How I cross stitch

I received a comment the other day in regards to my cross stitch post.  Her questions and comments prompted me to do a full post on how I cross stitch.  Hopefully this helps you.

Starting a new cross stitch project:  I learned to cross stitch by starting in the middle and working my way out.  When I finish each color, I would cut and bury each floss before starting a new one.  This works fine with small projects that are not full coverage pieces.  With larger pieces, I tend to start on the upper left.  I have to check the measurements multiple times to make sure the project will fit (especially if I didn’t buy a kit) and start in a good place with about 3″ from the edge of the fabric (assuming I have that much available).

For projects that are not full coverage, like Mama’s Bukid, I generally bury each floss when I’m done.  But as you can see in my picture, that is not always the case.

Mama’s Bukid

When I get to a spot that has a bunch of changing colors, I like to do a stitch at a time because my floss lays better on the fabric.  When I do all of color A, and then color B, there may be stitches of color B that fall within the color A section and my floss will not lay nicely.  And it distorts some of the already stitched sections that it comes in contact with.  So, it just looks nicer to me when I do it this way.  So I may pull a floss through and “park” it in the next spot I have to stitch for that color and not actually stitch it until I get to that spot. This part mimics what I do for full coverage.

I am loving working on my full coverage pieces at the moment.


I’ve tried various methods.  Where there is a lot of floss, I was doing something called the “waste knot” method.  This is where I knot my floss and pull it down from front to back away from where I want to actually stitch my first stitch. At my first stitch, I pull it through back to front at the bottom left hole and do the stitch.  As I stitch, the floss in the back gets covered and when I get to the part where the knot is, I can clip it off because the floss is secured in the back by the stitches.  When I finished with a floss, I pulled it to the right and brought the needle from back to front.  Again, as I stitch those little boxes, it covers the floss and when I get to the floss that I finished I clip it.

Some of the floss above is mixed in with parked floss and I mark my pattern with which ones I’ve parked so I know which I can clip and which I need to stitch.  Anyway, it looks a mess and I couldn’t stand it so I do things a little differently now and as I move down the diagonal the rat’s nest will get cleaned up bit by bit.

I stitch a row at a time for 10 stitches and I stitch on the diagonal to avoid tension lines.  Instead of starting with the waste knot method, I use a modified pin stitch.  Search you tube for pin stitch tutorials and that will show you how to do that.  It makes it so that I do not the mess in the front to clip away later and the floss is secure right from the first stitch.  I am still parking but I do not park more than 20 stitches away.  I do not rely on my counting because the further away I go, the more likely it’s not in the correct spot.  When I finish a floss I still waste it away like I did before. The difference is that I’m not wasting away to the right of my piece, I’m wasting it to the bottom left so that as I’m working the diagonal, those wastes will get clipped away.  That way, the nest is not as much as it was.

There’s a new app called Pattern Keeper that has made full coverage pieces easier to stitch.  I love it.

Another resource is The Needlebugg Channel on YouTube.  Karen has been stitching for many years and has a lot of tips and tricks.  A lot of how I’m stitching now is based on what Karen has talked about on her channel.

I hope this helps and send me more questions if you come up with any.  I hope I was clear and if not, let me know.




2 responses »

  1. Thanks Melanie, I think I get it now. I was having trouble visualizing the process, much better with an explanation. I like the hybrid technique you’ve developed too. I know I have an UFO cross stitch project around here somewhere. Maybe if I get it set up and ready to stitch, I’ll be inspired to work on it again.

    • I’m glad I could help. I’ve been stitching a long time (much longer than I’ve been quilting) and the bug to stitch definitely comes and goes.

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