You Want to Cross Stitch, but What do You Need? - Secrets of a Successful Stitcher

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So you want to Cross Stitch

Proper Cross Stitch Lighting

First and foremost, consider where you will be stitching. Will you be stitching in your living room, bedroom and will you be stitching by a window? If you do want to stitch by a window, be aware that intense sunlight beating down on your work could cause discoloration causing your work to look washed out. Even though you may like the light the sun gives off, there are other ways to mimic natural sunlight. I rely on OTT lighting for all of my stitching needs as it does mimic natural sunlight which seems to really bring the canvas alive and alleviates shadows. I stitch in two areas of my home, my family room and my bedroom and use the OTT floor stand models, and even have a table-top model for travel or stitching at the kitchen table. The following OTT floor stand model is similar to what I have and is available on Amazon:

Another new and upcoming stitching floor lamp is made by Brightech. They also sell on Amazon and have high ratings.

Comfortable Seating

The chair I use in my family room is different than the one I use in my bedroom. In my family room, I stitch in my recliner. I have my floor stand lighting positioned at the rear on the left side, and I set my recliner in the recliner mode which allows me to stitch comfortably on my lap frame while watching television. My recliner has an arm on the left side which does not get in my way while I stitch. My back is still fully supported even though I am reclining. Now in my bedroom, I prefer a comfortable chair that has no arms as I feel they would get in the way. It is a comfortable folding chair that can be folded up and stored to make more room as needed. Whatever chair you choose, make sure the chair has adequate padding on the seat and the back and do not slouch as you will need good posture while stitching. As a step up, another fabulous chair to use for stitching would be a chair sold by Grandin Road called the "Valencia" chair. The chair is armless, has great support for your seat and your back. It's a little pricey, but it looks like it would be an excellent chair for stitching. It comes in 12 different colors to match whatever décor you have in each room.

Grandin Road Valencia Chair

Cross Stitch Frame

The type of frame depends on what you're going to be comfortable with and the size of your project. If you have a very small project, you could get away with using a round embroidery frame or a small scroll frame, or even Q-Snap frames which can also be used on very large pieces. Medium to large projects can be stitched on lap-style frames, or for the very large, there are floor model frames which will handle projects as large as 34 to 36 inches across. For instance, I use a lap frame when I am stitching in my recliner and it is quite comfortable to use. I use a lap base purchased from K's Creations and a universal clamp accessory which will fit medium to large size projects. Now upstairs in my bedroom where I have more room, I use a floor model frame from K-s Creations which will handle projects that are quite large I am working on a project right now that is called Portrait of a Young Woman with Child that is very large: (25 inches in width with a 6.5-inch margin to allow for framing which is a total of 31.5 inches across).


When you are done stitching, you should always cover up your project with an old clean pillow case or sheet. If you don't, you will be surprised at how much dust and dirt will collect on the surface of your work, especially in areas where extremely light and extremely dark colors are used. Read my article I wrote on "Keeping your Needlework Clean"


Magnifier for Cross Stitch

Just 7 years ago I used to be able to stitch on 18 ct. Aida cloth without the use of a magnifier. Now that I'm older, my eyes require a bit of magnification. Although I have proper OTT lighting, I also use a clip-on magnifier that clips onto my frame. Not only does it serve as a great magnifier, but it also has a battery powered light which will focus right on that particular area you are stitching.


Highlighters are used to highlight those areas on your pattern which you have already stitched. They are a tremendous help as they do not cover up the symbols, but simply shade them effectively so that you don't lose your place and repeat stitching you've already stitched. I have used many brands and the one I really think highly of and use continually is the Stabilo Swing Cool Highlighter, Multi Color, 8 Pack on Amazon. These markers have an anti-drying ingredient which prevents them from drying up if you happen to leave the cap off momentarily. It comes in either a 6-pack or 8-pack. I purchased the 8-pack as the colors are different and they are so pretty. They also do not smear or smudge when using them which is another plus!

Cross Stitch Needles

Good cross stitch needles are important to have. You want to be able to stab the cloth with confidence, without snagging the cloth, and the strength of the needle is important. I once used a brand of needles which at first I thought were great until using them for a length of time. In a short period of time, each and every needle I used in that pack snapped in half or snapped at the threading area. In fact, I went through an entire pack in one sitting and vowed never to purchase this brand again. They were John James Gold Tapestry Petite Needles which seemed to break quite often. I now use cross stitch needles made by DMC Tapestry Needles (size 26 for 18 Aida cloth). These needles are smooth, dependable, and strong. They are able to withstand hours if not days of use without breaking or turning black due to perspiration from our fingers.

Cross Stitch Scissors

You will need a good pair of small scissors to snip your threads when changing colors. As long as they are compact and sharp, then that is what is required for neat snipping of threads. Do not use dull scissors as that will cause fraying of the threads.

Cross Stitch Cloth

Cross Stitch Cloth is needed to stitch on. You can either use Aida cloth (which is gathered in squares that easily reveal the holes so that you can see exactly where to place your needle) or evenweave cloth which is a little more difficult to use for hole placement, but nevertheless, use what you're comfortable with. I purchase a lot of my Aida cloth from Wichelt  as they seem to have the best quality, a huge variety of colors and counts. Charles Craft is also a good brand to use, and 123Stitch is also an excellent choice from which to buy your cloth. Amazon also is adding more selection of Aida cloth as well. So do your homework but you can't go wrong with any of these establishments.

Cross Stitch Floss

If you've noticed recently, the price of cross stitch floss has gone up dramatically corporate-wide. I've tried complaining, but it does no good. All I can tell you is to look for places that sell it at a reduced price like Walmart, or take advantage of sales at your favorite craft stores. Every now and then places like Michaels or JoAnn's Fabrics will have sales that say"20% off your entire order." As a designer, I use nothing but DMC floss. However, feel free to use other brands like Anchor, etc. Just be sure that if you decide to use another brand name like Anchor and your pattern calls for DMC, make sure you have a conversion chart to convert those colors to the brand you want to use. If you are working from a kit, the floss comes with it so you are at an advantage of convenience. The only time you might need to purchase additional floss is if you run out of a color, or you may contact the needlework company where you purchased the kit and they might furnish extra floss in order for you to finish your project. 

Cross Stitch Patterns

There are a lot of places out there to buy patterns. Pick out a pattern or kit that is going to be within your skill set and capabilities. If you are a beginner, don't purchase a lot of advanced projects yet. You need to work up to the advanced levels. The types of patterns vary greatly. For instance, if you're into fantasy, then Heaven and Earth is the place to go. If you're into a store that has a wide variety of patterns for every interest, Sunrays Creations is the place to go. We have patterns on many subjects able to suit your tastes and levels of difficulty. We also have patterns to fit every skill level and specialize in fine art patterns and landscapes, including our dear nostalgic patterns which everyone seems to love. Come and join us at

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