Cross stitching, what the Romans called “painting with needles,” has come a long, respectable way from simple “Home Sweet Home” cross stitch samplers. In fact, some of the most elaborate cross stitch images have been rendered from patterns yielding gorgeous painting look-alikes.
But you don’t need such involved cross-stitch supply as paints, brushes, and canvas-stretching tools. Rather, with a few cross-stitch supplies you can create just as lovely “paintings”.
Cross Stitching Supplies
You can opt for a:Complete cross-stitching kit–a cross-stitch pattern, work chart, colour legend, the required floss, and sometimes even an embroidery hoop. Or perhaps you’d prefer a prepared item–stamped with the design and with or without the floss colours; or across stitch pattern and cross stitch chart–using blank fabric and separately purchased floss.
For the latter, you will need many supplies, which are explained below.
Firstly you will need cross stitch fabric, which comes in many colours, sizes, types, and counts. Colours will depend upon personal preferences; types and counts are significant to each pattern.
Even-weave fabric: has the same number of both vertical and horizontal threads per inch, making up consistent squares to be worked. Aida is an even-weave, a block weave with holes at all four points of the square.
Fabric Count: noted on the label and indicating the number of the threads per square inch of that fabric. The popular Aida, for example, comes in 11, 14, 16, 18, and 22. The larger the number the more the more stitches in that square inch of fabric, and vice versa.
The count, noted in the pattern, is important: whatever count fabric the pattern calls for determines every stitch, shape, and final project size.
How much fabric to purchase will also be indicated in the pattern. However, if you are doing a design not pre-worked for you in a pattern or cross-stitch chart, be sure to
- measure the planned design
- account for the material needed to cover an embroidery hoop.
For example, if you are planning to embroider a disk for a greeting card, the diameter of the completed project is, say, 4 inches, but your hoop is 10. Plan to use at least 12, so you have enough fabric to stretch over the hoop.
The next thing you need are frames, hoops or scrolls. Beginners typically use a small hoop, manageable and offering a generous enough surface space to work with without being too cumbersome. As they progress, they find different tools according to their preferences.
Pros and Cons According to the Pros
With hoops, fabric stays fairly taut, but design may be mutilated; thread tension more easily controlled (kept consistent) for some, while for others is less easily controlled; larger surface space visibility; can be used with detachable stands for freer two-handed stitching style.
With scroll bars, fabric is even more taut than hoops…, or, can be loosened for the sewing method (versus the single point and stab approach), making for fewer hand repetitions; larger working surface, the hands-only method and even more than hoop method; can also be used with stands for two-handed cross stitching.
With hands-only, can use sewing method (needle in two points of the material per motion, instead of single point and stab approach), making for fewer hand repetitions; no hoop damage; less cumbersome to hold; less surface space at one time; more intimate (feel), but more fussing (with gathers, etc.)
Next is floss; embroidery floss, either wool, linen, or cotton; and numbered. When purchasing, consider the following:
- Brands are differentiated/indicated on patterns (as each brand has a different numbering system).
- For one project, go with the same brand and buy the number of skeins you need at the same time (so the dye lot is consistent).
- Consult the paper band label to make sure the colour number corresponds with the pattern’s number (sometimes one before you has returned a skein by just tossing it in any old floss cubby-hole).
- Floss comes in strands. When determining how many strands to use, either follow the pattern or realise that more strands make for a thicker resulting image that covers more of the canvas/fabric.
Lastly, you’ll need needles: Some patterns will note what size to use. If not, consider tapestry needles—in sizes 22, 24, 26, and 28. When choosing needles, be sure to:
- get one with a large enough eye that you can thread several strands through at once but not one so big that you leave gaping holes in the fabric.
- check package for size number: the higher the number the smaller, or finer, the needle.
- match floss to needle: the best size will have an eye only a tad thicker than the thread.
Now go “paint” that masterpiece!