stitch Magazines

cross stitcher magazine cover may 2011 featuring Lord Libidan (source: crossstitchermag.co.uk)
cross stitcher magazine cover may 2011 featuring Lord Libidan (source: crossstitchermag.co.uk)

This one was actually on last years plan, however with the loss of Cross Stitch Collection in 2017, the cross stitch magazine market has had a bit of a hard time. Originally I had forseen magazines becoming more persona focused, and with magazines such as The XStitch Mag coming out for a more modern market, I think we’ve seen that. But it also means something else.
Advertising. You see, the magazines are really feeling the pinch right now with advertisers loosing trust in magazines. As a result even in the biggest of mags we see more local and Etsy style shops advertising instead of the big companies. I think we might see another big cross stitch magazine go bust this year.
 

The Rise Of The Small Store Owner

One of the main impacts of big stores no longer advertising is that they start getting undercut by smaller stores that can stock the same things, but offer better service. I hear more and more that smaller stores are being selected over larger retailers, and I think 2019 will see a big change in the way people buy cross stitch supplies.
 

Software

PCStitch Cross Stitch Software (source: PCStitch.com)
PCStitch Cross Stitch Software (source: PCStitch.com)

This is another one I focused on last year, and I’m glad to say my prediction was spot on. We saw quite a few cross stitch generator programs go bust, and in their place lots of ‘point and click’ online creators. This has two big effects; the first is that those point and clicks are going paid; and the costs are really high for what they offer ($10 a pattern anyone?) and so I forsee a big increase in people investing in downloaded software. In fact, we’ve even seen an increase in clicks on our review of the best cross stitch software.
This will also start the big players (WinStitch and PCStitch) looking to develop simpler, user friendly options at a cut down price.
 

Books

Criss crossing paris book by fiona sinclair and sallyanna hayes cover small (source: amazon)
Criss crossing paris book by fiona sinclair and sallyanna hayes cover small (source: amazon)

This is the first thing that happened in 2018 that I simply didn’t see coming. Books came out. Loads. And unlike previous years, this year has been chocked full of fantastic books, such as Criss Crossing Paris (you can check out some of the others on our review of the best cross stitch books).
However, a year of big cross stitch book releases normally means the next year will have none. In fact, I’m expecting kits to be light on the shelves this year too, as more and more people turn to pattern only online purchases.
 

ThreadHeaven

Thread Magic (source: threadmagic.com)
Thread Magic (source: threadmagic.com)

The next big shock of this year was the loss of ThreadHeaven. A staple in the cross stitch world for decades, it was a big shame to see its loss. Whilst there are some great ThreadHeaven alternatives out there, we forsee a new player coming to the market to try and take ThreadHeaven’s crown.
 

Technology

Technology and cross stitch by Wei Chieh Shih (source: shihweichieh.com)
Technology and cross stitch by Wei Chieh Shih (source: shihweichieh.com)

My final forsight for 2019 is tech in cross stitch. This is more a general one. We’ve seen a lot of technology amd lights in cross stitch this year, but I forsee more and more kits coming out with integrated electronics.
I’m also forseeing more and more robotic cross stitch as the sewing machine market develops further. Expect to see cross stitching on mass produced cheap goods this year.
 
 
And that’s what we’re expecting to see in 2019. Is there something you’re looking for?

The Best 3D Cross Stitch

Earth and Moon sphere cross stitches by robinsdesign (source: Etsy)

Xstitch Issue 6 Mistape featuring Lord Libidan It really shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone following my stitches that in the most recent Xstitch magazine, when allowed to “do anything” I chose something 3D. After all, a lot of people reading this know about me thanks to my 3D transforming cross stitch, and so for my companion piece this quarter, I thought I’d do something a little different. I thought I’d do a round up of the best 3D cross stitch out there (other than my own that is).

The best for play

I like to make 3D cross stitch for two main reasons; its complexity and its tactileness. As a result whenever I look at others 3D cross stitch, I think of actually using it. BlackMageHeart has taken this to another step all together though, with her minature Harvest Moon playset, created for a friend’s kid. It not only includes the barn (a staple for many 3D cross stitches) but the farmer, animals, and various crops at different stages of completion. To top the whole thing off its set within a frame with a cross stitched field. A fantastic playset regardless of being in stitches.

3D Harvest Moon Cross Stitch Playset by BlackMageHeart (Source: Etsy)
3D Harvest Moon Cross Stitch Playset by BlackMageHeart (Source: Etsy)

The most complicated

That second reason I like 3D cross stitch so much? It’s complexity. I’m far from the first to make a complex 3D stitch, and in fact, the most well known of 3D cross stitchers, The Nutmeg Company, beat me to the post by a whole year with their stunningly detailed 18 count Windsor Castle cross stitch for the Queen’s jubilee in 2002. Sadly despite its fantastic design, we don’t have any better pictures, but it comes complete with the entire grounds, to scale, with fun details like corgis running around the outside!

3D Windsor Castle Cross Stitch by The Nutmeg Company
3D Windsor Castle Cross Stitch by The Nutmeg Company (Source: 3dcrossstitch.co.uk)

The unique

So what about something a little more exotic? I’ve been cross stitching for more than a decade now, and in that time I’ve always tried to push boundries, but when I think of impossible cross stitch, I always think of globes. Not only does a circle barely work in cross stitch, but making a globe is surely impossible, and how on Earth you’d cross stitch the sides to make up anything is beyond me. However, RobinsDesign has been doing the impossible all along. In fact, I recently had a go myself using her techniques to make my 3D Harry Potter Snitch cross stitch so I can give testiment to how hard it is, but RobinsDesigns carry off the impossible with such ease, making fantastic looking planets. They also do a series of amazing dolls and animals too!

Earth and Moon sphere cross stitches by robinsdesign (source: Etsy)
Earth and Moon sphere cross stitches by robinsdesign (source: Etsy)

The obvious

I personally belive that plastic canvas can make anything, however somethings fit better than others. The most obvious though, is minecraft. With simple lines and easy movements minecraft is a perfect 3D cross stitch companion. There are boat load of 3D minecraft cross stitches out there as a result, but this recent stitch by BenBrookerB from reddit is amazing. Not only does it capture the design aesthetic perfecty, but the little steve has magnets hidden in him, meaning he can pick up tools just the game!

3D Minecraft Cross Stitch by BenBrookerB (Source: reddit)
3D Minecraft Cross Stitch by BenBrookerB (Source: reddit)

If you’re interested in stitching with plastic canvas to make 3D cross stitch, you might want to check out our post on the different types of plastic canvas and when to use them.

Micro Cassette Keychain Cross Stitches by Lord Libidan

Micro Cassette Keychain Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Micro Cassette Keychain Date Completed: June 2018 Design: Lord Libidan Count: 14 Canvas: Plastic Colours: 5 Pop Culture: 80s Tape Cassettes
Title: Micro Cassette Keychains
Date Completed: June & August 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Plastic
Colours: 16
Pop Culture: 80s Tape Cassettes
 
I’ve written about how I create designs for the Xstitch Mag before, however in the most recent issue, the theme was ‘Mixtape’. This in essence meant I could stitch anything I wanted. I actually created a series of Gameboys based on a Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch, however I knew the editorial team liked litteral things, so I thought I would also submit a litteral mixtape.
 
This was the mock up of the designs to test viability, and I randomly picked one of 9 different styles. At this stage it was taken up for the cover for the Xstitch Mag! I designed a further 3 styles so there were 12 in total and stitched them up.

Xstitch Issue 6 Mistape featuring Lord Libidan (Source: xstitchmag.com)
Xstitch Issue 6 Mistape featuring Lord Libidan (Source: xstitchmag.com)

The Best Metallic, Glow-In-The-Dark and French Knot Cross Stitches

Wonder Woman Cross Stitch Closeup by The Crafting Geek (source: thecraftinggeek.com)

Xstitch Issue 6 Mistape featuring Lord Libidan (Source: xstitchmag.com)
Xstitch Issue 6 Mistape featuring Lord Libidan (Source: xstitchmag.com)
For my companion piece for my article in this quarters XStitch Magazine I wanted to something a little different. Normally I write a blog about something related to the post which expands on its topic, but in this quarters article I talk about how cross stitch is what you make it, and something like a pattern is just a guide, allowing you, the stitcher to create something truly unique. As a result I wanted to go over my personal favorite glow-in-the-dark, metallic and french knot cross stitches to show you that sometimes just choosing a different thread can have a MASSIVE impact on your work.
 
I’ve had a few people ask me about how to use these threads, but fear not you can find out how to make using speciality threads easy in a previous blog I wrote.

The Best Metallic Cross Stitch

I’m a big fan of The Crafting Geek, however this collaboration with Spykles is one of her best. Not content with a great little pixel art Wonder Woman, The Crafting Geek incorporated metallic florrishes throughout the piece, on Wonder Woman’s sword, shield and headband. Small changes that just make it pop.

Wonder Woman Cross Stitch Closeup by The Crafting Geek (source: thecraftinggeek.com)
Wonder Woman Cross Stitch Closeup by The Crafting Geek (source: thecraftinggeek.com)

The Best Glow-In-The-Dark Cross Stitch

Glow in the dark thread is an odd thread. Not only is it a serious pain to use, but its always white. So you need to make sure whatever you’re doing, the color is white in the day. Most people, myself included, take this as a white element, with a hidden message. But StitchFight takes this to a whole new level. A seriously cool Iron Man cross stitch by day suddenly turns extra cool in the night.

Spiderman Glow In The Dark Cross Stitch by stitchFIGHT (source: mrxstitch.com)
Spiderman Glow In The Dark Cross Stitch by stitchFIGHT (source: mrxstitch.com)

The Best French Knot Cross Stitch

I want to be clear here; my french knots are terrible. However, I think my poor attempts make anyone that uses french knots infinitely more impressive. This example by Peakcock & Fig is a fantastic example of how french knots can add something special to a normal cross stitch. The plain black tree trunk is actually quite plain, but a series of pink and white french knots on the top need no explination. All of a sudden a plain cross stitch has been completely changed, and now invokes Japanese cherry tree blossoms.

Cherry Blossom Cross Ctitch by Peakcock & Fig (source: peacockandfig.com)
Cherry Blossom Cross Ctitch by Peakcock & Fig (source: peacockandfig.com)

Mad Max Car Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Mad Max Car Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Mad Max Car Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Mad Max Car Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Mad Max Car
Date Completed: November 2018
Design: Lord Libidan & Petrick Animation
Count: 14
Canvas: Orange
Colours: 5
Video Game: Mad Max
 
Back in 2015 I fell in love with the Max Max game, and the movie Mad Max fury road. Not only were they both excellent in their own right, but the style betwen both games made it feel like they were from the same universe. That’s why when I found some super awesome animated Mad Max pixel art on behance by Petrick Animation I knew I had to stitch it. However, the pixel art caused some issues. Firstly, I had to remove the animation, and due to its size had to reduce the pixel count, and colors.
 
I created the pattern pixel by pixel over a month, and even purchased some awesome bright orange aida from Permin, but it sat there for more than 3 years while I stitched other things. However when recently going though my aida to find something for my Half Life 2 Gravity Gun cross stitch I found the old orange aida and knew it was time to stitch it up finally.
Mad Max Interceptor pixel art gif by Petrick Animation (source: behance.net)
Mad Max Interceptor pixel art gif by Petrick Animation (source: behance.net)

Mad Max Inteceptor On Set Image (Source: Imgur)
Mad Max Inteceptor On Set Image (Source: Imgur)

There are different plastic canvases – and you’re probably using the wrong one.

The different types of plastic canvas cross stitch fabric (source: thesprucecrafts.com)

Right now you probably have a quizical look on your face, afterall, you know what plastic canvas looks like, how can there be different types? Well, actually there are three different types, used for three different purposes, and most of the time, people use the wrong one. I stitch a lot of things in plastic canvas, and I’ve sold patterns and kits all over the world, however I regularly get asked about the type of plastic canvas. In reality, there is only one cross stitch plastic canvas.
This isn’t due to stupiditiy or anything, but more a case of cheap fakes. In fact, ever since 1973 when plastic canvas first came to market, people have been ripping it off. You see, plastic canvas is super easy to fake and as a result most stores hold ’14 count cross stitch plastic canvas’ which are actually, not cross stitch plastic canvas. Confused? Let me explain…

The different types of plastic canvas cross stitch fabric (source: thesprucecrafts.com)
The different types of plastic canvas cross stitch fabric (source: thesprucecrafts.com)

Needlepoint Plastic Canvas

Needlepoint Plastic Canvas - stiff (source: marymaxim.com)
Needlepoint Plastic Canvas – stiff (source: marymaxim.com)

The most common type of plastic canvas people see has small squares in it, similar to the above image, and mostly comes in 5, 7 and 10 count. I say mostly, as the most common producer, Darice, ONLY produces those sizes. The reason is that needle point yarn can’t go any lower than 10 or 12 count. But when fake canvas makers come in, they copy this style, and make it 14 count.
 
In itself, this isn’t massively problematic, however due to the shape of the cut-outs, your cross stitch will have holes in it where the stitches don’t fully meet. Instead, you should be looking for actual cross stitch plastic canvas, which is slightly different.
 

Cross Stitch Plastic Canvas

Cross Stitch Plastic Canvas - ultra stiff (source: marymaxim.com)
Cross Stitch Plastic Canvas – ultra stiff (source: marymaxim.com)

Cross stitch plastic canvas has one main difference; circular holes. It emulates aida and looks a lot like perforated card, and comes in loads of stiffnesses. This is the stuff that you should be cross stitching with as it makes sure your cross stitches lie in the correct way, filling the whole space without letting massive areas be uncovered. It also has shaped holes meaning your thread won’t catch, the count is actually 14 count, and unlike any fakes, comes in a variety of colors.
 

Perforated Plastic Canvas

Perforated Plastic Canvas (source: grainger.com)
Perforated Plastic Canvas (source: grainger.com)

If you want to get really fancy with your plastic canvas, you can also look into perforated plastic canvas. It works in exactly the same way as perforated card, however the varied types of plastic mean not only can you get a massive variance of stiffness, but you can also get custom shapes made. We’re not just talking about cirles here either, you can get a series of weird and wonderful shapes like purses and wallets.
 

Plastic Aida Canvas

14 count plastic aida (source: aliexpress.com)
14 count plastic aida (source: aliexpress.com)

There is also another type of plastic canvas. I mention this as its essentially aida, and sometimes sold as that, but NEVER use it as plastic canvas. Not only does it look like fabric, but acts like it too. if you want a waterproof aida, you can use it, but it won’t hold a shape and won’t work in any 3D projects.

Half Life Gravity Gun Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Half Life Gravity Gun Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Half Life Gravity Gun Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Half Life Gravity Gun Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Half Life Gravity Gun
Date Completed: November 2018
Design: Lord Libidan & Petrick Animation
Count: 18
Canvas: Stone
Colours: 10
Video Game: Half Life 2
 
After finishing my most recent Portal Gun cross stitch I knew I had to do another. I decided that the two most well known guns out there had to be the Portal gun and the Half Life 2 gravity gun.
 
The Portal gun patter wasn’t solely my own, so for the gravity gun I needed to copy the style and sizing of the Portal gun, so working from prop images I recreated the gravity gun. I also decided to change the background slightly. With the Portal gun, the background was a grey, however as I wanted to stitch it on 18 count I had to use a slightly bluey grey. This didn’t impact the design much as the background for most of the Portal games is grey, and the blue from the light tube worked with the background. However for the gravity gun I thought I would do the same, but on purpose, so I decided to use a slightly orangy ‘stone’ aida instead.
Half Life 2 Gravity Gun Screenshot (source: mobygames.com)
Half Life 2 Gravity Gun Screenshot (source: mobygames.com)

Minature Traditional Pirate Samplers by Lord Libidan

Pirate cross stitch samplers by Lord Libidan

mini pirate cross stitch samplers by Lord Libidan
Title: Minature Traditional Pirate Samplers
Date Completed: May 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 32
Canvas: Ecru
Colours: 8
Pop Culture: Pirates
 
Now that the new issue of Xstitch Mag is out I can finally show off a few of my recent pieces. The theme this quarter was ‘Heroes & Villans’, and I just just finished watching Black Flag, a pirate drama, and knew I had to do something with the idea.
 
As it turns out, Pirates were actually pretty nice people for the main part, and whilst they did steal, they were free men and freed slaves whenever they could. I wanted to look at the way that the East India Trading Company and pirates are often seen in contrary roles to how they actually were. To stitch them I decided on a period styled set of samplers, on ecru with limited pallettes. When looking through some reference material I saw the cutest little dolls house frames and the idea came to stitch them into doll house size. As a result I stitched on 32 count, which is by far the smallest count I’ve worked on so far.
 
You can pick up the pattern for both of these samplers in the newst issue of the Xstitch Mag, and if you’re interested I also have a companion piece for the mag on how close we are to a robot cross stitch artist.

EIC Pirate Sampler cross stitch by Lord Libidan