Where should you start your cross stitch?

I saw a facebook poll recently. Its principle was sound; it was just asking where people start their cross stitch. But actually, this brings up an interesting point. Is there a best place to start your cross stitch from?

Facebook poll - Where do you start your cross stitch
Facebook poll – Where do you start your cross stitch

Dead Center

The dead center was the out and out winner in this poll, and for the best part, is where most patterns tell you to start. The reason is pretty simple; you can move in any direction and it normally means you can start with any color you choose.
However, there are issues. In fact, there is one big one; what happens if you don’t get the dead center? I’ve regularly stitched from the center to find out I was off, meaning my cross stitch got really close to the edge of the fabric. Its clear this happens to a lot of you guys too. In fact, that’s why I created a great free aida dimensions calculator. I now add a lot more fabric than is actually needed to avoid this problem, however, I still find myself being slightly off-center. I’ve never been in a position that this has been a massive problem, but I’ve seen people online having to restart their own pattern due to this before, and the worst thing, is that you can’t find out until you’ve almost hit the end.

Top/Bottom Corners

I personally like starting in a corner. It’s absolute, it gives you a place to work out from, and you can make sure to place it exactly where you want on the fabric.
But there lies the problem. By starting on a corner, you’re not thinking about the other corner, and you might find out late on that you won’t have enough space (although sooner than starting at the center)

Center Upper Left/Right

These options kinda surprised me at first. I was trying to work out why someone would combine the issues of both starting in a corner and starting in the center. However, that’s when it struck me that they’re trying to solve the problems caused by both.
I thought about this, and then I even tried it out, and personally; I think this is an OK way to start. However, it still means that if you’re counting is off, you might run out of fabric. I think it’s better to start in a corner.


This is crazy. 😛 I just can’t bear with the random nature of why you would start in one place instead of another on a whim, but not everyone is like me it seems! The problems starting are going to plague these people as they’ll constantly be changing, however, if they can count like a dream, then I’m all in favor of the anarchy!

So which is the best place to start?

It seems like there is no best option out there, however, it’s actually all of these. I know doesn’t make sense, but you can actually start anywhere and it not be a problem at all. So long as you grid. There are loads of gridding techniques for cross stitch, but so long as you grid, you’ll never have a problem running out of fabric or miss-counting!

cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source: asatisfiedspirit.com)

Leave a CommentCancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Jeanne B.

    After a very long hiatus, I’ve returned to cross-stitching. Because YouTube and the internet exists now, I’ve been researching “how-tos” to remind myself of how to do this. I discovered gridding, and I SO wish I’d known about (or thought of) this back in the 80s when I first started. Would have made attempting a Teresa Wentzler a LOT easier.

    One thing I love about gridding is that it’s easy to layout the space in which the design will fall, and lay it out near-perfectly. Then, I just have to work within my 10×10 spaces, parking threads as necessary, and it’s SO much easier and faster. Though I still have to be sure to count to prevent frogging–which I’ve done a surprising amount of, in only the first week back.

  2. Robin P Stalcup

    I am very solidly: IT Varies, but NEVER upper left!! Sometimes the center is a mass of multicolored stitches that don’t repeat and I would rather get a running start at a lower edge with a solid color block. I use Irene’s method to find the center most of the time, and I leave myself a couple inches of border for framing (and I use a ruler to verify because I know how to make mistakes too). Secondly, I am left handed and when I write I smear ink because I’m writing left to right. So sometimes I worry (maybe irrationally) that if I go left to right and start at the top, I will be rubbing the stitches and making them look fuzzy/snagged. So if I don’t do center, I do lower left or right, especially if it is a kit with a rectangular design, then my hand is more over blank cloth as I move up (See? not rational?)? Finally, I’m also a strong visual thinker so while it is more difficult to start off-center in the middle of the pattern, like at 8 o’clock or so , I can and do so when stitching uneven patterns like a spray of lilacs or gladiolas, or clusters of Oregon grape. All the stitches gonna get done eventually, so does it matter if I can still follow the pattern and count diagonally?

    1. LordLibidan

      I hadn’t thought of the left hand thing; I guess passing over threads wouldn’t cause them issues, but I would be worried too.

  3. Elaine Cochrane

    I use Irene’s method to find the centre, but don’t always start at the centre – sometimes it’s a corner or the middle of a side. It all depends on the pattern and how easy it is to count from a given point. (I started Saturn V at the bottom right, for example.) ‘Not enough fabric’ may be more a problem for designers – otherwise, you know how many stitches wide or deep the design is, and you know the fabric count, so you just calculate and measure.

    1. LordLibidan

      I kinda agree, but somehow, despite always calculating and measuring, I always end up with only JUST enough aida.

      Maybe I suck at maths? 😛

  4. Irene

    I always start in the center and have never had a problem. I fold the fabric both ways and poke a needle through at the central point. Carefully unfold and ‘Bob’s your uncle’

  5. Crickett

    I must confess. I make and sell my patterns on Etsy. And I’ve fallen victim to the whole “not enough fabric” problem…in a big way.

    I have a piece that I totally spaced on the rule “add 2 inches to each side”. Didn’t find out until I had completed more than I wanted to frog. To frame it, I had to use stainless steel pins and pin the very edges to the backing board. The frame comes just a hair inside the pattern itself.

    So everyone who mis-measures the fabric, you are not alone.