Learning How to Do Different Types of Stitches

Counted cross stitching is an amazing embroidery technique that is very popular among many handicrafts lovers. There are many reasons for that and the main ones are that cross stitching is quite easy to learn and another one is that the final result looks awesome and can be considered a true work of art if done properly.

Cross stitch

There are two ways to do the cross stitch. The first one is when the cross stitch is done with two stitches and the cross appears as a result. The second way to do the cross stitching is to do the first elements of the crosses in a row (typically horizontally) and then go in a backward direction doing the second elements of the crosses. This is important that the direction of the second (above) stitches is always the same starting with the first cross of the embroidery and ending with the last one.

Depending on the direction you do the embroidery, the below stitches of the crosses are done in different directions.

If the rows are cross stitched from bottom to top, then the first row of below stitches is done from upper right corner of a cell to the left bottom corner.

learn to cross stitch

If then the row of upper stitches is completed and the row is finished, you can take the needle out in the upper right corner of the next row and continue stitching it.

cross stitching tutorial

If the embroidery is done from top to bottom, then start the row of the below stitches from the left bottom corner.

cross stitching tutorial

When the row of upper stitches is finished, take the needle out in the place where the new row of the below stitches has to be started.

cross stitching tutorial

If you have to do the vertical row of stitches, then do one full cross at a time. In this case the below stitch is done from the left bottom corner to the upper right corner of a cell and then the upper stitch is done to form a cross.

cross stitching tutorial

If the vertical row is done from bottom to top, then the stitches are done vice versa.

cross stitching tutorial

The below stitch is done from the upper right corner of a cell to the bottom left corner. The upper stitch is done from the upper left to the bottom right corner. The needle is taken out to do the next below stitch. The diagonal rows are stitched starting with the left bottom corner of canvas' cell and taking the needle to the upper right corner. The upper stitch of the cross is done and then the needle goes in a diagonal direction to the bottom right corner of the below cross to be stitched.

learn how to cross stitch

If the beginning of the next row is shifted, when the first row is finished you'll need to take the needle in a diagonal direction to the left and take it out on the front of the canvas to do the below stitch of the first cross in the next row.

cross stitching visual aid

If several cells have to be left blank, then the thread is taken in a diagonal direction on the reverse side of the canvas to the desired cell and then you can continue counted cross stitching as usually.

embroidery tutorial

Fractional stitches

Half stitch is done by making only one stitch instead of two crossing stitches as usually. This is very simple: take the needle out on the front of the canvas and insert it at the oposite diagonal corner. The direction depends on the direction you do the whole embroidery. If the cross stitching pattern uses various types of stitches, do the half stitches in the direction of upper stitches of full crosses.

learn how to do a half-stitch

Quarter stitch is done by taking the needle out at one corner of the cell and insering it into the central hole of the cell on the canvas. It should look like this:

learn how to do a quarter-stitch

A three-quarter stitch consists of a half stitch and a quarter stitch. You should first form the quarter stitch and then do the half stitch in the opposite direction.

learn how to do a three-quarter-stitch.jpg

French Knots

French knot is a type of stitching that works very well to use for certain embroidery designs’ elements, which look like dots when stitched on the canvas. On the cross stitching patterns they are often represented in a form of a dots as well.

In order to do the French knot, take the thread up through the canvas holding the floss firmly with your left hand. Wind the floss around the needle twice. Take the needle back through the canvas as close to the place it came out from as possible. Keep the floss tight. Take the needle and the floss through the canvas until the knot is done.

learn how to do a French knot


Backstitching is a common stitching technique often used to outline the contours of the embroidery and add fine detail to the design. In order to do this stitch type, you have to define the pattern of the backstitch and then work through it (usually from right to left, yet this depends on what your cross stitching pattern suggests). The technique can basically be described as doing two stitches forward and one ina backward direction. This is clearly illustrated in the below figure. This is most comfortable to practice backstites on the even-weave fabric.

learn how to do a backstitch


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