International Love of Cross Stitch and Hints for Perfect Stitching Result!

Why Cross Stitch? With the Olympics going on in China, it seems that some of the members of the Chinese teams share our love of this wonderful craft. Please go to the following webpage to see a fascinating article about how internationally loved, Cross Stitch can be! See Article…


Even though we are doing our Cross Stitch on our incredible machines, there are still elements of the process that we all share. We all love the rich designs that Cross Stitch provides—those final results that make the time and effort well worth it. Patience is required both for hand cross stitching as well as machine cross stitching. Designs stitched by hand can require many hours to complete. That same design stitched on the machine can be completed in only a fraction of the time. The rhythm of hand cross stitch is that of working each single stitch, completing two stitches for each cross stitch. The rhythm of machine cross stitch is that of threading a new color into your machine and clipping threads between areas of stitches.


There are three important and simple things one can do to achieve a perfect Cross Stitch stitchout.

1.       Good Stabilization

2.       Appropriate machine stitching speed

3.       Upper tension on machine

Good solid stabilization is the most important aspect of stitching perfect Cross Stitch. For most of our stitched models, we stitch on a Cotton/Linen fabric, which is light to medium weight . We use an IRON ON stabilizer. The type that we find works best is a lightweight butcher paper, backed with the adhesive to iron on the fabric. While it takes a couple more minutes to iron on the stabilizer, it is well worth that small amount of time. This type of stabilizer keeps the fabric from being pulled too much during the stitching. Cross Stitch designs are stitched in two steps. In our designs, all of the cross stitches are completed first, then the Back Stitch outlining is stitched. Our outlines line up perfectly with iron on stabilizer.


While our machines just get faster and faster with each new model, Cross Stitch designs do not necessarily benefit from that incredible speed. In fact, they can suffer. For the Cross Stitch portion of the design,  I always lower the speed of my machine a notch, to slow down the stitching. The stitches are better formed with a slower speed and the thread is not pulled as tightly as with a higher speed, thereby distorting the fabric less. Once the Back Stitch portion of the design is reached, I lower the speed one notch more so that the outlining stitches are formed correctly and line up perfectly.


Lowering the upper tension on your machine allows each stitch to lay nicely on top of the fabric, rather than pulling tightly. On my machine, I lower it from 2.8 to 2.4 for the cross stitches, which is two notches from the normal tension. This step also prevents the fabric from becoming too distorted. Ironically, I go back up from 2.8 to 2.4 for the Back Stitching portion of the design. Normal tension seems to work best for the outlining stitches.

One additional thing you might want to do…if your stitched piece highlights the needle holes at the corners of the stitches is to use a smaller eyed needle. The standard embroidery needle, size90/14 is usually appropriate, especially if the hints above are used.


Hand and Machine stitches - detailHand Cross Stitches pretty much cover the fabric, with little definition between stitches. The difference in machine Cross Stitches is that they are more clearly separated from each other.

Hand Cross Stitches - detail

The desired result of Machine Cross Stitch is that the stitches sit nicely right next to each other, with minimal needle holes showing.  Note below, that the threads go into the corner holes without pulling the hole “open”. This is the look that most closely resembles hand cross stitches.

Machine Cross Stitches - detail

I hope these simple hints will help you achieve Perfect Cross Stitch results!

If you haven't tried before, why not give cross stitch a try. I've asked AnnTheGran to take 10% off Vermillion Stitchery downloadable designs as a thank you for reading my post, so I hope you'll click through here and take a look.


Comments (10) -

travelbug1237 8/22/2008 8:09:29 AM

What a wonderful blog on 'cross stitching!!!"  Thanks for writing such an informative and helpful lesson! I am looking forward to doing it someday and

will keep in mind your tips...especially to go 'slowly."

NICE NICE job!!!!

jalcumbrack 8/22/2008 8:45:50 AM

Yes I agree that lowering your speed on your machine is very helpful with cross stitch,and even sometimes with doing certain lace projects as well. The speed is wonderful to have but sometimes even the machines need to "slow down" to get a wonderful project.

I do so enjoy your blog on cross stitching,it is something that I have done by hand for years and am still currently working on some for a lap quilt. I am particularly interested in learning the proper machine way as well!(it will sure save on my hands)

Keep the great blogs up!


Thank you for the information.  I realize that time is one difference, but over all, you make it so clear that I will be doing more with cross stitches.

Thanks!  Pat

Thanks, Donna for your lesson on ME cross stitch.  Being new to ME, I keep saying to myself "I didn't know that!"  Well, I didn't know that it's better to do ME at a slower machine speed.  I've been cranking it up.  I figured that if the machine can do fast, I should tell it to do as fast as it can.  I'll try the slower speed and see if it helps me to turn out a better product.

Thanks again.  I need all the help I can get.

Stitches . .


Look for my next blog at ATG, Laruesews-quilting

I reallly appreciate all your helpful hints. I am a little intimidated with cross stitch designs but after reading this article, I feel I can try with confindence.

I always look forward to visiting your web site.



Thanks for all the hints. I although I now have several of your ME patterns, I've been hesitant to try them. The perfect rows that are accomplished in hand cross-stitch seemed improbable in ME. Now that I know the secrets, I'll give it a try!

How about converting some of your beautiful Christmas stocking patterns into ME?

Thanks for the help!


alssweetheart 8/24/2008 2:17:12 AM

What a great article! Where do you get lightweight butcher paper, backed with the adhesive ? I have done a few cross stitch by hand and have contemplated Machine Cross Stitch. It would be great to finish a project in one day instead of months. This has perked up my interest! Thanks so much for all the great information. Carol P

janettel101 8/25/2008 12:58:36 PM

Have never done any machine cross stitching, even tho I have many designs.  I think that I have always been  afraid to try, but after reading this article,  I will be trying them out.   My only question would be--can you use Aida cloth for machine cross stitch?  Thanks for a great article!

wtexpricklypear 8/25/2008 4:29:49 PM

I just got a new embroidery machine and have some pre-printed pieces that I would like to cross-stitch.  You gave some great tips for me to work with.  Thank you!

donnagiampa 8/26/2008 10:13:32 AM

I want to thank everyone for your comments! I am so glad that I have added just a little to the understanding of Cross Stitch on the machine.

For TravelBug: With these so fast machines, we sometimes do not realize that speed is not always of the essence!

For Judy: I'm glad that you're learning from my blog. That is always rewarding for me to hear. Sometimes just hearing someone else comment on something gives us a new way to look at things.

For Pat: We are all in such a hurry these days. With these incredible machines and their speed, we tend to want to take advantage of that speed. It can sometimes be very hard to slow down when we know how fast we can go!

For LaRue: Try'll like it <g>. All that speed is great for "regular" satin stitch and pattern stitch embroideries. But Cross Stitch can use a little coddling by slowing things down just a bit!

For Nancy: Cross Stitch is really just like any other machine embroidery--they all use stitches, after all! Even after several years, I remain so impressed by the quality of Cross Stitch on the machine and enjoy seeing the design come to life so quickly.

For Al's Sweet Heart: You can read more about my specific Stabilizer choices on our website at:">

For Janette: You can use any fabric you want, including Aida cloth! Just choose the fabric count to match the design count. Also, start the design stitching, adjusting the position of the needle so that it goes down into one of the square holes.

For West Texas Prickly Pear (Did I guess your user name right?): I'm glad you will be now trying something you haven't tried yet! Go to it!!

I really enjoy sharing with all of you stitchers! Thank you so much for your comments.


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