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Counted Cross Stitch Basics Part 3 - Stitching from a Pattern

Updated on February 27, 2012

Now that you have the basics down it is time to learn how to stitch from a pattern.

Counted Cross-Stitch is so named because you are literally counting the number of stitches you need to make in order to create the image on your fabric. These stitches are counted off of a pattern and then produced in thread on your fabric of choice. It sounds a little complicated but I promise you it's not. By the time you are done with this pattern you will see how simple it can be. In Pt 4. we will move on to stitching from a more complex pattern using multiple colors to increase our comfort level.

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Time to get Started!

Remember that second piece of fabric we prepared in Pt. 2? Well get it out, crease it like we learned and put it on your hoop because we will be using it to make our pattern on.

As you can see in the photo even on the hoop the crease will show up faintly. This will help us to gauge where to place our first stitch. Do we really need to crease the fabric? In all honesty for a design this size on the amount of fabric we have? No. Knowing where the center line and point of our fabric is will become more important as larger, more complex designs are done. My motto is if you start out using the right practices when it's easy they will be second nature when the work becomes more challenging!

Looking at the Pattern

Before beginning any stitching project it is important to look over our pattern so we are familiar with what we are looking at and doing.

The pattern is printed on grid paper with each large square consisting of a 10 x 10 grouping of squares. Each square is a potential cross-stitch. Notice a bold black arrow at the center top and left center. Those arrows denote the center points of the pattern.

This pattern has one symbol (a triangle) and our entire pattern is outlined. Every place we see a triangle we will be placing a stitch. Since our smallest grouping of stitches is two across we will be using a running cross-stitch through out the entire pattern. When we complete all the cross stitches then we will back-stitch everyplace where there is an outline on the pattern.

Next we need to decide where to start on the pattern. You can honestly pick any place you like. I personally like to start from the upper left. Each person will have their own preference and depending on the pattern the starting point may be different.


Time to Stitch

Starting at the upper left most part of the pattern we have a set of two cross stitches (see photographs below for a visual.) With this known I am going to count the number of potential stitches (8) and non stitches (2) giving me a total of 10 blocks that I need to go up from the center of our fabric. From where that ends I will need to go an additional three (3) spaces to the left to get my approximate starting point. In the photo's I have marked the "spaces" to make it easier to see. NOTE: If you would like to mark some guide stitches with a single strand of floss do so. Mark your center as I did and then go ahead and mark your 10th space up (photo 2 and 3.) When it is time to make your actually cross stitches for your work you will use two strands of floss.

Keep in mind we left a generous excess on all sides when we cut our piece of fabric. This was done for two reasons:

  1. To allow excess fabric for framing, making into a pillow, or for something this size it makes for a great pin cushion.
  2. To allow for us to be a little off center. If we're one or two stitches off it's no big deal. No one will ever know because of the generous excess.

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Row One

Now that we have found our starting point we will do our first row of two stitches. We will use two strands of floss for all of our stitching on the pattern.Once you have completed the first row of stitches mark them off on the pattern so you can keep track (Photo 3 below). I just use a highlighter I so can quickly know what is completed on my pattern.

NOTE: If you would like greater coverage feel free to use three strands. I stitched the entire body of the pattern with two strands of floss with the back stitching done with one strand.



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Row Two

The next row consists of four stitches with the first stitch being one block below and to the left of our first stitch and the row ends with the fourth stitch being on block below and to the right of the last stitch in our first row as illustrated below.

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Row Three and Beyond

Row Three can be looked at in two ways

  1. As a row of twelve (12) stitches.
  2. Broken in half as a row of six (6) stitches

With a row this long and there being stitches we would have to go back to do I am going to suggest that we cut it in half and look at it as a row of six stitches. (In essence what we will end up doing is the top part of the clover in left and right halves.)

Row Three begins one stitch below and to the left of our previous row and will continue on for six stitches which will end one stitch below and to the right as illustrated. (First photo below)

Row Four will begin directly below the first stitch in row three. (Second Photo below)

Rows One through Four will look like Photo 3 below.

Now go ahead and stitch rows Five through Eight on your own and then compare them to Photo 4.

It will look very much like half of a heart. Hopefully, you have begun to notice that every row is relative to the one above it. The counting in Counted Cross-Stitch is how many stitches we need to make of the color we are using. In part 5 we will stitch a pattern using multiple colors to help drive this concept home.

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Keep on going

Now that we have done the first part of the pattern go ahead and work on the rest yourself to complete the clover. You can approach starting each side however you wish. There is no right or wrong in it. It really is a personal preference.

Your completed clover without back stitching will look like the photo below.

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Back Stitching on Home

The only thing we have left to do is back stitch as our pattern shows and we will be done with our first Counted Cross-Stitch project.

I am going to start in the upper left hand corner of the pattern where we made our first cross stitch. If you need a refresher on making a back stitch take a quick peek at Counted Cross Stitch Basics Pt. 2. To help you get going here are a few photographs of the back stitching as it progresses along.

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Keep in mind there is no fixed way that a project requires in it's approach aside from back stitching is always done last when it is worked around or over cross stitches. What is important is to take time to consider what is being done, organize your approach and then take your time. Beginning stitchers have to think about every placement of the needle and fall of the thread. This is perfectly normal. As time goes on and confidence increases stitching will become very reflexive and patterns will become much easier to comprehend.

You Finished!

Congratulations! You have completed all of your back stitching and completed making your first piece of cross-stitch! Now you are ready to clean your project which we will go over in Counted Cross Stitch Basics Pt. 4 - Cleaning the Finished Product.

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    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      What a wonderful article. Your directions were clear and easy to follow and the pictures were great. I have been crossstitiching for more years than I want to admit and you have done a terrific job explaining clearly how it's done. Up, awesome and useful.

    • BillS25 profile image
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      BillS25 5 years ago from Providence, RI

      Thank you for the feedback. As someone who has been cross-stitching for three decades I have seen so many "directions" on how to cross-stitch that were just convoluted and did not give me enough understanding. With so much time on my hands these days I really wanted to put something out there that would be user friendly and a viable resource.

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      I would say you really achieved what you wanted to do. This is a great hub! For some time, I tried to do something similar to this, but I wasn't happy with the results, so I threw it out. Congratulkations on your Hub and your nomination.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Putting the photos here is so helpful. Thank you!

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. To read and vote, this way please https://hubpages.com/community/HubNuggets-Competit... Enjoy the Hubnuggets!

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      crochet48 5 years ago

      This is fantastic! I am telling a friend of mine about these instructions (she crochets but wants to learn cross stitch). Your illustrations are perfect for her.

    • WritingGuru profile image

      WritingGuru 5 years ago

      Being self taught - there was a lot I could learn in your article. I'll put it to good use. Thanks.

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