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Beginner’s Guide To Cross Stitch

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Cross stitch is a timeless and flexible art that allows you to create stunning patterns with simple X-shaped stitches. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced crafter, cross stitch is an excellent choice for a new DIY project. It’s a fun and easy way to express oneself creatively. Learn how to cross stitch and what you’ll need to get started. We’ve also compiled a collection of 29 free cross stitch patterns suitable for beginners.

A beginner guide on how to sew cross stitch, includes 29 simple free patterns

Cross Stitch Craft Supplies

Let’s gather the essential supplies before diving into the fascinating world of cross stitches. What do I need to start cross-stitching? You can buy a beginner’s cross stitch starter kit or gather your own. Here’s a list of items you’ll need:

  1. Aida Cloth, also known as Aida Fabric:
    Aida fabric is typically made of 100% cotton and comes in various colors. This woven fabric is specially designed for cross stitch and has evenly spaced holes for easy stitching. The most common thread counts or “counts per inch” (CPI) are 11, 14, 16, and 18 CPI, which indicate the number of fabric holes per inch. The larger the holes and stitches, the lower the count.
    Or use a Water Soluble Cross Stitch Canvas if you plan to sew cross-stitch on a normal fabric. Just tack it on your fabric, stitch up the pattern, and rinse it with warm water to wash the temporary canvas away.
  2. Tapestry Needles:
    A cross-stitch needle is typically a long blunt point with a large eye that comes in a variety of sizes. The long needle with a blunt point makes it easier to pass through the holes in the fabric without causing damage. The large eye is ideal for threading embroidery floss.
  3. Embroidery Floss:
    This is the colored thread used to create the stitches. It comes in a wide range of colors, allowing you to bring your designs to life.
  4. Embroidery Hoop:
    Hoops are used to hold the fabric taut while stitching, preventing it from wrinkling.
  5. Needle Work Scissors:
    A sharp, petite pair of scissors is required for cutting floss and trimming fabric.
  6. Pattern:
    A cross stitch pattern is a chart or graph that depicts the design you wish to create. It serves as a guide for stitch placement and color selection. We have complied 29 free beginner’s cross stitch patterns for you to select,
  7. Water-Soluble Fabric Marker:
    This pen is optional but useful for marking the fabric’s center point and other reference points.
  8. Needle Threader & Thimble
    These tools are also optional. While a needle threader can make threading easier, and a thimble can protect your finger, their use is a matter of personal preference.

Disclaimer: Please note that we may earn a commission if you purchase an item through the links above. It doesn’t change the price you pay, and it supports us in creating more craft projects for you!

How To Sew Cross Stitch

After you’ve decided on a cross stitch pattern and gathered all of the necessary supplies, here’s how to get started:

how to read cross stitch pattern

– How To Read Cross Stitch Chart

The charted cross stitch patterns allow you to visualize how the finished product will look. Each square on the chart design represents a stitch on the fabric.

Different floss colors are represented by symbols or colors on the chart. If this is your first project, start with simple patterns that have fewer colors and larger symbols for easier stitching.

Check out your cross stitch pattern and plan where you want to start sewing. Depending on your desire, you can start from a larger color patch or from the top left corner.

how to prepare aida fabric for cross stitch

– Prepare The Fabric

Cut a piece of Aida fabric slightly larger than your design to fit into the embroidery hoop or frame. You may wish to sew the edges of the Aida fabric in order to prevent fraying. Some people like to remove the fabric threads of about 10 squares from the edge and pre-fray it, while others bind it with masking tape.

Mark lines in the center of your fabric with a water-soluble pen to act as a pattern reference. For larger projects, you may also draw lines every 10 squares.

Place the fabric in the hoop and tighten the hoop screws to secure the fabric, ensuring it’s taut but not stretched.

mark reference lines on aida fabric for easy counting and stitch tracing

– Thread Your Needle

Once you’ve decided which color to start with, cut the embroidery floss to about the length of your arm. Pull out the number of strands you want from your 6-strand embroidery floss. Cross-stitch usually uses 2 to 3 strands, but this may vary based on the pattern and fabric count. If you need to, you can use a needle threader to help you thread your cross-stitch needle.

where to start to sew the first stitch of cross stitch porject

– Count the Square

Refer to your pattern to locate the first stitch you intend to make, then count the number of squares or holes on the fabric from the marking point, eg, the center point or to 10-ish lines. Count horizontally and vertically, following the pattern. It is good to always double-check your count to avoid mistakes.

how to secure the thread tail at the beginning of cross stitch project

– Secure Thread Tail (Beginning)

Bring your needle up through the fabric from the back of your chosen starting point. Leave about an inch of thread tail at the back of the fabric and hold it against the back of the fabric, parallel to the stitch you want to start.

Begin stitching over the tail of the thread with your first few stitches. This will secure it in place without a knot. This method helps to maintain a clean finish on the back of your cross stitch project.

how to sew cross stitch on Aida fabric

– Sew Crossed Stitches

Cross stitch is often stitched in rows from left to right. Bring your needle up from the back of the fabric and at the bottom left corner of a stitch. Then, bring the needle diagonally down from the top right corner of the stitch to make the first slant of a cross stitch. Check that the thread on the stitch is taut but not too tight.

Begin the second half cross stitch by bringing the needle back up through the hole exactly below the first stitch. Continuing stitching along the row to make a series of “half” cross stitches until the color ends in the row.

Next, complete the X-shaped cross stitch by completing a sequence of half cross stitches in the other way, stitching from right to left.

Continue stitching in the same manner on the following row.

Using the same stitch tension throughout might aid in keeping your stitches neat and uniform.

how to secure the thread tail to end a cross stitch sewing

– Secure Thread Tail (Ending)

Continue stitching until you reach the end of the thread or run out of stitches in your pattern. On the back of the fabric, weave the thread tail by passing the needle under at least three stitches. To further secure the thread, repeat the weaving process in a different direction. Trim the remaining thread tail, being careful not to cut it too close.

– Repeat Till Complete

Repeat the cross-stitch process for each corresponding sign or color, following the pattern. Work in rows or sections, completing all of the stitches of one color before going on to the next.

how to sew backstitches for cross stitch project

– Sew Outline Stitches

Certain cross stitch projects might require you to sew some fine outlines around the pattern. These backstitches are commonly used for adding fine details to a cross-stitch design. It is usually done after you have completed all the crossed stitches, then backstitches to pop up certain design elements.

Begin by bringing the needle up through the fabric from the back at the starting point of your stitch. Then, insert the needle back into the fabric, a square distance away, in a straight line. Bring the needle up again from the back, 2 squares away along the pattern, and insert it back into the fabric at the previous stitch’s end. Repeat this process, making sure the back stitches are of consistent length and alignment. Remember to maintain an even tension on the thread while sewing for a clean and professional finish.


How To Wash & Care For A Completed Cross Stitch Project?

It’s best to hand wash your completed cross-stitch project with mild soap or detergent. Rinse it well so that no soap residue remains. Instead of wringing it, gently squeeze the water out with your hand. Place the damp fabric on a dry towel, roll it up, and press to absorb the water. Adjust the shape of the fabric before laying it flat to air dry. Once the fabric is completely dry, iron it on the reverse side using a low heat setting.

What Can You Make Into A Cross Stitch Project?

Once you have completed your cross stitch project, there are several options for what you can do with it:
1. Frame it and display it on a wall as a piece of art.
2. Attach it to a dowel or rod and hang it as a wall hanging
3. Display it in an embroidery hoop & trim the excess fabric.
4. Make it into a decorative pillow.
5. Incorporate it into a heirloom quilt.
6. Make it into a greeting card.
7. Gift it.
8. Create small items like bookmarks, keychains, or pincushions.
9. Incorporate it into a fabric book cover, lunch box bag, small pouches, coin purses or antique pocket mirrors.

What If I Can’t Get The Exact Color That the Pattern Calls For

If you can’t find the precise embroidery floss that a pattern requires, the best option is to find a substitute. You can do so by selecting the closest color from the color chart or by using the manufacturers’ conversion charts to find the substitution from other brands.

Can I Create My Own Cross Stitch Patterns?

Yes, you can create your own cross-stitch patterns using specialized software or by manually charting the design on graph paper. It allows you to personalize your projects and bring your own unique ideas to life.


  • Start sewing and share your completed DIY tote bag on Facebook and/or Instagram. Remember to tag us @craftpassion so that we can see them.
  • Pin it to Pinterest for a future To-Sew List.
  • Share with your sewing groups for a sew-along event.
  • Browse more free sewing patterns to make.

29 Easy Cross Stitch Patterns For Beginners

Cross-stitching can be a fun and satisfying hobby. With the right materials, some time, and a pattern, you can make beautiful works of art. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned stitcher, there are a lot of ways to be creative with stitching. So, pick up your needle, choose a design, and let your imagination come to life through the art of cross stitching!

A beginner guide on how to sew cross stitch, includes 29 simple free patterns

How To Sew Cross Stitch

Yield: Beginner's Guide
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Cross stitch is a timeless and flexible art that allows you to create stunning patterns with simple X-shaped stitches. Learn how to cross-stitch and what you'll need to get started.


  • Aida Cloth
  • Embroidery Floss
  • Pattern


  • TapesTapestry Needlestry Needles
  • Embroidery Hoop:
  • Needle Work Scissors
  • Water-Soluble Fabric Marker
  • Needle Threader & Thimble


  1. Download and print the pattern.
  2. Gather all of the supplies listed on the pattern.
  3. Cut the fabric to a size that is larger than the pattern dimensions and will fit in your hoop.
  4. Mark the reference lines and tighten the hoop to fasten the fabric.
  5. Examine the pattern and start with the largest single-color patch.
  6. Cut a length of embroidery floss no longer than the length of your arm. Separate the floss into 2 to 3 strands (depending on the fabric's stitch count) and reserve the rest for later.
  7. Thread your needle and begin stitching from the back of the fabric. Secure the thread tail on the back with the initial few stitches of the sewing.
  8. Work in rows by sewing a sequence of "half" cross stitches (the bottom slant) from left to right. To finish the x-shaped stitch, sew a series of slant stitches from the other direction.
  9. Thread it through the underside of a few stitches, then snip off the loose end when you need to change the thread.
  10. Follow the pattern and repeat the cross-stitch method for each corresponding sign or color. Work in rows or sections, completing all of the stitches of one color before moving on to the next.

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Ruth Cartwright

Tuesday 6th of June 2023

Thanks for featuring my Halloween and Christmas patterns.

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