Cross stitch isn't just your grandma's hobby anymore. In fact, the princess of pop/queen of country—Taylor Swift herself—has been known to dabble in the art of a good old-fashioned cross stitch. Cross stitch has become a popular project among Millennials and Gen Z-ers in the last few years, and the resurgence has brought with it fun twists and new ideas. Ironic cross-stitch, cross stitch key chains, and cross stitch pillows with crazy patterns are just the beginning.
What is Cross Stitch?
Similar to embroidery, cross stitch projects use embroidery floss to create a shape, saying, or picture. Unline traditional embroidery, cross stitch projects use an x-shaped stitch and are sewn on an even-weave fabric. This fabric looks like it has little square holes in it, so it's easy to recognize at a craft store. Cross stitch projects often come with a guide or pattern that helps people know exactly what stitch to put where.
You can certainly stitch without a pattern though, and many experienced cross stitch pros do from time to time. Cross stitch is simple in concept but sometimes complicated in execution so be patient with yourself. If you know someone who loves to cross stitch, we recommend having them show you the ropes in person a few times. If you don't know anyone who cross stitches, head to YouTube where there are tons of free resources for getting started.
Before you start stitching, you're going to need to grab your supplies. First, you're going to need even weave cross stitch fabric and an embroidery hoop. Your fabric needs to be a little bit larger than your hoop. You are also going to need embroidery floss. Floss can be purchased at any craft store and comes in tons of colors. You'll want a place to store and wrap extra floss so it doesn't get tangled, too.
You're going to want scissors, and no, not all scissors are created equally. For this project, small embroidery scissors are going to work best, but you can get away with using fabric scissors too if you need to.
When you start out with cross stitch, use a tapestry needle. It has a larger opening and a less-sharp end than normal needs and will be the easiest to use. We also recommend grabbing some magnetic needle minders to hold your needle when you're not sewing with it.
Lastly, make sure you start with a pattern on your first few tries.
If you don't want to shop for supplies individually, there are lots of pre-made cross stitch kits out there. These kits have everything you need to complete one pattern. If you're undecided about if cross stitch is for you and don't want to invest a lot of money, we recommend starting with a kit.
Where To Find Patterns
Cross stitch patterns are a big part of what makes this art form fun. Ironic cross stitch has become a huge trend and where your grandma may have stitched "bless this family" with pretty flowers, you are more likely to find trendy patterns that say "I hate everyone" with those same pretty flowers all around the text.
You can purchase patterns at any craft store or online through lots of major retailers. Small, sewing stores also sell patterns and kits in-store and online. Etsy is another great place to source patterns that are fun and unique. Another place we source patterns is thrift stores. Lots of times thrift stores will have a small craft section and there you can find vintage cross stitch patterns. Once you get a little more familiar with the craft, you can update these old cross stitch patterns to be fun and funky.
Once you've stitched your pattern, you can turn your cross stitch into anything from framed wall art to a pillow. If putting your work on display isn't really your speed, then simply use hot fabric glue to glue the excess fabric from around the embroidery hoop to the back of the hoop. This will finish off the hoop and save your finished work.