Materials for Cross Stitch:
Evenweave Fabric: Fabric woven with equal numbers of threads in the vertical and horizontal weave.
Thread: Embroidery floss, a 6-ply cotton thread. DMC and Bates-Anchor are two common brands of floss.
Needle: Tapestry needle, with blunt point, to avoid snags.
Hoop: An accessory especially helpful to control tension of the stitches.
Scissors: Embroidery scissors usually have sharp points and flawless blades for small scale work.
How to Use a Charted Needlework Pattern:
Counted cross stitch is charted on graph paper. Each square corresponds to intersections of evenweave fabric. The symbols on the graphed pattern indicates one stitch.
Symbols or shaded portions of the pattern indicate the thread color that corresponds to a color key that accompanies the pattern. Heavy lines on a pattern usually indicate where back stitches or straight stitches should go for outlining.
The vertical and horizontal centers of a design are indicated by an arrow or point at the edges of a pattern. Many times a stitch count is given for the design by width and height. It's best to extend the center point across the design for a reference.
The finished size of the pattern is determined by the thread count of the fabric used. A high thread count fabric will be smaller than the same graph worked on fabric with a lower thread count. An example is a design worked on 22ct fabric will be smaller than one on 14ct fabric.
Many patterns give a chart that shows the finished size when different thread counts are used. Determine what size you'd like your finished picture to be, then choose the fabric count for that size. Always have at least a two inch allowance on each side of your fabric. Also, stitch around or place tape on the edges of your fabric to prevent raveling.
How to Cross Stitch on Evenweave Fabric:
Fold your fabric in half both horizontally and vertically, crease it slightly with your fingers. This will give you the center points to match with the pattern. You can even carefully baste both these center lines for reference.
Threading a needle can sometimes be difficult. One trick is to bend about an inch of thread around the needle. Pinch the loop tightly while taking it off the needle. This flattened loop is much easier the push through the eye of the needle without the frayed ends. If you have a needle threader to use, that's good too.
You may be inclined to start your design in the upper left corner, but it's easier to begin stitching at the center point of the pattern since it's an easy reference. Once these areas are established it's easier to determine the other lines of the pattern.
To keep from having bumps in your worked designs from knots use the "waste knot" method. This starts by putting a knot in the end of your thread, then place the knot on the front of the fabric about two inches to the right of the starting point. As you work, you will secure the tail with five or more stitches, then the knot can be cut off.
The cross stitch is composed of two diagonal stitches crossing to form an X. Starting at the left side of a line of stitching you bring the needle up from the lower left corner to the upper right corner. Along the same row, returning, start at the lower right to the upper left. Holes of the stitches are shared. The back of the fabric should appear as short vertical stitches.
When using several colors, the easiest method is to complete one section of each color at a time, then move on to another color. This helps with reference points for other areas.
To end your stitching, carefully weave the remaining thread under the backs of several stitches.
Common Counted Cross Stitch Stitches:
Back Stitch: Used for design emphasis or detailing. The stitches are worked in a 'two steps forward, one step back' fashion, along the line to be filled. The needle in the simplest backstitch comes up from the back of the fabric, makes a stitch to the right going back to the back of the fabric, then passes behind the first stitch and comes up to the front of the fabric to the left of the first stitch. The needle then goes back to the back of the fabric through the same hole the stitch first came up from. The needle then repeats the movement to the left of the stitches and continues.
Straight Stitches: These stitches are also used for line emphasis and detailing. Straight stitches pass through the fabric in a simple up and down motion, and for the most part move in a single direction.
French Knot: These stitches can add texture to the design. The French Knot stitch is formed by wrapping the thread around the needle, once or several times, then passing it back to the back of the fabric.
Gently wash your finished item in cold water with a very mild detergent and rinse it well. Roll it loosely in a towel and never wring it dry. Press the finished piece face down on a towel. You can do this when it is damp or dry. Do not push on your iron too firmly, doing so will mash down your stitches. This step will restore the crispness to the fabric and even out the stitches.