What Do You Need To Start Cross Stitching?

We know that a lot of people take up new hobbies around the new year, so we thought we’d give a rundown on what you need to start cross stitching. Whilst most cross stitchers probably know what’s 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 your 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 a 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 the larger embroidery thread, and it doesn’t have a sharp end so you don’t stab yourself. 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 handy guide on what size cross stitch needle you need. Most needles come in packs and you can pick up a variety of sizes when you start out.
As time goes on however you may want to try out different types of cross stitch needles, such as ball ended, gold plated, etc. But when starting out, don’t get confused with these options; just go for the normal kind!
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 in tapestry and embroidery.
It comes in 8m long lengths that can be split into 6 separate strands of thread, which is what you actually use to stitch with. You’ll need to split these up to stitch, but your kit or pattern guide should tell you more about this. Most often when using 14 count fabric, you’ll put two of these strands of thread together to stitch with.
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, the price is something to consider going forward. A full set of DMC threads might cost you $400, whereas 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 a frame, however we suggest an embroidery hoop.
This isn’t super important for something less than 2 inches, but for anything larger, it’s a requirement. It holds the fabric taught so you can see the holes easier, and means the fabric doesn’t warp.

You can pick up a small 4-inch embroidery hoop from Etsy for a few dollars, with larger size hoops increasing the price by a dollar an inch (on average). Whilst there are more expensive hoops out there in metal, plastic or hardwoods, the cheaper bamboo hoops are actually the best.

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. Unlike 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 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 from 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 that’s 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.
Finally, know that if you ever have questions, just drop me an email, check reddit, or even a cross stitch facebook group.

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