Starting and Finishing a Cross Stitch Pattern

The stitch which forms the basis of cross stitch, and which you will use most frequently, is the full cross stitch. Crosses are formed in two stages to produce a stitch which is square in shape and which corresponds to the squares on the graph paper of your charted pattern.

After you have chosen your cross stitch fabric, mounted it into a hoop or frame (if you are using one)’, threaded your needle and found the centre of the cross stitch fabric, you can start cross stitching.

Cross Stitch Pattern: The Loop Start

The Loop Start

The Loop Start

The loop starting method can be used to start a thread neatly whenever you are using an even number of strands of thread in the needle.

  1. Cut a 20 inch (50 cm) length of stranded cotton and separate one strand from the length. Double it to give two strands.
  2. Thread the two ends through the eye of the needle forming a loop which hangs from the needle.
  3. Bring the needle to the surface of the fabric at the starting point leaving the loop on the back of the work.
  4. Take the needle to the back of the work to make the first half of the cross stitch and thread the needle through the loop.
  5. Tighten the thread and you have a neat, knotless start.

The Knotless Start

Cross Stitch Pattern: The Knotless Start

The Knotless Start

The knotless start method can be used when working with uneven numbers of strands of thread in the needle. It forms a flat, neat start without a bulging knot on the back of the work which can form an unsightly lump.

  1. Tie a knot in the end of your three-stranded length of cottom and insert the needle on the right hand side of the fabric approimately 1 1/2 inches (3.5 cm) to the right of the centre. Bring the needle up to the starting position on the chart – the centre of the fabric.
  2. Insert the needle in the top right hand hole of the block – forming half a cross stitch.
  3. Bring the needle out of the bottom left hand hole of the next block and insert it in the top right hand hole of that block. Continue to form half crosses going from left to right.
  4. As you continue this way, secure the laid thread with your half crosses on the back of the work as you go.
  5. When it is secure, cut off the knot on the front of the work and trim the tail on the back.
  6. Working from right to left, cross each stitch using the same holes as before, but stitching from bottom right to top left of each block. All cross stitches appear to join each other and share holes with their neighbouring stitches. Finish this first row by stitching the remaining cross stitches which lie to the left of the starting position, ensuring all bottom stitches lie in the same direction.

Tip: Always work the first half of all full cross stitches in the same direction. This ensures that all top stitches lie in the same direction, giving an even appearance and uniform sheen to the work. It does not matter whether your bottom stitch goes from bottom left to top right, or from bottom right to top left, as long as you are consistent.

The Knotless Finish

The knotless finish method finished a thread neatly, again avoiding unsightly knots and lumps.

  1. On the back of the work, thread the needle through the back of the last three stitches worked.
  2. Return the threaded needle, jumping over one stitch and threading the needle through the back of two stitches.
  3. Trim the thread neatly, close to the stitching, using sharp embroidery scissors.

Joining A New Thread

To join a new thread where there are existing stitches:

  1. pass the needle through the back of three stitches on the back of the work as close as possible to where you want to start stitching again.
  2. take a back stitch into the last stitch to secure the thread and bring the needle to the front of the work ready to continue stitching.

Recommended Reading

Looking for a good book to read? If your looking for a great reference book to help you out with answers to your cross stitching questions, or maybe your just looking for a present to give that loved one who is mad about cross stitch. Then head over to our books page where we have compiled a list of great books that no serious cross stitcher should be without.

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