The Best Cross Stitch Books For Beginners & Advanced Cross Stitchers

cross stitch books (source: crossstitchguild.com)

With so many cross stitch books out there, I’ve read my way through a library just to give you a rundown of the best cross stitch books, categorized by difficulty.

Best Books For Beginners

The Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch

mr x stitch guide to cross stitch Cover
Difficulty: X to XX

By Jamie Chalmers
Perfect for the beginner, it doesn’t get too technical, and everything it written with an entertaining edge. Its fun, chatty and includes some awesome modern patterns. We have a full review here.
 

The New Cross Stitcher’s Bible

the new cross stitchers bible
Difficulty: X to XXXX

By Jane Greenoff
A staple in many cross stitchers collections, the Jane Greenoff Cross Stitch bible has been updated a series of times over the years, and covers everything from the very basics, so complex theories and stitches. It can be a great learning resource, but is a bit hard to get into.
 

Cross Stitch: A beginner’s step-by-step guide

cross stitch beginners book cover
Difficulty: X to XX

By Charlotte Gerlings
A general beginners book with a slant on smaller projects, this book offers clear and concise advice without going off topic. Small at only 48 pages.
 
 
 

Best Intermediate Books

Mega Mini Cross Stitch

mega mini cross stitch book cover
Difficulty: XX to XXX

By Makoto Oozu
A compendium of small cross stitches by Japanese cross stitch master Makoto Oozu, over 900 simple patterns and some basic instructions. The diffuculty comes from the language; the whole book is in Japanese.
 

Cross-Stitch to Calm: Stitch and De-Stress

Cross-Stitch to Calm- Stitch and De-Stress book cover
Difficulty: XX to XXX

By Leah Lintz
These simple patterns, mostly using less than 5 colors are great practice, but offer little in the way of very complicated designs. The 40 patterns included are all well created however, making each pattern a worth while stitch.
 

The Cross-Stitch Garden

the cross stitch garden book cover
Difficulty: XX to XXX

By Kazuko Aoki
A great selection of delicate patterns and designs make this a book intermediate book, capable of stretching newer and more advanced stitchers alike.
 
 
 

Best Advanced Books

Storyland Cross Stitch


Difficulty: XX to XXXX

By Sophie Simpson
A great book with a series of interesting patterns ranging from fairly simple to advanced, with each pattern having its own kit items attached; ready for stitching.
 

Criss Crossing Paris

Criss Crossing Paris by Fiona Sinclair and Sally-Anne Hayes Book Cover (source: amazon)
Difficulty: XXX to XXXX

By Fiona Sinclair & Sally-Anne Hayes
Our personal all time favorite cross stitch book, Criss Crossing Paris takes a fresh look at cross stitch, and how sometimes not sticking to the pattern can produce a fantastic piece. Check out our review.
 

Subversive Cross Stitch

subversive cross stitch book cover
Difficulty: XXX to XXXX

By Julie Jackson
Rude and lude, but a great set of patterns, made specifically to make you chuckle. Whilst the book does have basic instructions, its patterns are far from simple.
 

Do-It-Yourself Stitch People


Difficulty: XXX to XXXX

By Elizabeth Dabczynski-Bean
A book with no guide at all seems like a bad idea, however this fantastic resource allows you to create your own cross stitch people by picking hair, faces, bodies, legs and accessories. As a result there is no pattern to follow, meaning you have to work it out yourself.

 

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Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Gameboy Color Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Gameboy Color Micro Console Date Completed: June 2018 Design: Lord Libidan Count: 14 Canvas: Plastic Colours: 8 Game: Nintendo Gameboy, Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Yellow, Harvest Moon
Title: Gameboy Color Micro Console
Date Completed: June 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Plastic
Colors: 8
Game: Nintendo Gameboy, Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Yellow, Harvest Moon
 
I had this project on the back burner since my Nintendo N64 Micro Console Cross Stitch back in June of 2017. At that time I’ve been working on my largest ever project but also stitching some secret projects. By now I can say that I create cross stitch patterns for the Xstitch Mag, which has taken up some time, but also two books, and a third and fourth book proposal, which I can say a little more about in the coming weeks. However, with the newest Xstitch Mag project done, it was announced that the next issue was going to be a ‘mixtape’ issue. In short, this meant I could stitch anything I wanted, so long as it fits in the mag. I threw this idea back in the mix along with a Micro Cassette Keychain Cross Stitch.
 
My initial idea was to copy the size requirements of the micro Nintendo N64 console I stitched, but make a classic Gameboy. Whilst I did go onto make a Classic Gameboy Micro Console Cross Stitch as part of the project, I initially shelved the idea, instead of going for a Gameboy Color, as it looked a little more interesting.
 
Picking the launch color, lime green, I created a micro Gameboy color, with a slot at the back for games to go in and out. In addition I created a cartridge of Harvest Moon 2 (my favorite Gameboy game) and Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Yellow.
 
This project grew in size and before I submitted the idea to the Xstitch Mag, I had created the classic Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Switch, all in microform.
Micro Gameboy Cross Stitches by Lord Libidan

 

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Why is it called FROGGING anyway?

Frogging is also a term used in knitting for the same issue! (source: google images)

A few weeks back we looked into the word railroading and found out where the name originally came from, and on our social media platforms, people started talking about other weird cross stitch words. One of these was frogging or simply ‘to frog’. However, a small argument started about where the term came from, and why it was called that. Turns out, no one knows for sure, however, there are three main theories.
 

What is FROGGING?

For those that don’t know, frogging is the bain of all cross stitchers. Simply put, if you’ve made a mistake and can’t fix it, then you have to rip it out. It’s bound to have happened to every stitcher at some point, but not that many people know its called frogging.

Frogging is also a term used in knitting for the same issue! (source: google images)
Frogging is also a term used in knitting for the same issue! (source: google images)

Why is it called FROGGING anyway?

When it comes to the term frogging, there are a few possible options on its etymology. Whilst no one knows for sure, we can narrow some of the options down a little.

Possibility 1 – “Rip it, Rip it”

A fun and quirky way of learning the term frogging is the phrase “rip it, rip it”, which kinda sounds like a frog. Kinda.
I think whilst this is a great way of learning the name, the closeness of ‘rip it’ to ‘ribbit’ is just a bit too far from the truth.

Possibility 2 – The swear word

We’ve all heard of the story on how the word f*ck came about but in many circles, it’s just not an acceptable term. But getting cross stitch wrong sucks. Simply put this story works on the idea that someone would exclaim “FROG!” instead of its well known offensive cousin.
However, that doesn’t really add up either. You see, the first known use of the term ‘frog’ (used for embroidery, not specifically cross stitch) was in 1500. The swear word was invented in 1475. The likelihood that the swear word became so well known and then surpassed in 25 years is just crazy unlikely. So that leaves just one other theory.

Possibility 3 – The English don’t like the French

Turns out, ‘frog’ isn’t just the creature, it means something else too.

Frog
[frog, frawg]

noun

  1. (often initial capital letter) Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive.
  2. A contemptuous term used to refer to a French person or a person of French descent.

There is one thing that every Englishman knows, and it’s our history with the French. We’ve been friends, enemies, and everything in between. As a result, French words, and words pertaining to the French have made their way into the English language.
So it could be that people are simply saying that ‘to frog’ is extremely disparaging.
And why is this the most likely answer? Well, two things. Firstly the term ‘frog’ to talk about a Frenchman would have been on everyone’s lips. Not because we were at war with France, but because France had just stopped being at war with us, and suddenly we were friends. In an effort to use a common language, it’s likely they reused the term ‘frog’ to no longer mean a Frenchman, and as a result, used its original meaning, disparaging. Whilst this did change some 200 years later, by then it was likely in the common vocabulary for stitchers. Interesting at this time most stitchers and embroiderers were men, specifically those in the military, who would have fought then fought alongside the French.
The second reason? There simply isn’t a better alternative. No one really knows the origin of the term, but for now, the best we can work out is its simply an obscure use of the word ‘frog’ which is no longer remembered.

 

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Gameboy Micro Console Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Gameboy Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Gameboy Micro Console Date Completed: June 2018 Design: Lord Libidan Count: 14 Canvas: Plastic Colours: 3 Game: Nintendo Gameboy
Title: Gameboy Micro Console
Date Completed: June 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Plastic
Colors: 3
Game: Nintendo Gameboy
 
I had originally set out to create a classic Gameboy in the scale of my Nintendo N64 Micro Console Cross Stitch a year ago, and although I had ditched the idea in order to create the Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch at the start of this project, it just didn’t seem right to leave the classic Gameboy out. This design is actually the same as the Gameboy color, with a wider and longer body, and as a result is still able to play the Gameboy games I created.
 
This project grew in size and before I submitted the idea to the Xstitch Mag, I had created the Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Switch, all in micro form.
Micro Gameboy Cross Stitches by Lord Libidan

 

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7 Awesome Gift Ideas For Cross Stitchers

DMC complete thread card (small)

Finding gifts for the people in your life that like things outside of your normal is hard, and so we’ve put together 7 awesome gift ideas for cross stitchers.

Fun Needle Keeps – from $5

chapelviewcrafts polymer cake needle minder by chapelviewcrafts (source: etsy)
So tasty you could eat it!

The great thing about needle keeps, other than how cheap they are, is the awesome volume of different designs. Pick something their interested in, and BOOM! You’ve got yourself a super personalised gift for under a fiver! They can even become a bit of a hobby in themselves; I have a charizard, a cup of tea, the cake design you see here and a book. I would look on Etsy first as they have a whole wealth of handmade ones.

ThreadCutterz – $12-15

Thread Cutterz (source: threadcutterz.com)
Thread Cutterz (source: threadcutterz.com)

How about something a little more practical? These ThreadCutterz are an awesome alternative to scissors, which sits on your finger like a ring, meaning no more swapping out to go for a pair of scissors. Just for an added bonus they can be taken on international plane flights too!

A Good Pair Of Scissors – $30

Cross Stitch Japanese Style Scissors (source: ebay)
Cross Stitch Japanese Style Scissors (source: ebay)

I know, I just said about replacing scissors, but in reality, a lot of cross stitchers like a good pair of scissors. In fact, I’m a believer that you always need another pair of scissors. You can choose practical scissors, fancy scissors, or even super colorful ones. We’ve even got a guide for finding the best cross stitch scissors if you’re not sure what type to get.

Thread Shade Chart – $20

One of the best gifts I’ve ever recived is a thread shade card. They simply show you how all the colors look, and how they sit together. DMC (the most common thread company) do a version with thread samples ($20) including the new DMC threads, which is far superior. We have a copy of the DMC shade card on our site to see at any time, however we know from experience that there is nothing like the real thing. A steal at $20 too.

DMC Thread shade card with new colors with logo by Lord Libidan
DMC Thread shade card with new colors with logo by Lord Libidan

Magazine Subscriptions – $20-60 a year

CrossStitcher Magazine Cover Issue 317 (source: crossstitchermag.co.uk)
CrossStitcher Magazine Cover Issue 317 (source: crossstitchermag.co.uk)

What about a gift that keeps giving? There are loads of cross stitch magazines out there, including a whole raft of modern, traditional, kid friendly and international ones. The great thing however is it keeps being delivered month after month! They’re fantastic for giving you patterns, inspirations, fiding out about new products and a lot give away free gifts too! Prices vary, $20-$60 a year.

Threads! – $20-200+

Full set of DMC threads
My full set of DMC threads ordered by number

As a cross stitcher I know too well that there is a super warm fuzzy feeling that comes from owning a full set of cross stitch threads. Now this might seem like a big cost, $200 or more for DMC. However just a pack of threads, such as metallics or the new coloris range are an awesome way to bring a bit of flair into someone’s cross stitch for a really reasonable price. As a bonus, they come in nice gift boxes too!
It’s also worth noting that there is a cheaper brand of threads which are surprisingly good, and can cost as little as $40 for the whole set!

Great Cross Stitch Software – up to $50

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

How about something slightly more expensive? A time comes for every cross stitcher when they want to make their own patterns, and whilst you can do this online, they all have their limitations. As a result you often see a cross stitch pattern creation program on the wish list of many cross stitchers. You can choose from frankly hundreds of them, with prices ranging from $20 to over $200, however the ever popular WinStitch (use code LLWINWHG for a $12 discount) or PCstitch are the best bets, for $35. You can find a comparison of cross stitch programs here.

 

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How Cross Stitch Helps Real World People With Real World Problems

Epic Pokemon Perler by mininete by mininete (Nete Hangel) (source: dailydot.com)

Today we’re going to talk about something slightly different. For two reasons. Firstly, we talking about how craft can help people, how it can enable the worst situations in life to seem a little more acceptable. And we’re not talking cross stitch. Well, we kind of are, you see the thing that made me interested in this story originally, was Nete Hangel, and how she used my free cross stitch patterns.
If you hadn’t worked it out already, we’re doing to be talking about perler beads, which whilst a totally different craft uses patterns the same way.
 
Nete Hangel, or Mininete as she’s known online, is a pretty typical 19 year old from Denmark, with one major exception; she has complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a rare condition that can cause severe or extreme pain in arms or legs. Because of this, she can’t do much without pain being on her mind. However, there is one thing; perler beads.
 

It’s been a coping method and a thing I could do even if I couldn’t think straight because of pain and pain meds

For her, the repetitive action of beading has been almost “a form of meditation” and helped with “clearing your head”, which for almost every cross stitcher I know is the same. And whilst we might not stitch to burn through pain, it helps keep us grounded and a little more settled. We’re massively devoted to helping mental health, and we’ve even talked before on how cross stitch helps me destress.

Epic Pokemon Perler by mininete (Nete Hangel) (source: dailydot.com)
Epic Pokemon Perler by mininete (Nete Hangel) (source: dailydot.com)

The fact that Nete picked up her largest project to date, our free epic pokemon cross stitch pattern at a time of seriously bad pain, and the fact that she’s able to get up and battle the world now, just goes to show that sometimes cross stitch isn’t such a closed off-world, and it helps real-world people with real-world problems every day. We’re damn proud to have helped that.
Epic Pokemon perler being constructed by mininete (Nete Hangel) (source: dailydot.com)
Epic Pokemon perler being constructed by mininete (Nete Hangel) (source: dailydot.com)

 

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Why Are Glow-In-the-Dark Threads Green?

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

Glow-in-the-dark threads are a fantastic way to make any cross stitch that little bit more special. However there is one constant when using glow-in-the-dark, and that’s green. Or more specifically the green glow. But why green?

Why are glow-in-the-dark threads green?

Let’s start by looking at the facts; glow in the dark thread is green. You can see a few awesome glow-in-the-dark stitches elsewhere on my website, its green. But does it have to be? No. In fact, there are loads of threads out there that are glow-in-the-dark and not green, take these Kreinik ones for example:

Kreinik glow in the dark threads (source: kreinik.com)
Kreinik glow in the dark threads (source: kreinik.com)

There are two reasons for the green glow. Science, and psychology.
 
Science – The reason the glow comes, or the phosphorescent if you want to get fancy, is mostly down to zinc sulfide. Unlike other glowing chemicals, zinc is non-harmful to humans and fairly stable. Zinc sulfide is green. Now, you can add it to other chemicals to make it different colors, hence Kreinik’s threads, however, the combining reduces the phosphorescent effect heavily.
 
Physcology – People expect it to be green. Originally green was used as a haunted and eery color thanks to Halloween, being represented in alien blood, slime or zombies, and so when glow-in-the-dark colors came into fashion, green seemed the obvious choice. Since then, you naturally associate the color in your head when thinking of glow-in-the-dark, so when it’s different; you don’t like it as much. Turns out people, just like it that way.
 
If you want to learn a little more about the psychology of green we’ve got you covered!

 

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How to use metallic threads – and make it super easy!

dmc light effect threads (source: DMC.com)

Let’s face it, you’ve used metallics at some point, but you’ve not touched it in a LONG time, right? Simply put, specialty threads are hard to use.
But they don’t have to be. With a few simple changes to the way you work, metallics suddenly become super easy and a fantastic way to make your projects more interesting. We spoke to a few major players using metallic threads, including kreinik threads to see what they suggest.
 

Pick the right thread

If you’ve picked up a metallic thread from the shelf, you’ve either picked up a thick thread (like DMCs metallics) or a super-thin blending thread. Neither is useful. In face DMCs metallics are so thick they can only be used on 10/12 count and not 14. Instead look to get a thin braid specifically designed for set count aida.

Kreinik threads in different thicknesses
Different thread weights. Kreinik Very Fine #4 Braid, Fine #8 Braid, Blending Filament combined with floss, just floss. (Source: Kreinik Threads)

 

Remove the curls

Metallics knot. A lot. So so much… But there is a good reason! As they’re held on the spool the metal parts stiffen into the shape, meaning when you pull it off, there are curls. We tend to want to straighten the thread with twists of the needle, which leads to more knots. BUT if you dampen a small sponge (makeup sponges work well) and pull the thread you’ll find it straights right out. No more knots!
 

Kreinik threads off spool with a curl (source: Kreinik Threads)
Kreinik threads off spool with a curl (source: Kreinik Threads)

Don’t separate the threads

This is SUPER important with other specialty threads such as glow in the dark threads, where the threads are actually made up differently, meaning you might strip the threads apart. If you’ve picked the right thread, as per the above, this shouldn’t be an issue.
 

Don’t stitch 2 over 2

OK, so I know I keep going on about picking the right thread, but if you’ve picked the right thread; stick with it. That means you shouldn’t split the thread apart, and you shouldn’t combine the threads together to make a ‘double thread’. Metallics are made to be used as one thread only.
 

Make the thread ‘slide’

There are parts of the cross stitch world that simply haven’t come to terms with the closure of thread heaven. Simply put, the stuff that makes working with metallics a breeze in itself, however, they are no more. But that doesn’t mean other alternatives don’t work. I personally wouldn’t use the likes of beeswax for cotton threads as it clumps up, but metallics slide so easy its crazy. The even better news? Beeswax is super easy to get hold of.
 

Slow down (and calm down)

Finally, with one simple thing you can improve any metallic stitching session; remember metallics aren’t like cotton threads. They’re different in pretty much every way, and whilst they kinda look the same, so long as you take your time, any problems are easily fixed.

Double Eye Needles

If you’ve tried all of the above and it just isn’t working for you, you could try double eye tapestry needles. These little things have two eyes allowing you to get perfect results, every time.

 

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How To Sign Your Cross Stitch

I want to belive cross stitch signature by PDXstitch (source: pdxstitch.wordpress.com)

You spend hundreds of hours cross stitching a project, and perhaps a few more making the pattern. You make sure the stitches look pretty, you’ve not made mistakes (or fixed them at least) and you’ve already thought about how to frame it. But there is one last thing. One thing you’re not too sure about.

To sign, or not to sign?

It’s a thought that goes through every cross stitchers head, and without a doubt, you’ve seen some online like it, but you’re just not convinced. So I’ve decided to wrap up some of the ways you can sign your work that doesn’t look distasteful.

Stitch it on the front

Let’s start off by addressing the elephant in the room; when we mentioned signing cross stitch you automatically assumed we meant stitching on the front of it. Now there is a good reason for this; you can see them online all the time. The simple reason for that is people copying. I have had, just like many other cross stitchers, people take my images and pretend they’ve stitched them themselves, so putting a signature is a nice nod to make sure that happens. However, if you use a watermark on online images, you don’t have a problem. As a result, feel free to add a signature to the front of your stitching, only if you WANT to.

Cross stitch signature by Whatever James (source: whateverjamesinstitches.blogspot.com)
Cross stitch signature by Whatever James (source: whateverjamesinstitches.blogspot.com)

There are loads of different ways of signing your work, from unique pixel blocks, like above, or an initial or two. However, they normally stick out something awful. But they don’t need to. Take the below example, which has a small “SK 14” hidden in plain sight, thanks to clever use of almost aida matching thread.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cross stitch by Sieberella (source: Reddit)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cross stitch by Sieberella (source: Reddit)

Write it on the front

There is another way of thinking about this though. You’re an artist. Sign your work with pride! And frankly, you want it to be visible. Heck, make it huge!
But be clever and use a fabric pen/sharpie.

shiroikoumori cross stitch with IGAs signature (source: pinterest)
shiroikoumori cross stitch with IGAs signature (source: pinterest)

Write it on the frame

But let’s say you don’t want to shout from the rooftops, and you’re happy with using a watermark online. Then I suggest putting it on the frame. I choose to attach business card size stitchers to the backs of my frames detailing when I made it, the count, etc. As I’m the one that’ll end up enjoying it (or a select few family/friends) then there isn’t a great need to shout about it.
You can even do this in hundreds of ways. I found a great example on Reddit:

If I am displaying the piece in a wooden hoop I sign and date the wooden hoop with a permanent metallic marker on the top next to the metal thingy.

Hide it

Before I started researching this article, I thought the above options were it. Simply no choice other than that. But my friend advised me to take the cross stitch he gave me out of the frame. And what do you know, there was his signature. Turns out this is done a lot, as not only does it have a record of who made it and when, but you can hide it behind a frame if you want. It is about time to put that excess aida to good use.

I want to belive cross stitch signature by PDXstitch (source: pdxstitch.wordpress.com)
I want to belive cross stitch signature by PDXstitch (source: pdxstitch.wordpress.com)

So there you have it, every way I’ve found online and off on how to sign your work. Heard of any other ways? Drop me a line below, I’d love to know!

 

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Why is it called RAILROADING anyway?

railroaded cross stitch (source: craftster)

Railroading is a term used in cross stitch a lot. For some it means the hell of trying to do the technique, for others, it means the height of perfect stitches. However, whenever I’ve asked about the name, everyone gave me the same answer. Until I finally researched it myself and found out they were only half correct.
 

What is railroading?

Before we go any further though, let’s establish what railroading actually is. Simply put, its the act of laying the threads flat against your work in a fashion that allows each thread to be viewed separately. OK, that’s not that simple, but that’s the correct definition of railroading.

railroaded cross stitch example
Examples of normal cross stitch (left) and railroaded stitch (right). Source: Pinterest

As the threads are placed down, you specifically have to split the two threads apart so they lay flat against the aida like the example above. The example is done with two strands, but you can do it with one to a million if you wanted, it’s about making them lay correctly.
 

When and how should you use it?

Railroading can be done in a few different ways, however, you can also use it slightly differently too. The point of railroading is good coverage and a neat finish, however, you hardly even see the bottom stitch. That’s why unless you’re making something for a competition I would suggest using normal stitch on the bottom, with railroading on the topstitch.
 

A quick guide on how to do it

To railroad, you can either use a specific tool (laying tool) or simply change the way you stitch. I prefer altering the way I stitch slightly. When pulling the stitch taught, once you’ve ‘stabbed’ it in, push the needle into the exposed thread and run it up the length of the stitch. This should separate your threads. When using the same hole for the next stitch make sure you keep the threads separated. Its that simple 😀
 

Why is it called RAILROADING anyway?

And finally, we get to the meat of the problem, what’s up with the name?
Well, there are a lot of rumors where the name came from, and how similar it looks to standard railroads, however its a very specific part of the railroad that gives it the confusing name.
In American in particular railroad crossings have a unique design to them making it look like each rail is actually two rails next to each other (you can see this in the image below). The stitch was created to resemble this style and for a long time was used as a speciality stitch to draw your eye, before it finally became a way of stitching.

railroad crossing (source: pixabay)
railroad crossing (source: pixabay)