Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cross Stitching 101

This post is going to be geared toward my non-stitching audience. I am going to attempt to explain a few things about cross stitching before I dive into a full fledged cross stitching tutorial. Many of the things I'm going to try to explain are things I've learned along the way by either reading or asking. I am by no means an expert. I can do the fairly simple stitches so no worries about me getting into too much depth. I just want to show you a few things to keep in mind before I actually show you the method I use to cross stitch. Getting started in cross stitching is relatively cheap and is very rewarding. Many people think it is difficult, but once you've tried it you'll find it's quite relaxing and pretty simple. If you can count you can cross stitch. Now if this means you have to pull your shoes off to help count then so be it. LOL.

First things first. Fabric or cloth. There are many types of cloth available to stitch on. There is aida cloth, evenweave, linen, osnaburg, so on and so forth. I'm just going to touch on a few. Each of the above cloths have different thread counts. WHOA... Mary... Thread counts are how many squares or cross stitches you have in an inch. (That applies to US I'm not sure how Canadians measure maybe cm.)

For example... this is aida cloth or sometimes known as evenweave. It comes in 6,8,10,12,14, and 18 counts. This means the warp and weft threads are exactly the same and your cross stitch will be even know matter which way you stitch. This is where it gets semi confusing. The higher the number the finer the weave. This means an 18 count X's will be smaller than say a 6 count because you will have 18 X's in one inch as compared to 6 in one inch. Starting out I recommend using a 14 count aida cloth because of the squares. If you look at the lower right corner you can see what I mean. This shows you where you need to put your needle through. As you can see it comes in all sorts of colors. After you stitch a few projects and get more comfortable you can progress to finer weaves. I looked recently and you can find this type of cloth at Jo-Anne's and Pat Catans for sure. I personally like either white because you can coffee stain it or the beige which is already a tan color.

This is a 2 over 2 count. I won't get into that until another day. I just wanted to show you how even the stitches are.

I also came across a pattern that called for Fiddler cloth. Not knowing what that was I turned to my Facebook friends and this is what she explained to me. This is basically like aida cloth except for it is a brown color with strands of other browns woven through it. It's actually really nice to stitch on and it gives your stitchery a more authentic appearance.

How about linen? You all remember the linen suits we all had and hated to iron because the wrinkles never came out. LOL. Many stitchers prefer using this because the X's are much smaller and replicates stitcheries done in years past. Also because the threads are not the same size your X's are not always the same size. The threads are a little more difficult to count also. I myself have yet to use it, but I actually have some I've bought at antique or thrift stores for the sole purpose of stitching... eventually. lol.Linen has a very high thread count and is normally a "2 over 2" and some people will only use one strand of thread. Again, very hard on the eyes.

Lastly, I have tried stitching on osnaburg fabric. You know the fabric a lot of us crafters have in our stash. It coffee stains great. Yes, it is very difficult as you can imagine and you need hawk's eyes to do it. HOWEVER, the end product is awesome. I would say if you can't afford linen this is the next best thing. Again until you have stitched a few projects I don't recommend jumping in with this fabric. Again you can find it at Jo-Anne's relatively cheap.

Ok so what's the difference. Any pattern can be stitched on any cloth. Just keep in mind if the pattern is using 14 count aida it will be larger than if the same pattern was stitched on linen. Linen has a much higher thread count. So if the pattern says if stitched on 14 count it will fit a 5X7 frame that if you stitch it on linen it may only be 3X5 for instance because your stitches will be much smaller. Clear as mud? LOL.

OK let's not dwell because your head will be spinning here soon. LOL. The next part of stitching is thread. Back in the day many old stitcheries were done with silk thread. I, myself, have never used silk. I am assuming you can purchase it at specialty shops. I am in no way being paid or endorsing anyone in particular, but I like to use DMC cotton embroidery floss. For one it is relatively cheap. Jo-Anne's carries it around here at $.39 a hank. And if you live near a Pat Catan's in Ohio it's $.02 cheaper. A hank is like a skein. Anyway, your color choices are endless and like I say easy to find. In my patterns I am working on I will only use cotton DMC #s. For the most part, unless otherwise stated, on a pattern you will cross stitch with 2 strands at a time not more than 18 inches long according to some people. It is up to you how much you can work with. The longer the floss the more likely it will knot up. I'm just saying... lol

Now how about needles? If you have a simple needle at home that will work just fine. Just remember how tiny the eye is to get two pieces of floss through. I recently have decided I like using a tapestry needle after I got one with a kit I bought. Basically, the tapestry needle has a bigger eye for my horrible eyes to thread. The end is blunt not pointy. Less risk of pricking myself. The choice is yours. Tapestry needles come in different sizes and can be bought as a set of different sizes. Again you can find them at Wal-mart or Jo-Anne's. Give both of them a try and see what suits you.

Lastly, this is not a have to. I prefer to use a hoop. It is much easier to keep your fabric taught while you are stitching. It makes it easier to go front to back when you you stitch. I have a few metal ones from my mom from a long time ago. If these are left on too long sometimes they will rust on your fabric. Yes I learned this the hard way. I also am lucky enough to have found some really cheap wood ones at the thrift store. I am using wood more because I can adjust the tension. You don't want your cloth held to tight or it will stretch and skew it a little. Also, when you are done stitching for the day or evening take the hoop off. Again, it'll help the cloth keep its shape. FYI aida cloth is rather stiff starting off so you may see the shape of the hoop when you pull it off.

Now, on to patterns. I found this flower pattern online so I could demonstrate a few things. My little pattern charting thing is a fiasco for the time being so I must use one online. LOL.

I know what you are thinking. "Shut the front door!" Are you crazy Mary? This is a modge podge of a foreign language. LOL. I just want you to enlarge the picture and see that there are different symbols used in this pattern. Each symbol would be a specified color on the color key. None of my patterns will be this bad I promise. LOL. Sometimes patterns will be in color too. If you see a blue square the color key will tell you which color blue to use. More on this later when I do the actual tutorial.

There you have it the beginning of Cross Stitch 101. As soon as I figure out this stupid charting program I will get my free chart together so we can all work together on a project. Oh and I have enlisted the help of one of my fellow stitching blogger friends Kriss from Kountry Porch Primitives to assist me. That way I can show my lefty friends how I cross stitch and Kriss can show the righties her secrets. Always thinking about all of you. :) So, give us a few days and we'll pull this together for you.
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*Kountry*Porch*Primitives* said...

Nice job Mary!! Wish I could be there to help you get that program working good for you....anxious to do my part for this too ~Kriss~

renee said...

Mary! Sweet Mary! Thank you for doing this! I am hoping to learn!
I have most of these items already~ I can stitch, but I am used to doing primitive samplers~you know like crows or angels?
So~ would 2 over 2 be two strands of floss going over each other like the cross? I will have to look at my stashes of stuff~ I have accumulated from thrifts! My eyes aren't that great, I need glasses for the small stuff, so I may stick with the 14.
Once again, I am SO appreciative for you doing this!
Have a great day!

Judy said...

Thanks, Mary! It has been a LONG time ago since I least 20 years ago. I have been wanting to start again but I don;t know if my eyes will let me. I sure hope so cuz you ladies produce some awesome stitcheries. I definitely need a refresher!