Getting Ready: To Cross Stitch


There are a few things to do to get your cross stitch project started.

Prepare your Thread

DMC Embroidery Floss is composed of six strands that are twisted together and easy to separate. Many cross stitch designs stitched on 14-count Aida call for only two strands of floss, so you will need to separate your floss. Refer to your design chart to see how many strands (or plies) of floss the design specifies.

Find the end of the thread on your skein of DMC Floss. Slowly pull the end out from the skein until you have an 18” length of floss and cut it off. To separate the floss into individual strands, pull one strand up and out slowly until it is completely separated from the remaining strands. Continue to pull out the number of strands you need to stitch with. To rejoin the threads, hold them together at one end then gently stroke the lengths to smooth and recombine them.

Estimating Thread for a Project

Thread amounts for a project depend on numerous variables; the tension of the stitch and where the color is placed in the design are the two primary ones. A quick way to estimate the amount of thread you will need for a large project is to take one 18”, half yard length and in the correct ply, cross stitch the fabric until the thread is finished. You will then know the how many stitches per length of thread you can make.

Each skein of DMC Embroidery floss has 8.7 yards and a skein of Pearl Cotton 5 contains 27 yards. By counting the stitches on your chart and using a calculator you should be able to determine the amount you’ll need.

Most charts assume that one skein will be plenty but in larger projects like Afghans, the chart will list how many skeins of each color are needed.

Preparing your Fabric

It is important to locate the center of your fabric so that you can center the design on it. To find the center, fold the fabric in half and then in half again, the center of the fabric is located where the folds intersect. To mark the center point make a small dot with a Water Soluble Pen.

  • Every chart lists the finished size of the cross stitch design. Add at least 3” all around the design area for framing or more if your finishing technique requires it.
  • DO NOT wash your fabric before you use it. Washing will tighten up the holes and make stitching on the fabric more difficult as the squares become harder to see.
  • Embroidery hoops are especially helpful if you are a beginner. See below for a step-by-step on how to easily insert your fabric into an embroidery hoop.

How to Use an Embroidery Hoop:

Loosen the screw or nut on the outer embroidery hoop and separate the inner and outer rings. The outer ring will hold the fabric over the inner ring once you have inserted the fabric.

Place the inner ring on a flat surface. Place your fabric over it, then put the outer ring over the fabric and press until the bottom ring is snug inside the outer ring. Tug the corners of the fabric slightly to make the fabric taunt – make sure this is as tight as possible so the fabric won’t slip out of the hoop.

Tighten the nut or screw securely. Your fabric is now in place and ready to embroider.

TIP: Never leave your work in the hoop for an extended period of time. This can cause creases in the fabric that are difficult to remove. It is best to take your work out of the hoop when you’re not working on it, as it only takes a moment to place it back in the hoop.

Preparing your Needle- To thread your needle, it is easiest to use the DMC Needle Threader. To use the DMC Needle Threader, slide the eye of the needle onto the hook, then loop the thread on the hook and pass the hook through the eye of the needle and pull the thread through.

Here are some other ways to thread your needle without the assistance of a threader:

Pinch and Poke

Pinch and Poke Cut a clean end of thread and pinch it between your thumb and forefinger, leaving only a little of the end exposed. Holding the needle in your other hand, “poke” the eye of the needle over the tip and the thread into the eye, then pull the thread through. Pinching the thread gives you more control to guide the thread into the eye. You may have to “saw” the eye of the needle back and forth slightly to get the thread to enter the eye.

Loop, Pinch and Press

Loop, Pinch and Press – Loop the end of thread over the eye of the needle and pinch the loop tightly between your thumb and forefinger. Remove the needle from the loop and press the eye of the needle down over the thread. Pull on the loop to get the thread through the eye of the needle.

TIP: Make sure your hands and work surface are kept clean while you’re stitching. Make it a habit to wash your hands before you begin to stitch and keep drinks and snacks away from the area.