Cross-stitch is a popular form of counted-thread embroidery in which X-shaped stitches are used to form a picture. Other stitches are also commonly used in cross-stitch, among them, 1/4, 1/2 & 3/4 stitches and backstitches. Cross-stitch is usually executed on easily countable evenweave fabric, or more rarely on non-countable fabric, on which a countable fabric is applied that is removed later, by drawing out every thread of it under the embroidery. This fabric is called waste canvas. The stitcher counts the threads in each direction so that the stitches are of uniform size and appearance.
This form of cross-stitch is also called counted cross-stitch in order to distinguish it from other forms of cross-stitch. Sometimes cross-stitch is also done on designs printed on the canvas, showing every single cross (stamped cross-stitch).
Cross-stitch embroiderers frequently use an even-weave fabric of linen or cotton and work from charts on graph paper. Cross-stitching can also be done on a specialty Aida cloth that is available in 11, 14, 16, 18, and 22 count sizes. The sizes of Aida and Evenweave types denote the approximate number of fibers in an inch. Special vinyl weaves and perforated paper products are also available. The size of a piece of embroidery can be changed by using a fabric with another count size.
Today cotton embroidery floss is the most usual thread. It is a thread made of mercerised cotton, made of six strands that are only loosely twisted together and easily separable. Other materials used are pearl cotton, Danish flower thread and several different threads made of silk or Rayon. Danish flower thread is especially popular for nature motifs which originally came from Denmark. Sometimes different wool threads, metallic threads or other specialty threads are used, sometimes for the whole work, sometimes for accents and embellishments.
Thread size is usually chosen so that the stitches cover the fabric completely, creating a tapestry-like effect. But especially in monochrome work the thread can also be chosen a bit thinner, so that the individual crosses can be recognised as such and let the fabric show through a bit. The latter possibility can look nice in monochrome patterns and in combination with Blackwork.
Today cross-stitch is the most popular form of embroidery as a hobby in the western world. It lends itself well to recreational use because it's easy to learn and very versatile. There are patterns available for almost every taste, and even beginners can create beautiful stitchery with some patience.
Traditionally cross-stitch was used to embellish things like dishwear, household linen, doilies and similar, half useful, half ornamental items. This use is still popular, especially in Europe. But often cross-stitch is used to make pieces that are meant to be framed and hung as pictures. On items for daily use, usually only small areas are embroidered. The pictures can either have an unembroidered background or be completely covered with stitches.
There are cross-stitching "guilds" in various cities of the USA and other countries that propagate knowledge about cross-stitch and give stitchers the opportunity to meet people with the same interest. Often they also offer lessons. Sometimes these guilds do collaborative works that would be too big for one stitcher.
Modern cross-stitch designs often makes extensive use of colours in many shades. When using fine fabric and thread this can create very realistic effects, almost like paintings, if that is desired. The look of such opulent designs is somewhat related to Berlin wool work, although the subjects are more varied and sometimes more modern. Others prefer more stylised patterns with less colours, which may go well with modern furniture, but also may be suggestive of traditional patterns.
Often cross-stitch is combined with other popular forms of embroidery, such as Hardanger embroidery or Blackwork embroidery.
A fairly recent development is the use of other stitches in cross-stitch work, in this context called special stitches, in order to create new visual effects and satisfy the wishes of keen stitchers who may find pure cross-stitch boring after a while. These may be stitches from surface embroidery, canvas embroidery or even drawn thread work and other more unusual branches of embroidery. Also beadwork and other embellishments like paillettes and specialty threads of various kinds are becoming more popular.
This development, new as it may seem is in fact a reinvention. In earliest times, cross-stitch was often used as one of many different stitches.
Especially in the USA there are many cross-stitch designers who sell their patterns under their names and are well-known among stitchers. Many of them maintain websites and keep in touch with possible customers, although usually the patterns are sold by shops and other distributors. Other patterns are published in cheap magazines, especially patterns done by native designers in Europe.
Cross-stitch design has become possible for many hobby embroiderers with the advent of cross-stitch design computer software. Thus it can be a form of creative expression rather than just copying the patterns of someone else.
Related stitches and forms of embroidery
Cross-stitch was often used together with other stitches. It is sometimes used in Crewel Embroidery, especially in its more modern derivatives. It is also often used in needlepoint.
A specialized historical form of embroidery using cross-stitch is Assisi Embroidery.
There are many stitches which are related to cross-stitch and were used in similar ways in earlier times. The best known are Italian cross-stitch, long-armed cross-stitch, and Montenegrin stitch. Italian cross-stitch and Montenegrin stitch are reversible, that means the work looks the same on both sides. They have a slightly different look than regular cross-stitch. Two-sided cross-stitch looks exactly like regular cross-stitch, but is also reversible. The reversible stitches are more difficult and time-consuming, and use more thread. All those stitches are rarely used in mainstream embroidery, but they are still used to recreate historical pieces of embroidery or by the creative and adventurous stitcher.
Berlin wool work and similar petit point stitchery resembles the heavily shaded, opulent styles of cross-stitch, and sometimes also used charted patterns on paper.
Cross-stitch is one of the oldest forms of embroidery and can be found all over the world. Many folk museums show examples of clothing decorated with cross-stitch, especially from continental Europe and the Orient. But multicoloured, shaded, painting-like patterns as we know them today are an invention of the last two centuries.
Cross stitch as a business is classified as an industry based on its purpose. It can be in the manufacturing industry as a textile product (NAICS Code 314999) if what is produced is a new product, such as an article of clothing. It can be in the arts industry if the cross stitch is considered to be a work of art (NAICS Code 711510), rather than a product.
There are a variety of ways people make money from cross stitch. Some sell their cross stitch locally, at trade shows or via the internet. Others sell original patterns or kits they have designed themselves. And, still others teach cross stitch. The best way to learn more about the viabiiity of any of these business models is to participate in associations and workshops, subscribe to magazines that are related to your interests, and read books that give more in-depth information about the business.
The Art of William
Over 40 projects inspired by the design master.
Cross-Stitch : Inspirations from the World Around You
Cross-stitch projects such as bookmarks, pincushions, pillows, ornaments, and more from Better Homes and Gardens.
Basic, clear, compleate information on counted cross stitch, some embroidery work, hardanger, pulled and drawn thread and a variety of speciallty stitches.
The Basic Guide to
Pricing Your Craftwork
Basic formulas for pricing craftwork, retail or wholesale.
The Basic Guide to
Selling Arts & Crafts
Step-by-step help on over 150 topics for marketing your home made crafts.
The Basic Guide to
Selling Crafts on the Internet
Unravels the mysteries of selling crafts online with clear, step-by-step advice.
Business and Legal
Forms for Crafts
A complete set of business and legal forms designed to meet the active craftperson's every need.
The Business of
Sewing, Volume 1
Sample price lists; lists of organizations and lending institutions; payment methods you can offer your customers; how to get a merchant account for credit card sales; how to collect money on past due accounts; buying in bulk with a list of suppliers and a sample letter to contact them; business and financial plans; studio design, networking; time management; tackling your fears; turning sewing into a business and making the transition; how to avoid getting frustrated; industry statistics.
The Business of
Sewing, Volume 2
How to make a "Consumer Price List", and how to structure a "Working Price List" and the use of both; what "Pricing" method is best for you and how to handle price resistance; how to conduct production analysis with a time and motion study; how to make a project inventory list; how to market your business; subcontractors or fabricators and how to hire them; E-commerce and on-line merchant accounts, web design, shopping carts and E-newsletters; how to write books and articles, teach seminars and workshops, and produce sewing audios and videos.
Encyclopedia of Needlework
Originally published in France in 1884, this anniversary edition provides fascinating historical information plus new additions that make it a classic.
More than 40 delightful cross stitch teddy bear designs.
Complete introduction to the art of needleworking, discussing the finer points of canvases, yarns, and the various materials available for creating beautiful pieces of homespun art.
Crafting as a
How to develop a thriving retail business.
Covers every aspect of starting and managing your own craft-based business.
Crafts and Crafts
Good business practice in dealing with customers, pricing, and presentation in the show booth.
Business Answer Book & Resource Guide
Answers to questions about starting, marketing, and managing a homebased business efficiently, legally, and profitably.
of Cross-Stitch Techniques
Full-color reference covering every form of cross-stitch and related counted-thread technique, from ancient traditional work to modern pictorial designs.
Guide to manipulating, coloring and embellishing fabrics.
Hundreds of secrets to success in selling arts & crafts.
The best ideas and information from 80 professionals in various fields of the craft industry.
A complete update of the classic guide, which has become known as "The Black Bible."
Royal School of
Needlework Embroidery Techniques
The distinguished reputation and specialist knowledge of the Royal School of needlework are combined in this colorful and inspirational introduction to the most popular hand embroidery techniques.
Two hundred years of European and American patterns organized by motif, style, color, layout, and period.
How textiles are produced and how appropriate performance characteristics are incorporated into materials and products.
Business: A Legal Guide
Explains legal principles that protect a crafts business and help it grow. It also provides practical advice on how to deal with day-to-day problems -- such as dealing with delinquent payments. The book provides over a dozen tear-out contracts and other legal forms, plus step-by-step instructions to fill them out.
For the crafter seeking excellent original design, full-size patterns and complete accurate instructions for how-to projects in general crafts, needle crafts and floral.
A cross stitch magazine, with at least 20 designs in each issue. Includes floss conversion charts so that stitchers can use their favorites; includes specially enlarged, easy-to-read-charts.
Projects in this magazine include a choice of traditional and contemporary styles from leading Australian designers. A double-sided pattern sheet presents charts, diagrams and design outlines in full size in every issue.
Fiberarts : The
Magazine Of Textiles
Reviews national and international exhibitions, and explores new trends and issues facing the field.
Features the work of top needlework, smocking, and sewing designers from Australia and around the world, complete with embroidery keys, full-size patterns, illustrations, and step-by-step directions for completing projects at home.
Cross-stitch, embroidery, knitting, quilting, crochet, beading, lace making, and crochet, plus the stories and ethnic traditions behind the techniques.
First-hand instruction for creating beautiful garments and sewn home furnishings.