By Joanne Jones
Speak to most people who cross stitch and they will be the first to tell you that they love cross stitching because it is so relaxing. It also gives you a great sense of accomplishment and pride to show off your finished pieces. Best of all – it is so easy to learn.
There are two types of cross stitching – one type is called counted cross stitch (where you work from a pattern) and the other type is called stamped cross stitch (where the design has been pre-printed onto fabric). Stamped cross stitch is also called “no count cross stitch” because you do not have to count the squares on the fabric to figure out where a stitch should be placed.
Counted cross stitch transfers a design from a printed pattern onto evenweave fabric. One square in the fabric represents one square on the pattern. Each square on the pattern, which contains a symbol, represents a stitch. The different symbols on the pattern represent different colors of floss. The stitcher uses embroidery floss to place X’s on the fabric corresponding to the symbols on the pattern.
To Begin, find the center of the graph. For most patterns this is shown with arrows or a bold line. Next, find the center of your fabric. An easy way to do this is to fold the fabric in half vertically and “pinch” with your finger to make a small crease. Open the fabric, fold in half horizontally and make another “pinch”. Open the fabric up. The two creases will mark the center of the fabric. Most stitchers like to start cross stitching close to the center of the design in order to keep the design centered on the fabric. This makes it easier to frame the finished piece. Another benefit by starting at the center is that you know you will have enough material. It would be an absolute nightmare if you started on one side, only to get to the other side and find out that after all your hard work, you don’t have enough material to finish your design on.
To begin stitching, bring the threaded needle up from the back of the fabric leaving about a 1″ tail of thread behind the fabric. Stitch the next 5 or 6 stitches over the tail. Clip off extra thread. To end off, weave your needle back through the last 5 or 6 stitches and clip the thread short so as not to leave a loose tail. Do not make knots on the back of the fabric when starting or ending your stitching, as the knots will make lumps on the fabric and will not allow the piece to lie flat.
When stitching your little X’s, first work a row of half stitches (////) one way, then work backwards to complete the X’s. It is important that all the X’s are crossed in the same direction. That is, the top thread of the X should always slant in the same direction (for example, “/”). It does not matter which way they slant, but if they are mixed the finished piece will look uneven.
Remember to relax as you stitch and do not pull the thread too tight. Your stitches should lie flat on your fabric and not distort the holes or the fabric.
When your stitching is complete, wash in cool water using a mild liquid detergent. Rinse well. Do not wring, but roll in a clean towel to absorb most of the water. While still damp, place face down on a terry towel. Place another cloth on top of the needlework and press lightly with a warm iron. Let dry. Then frame or finish as desired.
To see more information on cross stitching, including free patterns and framing ideas, please visit http://www.beautifulcreations.ca
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