Starting with cross stitch as a beginner requires basic knowledge of the fundamentals that the art uses. Among the most important are knowing the types of stitches used in cross stitch as well as understanding the basics of the pattern. Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about both stitches and patterns for cross stitch.

Know your stitches

If you’ve come this far, you probably already know what a “cross stitch” itself is. The cross stitch is shaped like an “X”, that’s why it’s called a cross. There are six basic stitches used in this type of embroidery.

  • Back stitches are simple, straight stitches. If you are creating letters or outlining, this is the stitch you’ll use.
  • French knots are used mainly for decoration and detail. They can be made into just about anything.
  • Fractional stitches are advanced stitches that you’ll get into when you’re a more advanced cross stitcher. They are divisions of the basic cross stitch.
  • Half stitches are diagonal and go from one corner to the other of a square.
  • Quarter stitches are similar, but are half the size of a half stitch.
  • Three-quarter stitches are good for curved lines. It’s an excellent stitch for adding detail to a design.

How to read a pattern

Now you’ve mastered stitches, do you know how to read a pattern?

The pattern is the fundamental starting point of creating a beautiful cross stitch project. The basic of the pattern will be a note about the publisher and designer and a model to show what the project should look like when it’s done.

  • The key will give you the secret code to a pattern. The number of strands per stitch, the floss type, and the color and number that goes with it, as well as the symbols are all listed in the key.
  • Grid lines on a pattern are easy to remember. They are 10 by 10, i.e., 10 cross stitches. When you see this darker colored section, you know exactly how many stitches go there. An entire pattern is divided up into a number of grid lines.
  • Arrows on a cross stitch pattern give you the direction of the center of the design. Usually, you start stitching from this center. However, you can start anywhere you like.
  • Colors or symbols on the pattern are a way to show the color of embroidery floss the pattern uses. A black and white pattern will have symbols to show the colors. Symbols correspond to stitches too, such as blue dots that represent French knots. In a way it’s a part of the key.
  • Finally, the size of the design will be shown on the pattern, so pay close attention. Your fabric size is different, as the fabric should be larger than the actual design itself. Give yourself room, around six inches, around the design when you decide how to cut your fabric. This way you will have enough to frame it without having to cut into or damage your precious project.