Counted Cross Stitch Tutorial
By popular demand, I am happy to present my animated cross stitch tutorial page! For those who have purchased my Beatles Counted Cross Stitch Charts or Kits, this is an extra bit of encouragement that will set you on the course to a long and satisfying hobby!
So you just purchased a Beatles Counted Cross Stitch Kit or Chart at the last convention or online store, opened it up, and think you're in another galaxy! What are all these supplies? How do they all work together? And that chart looks like it's written in some secret code! The first step is unfolding the aida cloth, that white or colored piece of material in the package. Aida cloth is the fabric used to stitch a series of X's which form the design mapped out on the chart. It is a woven cloth that has many squares and holes spaced evenly from left to right and top to bottom. To prevent fraying, it is a good idea to put a 1/4" piece of masking tape around all the edges.
Open up your chart. You can actually see the image! Now it's just a matter of transferring the design from paper to fabric! Turn the chart over. On the back of the design is a table with a series of symbols. Each symbol represents one color of thread that will be used at different locations in the design. The brand of thread used in all my kits and charts is DMC Floss. This is an industry standard and is found in crafts stores and needlepoint specialty shops throughout the world. Each DMC thread color is assigned a unique number. You will see these numbers on each skein of floss in you kit or on the DMC display at your local crafts store. My table maps the symbol, DMC Floss name, and DMC number. Below the color chart is an aida cloth size directory. All of my kits include 14 count aida. This is the standard size that most stitchers use for their designs. Aida cloth comes in 11 count, 14 count, 18 count, and 22 count. The basic rule is: the smaller the count, the larger the finished design will be; the larger the count, the smaller the finished design will be. As mentioned above, the aida cloth has a series of squares and holes woven into it. The cloth count represents how many squares per inch are represented in a design. So in review, a 14 count design has 14 stitches per inch, 11 count has 11 stitches per inch (so it's bigger!), 18 count has 18 stitches per inch (so it's smaller!), and 22 count has 22 squares per inch (so it's the smalles of all!). It is recommended that beginners use 14 count aida cloth.
There are two arrows on the bottom center and left or right center of your chart. Take each of your forefingers, point on each arrow and slide them across the chart until they touch in the center. Use a pencil or hi-lighter and color in the center square. This is the starting point for your design. Fold your aida cloth in half, then in half again. Take your needle or a pin and poke it through the folded corner of the colth. Open the cloth. The needle or pin should be poking through the center of the cloth. This is the starting point for your thread. Next we move onto the floss.
Determine what symbol is hi-lighted in the center of your chart. For example, its an "O"which is the symbol for DMC White. Take your White floss from the kit. Standard embroidery floss consists of six threads (or strands) twisted together. In general, lengths of 14"-18" are cut then all the strands are separated. Usually, pulling on strand while holding the rest near the top will separate it without creating a knot. Once all the strands are loose, recombine them in groups of two.
Now you are ready to thread the needle. Almost all counted cross stitch designs use two strands of embroidery floss. On larger aida cloth, three or four strands may be used for a greater filling in effect. Take one strand of the separated floss. Hold one end between your right forefinger and thumb and the other end between your left forefinger and thumb. Join the two ends together. Now you have two strands of thread evenly joined. Use these ends or the looped end to thread your needle. Your floss will be positioned like the photo on the left or right, depending which method you choose.
Threading Needle: use the looped end or the open ends
At the center of your fabric, bring your threaded needle up through the back of the cloth into the upper right corner (or small hole) of the square. Leave part of the looped end dangling from the back. Bring your needle down into the opposite corner (or small hole). For instance, if you started in the upper right corner of the square, you will pierce through the lower left corner of the square. After making this first half stitch, pass the needle through the loop of thread to anchor it to the back of the fabric. Pull taught, but not too tight!
BASIC CROSS STITCH
A basic cross stitch is an X. It is formed by crossing over the intersection of two threads. Slant all the bottom halves of your stitches in the same direction. Then cross them to form the X on the return journey. Stitches will look more uniform this way. For example, if your first row of stitches consisted of five white X's, you would stitch five in this direction: /, then return for the cross in this direction: \. Return to the next row and count how many white stitches are needed here. Keep working down the pattern until you have stitched all of the white. Consult your symbol key and determine the next color thread you will need. Thread the needle, anchor it, count the number of stitches, and proceed. Keep going until you have stitched all your symbols and your design is complete!
Basic Cross Stitch
Sometimes you may come across symbols that only cover half of the square on your chart. This means you need to execute a 1/4 stitch or a 3/4 stitch. This means the stitch is covering 1/4 or 3/4 of the square. Bring the needle up through the hole, then into the center of the square. This will require driving into the weave of the fabric. For the 3/4 stitch you will need to do a / or a \.
A backstitch is an outline stitch used to finish off a design and emphasize certain areas. Use a single strand of floss for backstitches.
Tweeding involves taking a single strand of two or more colors of floss and threading them together in the needle. This technique is used in facial and hair shading to give the design a realistic appearance. Lots of tweeding is used in my Rubber Soul design!
When you have come to the end of your floss, it is time to secure it on the back of the aida cloth. With a few inches of thread remaining, pull the end of the thread through to the back of the fabric and run the needle under about three or four stitches. Clip off any excess thread. Never use knots on the back of the finished work!
LAURA'S HELPFUL HINTS
1. Always wash your hands before handling your aida cloth or floss.
2. Roll your aida cloth when not in use. This helps to keep it clean and reduces the amount of creases.
3. Hand wash your piece with Woolite in cold water when complete. Rinse thoroughly with cold water. Hand dry. While still slightly damp, iron the back of your design on a mild setting. This helps prevent the colors from bleeding.
4. Frame your finished piece! If you do it yourself, be creative! There is a vast selection of mats and frames on the market. Or have your local framer do the work. It may be more expensive but it's worth it! Display your work in it's best glory!
5. Above all, be positive, patient, persistant, and have fun! And I'm always available to answer your questions via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or at my toll free number, 800-498-9809.
HOUSEWORK WHENEVER, STITCHING FOREVER!!!!!