Basic Techniques
At Netstitch cross stitch designs we like to encourage new stitchers to the craft and so we have included an explanation of the basic techniques of cross stitching.

If you click on the item you want to know about, you will be taken to the explanation of the technique

Library of Stitches Aida "Count"? No of Strands? Stitches to Inches Inches to Stitches Hoops and Frames Basic Techniques Instructions DMC to Anchor Waste Canvas Stitching Paper Hints and Tips
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French Knots Beads Metallic Thread Even Weave
Back Stitch Plastic Canvas Needles Following Charts

Starting Off

When stitching with two strands, pull each strand separately from the skein and allow each one to unwind completely, before combining them together for threading.  Here are details of two different ways to start of your stitching:

Waste Knot:   

Tie a knot at the bottom of your thread.  With the knot on the front side of your aida, pass the needle through the aida a few stitches away from where you want to start your first cross stitch.  Start your cross stitches, working your way towards the knot.  Once the thread is secure, you can snip the knot away.


Loop Knot:   

Using only one strand, fold the thread in half and thread the loose ends into the eye of your needle.  From the back of the aida, pass the needle through in the exact place you want to start your first cross stitch.  Once the needle is through to the front of the aida, pass it back through at your next point, to create your first half of the cross stitch, at this point take the needle through the loop at the back of your work to secure it.

I prefer to use the loop knot, but try both and see which you prefer.  To finish off, weave the needle in and out of the threads on the back of the aida, trimming the ends off neatly.

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Plastic Canvas

Plastic canvas is just like aida in that, it has 14 holes to every inch.  You will find, however, that it is more rigid than aida.  It comes in sheets, so you will be required to cut around your designs.  When starting to stitch you will need to start with a waste knot.  Make a knot in your thread and place the needle through the plastic canvas just a few holes away from where you really need to start your stitching.  Work your stitches back along the row towards your knot.  As you progress with your stitching, you will eventually work over the thread.  At this point you can snip off the knot.  Once your design is complete, cut carefully around the outside of your design.

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Basic Cross Stitch

Cross stitch is a very simple stitch, but very effective.  It's made up of two diagonal stitches, laying on top of one another.  Bring your needle up through the aida in the bottom right hand hole of the square where you want your stitch, then, down through the top left corner, this makes the first diagonal stitch.  Now come up through the bottom left and down at the top right, to complete the whole cross stitch.  To complete a row of cross stitches, complete the first diagonal stitches, (bottom right to top left) all the way along, then come back along the line, working the second diagonal of the stitch (bottom left to top right) to complete the row.  I prefer to work with this method, however, I do know some people that prefer to work each stitch separately, its up to you.  Just remember to keep work the top stitch in the same direction, otherwise your stitching will look very uneven.

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Half Stitch

Half stitch is very simply half a cross stitch.  However you must do the half stitch in the same direction that your top cross stitch lies.

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Fractional Stitch

Fractional stitches are represented on a chart with a smaller version of a symbol, in the corner of the square.  You should stitch the fractional stitch in that position. i.e. top left or bottom right/vice versa.  You first work the half part of the stitch.  You then stitch the quarter part of the stitch by bringing your needle up through the corner hole of the aida and pushing it down through the centre of the square.  You can use a sharp needle, to split the threads of the aida.  If you have two symbols sharing the same square, one is to be the three quarter stitch the other is to be a quarter stitch.  You always stitch the three quarter stitch in the colour that is to be in the foreground.

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Backstitch is a continuous line that is used for detailing your work.  Always add your backstitch, after you have finished all of your stitching.  Bring your needle up through to the front of the aida and back down through, a stitch length behind the first point.  Bring the needle back up through the aida, one stitch length ahead of the first point.  Work the backstitch over the same number of threads as the cross stitch to form the outline.  You will be amazed at how effective this simple stitch works, for giving definition to your work.

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French Knots

Pull your needle up through to the front of the aida.  As the thread comes up through the aida, hold the thread firmly between your left thumb and forefinger.  With the needle in your right hand, place it behind the thread.  Wrap the thread around the needle twice and just next to the hole the thread came up from start to push the needle back through the aida.  You may find this bit a bit tricky as you will need to separate the weave of the aida.  Slide the twisted thread down the needle so that the knots sits on the aida, slowly pulling the needle and thread gently through the aida.  When your needle and thread are completely pulled through, you will have a perfect French knot.

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A lot of my friends and family are scared of stitching on evenweave, however, I find it quiet simple and a lot easier if doing fractional stitches as you don't need to pierce the fabric.  In evenweave each whole cross stitch is stitched over two threads, missing out a hole in each direction.  Evenweave is a softer fabric and stretches more easily, this has its pros and cons.  The positive side is that it is a lot easier when it comes to framing your picture, however the down side is whilst you are stitching it is easy to stretch the fabric.  Be careful when stretching your fabric on your hoop.

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A tapestry needle is best for working on aida or evenweave.  A tapestry needle has a blunt end, which means it will not create more holes in your fabric.  It also features  a large eye, making it perfect for threading your stranded cotton.  There are different sizes of tapestry needles, as a general rule size 24 and 26 are used for cross stitch.  Size 24 is used for 14HPI aida and size 26 is used for higher counts like 16HPI ,18HPI and evenweave.  I usually have both sizes in my workbox, so that I'm always prepared.

A beading needle is used when stitching with beads.  They are longer and more flexible then the tapestry needle.  The eye of the needle is smaller, allowing the bead to pass over the needle with ease.  They come in different sizes, size 10 is the thickest and size 16 is the thinnest. 

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Following Charts

Every design will have a chart detailing which colour to stitch where, and each symbol on the chart represents one stitch.  There will also be a symbol chart, detailing which symbol relates to which colour of thread.  Starting from the centre of the chart and the centre of the aida, work outwards.  To make it easier to keep track of where you are up to, try pencilling out the relevant symbol as you stitch it.

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Metallic Thread

With metallic thread, the best technique is to use shorter lengths than normal.  If the thread is too long, all that happens is that the thread gets worn, and starts to fray.  Try using a larger needle, as this will open the holes of the aida a little wider, so that the metallic thread runs more smoothly through the holes.  As with stranded cotton, always separate each strand separately before threading them into your needle.  Let your needle hang from time to time whilst stitching, this allows the twists to unravel and prevents any knots.  And last of all, slow down, stitching more slowly with metallics prevents knots and tangles.

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Beading is actually easier than it looks.  One bead represents one square of aida.  It is recommended that you use a beading needle, which you can buy from any good needlecraft shop.  Start with a loop knot and pass the needle through to the front of the fabric, where you require the bead to lie.  Thread the bead onto the needle and complete the half cross stitch.  As long as your tension is taut, your beading will only require one half cross stitch, to keep it secure.  To wash your finished design, do so with care and in warm soapy water, rinse, and allow to dry on a flat surface.  Iron face down in a fluffy towel.


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