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Materials and Techniques

Some Useful Techniques

Cutting Enough Fabric

When you cut the fabric from a larger piece, make sure to leave at least 3" – 5” of extra fabric on each side of the design to allow for finishing or making up.

Centering Design

The centre of the design is the best place to start stitching, and you can work out from there. In order to centre your design, you need to find the centre of the aida cloth. To do this, lightly fold the fabric in half, and half again to find the centre point. This point should coincide with the centre of the chart, which is normally marked with arrows at the top, bottom and sides. Place your needle through to mark the spot or run a short marking thread, which can you can remove once you begin stitching.

Reading a Chart

The chart is divided up into a grid of squares. Each colour is represented by a symbol and/or coloured square, and there is a "colour key" which shows which symbol represents each colour. Imagine that each block on the fabric is represented by one square on the chart. Solid colour lines on the chart represent backstitching.

Cleaning Completed Work

Once all stitching has been completed, the best way to prepare the work for framing or finishing is to hand wash it to remove oils and small stains, and press to remove any wrinkles or small folds. Soak in warm water with mild soap for about 15mins. Rinse carefully in clean water until water runs clean. Place face down on a clean white towel, smoothing out any wrinkles. Roll up towel and squeeze gently to remove excess water. Do not fold. Place the piece face down on a dry white towel. Press the reverse side using a pressing cloth and iron at medium heat until dry. 



  • Always wash your hands before stitching, to keep your work clean
  • Always stitch in good lighting
  • Make sure your ‘X’s always slant in the same direction
  • Don’t pull the thread too tight
  • Don’t carry your thread more than a few squares at the back
  • Let your needle “drop” periodically and allow the thread to untwist
  • Sort your threads onto bobbins and store in boxes
  • Remove your work from the embroidery hoop when not stitching to prevent permanent marks


Cross Stitching Materials

Aida Cloth


Counted Cross Stitch is usually worked on even-weave fabric. The number of squares per inch is known as the count. The higher the count, the smaller the finished stitching will be. The most commonly used even-weave is called Aida cloth, and most of the designs in this book use 14-count Aida, although 16-count and 18-count are also popular counts.


Waste Canvas


This handy even-weave fabric allows you to stitch onto any fabric (think baby bibs, canvas sneakers, baseball hats). Cut the waste canvas about 1” larger than your design, and baste it onto the fabric to be stitched. Once your stitching is complete, wet the area slightly and pull each strand out one at a time. Allow to dry, and iron.


Plastic Canvas


Lightweight plastic with regularly spaced holes- just like even weave fabric. It is available as sheets, which can be cut to any shape. It comes in a count, just like aida cloth- and the most popular sizes are 5-, 10-, 11-, and 14- count. Because of its rigidity, plastic canvas is perfect for making things like earrings, necklaces, or boxes etc. 




Our patterns show 2 brands of embroidery stranded floss: DMC and Anchor. All of our samples were stitched using DMC floss. Both Anchor and DMC brands are 100% cotton, and available in a wide range of colours. They are comprised of 6 strands that can be split into separate strands. It is common to use 2 strands for cross stitch, and 1 strand for backstitch, but each pattern will include specific instructions.




Tapestry needles have blunt tips and long, narrow eyes, which slid easily through the fabric without splitting fibers. The large eye allows for multiple strands of embroidery floss. You may chose to change the size of your needle depending on what fabric you are stitching on. Use the needle chart as a guide.



Sz 22 Needle


Sz 24 Needle


Sz 26 Needle


Sz 28 Needle




Embroidery Hoop


Using an embroidery hoop is optional. For most of the projects using aida cloth, you should be able to stitch without using a hoop. Softer fabrics, such as linen or items of clothing, will likely require the use of a hoop. The size of the hoop depends on the size of your stitching; make sure there is enough fabric around the edges to stay tight in the hoop. Wrap wooden hoops in thin strips of muslin to keep splinters from snagging your fabric.




You will need two pairs of scissors for cross stitch: a large pair for cutting fabric, and a pair of small, sharp embroidery scissors for snipping thread.  

Small fabric snips

Larger fabric shears