Cross-stitching is a great hobby. Cross-stitching is easy to learn, requires very few supplies, and allows you to express your creativity. It has helped me improve my self-discipline, and it has been a great way to relax after a long day. You will be surprised at the cognitive benefits of this activity.

Cross-stitching has been my hobby for six years. It’s been fun and relaxing. My creativity has been enormously gratifying and it has allowed me decorate my home with art that I am personally attached to. The satisfaction I get from putting the last stitch on a piece is the same as when I snap the last piece of large jigsaw puzzle together. But instead of having to rip it apart to put it back in its box, I now have something that I can display on my wall or use as a towel or gift for family and friends.

Cross-stitching is not only creative, but it has also made me a better person mentally. Cross-stitching can teach you a lot about how little, steady efforts can make a difference. Before cross-stitching, my tendency to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of projects was a problem. My long list of tasks for the day would overwhelm me and I would end up doing nothing because it seemed impossible.

Cross-stitch projects have taught me how little progress can bring about big results. Cross-stitch projects can take up to ten minutes. I would not add more than a dozen stitches. Even those tiny amounts add up over time, and each day I was closer to finishing.

Science behind Needlecrafts

Science also confirms what many people know: leisure activities can improve mood, daily health, and well-being. His research on creativity and “flow” (the feeling that you have when you are so involved in an activity that your sense of time is lost), led psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly to believe it was a “secret to happiness.” Victoria Schindler, an occupational therapist, compared “flow” to meditation. They both found similar benefits.

Cross-stitch can be done in a couple of minutes or a lot. Once you have mastered the basics of cross-stitch, you can easily create any type of image that you desire. Even ones that are based on photos or drawings. Your imagination is the only limit.

How to Get Started

Two towels with the Rebel and Imperial symbols from Star Wars cross-stitched by the author.

Before I start, I want you to know that although I will keep this article focused on cross stitch for clarity, all of what I have to say applies equally to needlepoint, which is a very similar craft. Cross-stitch tends to be done on a flexible fabric, with each stitch being in an X shape. Needlepoint stitches, on the other hand, are usually made on a firmer canvas and are either a half-X or / shape.

While some people have strong preferences for one, others prefer the other. It doesn’t take much skill to learn either one, so I recommend trying them both at least once.

How to Choose a Kit

A cross stitch pattern maker kit is a great way to start if you are new to needlecraft. An excellent beginner’s kit will contain everything you need to complete the task: an embroidery machine, an embroidery needle, embroidery floss (the color of the design), instructions on how to create the stitch, and instructions on how to use the canvas or fabric to stitch it on. The embroidery hoop may not be included in more advanced kits or those that are less expensive. However, hoops can be bought online or at any craft shop.

The more colors in a design, generally speaking, the simpler it is to complete. A subset of cross-stitching is done in only red, called Redwork. It is based upon a style that was popular in late 19th century and early 20th century embroidery. Don’t let this discourage you from starting with this style. A majority of beginners can work with more than a dozen colors for their first piece.

The number of colors is not the only thing you should consider when selecting a kit. Also, it’s important to count the total number and size of the stitches. Cross-stitches that have more stitches will take longer to complete, as you might expect. However, they are not always more challenging.

If the kit doesn’t indicate, you can judge the difficulty by looking at the frequency with which the design changes colors. Design that has large areas of one color is easier to stitch and more efficient than designs that have multiple colors.

If this is your first project, you should stick to a smaller project using only a few colours. It will be easier to track your progress and develop a habit of following the pattern. Your confidence level after the first project can help you adjust the difficulty of your second project.

Cross-stitching has been a pleasure for me, thanks to Riolis. Cross-stitch kits are available for children and beginners. These kits require you to purchase an individual embroidery hoop, but the hoops can be used for any cross-stitch project.

Dimensions, another popular brand of free cross stitch pattern maker, has great kits for beginners. Many kits come with an embroidery hoop. The Cute Kit and Playful Penguin kits are easy to use and very quick to complete. They cost less than $3, making them a great choice to get your feet wet. You can also choose from many other simple and small designs. Browse to find your perfect design.


In progress cross-stitch (left) compared to the pattern grid (right). Each square on the grid corresponds to a single X of the cross-stitch.

After you have purchased your cross-stitch kit, and an embroidery hoop if it wasn’t already included, it’s time for you to get started stitching. You will find instructions on most kits that explain how to make a stitch. However, you can also look at YouTube videos and online tutorials for more information.

Finding the center of your canvas is the first step to creating a design. Cross-stitches are usually done by moving from the center outward. Some kits mark the canvas’ center with an X, while others don’t. If your canvas’ center is not marked, you may fold it in half lengthwise, then widthwise, to locate the center. Then, temporarily thread a piece of thread through the middle.

The canvas should be placed in the embroidery hoop. There are many fastening options for embroidery hoops, but I prefer those with both a metal inner band and a plastic outer band. You can squeeze the metal band open to slide the canvas across it, and then tighten it once you have released it.

Find the center of your design and find out what color it is. This is the color that you will use to start your design and the first part you will work on. By starting from the center, your design will not be out of place when it is complete.

Cross-stitch stitches can be done from left to right and from top to bottom. Make a grid and count the number of stitches in each section. Then, make half-cross-stitches. (Think of it like making an /, rather than an X). After you have made the correct number of stitches, move in the opposite direction and complete the X. (See the above image for a more detailed view of an in-progress row).

Another thing to keep in mind is not to “split” your canvas while you are stitching. That is, don’t pass your thread between the weave and the canvas. As you can see, there are clear holes for your needle in cross-stitch canvas. You should not force your needle through thicker pieces of cloth. Otherwise, your stitches will be unevenly-sized and leave gaps.

Last, avoid making knots in your work while you stitch. Instead, you should hold your thread’s end down and then work the stitches so that the thread is tucked in. s. s on the back and cut off the excess.

Common Pitfalls and Problems

Cross-stitching is most difficult when you choose a pattern that is too complex for you. You’ll feel stressed and less relaxed when you complete the design if this happens. If you spend too much time looking at your pattern trying to figure out the correct placement of stitches, you will likely make a lot more mistakes. This was what happened to me as a beginner when I tried to make a kit that had more than 40 colors. It was beyond my ability level so I put it aside while I learned more about easier kits.

You don’t need to give up on your project if you start with a beginners kit. There are still some obstacles you may face.

Two of the most common obstacles are placing stitches in the wrong spot on your pattern, or using incorrect colored floss.

While it is obvious that you should avoid placing a stitch in an incorrect place, there are some tricks that can help.

First, count the number of stitches in each row. Many patterns are drawn on grids with darker lines at every five to ten stitches. This makes it easier for you to see how long each section is. Even though the section I am filling is already surrounded by stitches, I still count my stitch to ensure everything matches up.

The second thing to do is compare the position of your first stitch with two points on the pattern that are close, but not related, when you start a new section. Before I begin, I always try to locate one group of stitches that is to the left or right or the bottom of the stitches that I am about to make. Then I make sure that both the new and existing stitches line up correctly with each other. This will ensure that any mistake you make earlier won’t affect your stitches.

There are two options if you make a mistake or put a stitch in an incorrect place. It is best to remove the stitch and place it in the correct place. Although it is not difficult, it can feel frustrating.

Sometimes, you might not notice a mistake until later. The amount of work required to correct it could be too much. You might be better to just leave the mistake and continue to work around the area according to the grid.

There is no set time when something should be taken out or when it should be left. It all depends on your personal preference. The general rule is that a larger design will make it less likely to notice one or two stitches out of place. The less obvious a wrong stitch is, the closer it is to the correct one. It is much easier to miss a light-colored stitch in a place where it is supposed to be than to overlook one that is bright orange.

You can avoid using the wrong color by double-checking the symbols on your patterns. Even if you are certain you understand what they mean, the instructions are often printed in black and white with codes for the colors. You can organize your colors by using plastic bags marked with the color symbol. This organization level is most useful when you have a lot of colors in your kit. You don’t have to bag your colors if they are easily identifiable. However, it is worth paying attention to the symbols.

Next Steps

Once you have completed a beginner’s guide, you will be able to expand your creative abilities for your next project. You might consider purchasing larger or more complex kits. You can buy larger and more complicated kits that include many colors. Some kits require you to “tweed” two colors together. This means you must mix threads from two different yarns to create a new color.

However, I warn against jumping too soon. After completing a few small projects, I was ready to move on. I purchased a needlepoint kit based on Claude Monet’s Japanese Bridge painting. There were over 40 colors in the kit, as well as many tweeds. It was too difficult for me at the time, and I gave up after only doing a small part of the project.

It was almost halfway through when I came back to it a few month ago. If you find that the purchase was beyond your ability, don’t be afraid of putting it down for a while so you can work on simpler patterns. It’s okay to push yourself, but hobbies should be fun and not chores.

Making Your Own Designs

Cross-stitch is basically coloring in one pixel of a photo. It’s possible to turn any photograph into a cross stitch design. If you are tired of cartoon animals and landscapes, and you want to immortalize your family or pets as cross-stitch designs, all you need is a photo of it.

My first attempt at making patterns was in Photoshop. It was tedious and time-consuming. I then had to go to the shop to pick the colors that best matched my pattern. is a great free resource online. It automatically converts any image you upload into cross-stitch patterns.

Once you have uploaded the image, you will be taken to a new menu where you can customize the pattern. You should pay attention to the width and number of colors.

The clearer your image will appear, the more stitches you add to the width. This is similar to a computer image. You will create a larger design because cross-stitch canvas are standardised at 14 stitches per in. This is important to remember before you create a 3-foot-wide project.

It is important to decide how many colors you want for the pattern. More colors will result in a greater level of difficulty, as we have already mentioned. However, more colors can lead to more difficulty.

Cross-stitch requires an advanced pattern and many colors to create photo-realism. To limit the color range, you might want to use a stylized image. Two of my earliest cross-stitch designs were inspired by Star Wars’ imperial and rebel symbols. Each design only used one color of embroidery floss.

Later I created a more detailed image for Lt. Uhura of Star Trek. However, I kept the design to 8 colors. This made it easy and still had the amount of detail I desired. Because the overall image was large, it allowed for her face to match well without looking too pixelated. I was able to make the most important details stand out by using only a few colors of shading.

Pixel-stitch allows you to experiment with the width and number of colors in order to create many patterns until you find the perfect balance between difficulty and size.

Pixel-stitch’s best feature is its ability to generate your pattern and then create a list of specific skeins of embroidery thread you will need. It estimates are based upon cross-stitches. If you choose to make a needlepoint, the numbers may not be as accurate. You don’t have to go back to the shop if you need more.


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