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Counted Cross Stitch for Beginners

Updated on September 13, 2013

Counted Cross Stitch - So Easy and Fun!

Counted cross stitch projects are easy enough to be a child's first sewing project, and beautiful enough to grace any home. Designs and subjects are limitless, as are styles. You can even chart your own designs on a piece of graph paper. Designs can be very simple or extremely complicated, complete with shading and embellishments. The learning curve is minimal and takes mere minutes. You can go from beginner to intermediate and even expert stitcher just as soon as you master a few extremely simple techniques.

First One To Smile

How To Do Counted Cross Stitch

Cross Stitch
Cross Stitch

The Basis Cross Stitch

Most counted cross stitch projects are worked on evenly woven cloth called Aida cloth. Aida cloth comes in different counts, but the most common and the best for learning is 14-count.

Some people work with embroidery hoops and some people prefer to just hold their work.

A blunt needlework needle, as opposed to a sharp sewing needle, is used.

Two strands of embroidery floss is generally used for most work. Embroidery floss comes in small skeins of six strands. Cut a length of thread no longer than your forearm (to avoid tangling). Fray the end of the thread and pull two strands apart from the remaining four.

Unlike regular embroidery, work isn't anchored by knotting the thread because it would just pull through the holes in the cloth. When you draw your needle up, leave a tail of about 1/2 inch behind. Hold it with your finger to keep it from pulling through. As you make a row of stitches, position the tailing thread underneath your work so it becomes secured, thus anchoring your thread. When you are about to run out of thread, leave enough thread on your needle so that when your needle goes down to the backside of your project, you can run it underneath about 1/2 inch of stitches, again securing your work. Snip your thread and load your needle again.

Diagram A shows how to make a a single cross stitch. Diagram B shows how to work a row of cross stitch in the same color. Some people like to do each cross stitch as a single cross stitch, crossing their stitch before going on to another. It doesn't matter. What is important is that every stitch is consistently crossed in the same direction in order for the work to look even. It's so much easier than the explanation. That's it. You can add outline stitching to your work and details like knots if you wish, but it isn't necessary.

Most people start out with purchasing a kit, which has the design chart and all the thread you need. You can also purchase charts and thread separately.

Basic Stitch Diagram.

Some Free Cross Stitch Projects

Cross Stitch Cats
Cross Stitch Cats

#1 - Free Counted Cross Stitch Cats Project

The perfect starting project - a cat sampler! This will work up so fast, yet its simplicity is what makes it so charming. Your first project will be something to be proud of.

Photo and access to pattern: kreinik

Basic 14-count Aida Cloth for Counted Cross Stitch

Cross Stitch Witch Hat
Cross Stitch Witch Hat

#2 - Free Counted Cross Stitch Witch Hat and Pumpkin Project

This is a second beginner's project. A good one to practice outlining stitches on. It should work up fast and yet not look like a really basic learner's project.

Photo and access to pattern: craftown

Cross Stitch Violets
Cross Stitch Violets

#3 - Free Counted Cross Stitch Violets Project

These beautiful violets show what shading can add to a project. You don't have to worry about it, the skill of shading rests with the pattern designer. All you have to do is follow the chart and change colors as directed.

Photo and access to pattern: abc-free-cross-stitch-patterns

Sun Cross Stitch
Sun Cross Stitch

#4 - Free Counted Cross Stitch Sun Project

Back to basics with this happy face sun. It's composed of solid colors and simple outline stitches. A great beginner's project.

Photo and access to pattern: cross-stitch-addict

Cross Stitch Daffodils
Cross Stitch Daffodils

#5 - Free Daffodils Counted Cross Stitch Project

A little more involved and a larger project with more stitches. It will take a little longer to complete. But still, nothing difficult here. Once you master the simple counted cross stitch technique, you can tackle almost any pattern.

Photo and access to pattern: maurer-stroh

Halloween Cross Stitch
Halloween Cross Stitch

#6 - Free Trick or Treat Counted Cross Stitch Project

Who could resist making this happy trick or treat bag. A child would love to make this one once they master the simple stitch.

Photo and access to pattern: craftown

Babushka Cross Stitch
Babushka Cross Stitch

#7 - Free Babushka Counted Cross Stitch Project

So cute! Easy solid colors to work with. You could practice adding your own outline touches on this to really make it stand out.

Photo and access to pattern: cupcakecutie

Quilt Cross Stitch
Quilt Cross Stitch

#8 - Free Quilt Counted Cross Stitch Project

I love quilts! I love cross stitch! What a win/win project. Solid colors for a quick and easy project. You might be inspired to chart your own quilt designs or other geometric projects.

Photo and access to pattern: crossstitch

#9 - Free Valentine Counted Cross Stitch Project

What a sweet Valentine project. This one is a little more involved, but still a small project to work quickly. It's a good example of a project worked on colored Aida cloth.

Photo and access to project: craftown

Home Cross Stitch
Home Cross Stitch

#10 - Free Home Sweet Home Counted Cross Stitch Project

I love this simple "Home Sweet Home" project. So, so simple, but not too old fashioned or busy. This one could slip in with any decor.

Photo and access to pattern: juliesxstitch

Mary Englebreit Counted Cross Stitch Designs

Photos used with permission are credited in individual modules. Every other photo on this lens resides in original form in my personal collection.

Thank you for stopping by. - I'd love it if you sign my Guestbook.

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    • Essentially Ind profile image

      Essentially Ind 

      6 years ago

      Nice inspirational lens to start with creating lovely cross stitch work............:)


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