Cross stitching is one of my favorite pastimes, handed down to me from my grandma to my mom and now to me. One of my most cherished possessions is a small cross stitch that my mother made me when I was a little girl. Cross stitching is a versatile hobby that also doubles as a method of relaxation or meditation. The slow repetitiveness and the problem solving of following a pattern can calm the mind and enhance feelings of calm.
If you’re just getting into cross stitching then here are a few tips and tricks that you might not have thought of. Even seasoned pros might glean a few tips from this list! If you have any tips that aren’t listed here, please send them to us or make a comment below!
1.) Wash your hands! Having clean hands is a very important part of cross stitching. You might not even realize this until your previously white fabric is suddenly a bit darker in certain spots where you’ve been holding it. Even seemingly clean hands can have a lot of oil on them, and this can build up on a project over time. Also tell friends and family not to handle projects or floss unless they have clean hands. Keep them away from young children as well.
2.) Preserve the direction of your stitches. Once you choose a direction of your stitches, you should stick with it to avoid your project looking sloppy or haphazard. Once you pick a direction don’t change it unless your project specifically calls for it.
3.) Use fingertip to forearm floss length. In order to roughly estimate the length of the floss you should be using, a great rule of thumb is to take it from your fingertips to the inside of your elbow. This ensures a rough length that isn’t too short or too long.
4.) Mind the edge! Protecting the edges of your fabric from fraying is an important first step when starting a new project. It’s amazing that fabric can really start to fray after only a few handlings. Use of a product called Fray Check is a good idea, but you can also use a zigzag stitch or even painters tape. Try a few methods and use what works for you!
5.) Practice using correct tension. Having too strong or too loose of a tension in your project can really cause the wheels to fall off. A good rule of thumb is that the threads should be flat against the fabric, but not so tight that they are actually pulling the fabric in any way. Experiment on some scrap fabric first so that you can get a feel for it before diving right into a project. This can also be helpful if you’re using a new type of floss or fabric.
6.) Dangle it! Dangling your needle and floss will reduce the amount that your floss tends to wind up and get into knots after a while. Getting into this habit can result in a much cleaner process overall. Once it’s routine it will be just that and you’ll do it without thinking.
7.) Buy all your thread for a project at once. Did you know that thread is dyed in different dye lots? That means that even if you get a specific color from a specific manufacturer it can sometimes have a slightly different hue that may or may not be that noticeable. So, buy it all at once if you can to avoid running out and getting an off color later.
8.) Hoop it. In order to avoid fabric distortion it can help to use a wooden or metal hoop in order to provide your fabric with some even force to distribute any stitching pulling.
9.) Take breaks to avoid strains. Avoid getting neck or back strains (aka cricks) by taking breaks to stretch, walk around, and get some water. Sitting in the same position can cause you to tense up and cause muscles to cramp or shorten.