Cross Stitch & Embroidery Tutorials
Kathleen M. Dyer
Kathleen M. Dyer
Table of Contents1. Selecting the Fabric - Aida vs. Evenweaves/Linen 17. Where Am I? 30. Equipment 31. The Debates
31.1 Warp and Weft and Why and Why Not32. The Amount of Floss for Cross Stitch
People often learn to do counted cross stitch on aida and later learn to stitch on linen or other evenweaves as they become more experienced. Many stitchers who know how to work on linen prefer it to aida. As always though, this is a matter of personal choice. Some very experienced stitchers prefer aida.
An evenweave is any fabric which has the same number of threads per inch in both the vertical and horizontal directions. The individual threads might not all be the same thickness--you can see this in linen--but the number of threads is the same.
Aida is worked with one X over one square, while linen and other evenweaves are generally worked over two threads. This means that a 28 count (28 threads per inch) linen produces the same size picture as a 14 count (14 squares per inch) aida. See section "18. Stitching On Linens and Other Evenweaves" for a more detailed explanation of stitching "over two."
There is a traditional rule which says to stitch on aida using a hoop and stitch on linen "in the hand". In actual practice, people do whatever works best for them. See section "6. Hoop or Hand?" for a discussion of the "in-the-hand vs. in-a-hoop" debate. See section "30.2 Hoops, Scroll Bars and Such" for more information on the equipment itself.
Most evenweaves aren't as stiff as most aida. This can be a plus or minus, depending on your own preferences. The difference in stiffness isn't usually a factor if the fabric is worked in a hoop or in scroll bars.
Fractional stitches (1/4 stitches and 3/4 stitches ) can be much easier to do on an evenweave material. On aida, the needle needs to punch through the middle of the little square in order to complete the stitch. This can made somewhat easier by using a small sized needle (#26 or #28). No "punching through" is needed on an evenweave, as the needle simply goes between the two threads. See section "12. Fractional Stitches" for a more detailed explanation of fractional stitches.
Some people find it easier to see the holes on linen and other evenweaves, others find the aida easier.
The look of the cloth in the background is also important when selecting a fabric. Both texture and color should be considered.
Aida is generally less expensive. Whatever fabric you choose to work on, always buy the best quality you can afford. The amount of time invested in a project can be quite large and is far more valuable than a small savings up front.
Also make sure to
know the fiber content and if the fabric requires any special care.
For information on fiber content see the "Needlework
Situation: The floss supplied in a kit is of poor quality.
If you are lucky, the chart supplied with the kit lists color numbers and a brand name. This doesn't happen very often, at least with kits that supply ugly floss. If there is no list, try to get a color card for one of the big-name brands of floss such as DMC or Anchor. Look for one which includes thread samples. Match the colors from the kit with the colors on the card as carefully as you can. Do it in natural light. Write down the numbers of the colors you need on the chart next to the correct symbol. If you can't find a color card, take the bad floss with you to your local needlework store and do the matching there. Be careful, because the lighting in some stores can make the colors look wrong.Situation: You want to use a different brand of floss than suggested.
Some charts supply color number information for two or three manufacturers' floss. If not, try to find a floss conversion chart. Commercial ones are available and there are conversion charts in the "Needlework FAQ: Threads, Fibers, Embellishments".Situation: You created the chart yourself, or you want a different texture or finish.
If you are experienced enough to create your own chart, you are probably experienced enough to select fibers. Consider using the many new types of fibers which are now available, such as metallics and hand painted silks. Always keep in mind the final use of whatever you are stitching. For example, don't use a non-colorfast silk for a baby's bib.Situation: You want to use different colors than suggested.
If it is a geometric design or a simple picture with no shading, replace the colors anyway you like. More care must be taken for complex pictures. Compare the values of the old set of colors and the new set to make sure they are the same. You can do this by looking at the threads through red glass or cellophane, or by photocopying them in black-and-white.While we're on the topic of fibers, here is a definition, just in case you ever see references to "Z-twist" or "S-twist."
From: Noeline McCaughan <firstname.lastname@example.org>...
Just to make things a little clearer -"Z" and "S" are used to describe the twist in a yarn - any yarn regardless of what fibre it is spun from. Just take a piece of thick yarn and hold it up in front of your eyes. If the twist goes from top right to bottom left it is called "Z" (the slant of the twist equaling the slant of the downstroke in the letter). If it slopes from top left to right bottom it is of course an "S".
Tapestry needles come in a variety of sizes. A larger size number means a smaller needle. Cross stitching usually requires a #22, #24, #26 or #28 needle.
One traditional rule says you should use a #22 needle if the fabric is 14 count (14 threads per inch) or less, a #24 or #26 needle if the fabric count is 16-18 count, and a #26 needle if the fabric is finer than 18.
The needle should be large enough to move the fabric threads out of the way just a tiny bit. This reduces the friction and wear on your stitching fiber.
The floss or fiber thickness and number of strands used can also affect the choice needle size.
The usual "rule" holds--find a size (or sizes) you like.
Some people lose the finish on their needles over time. Besides being ugly, this can make the needle more difficult to use. Special finishes, such as gold and platinum, are available. They cost more but some stitchers find they last longer. Try different finishes until you find the one that works best for you.
Chair arms are very
convenient for holding needles, but such use can cause other members
of the household to acquire a more intimate acquaintance with the tools
of your craft than either they or you desire. A pin cushion is an obvious
solution. Needle safes also work well. These are small, flat cases lined
on the inside faces with magnets. Needle safes can cost from US$5 for
a small plastic one to more than US$30 for a good, handcrafted, wood-and-brass
box. People have also had good results with magnetic paperclip holders,
available in any place that sells office supplies.
Trim off any selvage edges, as the tightly woven edge may cause uneven tension in the fabric.
Some people recommend stitching on a project so that the warp threads go from top to bottom, with what was the selvage edge at the side. See section "31.1 Warp and Weft and Why and Why Not" for a more detailed explanation of how you determine the warp and weft and why you may want to do so.
Make sure the fabric is actually the count you think it is. Mark one inch of fabric using pins or some other method. Count the number of squares or threads. If the count is very different than what you believed, you will need to cut the fabric to match the true count. For example, if your 32 count linen is actually 30 count, the stitches and the project will be larger than expected. A bigger piece of fabric will be needed.
Cut the fabric to size for the project. Allow at least an extra 3" to 4" on each edge.
Pre-rinse very dark or very red fabrics to make sure the color will not run. Rinse until the water is clear. Obviously, you should not do this if you know the fabric was dyed with a non-colorfast dye.
If there are folds, make sure they will come out. Dampen and press the fabric.
Prepare the edges. Some of the options:
30.2 Hoops, Scroll Bars and Such" for more information on the equipment itself. See section "18. Stitching On Linens and Other Evenweaves" for a more detailed explanation stitching on linen.
Some people find it easier to control the tension of their thread with one method, some find it easier with the other. The most important thing is to use what works best for you.
For the purpose of this discussion, let's use the word "bars" to refer to all those things which can be used to hold the fabric taut--hoops, stretcher bars, scroll bars and Q-Snaps.
Advantages of "in the hand":
10. How to Start the Thread" for more information about the loop method.
Metallics or any fibers with rough surfaces should be cut somewhat shorter to help prevent fraying.
Separate the floss
into individual strands and then recombine them. This is known as "stripping"
the floss. There is less twisting and knotting, and the stitches lie
flatter. To separate a thread from the others, hold onto the top end
of the thread between your thumb and forefinger. Pull down on it with
the other thumb and forefinger, taking all the other threads with you.
It looks like a knot will form. Have faith. Everything comes out just
The design should be centered. Find the center of the fabric by folding it in half, then folding it in half the other way. Mark the center with a pin, a stitch, or some other method.
While the design itself should be centered, where you start stitching that design is up to you. Here are some different schools of thought.
should start at the upper left corner of the design:
Running UnderRun the thread under four or five of the stitches on the back, if they are right next to where you want to start. You may choose to whip stitch around the second or third stitch as you are running under. This helps to lock the thread in.
Sometimes dark colors show through when woven under lighter colors. Check to make sure this isn't happening.
A variation--if you stitch in a manner that leaves vertical lines on the back, try whip stitching or weaving the thread up (or down) a few of these vertical stitches. This technique makes for a very neat looking back.
Loop MethodThe loop method only works for even numbers of strands.
For two strands, start with one long strand about 36"-40" long. Fold it in half. Thread the needle so the two ends are near the needle and the "loop" is the end farthest from the needle. Start the stitch with the loop end dangling a little bit below the cloth. When the needle comes back down to the underside, run it between the loop and the cloth, and gently pull the loop tight.
Knotless Waste KnotStart the thread from the top side, an inch or two from where you want to begin stitching. Leave a tail of thread on the top side. Careful placement of the tail before you start will cause the tail on the back to be covered as you stitch. When you have completed some stitches, pull the tail to the back side. Run it under the new stitches if necessary.
Waste KnotThis is similar to the knotless waste knot described above. One difference is that the tail on the front is knotted, to act as an anchor. Start the thread from the top side. Careful placement of the knot will cause the tail on the back to be covered as you stitch. The remaining tail on the back is run under the new stitches if necessary.
Away Waste KnotThis is similar to the waste knot described above. The tail on the front is knotted, to act as an anchor. Start the thread from the top side. It should be placed out of the way so the tail does not get covered while you stitch. At a later time, the knot on the front is cut away and the remaining tail on the back is run under existing stitches. An away waste knot gives you much more control over the tension and the way the first and last stitches appear from the front.
Stitchers who use the traditional method complete each X as they go:
Stitchers who use the Danish method do the bottom stitches first, and complete the X's as they return:
Many people use a mix of the two methods. They may use the Danish method for most stitches, but do the occasional isolated stitch as a complete X. Another school recommends doing rows with the Danish method and columns with the traditional method. This causes the thread on the back to make vertical lines.
Apparently, some antique samplers which were done in the traditional method survive today because the X's hold the fabric together, and the thread forming the X's themselves is less stressed. The "one-X-at-a-time" approach works well when stitching over one thread, rather than the usual two, as it helps stop the thread from disappearing behind the fabric.
Many people find the Danish method to be faster, and to result in less confusion about current location.
Choose a method which you like, preferably one which results in neat backs. While a neat back isn't required for a good looking front, it usually helps.
Metallic Floss Stitches, pls use short lengths of floss, make each
stitch twice, make two half stitches, then return with two half
Fractional stitches (1/4 and 3/4) can be much easier to do on linen or other evenweaves. On aida, the needle needs to punch through the middle of the little square in order to complete the stitch. This can made somewhat easier by using a small sized needle (#26 or #28). No "punching through" is needed on linen, as the needle simply goes between the two threads.
A 1/4 stitch is done by coming up from one corner of the square and going down in the center.
1/4 stitches on your chart 1/4 stitches on fabric
A 3/4 stitch is most often done by stitching the short arm first, like a quarter stitch. It is completed with a 1/2 stitch to make the other two arms. Note that this is an exception to the rule that all stitches must go in the same direction, as the long arm of the 3/4 stitch may go either "/" or "\". There are some occasions where people choose to do the 1/2 stitch first and anchor it down with the 1/4 stitch in order to achieve a certain effect.
3/4 stitches on your chart 3/4 stitches on the fabric
Frequently, a 1/4 stitch and a 3/4 stitch share a single square. This means that a decision is left up to the stitcher. Which side is the 1/4 and which the 3/4?
As in just about every other area, this is up to you. Here are some different methods. Each provides its own distinct look.
Instructions for Eyes
Add a little white stitch to eyes with 1 strand where marked "0", make a short stitch that just covers the intersection.
The thread can be carried farther if the region between the two areas has been (or will be) filled in with other stitches. How far? This depends on the relative darkness of the colors. The carried thread should be woven under the existing stitches, but sometimes dark colors show through when woven under lighter colors. Check to make sure this isn't happening. Even under the best conditions, you probably shouldn't carry the thread more than a distance of five or six stitches.
Try to plan your work so that it isn't necessary to travel very far to do the next stitch.
What if a design has individual stitches with no other stitches near by? Imagine a design that represents snowflakes by individual, scattered cross stitches. It calls for each cross stitch to be done with three strands of white floss on a dark fabric. You try traveling from stitch to stitch, but the white floss shows through the fabric. What to do?
Try the following. Use one strand of floss, but stitch the first half of the stitch three times. Now you have the first slant done, with three strands of floss showing. Do the same for the second half of the stitch. When you travel to the next stitch, a single strand in the background won't show through as much as three strands.
Or, if you want
to get a little more radical, use knots--one of the few cases where
I think using knots is good. Use a single strand to do the stitch as
described above. Then take the two ends and tie a square knot to anchor
the stitch and cut the ends short. A knot made with a single strand
won't be very large and shouldn't create a lump on the front. If you
plan on entering the piece in a contest, don't use knots.
And now for a strong suggestion--do not knot the thread. An exception might be made for a special case, such as an isolated stitch with no other stitches near it in the design.
One good method is to run the thread under four or five of the stitches on the back. You may choose to whip stitch around one of the stitches as you are running under. This helps to lock the thread in.
Sometimes dark colors show through when woven under lighter colors. Check to make sure this isn't happening.
If you stitch in a manner that leaves vertical lines on the back, try whip stitching or weaving up (or down) a few of these vertical stitches. This technique makes for a very neat looking back.
A common way to start and end the thread is to run it under four or five of the existing cross stitches on the back if they are right next to where you want to start. You may choose to whip stitch around the second or third stitch as you are running under. This helps to lock the thread in.
Backstitching can be done left-to-right, right-to-left, top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, or even on a diagonal. It all depends on where the outlines need to be. A backstitch from left-to-right would go like this (up on the odd numbers and down on the even):
To turn a corner without leaving a diagonal on the back side (up on the odd numbers and down on the even):
Some people prefer the double running stitch (also known as a Holbein stitch) to a backstitch. This is especially true if the backstitch will leave them stranded in the middle of nowhere. To do a double running stitch, go forward doing every other stitch (up on the odd numbers and down on the even):
To keep the line from looking staggered, be consistent on the return trip. Always come up on one side of the stitch that is already there, and go down on the other side. For example, come up above on stitch 7 and down below on stitch 8.
When there is a backstitch over one or
two squares and the symbol is the same on either side of the backstitch,
make a full cross stitch in that square. Add the backstitch last in the
color indicated in the instructions
Run each separated strand of floss over a damp sponge just before using it. This makes the floss lie much smoother and flatter. Some fibers, such as silk, should not be dampened.
If you know which direction you tend to twist the needle, give it a little bit of a twist the opposite direction after each stitch.
Try threading the needle with the "right" end of the floss. See section "31.3 The Right End of the Floss" for more information.
Let the thread dangle every so often and untwist it.
The dot in the diagram below represents where the needle is must go to complete the stitch.
In case the directions above don't make sense, here is another description.
From: Martha Beth Lewis <email@example.com>...
Here is some lovely ascii art to get you started:
# x o
Bring the needle to the front of the work at o. You'll be going down at x, but don't do anything yet.
Many things can be used as laying tools--a very large tapestry needle, a very small knitting needle, a trolley needle, or even a real laying tool.
Start your stitch
by pulling the needle and thread through to the front as usual. Lightly
pull the thread away from the direction of the stitch. Use the laying
tool to stroke the thread against the fabric near where the thread emerges
from the fabric. This should make the strands lie flat and parallel.
Complete this part of the stitch by putting the needle into the fabric
and pulling it to the back as usual. As you pull the thread through
to the back, use the laying tool to keep a small amount of tension in
the thread. This will keep those newly stroked strands parallel.
Using highlighters, I use yellow to mark the symbols of the color I am going to work with next. I have the symbol count in my pattern info, so I count as I go to make sure I get them all. This allows me to plot the most efficient course of stitches that I can through the chart. As I complete these stitches, I go over the yellow with a pink highlighter. Now when I look at the chart, anything that is orange is done.
Linen may be an evenweave or an unevenweave fabric. Sometimes an unevenweave linen is used when recreating an old sampler. For the purposes of this FAQ, we'll assume we're always discussing evenweave fabrics.
For a look at the "aida vs. linen" debate, see section "1. Selecting the Fabric - Aida vs. Evenweaves/Linen". For information on the fiber content of different fabrics, see the "Needlework FAQ: Fabric".
There is a traditional rule which says to stitch on aida using a hoop and stitch on linen "in the hand". In actual practice, people do whatever works best for them. See section "6. Hoop or Hand?" for a discussion of the "in-the-hand vs. in-a-hoop" debate. See section "30.2 Hoops, Scroll Bars and Such" for more information on the equipment itself.
Evenweaves are generally worked "over two" threads. This means that a 28 count (28 threads per inch) linen produces the same size picture as a 14 count (14 squares per inch) aida.
Experienced stitchers of evenweaves recommend starting next to a vertical thread. This is easier to explain using a picture.
If you start your X's like "/", then...
Come up at 1 and go down at 2 (or vice versa). If you start your X's the other way, like "\", then...
Reasons for starting next to a vertical thread:
A sewing stitch, one scooping movement in and out, is used with linen. Stitches should be neither loose and sloppy nor so tight that the spaces between the linen threads are enlarged. If light can be seen across the top of a row of stitches, the tension is too tight. Correct tension results in flat stitches that do not distort the background weave.
Do the bottom stitches first, then cross back.
The reverse side will be vertical lines.
It is very helpful sometimes to turn your work upside down (180 degrees), turning the chart as well, but never turn the work only halfway around (90 degrees). This causes the direction of the top stitch to change, disrupting the texture of the finished piece.
How to Cross Stitch on Clothing with Linen
STEP ONE: Choose clothing.
Determine placement of design and where you would like the center of your design to be on the piece of clothing you have chosen to stitch. Mark the center with a straight pin.
STEP TWO: Prepare the fabric for stitching.
The size of the linen will determine the size of the design. When stitched on 20ct, for example, the design will be 10 stitches to the inch. Add 4" to 6" to the design area to determine the size to cut the fabric. Stitch the edges of the fabric to prevent raveling (slip stitched by hand or zigzagged on the sewing machine). Fold the linen in half top to bottom and baste a line using light colored thread from side to side along the fold. Fold again from side to side and baste another line vertically through the center of the fabric along the fold. Match the center of the fabric (where basted lines intersect) to the place marked on the clothing in STEP ONE.
Pin the linen in place over the shirt. Baste the edges of the linen to the shirt; remove pins.
Find the center of the design on the chart. Count up and to the left (or right) to the desired starting place. Count the same number of stitches (count 2 linen threads for each stitch or chart square) on the linen to find the starting place. Mark with a pin. Place a hoop on the garment around the area where you will be stitching. Thread a needle with the proper color and number of strands and start stitching. For example, on 20ct. linen you will cross stitch with 4 strands and backstitch with 1 strand.
STEP THREE: Remove the basting threads
Remove the basting threads that mark the center, after the design has been started, so that you do not stitch over them. Continue using the hoop. Work all the cross stitch first, then add the backstitch. Take care to make your stitches as even as possible, and use the STAB-STITCH method (poke and pull) rather than a sewing method (in and out of the fabric in one motion) and be sure not to "catch" any of the linen threads with your needle. End your threads securely by running under several stitches on the back (at least 6).
STEP FOUR: After the stitching is finished
Pull out basting threads, holding linen to clothing. Cut around the very edge of the linen where it is slip stitched by hand or zigzagged on the sewing machine. Begin at any corner and pull threads of linen one at a time.
Linen thread will come out from under cross stitch as long as you take care not to "catch" or pierce any of the linen threads while stitching.
STEP FIVE: Wash and press
Use cold water and mild soap to wash. Rinse in cold water. Press on reverse side of stitching. Now the clothing is ready to wear!
®Simon & Schuster, Inc. Licensed by Limited Media.
Raggedy Ann and Andy and associated characters are trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
How to Stitch on Afghans
When stitching on an afghan, each cross stitch is made up 2 threads and over 2 threads.
Be sure to stitch on the right side of the fabric (pattern is raised). Each square on the chart equals 2 threads on the fabric. Start by a vertical thread and you will stay by a vertical thread.
Buy all of a floss color at one time to insure the same dye lot. Separate your floss strands and put them back together. This will help your floss lie more smoothly.
Do not turn your fabric 90° because your stitches will not cross in the same direction. You may turn the fabric (and the chart) 180°. End threads by weaving under stitches on the back vertically. Stitch the center design first, then the border.
Afghan fabrics are not meant to be lined or backed with iron-on fusing.
In the previous section, we found that stitching over two threads of a 28 count linen produces the same size picture as a 14 count aida. But stitching over one thread of a 28 count linen produces a picture only one quarter the area.
There can be a problem with stitches rolling or slipping to the wrong side of the fabric. This is much less likely to happen when each X is completed before starting the next. There are additional techniques to prevent the problem. Two are described below.
On the diagram below, come up through the fabric on the odd numbers and go down on the even.
Each X goes over one thread intersection of the fabric. Each fabric intersection has either a horizontal fabric thread on top or a vertical fabric thread on top.
Suppose you make the first half of the first stitch by coming up at 1 and going down at 2. Your stitch is going over a horizontal fabric thread. Because of this, you should go horizontally underneath to find the starting hole for the second half of the cross stitch. So, come up at 3 and go down at 4.
Make the first half of the next stitch. Because you just went down at 4, you must come up at 5 and down at 6. Your stitch is going over a vertical fabric thread. Because of this, you should go vertically underneath to find the starting hole for the second half of the cross stitch. So, come up at 7 and go down at 8.
A second approach
uses the Danish method of doing the bottom stitches first along a row,
and completing the X's on the return trip. But to prevent the stitches
rolling to the wrong side of the fabric a continental stitch is used
rather than a half stitch. This looks like a half-stitch from in front,
but the back is a long diagonal. For these diagrams, come up at the
odd numbers and down at the even.
How the two colors
should lie in relation to each other is up to you. Some people prefer
to have each stitch look the same. Other people will let each color
fall how it may (subject to no twisting) from stitch to stitch.
Remove the floss
from the skein and wind it lengthwise around a yardstick. Those of you
living in countries on the metric system might have to saw a few centimeters
off the end of a meter stick. Carefully cut the floss at the middle
and at each end, to give you four groups of floss. Two groups should
be lighter and two should be darker, overall. Combine the two lighter
groups together and consider them to be one group. Do the same with
the two darker groups. As you stitch the design, complete each X as
To make a French Knot:
The thread may be beading thread, floss that matches the color of the bead, floss that matches the color of the background fabric, quilting thread, or any kind of transparent thread. Each will produce a different effect, with a light-colored thread brightening the bead's color and a dark colored thread deadening the color.
The needle may be a beading needle or a #28 tapestry needle.
The simplest method to attach a bead is with a half stitch or quarter stitch.
One method to keep the beads from drooping or sliding requires two strands of floss. Attach the bead using a half stitch, coming up through the first hole, through the bead, and down through the second (diagonal) hole. Then, come back up through the first hole, split the two strands of floss around the bead so one goes on each side, and go back down through the second hole.
Another technique, which is said to work well for a row, starts with the beads attached along the row with half stitches. At the end of the row, the thread is run back to the beginning by going through the beads, above the fabric.
Yet another method uses a full cross stitch. Attach the bead using a half stitch, then complete the cross stitch while going through the bead again. The order and direction of the two half stitches determines whether the hole in the bead points side-to-side or top-to-bottom.
How to Add Beads
Add beads to your project after all other stitching and any necessary laundering is done. A #28 Tapestry needle or a beading needle is required for adding small beads. Use the loop method (see Fig. 2 & 3) to anchor one doubled strand of floss on the back of the project. Use the color of floss indicated in parentheses where beads are listed.
Bring the needle up where indicated on the chart by the symbol for bead (A) and pass through the bead (Fig. 1). Pass through the fabric (B) and then, if this is the beginning of the new thread, through the loop to anchor the thread (Fig. 2 & 3). Next, bring the needle up as if to cross a stitch (C), pass through the bead again and go down through the fabric (D) and anchor with a small securing stitch on the back.
To use any time an even number of floss strands is called for --2, 4 or 6. When two strands are required, take one strand 30" long and fold it in half. Thread the needle and pull the loop end lower than the 2 cut ends. Bring the needle up through the fabric until the cut ends appear. As the needle goes back through to make the first half cross, take the needle through the loop and it will lock, leaving no tail on the back of the fabric.
Samplers usually incorporate the stitcher's initials and the year into the design. All other designs require a little more creativity on the signer's part.
Some people use permanent ink and sign on the edge, where it will be hidden by the mat or frame. Personally, why would you want to hide this interesting and valuable information?
Some people find a way to stitch their name and the date with teeny letters, over one or two threads. Try out some variations on scrap cloth until you find a look you like.
Don't abbreviate the year. Stitch "2000" rather than "'00." Your stitching may survive you by many years, and even though you may think the project is unimportant, later generations may disagree.
There are several
things you can do to make a signature visible but unobtrusive. For example,
use a thread color that is only a shade or two darker than the fabric.
Or incorporate the signature into a shadow, using the shadow's color.
Or put it below an object, using the object's color. Or figure out a
way to make it part of the design...
However, the heirloom-to-be deserves special treatment or it may become the heirloom-that-never-was. Here are some suggestions that are very conservative and cautious. It is safest to list many things that a stitcher might want to know. You are then free to use or ignore whatever you choose.
While you are stitching:
I am right handed and usually hold my work with my left hand. To prevent stains, I wear a white cotton glove on my left hand. It works wonders :) I just completed a bell pull (6 months of regular contact) and there were no dark stains lurking anywhere :}
To clean, use something which is pH balanced and has no whitening agents. This means something like Orvus paste (also used for washing horses and cows), Quilt Soap (which is Orvus soap packaged in small containers for people who don't need a gallon of it), Treasure Wash, etc. Orvus is actually a trade name for sodium lauryl sulfate. Try using one teaspoon per gallon of water. Do not use Woolite, strong detergents or chlorine bleach as they may make the colors bleed. Let the project soak for several minutes. Rinse thoroughly, but don't scrub or wring. If the colors run, repeat the process immediately until the water rinses clear.
Unroll it while still damp, lay it face down on a couple of towels and iron with a dry iron at the wool or linen setting until it is dry. Try not to move the iron back and forth. You may use a pressing cloth, in fact you should use a pressing cloth if there are metallics. The process of ironing until dry prevents uneven drying and puckering of the cloth and threads. Let the project air dry another 24 hours before framing.
CatastropheWhen catastrophe strikes, all the tips listed above should be ignored. Just do what you have to. People on this newsgroup have used detergent, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, Goop and ice to remove soda pop, rust, mold, vomit, catsup and bleeding dyes.
Bleeding FlossYou look down at the lovely counted cross stitch picture that took you six months to complete. To your horror, you see that the dye from one of the floss colors has "bled" onto the fabric. What to do?
You may be out of luck if the fibers aren't washable. But if they are washable, or if you decide that things are so bad you have nothing to lose, try the following.
If the bleeding happens while you are washing the project, don't let it dry. Rinse and soak the project in cold water. Keep rinsing and soaking it until the bleeding is gone and the water rinses clear. The process could take a few minutes or several hours.
If you see bleeding on a dry project, put very cold water into your sink or a flat, nonmetallic pan. Have the water just deep enough to cover the project as it lays flat on the bottom of the sink. Pour in a layer of ice. Let everything soak without any scrubbing. Replace the water and ice as needed. The process could takes days.
RustFrom melaina, who posted using a friend's account, on treating rust stains:
...I had a brand new white cotton sweater that was laid to dry over a chair (dumb I know) but it had about 20 different rust spots on it some were about 1 inch square. Anyway my mom found a remedy in an old stain guide. AND IT WORKED!!!!! First make sure to test it that it does not make the color run or fade. Here it is.............
Scorch MarksPeople on the rec.crafts.textiles.needlework newsgroup have suggested the following for the removal of scorch marks. Try these only if you are facing a catastrophe, as they may affect the colors.
PencilFor pencil marks, try an art gum eraser available from most art supplies stores.
Miscellaneous StainsMary L. Tod <firstname.lastname@example.org> credits Barbara Knaupf, the owner of The Stitching Post with the following recipe:
This is the magic recipe I got from the Stitching Post when I discovered blotchy green stains all over my "Angel of Grace" at the time I took it in for framing. (The stains were a STUPID error caused by my using a brand-new, never been washed, green towel to dry). I just about lost it when I noticed all the spots. The recipe worked like a charm! Piece was saved, and so was my mental health! Here goes:Tyrie J. Grubic <email@example.com> reported a cleaning method that was discovered at Cross Stitch Corner in Bellevue, Washington, when attempting a last-ditch, nothing-to-lose stain removal:2 Tbsp Ivory SnowMake however many gallons-worth to cover your fabric, and soak overnight, or for as long as it takes! Mine came out in 24 hours. I don't know if this will do the trick for hi-liter, but they don't call it *magic* for nothing!
Anyway, it works, does *not* damage the piece at all, does not cause any bleeding of colors, etc...Here's the method:From there, continue as recommended earlier and press between clean, white towels.
Sometimes a cream or lotion must used. This shouldn't affect your needlework if care is taken. The most important characteristic of any cream you choose to use is that it not be greasy.
People on the newsgroup recommend Au Ver a Soie Hand Lotion, Acid Mantle Lotion, and Udder Cream.
Udder Cream was developed for use on cows' udders, hence the name. It is available in feed stores and, increasingly, needlework shops.
There is sometimes confusion about what is and what is not Udder Cream. It is not the same as Bag Balm. In fact, different products are sold under the name of Udder Cream, and not all are kind to needlework.
Excerpted from a posting by Tara R. Scholtz <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
...I've found three! And all have green metal tins!!! The one with the strawberries (?) is the greasy stuff. It's also yellow (the strawberry tin that is). The strawberry tin and its bigger counterpart is marked trademarked by one company (forget which one) and that is only mentioned in *some* publications, I couldn't find that trademark - but the name is used by other companies anyways. Farnham has its own bag balm - the green tin for that also says bag balm. Real confusing.Excerpts from another posting by Tara R. Scholtz <email@example.com>:
The white stuff by Redex Industries, Inc. is used as hand lotion. It is greaseless and stainless but does contain lanolin & allantoin (which causes problems for some people)...
While you may not think the twenty little holiday ornaments you finished late last night have great value, this is not your decision to make. Fifty years from now, they may be someone's pride and joy. And you don't want to be the person who messes up someone's priceless collection of early twentyfirst century needlework, do you?
If you are going to frame your project, here are some suggestions. They are very conservative and cautious. It is safest to list many things that a stitcher might want to know. You are then free to use or ignore whatever you choose. If you take your work to a shop to get it framed, ask the people there if they do conservation framing. Make sure they are aware of the following issues.
Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum, the designer of the Lavender & Lace, Butternut Road, and Told in a Garden designs, has alternative skin colors on some designs. Lists for Asian, African American and Native American are also available from her offices in Maine.
Included below, with the very kind permission of Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum, is a quote from a post she made to rec.crafts.textiles.needlework...
Keep in mind that you are going from light to dark, this is a color range. Going up or down the scale will lighten or darken the range. DMCAfrican American: Skin...... - 3772 + 632 E 632+898 Lips in 356 and outline features in the 632+898 blend Eyes and brows are outlined in 3371 Hair... Most designs have 4-6 hair shades...the darkest 2-3 shades I make 310 black. Then use 3371 for one or two shades and the lightest symbol with 3031 Native American Skin....light to dark 950 3773 407 3772 632 Hair...light to dark 3781 3031 3371 310By finding the colors asked for on a design and laying them out light to dark you can match the shades you want to replace them with. Make a new legend for your replacement colors.
The fabric is a special silk mesh originally made for the medical profession for the treatment of burn victims. Although several mesh sizes are available, the one most commonly used for stitching is 40-count. This means 40 stitches to the inch, or 1600 stitches to the square inch. The gauze is extremely expensive, at over US$300 (yes, three hundred dollars) per yard. Luckily, a little goes a long way. The gauze sold for stitching may come mounted in a cardboard frame, and is sold in sizes such as 5"x7". Keep the gauze in the frame while stitching, and remove it after you are done.
The thread used for stitching may be cotton floss or silk. Use one strand of thread. It does not need to be very long--probably 10" or so.
The needle should be small and sharp, such as a small crewel needle.
The chart may be just about any counted cross stitch chart. Keep in mind that you will not be able to do any quarter stitches. Also, any additions such as beads will be too big. Note that we follow the counted cross stitch tradition rather than the needlepoint when it comes to filling in the background--we do not fill in the background unless the chart calls for it. The gauze is allowed to show.
The stitch is a continental stitch rather than a cross stitch. This looks like a half-stitch from in front, but the back is a long diagonal. For this diagram, come up at the odd numbers and down at the even:
Do not carry thread across the back in an area that will not be stitched. It will show through.
If you have trouble seeing the work area (and most people will), use a magnifying lamp and hold the gauze over a dark background.
Well, I showed up for a class/meeting with the #10 needle I thought I would need, only to discover I was supposed to have a #10 sharp and I had a #10 crewel. A #28 tapestry did suffice and I then went home and did research.6. Hoop or Hand?" for the "in-a-hoop vs. in-the-hand" debate. The discussion in this section assumes that you have decided to use a hoop or the like.
Tip--Put your project in the hoop or bars backwards. This method is sometimes called having the project "in the well." It prevents the front of the design from touching anything when the bars are set down. It also provides more room on the back of the project for ending threads.
StandsMost of the following items may be used with a stand. Some people like the stands, as they can then do "two handed" stitching. This is a method where one hand is always above the cloth and the other is always below. People who have trouble holding projects for long periods of time also may find stands useful--they help avoid or reduce effects from tendonitis, arthritis and cramping.
There are lap stands which either straddle the lap of the stitcher or are anchored on one side and have a part to sit on. The bigger stands are floor models and may take up a great deal of space. Some of them come with chart holders, lamp holders and even magazine racks.
One side benefit is that stands are usually in plain view with the current project highly visible, ready to be complimented and begging to be worked on. People with cats may find that felines appreciate stands too, to the dismay of the stitcher.
HoopsStandard hoops are made of wood or plastic. They are inexpensive and widely available. While most are circular, there are some oval shaped ones. A variation on the hoop consists of a plastic outer ring and a metal inner spring/ring.
Common complaints about hoops:
Remove the hoop when you are not working.
Scroll BarsA set of scroll bars consists of two wooden scroll bars and two spacers. The fabric is attached to the scroll bars (which look like dowel rods). The spacers hold the scroll bars apart. They may be attached with wing nuts (cheaper) or with wooden knobs (more expensive).
There are several methods for attaching the fabric. A bar may have a strip of heavy-duty material stapled to it. The fabric for the project is then basted on, using a strong thread such as quilting or carpet thread. Another style has a slit in the bar into which the edge of the fabric is placed. A third style uses a groove in the bar and a tube or rod to hold the fabric in the groove.
Scroll rods and spacer bars are available in many sizes. Select a scroll rod size that is slightly wider than your fabric. Any fabric longer than the spacer bars is rolled up onto the scroll rods.
Much more of the project is "in-range" than with a hoop. Tension is not even in the horizontal and vertical directions, but this isn't too noticeable if the scroll tension is kept very tight.
It is possible to purchase a basic set of scroll bars quite cheaply, so you can experiment and see if you like them.
Suggestions--Mark the center of the scroll rod, to make it easier to center the fabric. When attaching the fabric to the scroll rod, work from the center and work out to the edges.
Q-SnapsQ-Snaps are manufactured by the Q-Snap Corporation, located in the USA in Parsons, Tennessee. Q-Snaps consist of four pieces of white plastic pipe, about 1" in diameter, which are joined at the corners to form a square or rectangle. The fabric is held onto each side by a shell of plastic which snaps down over the pipe.
Q-Snaps are sold in packages of four sides, in lengths of 6 inches, 8 inches, 11 inches and 17 inches. They are then assembled by the user to form, for example, an 8x11 inch rectangle.
People who use them like their versatility. The fabric creases caused by hoops doesn't seem to occur. The tension is even in both the vertical and horizontal directions, unlike scroll bars.
Stretcher BarsStretcher bars are made of wood. They are sold in packages of two sides. I have seen them in lengths from 4"-40". The sides are assembled to form a square or rectangle.
With stretcher bars, the entire project area is visible at all times. Some people prefer to use stretcher bars only with stiffer fabrics, such as canvas, but other stitchers like them even for soft linens/evenweaves.
The edges of the fabric should be prepared in some way to make them stronger and to stop them from fraying. Basting, hemming or binding tape are recommended by different people. The fabric is then attached to the frame with quilting tacks or staples. Start at the center of each side and work out to the edges. The fabric should be taut, but not distorted. The tension is even in both the vertical and horizontal directions, unlike scroll bars.
Below are some extracts from postings about this topic.
From: Gillian Cannon <firstname.lastname@example.org>...
Fluorescent lamps (tubes) come in different colors, just as do incandescent lamps. Designer Warm White in a fluorescent lamp will give you true "daylight" colors. If you do not get the correct color of incandescent lamp (and they are harder to get true colors from) you will have major color changes. This is information from my daughter, the interior designer, and her technical notes on lighting...From: Gillian Cannon <email@example.com>...
There has been some discussion on several conferences about light bulbs (technically called lamps) for use with cross stitch or other work that requires "true" colors.Magnifiers can also be a big help. There are inexpensive types which clip onto glasses. Another kind hangs around the user's neck and is braced against the chest. A third type is attached to a head band.
An important safety note for any type of magnifier--keep the lens out of direct sunlight when not in use. The magnifier can concentrate the sunlight and start a fire. Placing a storage cover of fabric on the magnifier is sufficient to prevent this from happening.
There are lamps with magnifiers incorporated. One well known brand is Dazor.
Magnifying lamp pluses:
This section lists and discusses some of the more energetically debated issues.
In weaving, warp threads run up-and-down while weft threads run side-to-side. The selvage runs up-and-down, in the same direction as the warp threads.
If you want to determine the warp and weft on a piece of linen that has no selvage:
Do the warp and weft directions generally affect counted cross stitch? There are strong opinions on both sides of the issue. If you notice a difference, then do what works best.
The "linen has a front" camp:
Here are condensed comments from the different schools of thought.
School 1: Floss has a right end, and the end matters.
The equation used to derive this chart is described at the end.
Find the count (number
of stitches per inch) in the left-hand column and go across. Find the
number of strands of floss used at the top of the chart and go down.
The number of stitches per skein of floss is where these two intersect.
For you folks who like to know the details, here is how the chart was derived. As you will see, there was a fair amount of approximating going on.
A skein of floss is approximately 8-1/2 yards long. Assume most people stitch with an 18" length of floss. This gives 17 segments of 18" each per skein.
Most of the time, people stitch with more than one strand. There are 6 strands of floss per skein. So 6/strands_used is the number of pieces per segment.
Allow 3" per 18" length for securing the beginning and ending, and for general waste. This gives 15" of usable thread per 18" piece.
Now, how many inches of floss does each X take? Using the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate the length of each half stitch on 14 count fabric, and allowing for the vertical lengths on the back, and allowing a little for slop, we get 6/count (where count is the number of stitches per inch). Remember, I said there was a fair amount of approximating going on.
So the final equation is:
stitches_per_skein = 17 * (15 / (6/count)) * (6/strands_used)I used this equation in a perl script to produce the chart above.
The FAQs are a collection of information that should be of use to people who do many kinds of needlework. They include lists of magazines, mail order companies, guilds, events--even conversion tables. The hints and tips contained here have been collected from many people who have been kind enough to share their wisdom with rec.crafts.textiles.needlework.
Although efforts are made to make sure that the information in this FAQ is correct, this document is provided as is, with no warranties or guarantees of any kind either expressed or implied. Any commercial products or services are listed as a courtesy to the reader. No endorsement or value judgement is expressed or implied.
Please send comments and corrections to me.
Kathleen M. DyerThe FAQs are successors to the original "Counted Cross Stitch FAQ", first posted to the old rec.crafts.textiles newsgroup on April 20, 1994. Thanks to the people who have given permission for their messages and postings to be quoted directly. Special thanks to those people who read the draft of the original "Counted Cross Stitch FAQ" for their time, care and suggestions.
Needlework FAQ: Activities and Events
Needlework FAQ: Competitions, Selling Designs or Needlework
Needlework FAQ: Computer Software
Needlework FAQ: Counted Cross Stitch Tutorial
Needlework FAQ: Creating Cross Stitch Charts
Needlework FAQ: Designers and Design Companies
Needlework FAQ: Fabric
Needlework FAQ: Threads, Fibers, Embellishments
Needlework FAQ: Magazines
Needlework FAQ: Manufacturers and Distributors
Needlework FAQ: Organizations
Needlework FAQ: Retailers
Needlework FAQ: Stitching and Embroidery TechniquesAuthor/Editor: Kathleen Dyer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Posting frequency: Weekly
Plain text versions at: <http://www.dnai.com/~kdyer/faq.html>
Needlework FAQs and Periodic Postings
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Copyright 1994-2001 Kathleen M. Dyer
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Last modified: February 18, 2001
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