We must go nap, so you get the female tonight, and she is going to teach you how to be a stitch-bitch! Someone on facebook requested to be taught how to cross-stitch so they can join a cross-stitch project.
If you are already a stitch-bitch, you can get this kit to play. It contains needles, some hoops, and 100 different colors of floss. This challenge involves using that kit to cross-stitch a SPACE WOLF. You can purchase the pattern for the Space Wolf here.
Beginner stitch-bitches can grab this kit. As long as you are really careful with where you start the pattern, the included cloth IS large enough for the project. However, you can also purchase better cloth if you’d like. I’m using 18×15 fiddler’s cloth in 16 count for this. Beginners should use 14 count, truth be told. It’s MUCH easier to see the holes on 14 count. I’d probably get this for the project: it’s large enough you’ll have enough space even if you flip it the wrong way, and it’s affordable. And it has two pieces.
This is my favorite stitch calculator, which tells me what size of cloth I need for what the stitch count is. It’s a sanity savior.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, time to learn how to be a stitch-bitch!
This is meant to be for absolute raw beginners, who have no idea how to make the pretty x shapes appear on cloth. So, there will be a lot of hand holding, explaining, and more explaining. Let’s start this show with some photographs of the supplies.
First up, you need a pattern. This is a very small section of the pattern being used in this challenge. It’s basically a bunch of symbols, letters, or colored squares, that guide you in how to create the piece of art you’re working on.
Patterns are wonderful things. This is a ‘counted’ cross-stitch, as you must count how many stitches you’re doing as you’re creating your piece of art. You can see where I have crossed off stitches I have completed.
Next up is the legend, making sense of the symbols!
For today’s experiment, I’ll be stitching where it says “825”, except I am using 3760, as that’s the closest color I have to what’s in the kit. I will also be using a second ‘close enough’ color to this because I only have one skein of each. I’m making this up as I go. WHEE. (Worse case, I will order matching flosses of the colors I’m short of, matched to what’s in the kit.)
Okay, next up is the needle. I really like the Caydo needles because they’re blunt tipped. It’s MUCH harder to make yourself bleed when stitching with them. The DMC will pierce through your flesh and let you stitch patterns onto yourself if you let them. So, Caydo makes my needles of choice… and they only come in these kits. Go figure. Yes, that’s why I started this challenge.
I needed a kit to get the needles, wanted to use the floss. And so it goes. And yes, the thread we’re using is called floss.
While these needles give a really large eye to work with, I use a threader, because I’m way too busy to lose ten minutes of my life trying to thread a needle when I can spend five seconds instead.
But before we can thread the needle, we must prepare the floss. Most floss comes as a twirled thread of six strands. (These strands are made of additional strands, but we don’t split them beyond the sets of six as a general rule.) On the pattern above, you will see where it says ‘2’ on just about everything. That indicates that it is a two strand pattern, and you’ll be stitching with two strands.
We’re not actually stitching with two strands the way I do it… in the way you think. But first, let’s rescue our first strand!
As you can see, the strands are splitting. I’m going to cruelly isolate one so I can pull it out of the floss.
I have selected my victim.
I have now pinched all the threads after pulling my victim out a wee bit. This is important. The idea of pinching is so the rest of the threads stay put while I retrieve my victim. Poor thread, all afraid of what’s coming next. For good reason. We’re going on a STABBITY ADVENTURE.
When you do it right, this is what happens. You get this crumpled mess of threads. (This is SUPER easy to ‘untangle.’ It’s not tangled. It’s just coiled nicely. To uncoil it, you just grab the lower part, pinch it, and pull your hands apart gently. Once you start pulling/smoothing, you’ll figure it out. Promise. It’ll straighten right out. Just cut off the victim before you do this, or you just practiced and have no thread to work with. Wrap the long thread around the label so you know what color it is for later, like this.
See that flower thing on the cloth? That’s my threader. I have about a hundred of these in a variety of colors. I MUST NEVER RUN OUT.
Love your threader.
Shove the threader through the eye of your needle, like so.
Put a wee bit of that floss through the threader.
Pull the threader back through the eye. It will take the thread with it. This is good. This is the way.
Hooray!! We have a threaded needle. Now, take the ends, put them together, and put the needle on the other side, like so.
We now have a two strand thread ready for cross-stitching! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!! (This is my favorite part. I LOVE when I get to start with fresh floss. LOVE IT.
Okay, so, this isn’t precisely how I do this, but I’m going to show the concept of how to ‘trap’ your tail (the part of the thread that’s NOT being used to make stitches) when you start stitching. Trapping your tail when you start stitches will make your life SO much easier. If you don’t trap your tail, you might be stitching… and then suddenly… your project is no longer stitched because you pulled too hard. Oops.
Step 1: identify where you are starting your stitch. To start a stitch, you go from the BACK to the FRONT. So the pointy bit comes out at the front of the project. As you see, I have the tail really close to where I will be stitching.
Step 2: pin the tail.
Just pinch where the tail is to hold it in place, and push your needle through the fabric. Then keep pulling until you’re applying pressure to the tail. You do NOT want to pull the tail through.
Pull your needle through gently, as you get closer to through, it’ll look a little like this.
And this is your tail, pinned into place with the rest of your floss on the front side of your project.
It’s called cross stitch because you make crosses (x) as your primary stitch. So, when you are starting a chain of stitches, your plan is to make a bunch of x shapes in the appropriate colors. So, you’re working in diagonals often. Insert your needle into the nearest diagonal hole and STABBITY.
Please forgive my somewhat dirty nail. I had been fussing with my plants as part of my desk reorganization earlier today. Sorry about that. Anyway, you have the first diagonal portion of your stitch. To teach the basic premise, we’re going to complete this x.
In the above picture, I have moved my tail to be to the right of my current stitch, as I will be stitching from the left to the right. This is important. You need to trap your tail under your next stitch.
To show you what needs to happen, you can see that the tail is between the stitch and the needle. I am forming a loop over the tail. I am also moving one hole over from where I started. This will form a stitch that looks like this: |
I have pinned the tail, and I’m pulling the loop over the tail via tugging on the floss on the front side of the project.
I have now trapped my tail. I no longer need to pin it to continue stitching. HOWEVER, I strongly recommend you ‘catch’ the tail in your loop for the next four stitches before you snip off the excess tail.
Now, back to the front. As you can see, I am now on the upper x of the stitch.
In the picture above, I have stabbed the needle through the whole on the other end of the diagonal. Pull it through to form your first completed x.
Congrats! You’ve made your first stitch!
Now what? Well… we need to move on to the next x in your pattern. In this case, you will be forming an x on the back of the pattern. (Hint: I’m about to switch things up on you, but don’t worry… this will majorly simplify things for you.)
Below is the back side with your secured tail.
On the front side, you will see that your thread is starting on the top, and I’m making a new diagonal.
Like the first stitch, I am making an | shape, and I am trapping my tail again.
Here is where we deviate, however. Instead of finishing the x, we are moving to the next stitch. This is where the ‘counting’ portion of our adventure begins. Let’s say the pattern has six stitches of the same icon. You would make 6 of these \ stitches. You have established where your stitches will go.
So, at this point, we’re going to repeat the same stitch a few more times.
As you can see, I’m catching the tail every time I come back and make my | stitch on the back of the project. Nice, neat, and tidy.
Once you have enough \ stitches, all you do is change directions and resume stitching, going from the right to the left to close off all the stitches. When you’re done, you have a row of xxxxx!
You will take your scissors and very carefully cut off the tail at this point. You don’t need it anymore. Bye-bye, tail!
Now, onto working a live project.
If you look very carefully, there is a half-finished stitch on the bottom most row, to the left. In the image below, I am inserting my needle in the upper right corner hole of the cross I wish to complete.
Once I have pulled the floss through, I then complete the cross by placing my needle in the appropriate hole. (Seriously, this only LOOKS hard; once you start doing the stitches yourself, you will see the dots form nice neat little squares, with a hole in each corner, allowing you to easily make the x shape cross-stitch uses.
Pull through, and the stitch is done and ready to go! I will then put the needle point in the upper left hole of the square I’m working with to start my next row or next stitch.
The key to doing this correctly is to remember a few things.
1: Always work stitches the same exact way. If you start from upper left and go to lower right, always do either upper left for the start of your stitch OR the lower right. (You just want that portion of the stitch on the bottom consistency.) HOWEVER, if you’re trying to add texture, you can do so just by changing which part of the stitch is on top.
2: Always catch your tails. It makes your backs look nice and pretty. A nice, pretty back is MUCH easier to work with.
3: Snip your tails! As you can see here, I’m removing excess tail floss so it doesn’t make viewing the back harder.
Mark off your stitches every time you are finished a small section, else you will seriously regret it.
When you are going directly down a row, so you can’t use the upper left, go to the lower right hole, stitch up to upper left, and then form a – on your pattern to get to the start of the next stitch. This will save your sanity.
You can also use a – stitch on the back to skip a stitch to proceed on a pattern where you must work in a diagonal.
So, one last thing.
If you ‘jump’ a bunch of stitches, as seen in the image below, ‘catch your tail’ to contain these long, ‘messy’ strands. When you’re done, you’ll end up with a lot of pretty | with background – stitches, with a bonus of making sure those stitches are extra secured.
Last but not least… to secure your final stitches, simply put your needle under a chain of the | stitches you have done on the back, pull it through, and snip your tail on the other side.
As a result, your project will look a little like this on the back once you’re further into it:
Happy arting, stitch-bitches! Ask questions in the comments, and I’ll answer to the best of my ability.
The Sneaky Kitty Critic
The link for the space wolf somehow got dropped. Here it is: https://www.etsy.com/listing/529840240/space-wolf-cross-stitch-pattern-digital
Where were you when I was trying to teach myself counted cross-stich! You make it seam so easy. Now I want to go out and do one. I have tons of patterns but not the energy. LOL.
The Sneaky Kitty Critic
I find it to be an easy enough, soothing craft! But I tend to limit my counting to groups of 10 lolol
Very nice. I have done cross-stitch, but currently doing more hand embroidery. Easier to work on during conference calls – have a nice rocket ship on a zipped pouch now (but what to use it for…), doing some ‘crazy quilt’ type stitch variations on pouches for gifts this year. Coloring book images make fun free form embroidery patterns – may have to try some of your designs at some point :).
The Sneaky Kitty Critic
I’d love to see pictures should you do that!
1. Absolutely awesome literal step by step pictures. Super helpful for the beginner. Very well done.
2. I’m supposed to actual calculate how much fabric I need? That’s a thing? Wow! I had no idea that existed.
3. And hoops?! I gave those up decades ago (yes literally – I’m a dinosaur). Although I do have a square frame I (occasionally, well, rarely use). After I developed a small level of ability I didn’t like how the hoops stretched my project. But that is ABSOLUTELY a personal call. Each of us develop our own choices in how to do our projects. I’m obsessive about how neat the BACK of my projects look. If the front is stitch perfect but the back looks like a garbage dump – in the trash it goes.
Again those were really really great pictures to help someone learn. And the nicest part? It doesn’t matter if you are a lefty or a righty. Those pictures will help you. So if you are a newby, DIVE IN!
The Sneaky Kitty Critic
If your hoop is stretching your project, the tension you put the project in the hoop is too tight, so you’d need to use a looser tension when on the hoop!
But yes, calculating how much fabric you need is REALLY helpful, because nothing sucks quite as much as running out of cloth and not being done the project!
But yes, I really need a tidy back, because I have to look for the holes visually. I can’t see them if the back is a disaster.
I’m glad you like the guide. :3
Whew, that’s a lot! The old latch hook kits are about my speed. 🙂
Thanks so much for the link to the pattern lady! Bought the Horse and Ice Dragon. Yay!
On a side note, I wanted to say thank you for never being afraid of including main characters that had truly dreadful families. Showing that even that can be overcome, even when it drops back on ones head out of nowhere. It’s great having damaged heroes to believe in. I
Space hugs, and I look forward to seeing you finished wolf.
I used to cross stitch everything (unfortunately my eyes no longer allow). One thing that helps- especially on large projects- is to mark 5 or 10 counts near the edge of ALL four sides. Tis is especially helpful if the cloth is not perfectly square. This helps ensure you do not lose/gain a row as well as making sure the cloth is large enough.
If your eyes are bad- like me- crochet a square of single stitches. This can now become your cloth. Voila no eye strain! 🙂
I am working on a giant cross stich project of a four seasons tree. It will take me for-EVER, but I have many other crafts to switch between 🙂 BTW, the back of my cross-stich is super messy, but I regret nothing XD
Love your tutorial. I used to cross stitch many years ago. Still have some UFOs( unfinished objects in my stash).. Lol
A couple of things that made my work easier..1) i use a fabric dryer sheet such as bounce and run it over my thread a couple of times. It helps keep the thread from tangling and helps the crosses lay flat
2) I lay a white cloth or towel on my lap to make it easier to see the small holes in the cloth.
Quick tip. Try the loop method to start then you don’t have to worry about a tail. When you put your floss through your threader fold it in half like you already do but put the 2 loose ends through leaving the looped end what will end up on the back. Hold the loop tail while you do your first / and when you come back through to the back put the needle through the loop. Secures it in a loop and you can just keep stitching with no starting tails! Changed my life!! If you need a tutorial I’d be happy to send pics or a video!
The Sneaky Kitty Critic
I hate that method. I end up dropping the needle/losing the needle. It’s just not a fun way for me to stitch. If I had to use that method, honestly… I’d quit. I’m too clumsy and would forever be rethreading the needle.