Which direction should cross stitches lie?

Having been a cross stitcher for over a decade and a half, not much surprises me anymore however, I recently saw a poll on a facebook group that had me speechless.

Facebook poll - Which way do you guys cross your stitches
Facebook poll – Which way do you guys cross your stitches

It turns out, that not only do people have a preference on which way to cross their stitches, but there is a massive 73% who do it one specific way. A way, which is basically irrelevant, yet has somehow permeated as the main way of doing your stitches.

Why do it that way?

The first question I had was a simple one; why did everyone pick that specific way, from bottom left to top right first? Well, I did some research. And it comes down to two points. The first is that most people learn cross stitch from a pattern, or from an online guide. You can see that even our own animated gif uses the same direction as the poll:

How to cross stitch animated gif illustration
How to cross stitch animated gif illustration

The second is that when printing, at least in English, you right left to right, which is why so many people designed their cross stitch instructions in that order.
Looking at the data, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that people stitch this way. Or should it?

Is it the right way?

I guess the second thing that shocked me was that people had a preference that they stuck to. For me, I always do it specific to the pattern. If there is something in a corner I want to draw attention to, I tend to make the top stitch point towards it. Does it make a difference? Well, that’s up for debate, to be honest. In most cases, once you wash and iron your work you can’t tell. However, I also found out recently that a lot of people don’t wash their cross stitch at all, so for them; I guess it would make a difference.
I guess, for the first time ever, I’m going to have to leave this one open. I’m not sure that changing your stitch direction has a big impact for those who wash and iron their work, however for that 73 % of people that stitch that way; try changing it. Just because you do something a specific way in the past, doesn’t make it the best way. In fact, the direction seems terrible for a left-handed stitcher…

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Jennifer Anderson

    I do the botte stitch top left, diagonal. The top stitch goes top right, diagonally. I didn’t know this was not nor until someone saw my completed work and made note. Does it matter? Would be tough to remember to do it different.

    1. LordLibidan

      There’s no problem doing that way, it’s just what you prefer 😀

  2. Erika

    My preference is to use \ for the bottom stitch and / for the top, but the left/right order will change depending on the pattern. I try to switch it up so the stitch that comes from back to front will go in the hole with no floss (or least amount) in it, to avoid splitting any stitches already in place.

  3. Aki

    Maybe it’s because I’m just beginning with cross stitching – but I cross my stitches in different ways, too, depending on the pattern.

    And I have a question about half stitches, as my next pattern requires them:
    Lets say, my lower stitches are going to the right, upper stitches to the left. Should the half stitches also go the left as the upper ones?
    Is there some kind of an “unwritten rule” about their direction or does anyone stitch them like they feel?
    The instruction says, do them like the lower ones, but I do think, this might look a little odd in the end, doesn’t it?

    1. LordLibidan

      There’s no hard and fast rule really, people do their own thing. Most of the time people do it like the top stitch. I personally think they look better that way.

  4. Marlene W

    I am the third one listed; top left to bottom right. I”m a self taught, leftie and just did what felt right to me. My daughter is right handed and I taught her, BUT also told her to stitch in the way that felt most comfortable for HER. Now, she’s taught her friends her way (the most common one mentioned lol) and my house is full of stitchers all going in different direction to me 😀 .