Tangle: to bring together into a mass of confusedly interlaced or intertwisted threads, strands, or other like parts

September 19, 2013

Want to cross stitch, but are unsure where to start?

When I first started doing cross stitch a couple of years ago, I didn't have anyone to teach me or tell me how to choose a project. One of the first projects I got (after a DMC ladybut kit I got for free from DMC) was a Paula Vaughan kit. It was a large kit with many colors on high count linen. I did not know what I was getting myself into. I will tell you this, it is still sitting on my shelf with not even a 30th of it completed!

Paula Vaughan cross stitch kit
cross stitch kit laid out

So I thought I would write this post for anyone that might want to start this hobby but doesn't know where to start. First off, there are way more easy projects that the one above! Here is one that is pretty simple. It is a stamped cross stitch, which mean the Xs are already on the cloth. You just place your stitches over the stamped Xs and you are done! It came in a kit with everything I needed, even a frame that doubled as a hoop!

cute and easy stamped cross stitch in the hoop/frame that came with the kit

 Now, on to choosing a project. First of all you need to decide whether or not you want to buy a kit, or to buy all the parts separately. If you buy them separately you will need to buy
  • a pattern or pattern book
  • floss in the designated colors or colors that you choose to use
  • at least one needle 
  • a hoop or a frame if you want to use one
  • something to store your supplies in

  Below are some examples of cross stitch pattern books that I have. They are mixed in with some sewing books that I had gotten at the same time so ignore those.

Some cross stitch pattern books, mixed with a couple of sewing books

Here is a picture of my floss for just one project that I have yet to undertake. I would have started it, but all the floss was lost during my move last summer to Texas. That makes me sad, but I will eventually gather up all the floss again.

Some patterns call for a lot of floss

If you do decide to buy a kit, then there are a few things you need to know. There are different types of fabric that is used in cross stitch. One type is a little rougher to the touch with holes already in it for the needle to go through. There is also fabric ,like linen for example, that does not already have holes in it. Either way you use the same stitches, it is just easier for a lot of people starting out to use material that has holes already.

MCG Textiles Aida 12x18 Fabric Woven Cloth, 16 Count, White

It is a little difficult to see in the picture above (which is also a link to amazon if you want to buy the product shown) but this is the type of cloth with holes. It is one of the easier fabrics to start out on and many people stick with it and never change to anything else.

Also you need to decide on if you want to do a stamped cross stitch or a counted cross stitch. The stamped I explained earlier. The counted cross stitch means that you hace to count the little squares on the fabric and keep track of how many of Xs each color you need to do over how many squares and where on the fabric to put them. It is a lot easier than it sounds, really. If you can count, and you can make an X, then you can cross stitch!

Next, the supplies if buying separately:

You will need to purchase a pattern or book of patterns. The pattern will tell you what colors of floss you will need, the quantity of each, and the size fabric you will need.  It will have a chart telling you where to place each X onto the fabric to make the picture. If there are any special stitches like half stitches or french knots, usually these will be explained on the pattern as well. Many times with illustrations of how to do each stitch required by the pattern.

Then, you will need to purchase fabric for your pattern. When buying fabric, you need to know that the higher the 'count' on it means the smaller the stitches will be. So buying a 14 count Aida will mean that the stitches will be bigger and easier to see than buying a 32 count Aida. Also, the fabric can come in different colors. Let me warn you that a lot of the darker colors can really make your eyes tired trying to see where to place the needle!

You will need to purchase floss to make your pattern. There might be one or two colors on up to hundreds of colors, depending on the pattern you chose. The floss comes in different brands and types as well. I stick with DMC floss that I can buy at places like WalMart or Michael's stores. It is not too expensive, though having to buy a couple of hundred of colors or more for larger projects can quickly add up! The flosses are marked with numbers for their colors that correspond with numbers on the pattern charts.

The needles come in various sizes as well. The higher the numbered needles seem to be for the higher count cloth. So a 22 size needle would work well for a 16 count Aida while a 26 needle would work well with a 22 count for example.

Next, you will need something to keep your supplies in. I usually use plastic bobbins to wind my floss onto and a plastic craft box to keep them organized in. You can use anything you want to really, so explore all the options that you will find at the craft stores.

Finally, you might need a hoop or a frame of some sort. For larger projects I would definitely recommend something to hold the fabric for you while you stitch. For little projects it can be just as easy to just hold the fabric. Of course, the more you touch your fabric and hold it, the more of the oils come off of your skin onto the fabric and could start to discolor it. Some people will never hold their projects and always have them in a hoop or frame. I personally love using my scroll frame, but will be just as likely to hold a small project in my hands. It all depends on what feels right for you.

Once you have your kit, or supplies, then all you need to do is get started cross stitching! Be sure to read through the pattern and directions thoroughly before you start. You don't want to start out incorrectly using two strands of floss when you needed to use three or something else like that. It can throw your whole picture off.

So now you are all set! I hope this post will help you to start on a new hobby. Cross stitching can be very fun and the pattern range from cute to absolutely stunning! If you have any questions, feel free to email me or comment. I will be happy to answer or direct you to someone that knows the answer if I am unsure myself!

Below I will have some links for supplies if you would like to purchase some from Amazon. You can also find kits and supplies at local needlecraft shops, craft stores, Walmart, and even occasionally the Dollar Tree stores will have some small kits.

Until next time my Crafty Tanglers....... Happy Crafting!


The links above are all affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and buy something, I get a small percentage of the sale for referring you. Your price is not changed at all by using the link, and buying products through my links that you were going to get anyway is a great way to support this blog.


  1. I used to cross stitch when I was younger. Your post brought back fond memories of sitting at my grandma's house on the front porch stitching away and sharing stories.

  2. I remember learning this skill when I was younger, I haven't done it in about 10 years or more. Its becoming a lost art, but it is so beautiful!

  3. This is great information to have. What fun! Thanks so much.

  4. I had forgotten how much I used to love to cross-stitch when I was a child. I think this is something my daughter would like....thank you for the vicarious walk down memory lane.

  5. I always loved to cross stitch but I always end up buying it or letting my mom make something for me. I tend to find it a little time consuming so that's is why I either buy it. But I might give it a try if I just do it little by little. Thanks for sharing.


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