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

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…

Leave a CommentCancel reply

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

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Robin P Stalcup

    Gotta speak up for left-handed stitchers. I purposely did not look at the diagrams when I taught myself to cross stitch because I wanted to do what felt right to my left-handed right-hemisphere dominant brain. I ended up doing my stitches as show in final frame same for top stitch. BUT…I go bottom left to top right if I am stitching left to right for first cross stitch, OR top right to bottom left if I am stitching right to left. I often stitch large sections with the first half of the stitch and then go back with top stitch later, especially if it is a large pattern with large color blocks. Right now I am doing pillow cases with a cartoon Wonder Woman head and neck (Leisure Arts 2979 from 1997, found on eBay, but has several misprints). It has rows upon rows of DMC 945 (white person flesh tone). I did rows of the bottom stitch weeks ago to show the face and neck. Now I am going over with the second top stitch, top left to bottom right if I am going left to right, or bottom right to top left if I am stitching right to left. I mentioned in another comment that where I start depends on the pattern. I am a very visual thinker and get bored just going back and forth in limited directions. I do not vary direction of top stitch as mentioned in blog above, except in one case when I was finishing a pattern for someone else. In that case, I left their stitches in that ran top stitches contrary to mine for some contrast in a fairly monochromatic snowscape (plus I was lazy and did not want to redo stitches using Kreinik Mylar floss).

  2. Elaine Cochrane

    I’m right-handed, and making the first stitch bottom-left to top-right (or top-right to bottom-left) feels more natural. So I wonder if that strong bias simply reflects the proportion of righties to lefties in the stitching population? I do like your idea of changing direction for effect, but I can imagine it takes conscious effort.

  3. Jasmina

    There are projects where you have to switch it up. When doing cross country on a full coverage, sometimes you have to start from top left, because of where you have carried the thread from, the angle makes a stitch started bottom right look wonky. Also, when stitching variegated thread one at a time, I don’t like to stitch in rows, so I try to stitch in patches, and run into the wonky stitch problem again. But I do always do the same diagonal first, whether from the top or bottom.

  4. Carol F Metzger

    My first beginner piece went the other way, because needlepoint. Now I chant to myself, needlepoint first (/), cross second (\).

  5. Christine

    I do mine the way illustrated. Can’t imagine switching to suit the pattern, I’m sure I’d forget part way through and end up with a muddle of both, which just looks messy!