Cross-Stitch for Beginners

Welcome to the Unapologetic Nerd's School of Witchcraft and Stitchery!  

I am your host, The Unapologetic Nerd, and I'm here to make your journey into Cross-Stitch Country as pleasant and painless as possible. 

For those of you who are new to needlework of any kind, I've taken the time to compile a list (I LOVE LISTS) of reasons why you should stop your other boring "cool" hobbies, and take up the guilty-pleasure that is cross-stitching.

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1. Cheapest gifts you have ever made that your family will keep FOREVER!! Because only serial killers and sociopaths throw away stitched-together pieces of love. 

2. Every time I sit down to start a new project, I feel like I walk straight into a Jane Austen novel. Make a cup of tea, take on a British accent, and have witty banter with your imaginary Mr. Darcy. Method Stitching at its finest!

3. It is crazy ridiculous easy to learn. Ask yourself: Can I count to 20? Check. Can I pay attention to something longer then 5 minutes? Double-Check. Do I know how Youtube works? CHECK ALL OVER THE PLACE!!! This ain't rocket-science: If you can count your toes, you can stitch. If not, you have way bigger problems on your hands, my friend. 

4. Once you get in the swing of things, you can multi-task while you work. I LOVE sitting down with a good movie (preferably something from BBC) and a dash of Facebook while stitching away at my latest project. 

5. The unrealistic euphoria you experience when you finish a pattern. Example: Call up mom, crow over triumphant creative genius that is your cross-stitchery, wait expectantly for Vatican Gallery of Tapestries to call with offer for God-given masterpiece to be hung in special exhibit.

Soon... this will be replaced with my cross-stitch pattern of the Big Bang Theory Cast

Soon... this will be replaced with my cross-stitch pattern of the Big Bang Theory Cast

 

We'll be doing a REALLY EASY pattern today as our How-To Example. (Quick note: this guide is easier to view on a computer, as the formatting can get rather squished if you're using a phone. Just FYI.)

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I got my pattern from NerdyLittleStitcher on Etsy (my absolute FAVORITE place to find quirky, fun patterns). Most are "instant downloads", so you can save them away for multiple uses. 

This is what my download looks like.

This pattern calls for multiple colors, but for the sake of simplicity, I'm only using black floss. This PDF has various symbols that make up the image; these would stand for the different colors you would use. We can ignore these. Just count your way through the pattern! 

Materials Needed:

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A. Aida cloth: I chose 14-ct Oatmeal for this project, which means our finished picture will be larger, due to larger stitches. 16/18-ct. aida cloth = smaller stitch. Hobby Lobby has a large selection of different colors/textures of aida.

B. Embroidery Hoop: I tend to gravitate towards a 5" circle hoop; large enough to give you plenty of workspace, but small enough to comfortably handle. If I'm doing long lines of text, I use my oval hoop.

C. Embroidery Floss:  Floss typically comes in a 6 strand bunch. Depending on your fabric, you'll probably only use 2-3 strands while you stitch, so you will need to separate them (pics below) as you go. You can choose whichever brand of floss you like; if you're following a pattern you bought, a lot of times they'll give you color codes from DMC Floss (carried at Walmart).

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D. Embroidery Scissors: Not an essential, but highly recommended nonetheless. They're portable, extra sharp for trimming tiny threads, and taper to a fine point to help with inevitable snags.

E. Embroidery Needle: AKA Tapestry needles! These have a blunt tip so you don't snap/snag threads. Size 26-28 needle is standard. I'm partial to my super-duper special gold embroidery needle that I've used since childhood. If you ask me where it came from, I'll answer: "Unicorns and rainbows". It is magical. 

F. Threader: Optional, but unless you have the eyesight of a hawk, I suggest you pick one up. Get an embroidery threader: they have a much bigger opening for floss instead of sewing thread.

Prep your Materials

Figure out how much cloth you'll need overall for your project. Our music clef heart is taller then it is wide, so I'm allowing extra space JUST IN CASE... 

Our heart needs 3 strands, so you can separate your floss into two groups of 3 strands each.

1. Thread the needle FIRST.

1. Thread the needle FIRST.

2. Thread your floss.

2. Thread your floss.

3. Pull needle back out, and make sure you have 2-3" of extra floss leftover.

3. Pull needle back out, and make sure you have 2-3" of extra floss leftover.

YOU ARE NOW READY TO START STITCHING!!

I've already made my 1st stitch here, and am coming in from the front for my 2nd.

I've already made my 1st stitch here, and am coming in from the front for my 2nd.

When you make make the return, don't pull tight just yet. You need the loop to secure the extra floss.

When you make make the return, don't pull tight just yet. You need the loop to secure the extra floss.

Make your first stitch from behind; you'll want to leave extra floss behind to weave in later. This helps make your back of your cloth look neat and clean! 

Position your loop so that the extra floss will be caught in its trap, then hold the extra floss as you pull the needle on the other side, making the loop taut. Repeat this process 3-4 times to ensure the extra floss won't come free. Trim excess floss. 

Running out of thread? Start a new strand! 

I'm always safer then sorry when it comes to starting a new strand: I want extra breathing room to work with when tying off my floss. If you've only got 3 inches left in your strand, good luck! That's a nightmare...

On the back, weave your needle through a patch of floss and pull through. Don't pull tight!! Leave a little loop left to use as your tie-off.

Send needle through the loop...

NOW pull tight!

From here, you can either reweave the floss through your backing to hide the excess floss, or you can go ahead and trim! 

My face when I have a billion letters to stitch...

My face when I have a billion letters to stitch...

You'll repeat these steps of separating floss strands, threading needles, starting a new strand, trim, stitch-stitch-stitch, loop-to-tie-off, and trim OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. It's worse if you have lots of letters to do. Then you have to do this for EVERY letter. *Kanye pissed-off face*

Once you start seeing a recognizable image come to life, however, you quickly forget about those things, and Reason #5 begins: Unrealistic Euphoria.

EEEEEEEKKK!!!!!! *happy dance*

EEEEEEEKKK!!!!!! *happy dance*

 

The Moment of Truth...

This is a picture of my finished product!!! Super easy, only took one skein of black floss to complete. Time: 4.5 hours. Level: Beginner.

BOOM.

You can display your newly finished project A) in the hoop you worked it in, or B) you can frame it (which is a little easier to hang). I will probably take this out and paint the hoop a darker shade of mahogany before displaying it in my office. 

Visit my Etsy profile HERE to see my favorite cross-stitch patterns and sellers. 

Whether you're an experienced stitcher or a newbie, I'd love to hear feedback and see pics of your latest projects!!