Guide to Cross Stitch Supplies

Beth Asaff
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Every crafter needs a stash, and it's just as easy to build up your supply of cross stitch materials as it is for a knitter, crocheter or bead fanatic to build up her supplies. Stock up on these items so you'll always be ready to stitch up a new design.

Basic Cross Stitch Supplies

For most projects, keep the following supplies on hand:

  • Cross stitch fabric
  • Thread
  • Patterns
  • Scissors
  • Hoop
  • Needle

Cross Stitch Fabric

Cross stitch fabric, which is the fabric you stitch your design onto, comes in a rainbow of colors to compliment any design. It is widely available in one of two fabric choices, Aida or linen.

Aida Cloth

Cross stitch Aida cloth
Cross stitch Aida cloth

Most beginners to cross stitching start with Aida, a 100 percent cotton fabric. It's known as interlocking fabric because each thread you can see is made up of several smaller threads. This makes the squares easy to see and it is simple for beginners to understand where the stitches go.

It's also a fabric that is easy to find everywhere, comes in a multitude of colors and counts. The spaces between the holes is expressed in the count number, so bigger numbers mean more holes, smaller squares, and smaller stitches. Aida 14 is the standard for many patterns, and that is the count that will give you the most variety of color.

Places to buy Aida include:

  • 123 Stitch: Shop for Aida by color, size of cloth, or thread count. They have a wide variety of different colors to choose from, as well as several different count numbers to vary your stitches.
  • CreateForLess: If you're really planning on stocking up, shop for your Aida at CreateForLess. They offer a variety of colors and thread counts, and they also offer discounts if you purchase in bulk.

Linen

More advanced stitchers will want to stock up on linen fabric, which is woven with a sort of basket weave pattern. Threads are distinct and commonly worked over two squares at a time. It's easy to make quarter stitches on linen, so this is the right choice for a very detailed pattern. Linen comes in counts, but because of the way the material is made you need to purchase 28 count to work a 14 count pattern. It is also available in a wide range of colors. You can find 100 percent linen cloth as well as linen blends. Places to buy include:

  • Salt & Pepper: Salt & Pepper has a nice selection of different linens, including several counts and multiple colors and sizes of fabric to choose from. They list DMC colors so you can match your thread to the fabric if desired.
  • Yarn Tree: Yarn Tree sells a wide range of Cashel 28-count linen by the yard. The linen comes in 24 different colors, all with DMC color coordination.

Cross Stitch Thread

Floss in many colors

There are more cross stitch thread colors and types out there than you could possibly ever work with. Cotton thread is the most common and also the easiest to work with, but you can also purchase specialty thread in different materials and finishes. There are two companies that most stitchers turn to for reliability in color and quality:

  • DMC is probably the most well-known brand of cross stitch thread (also known as floss). The company offers a staggering 454 colors of cotton floss, 11 colors of metallic floss, 292 colors of pearlized cotton, 100 colors of rayon, wool in 180 colors and linen in 24 colors.
  • Coats & Clark, under the brand names Anchor and J & P Coats, sell embroidery supplies and cross stitch thread. They offer pearl cotton in many different sizes and hundreds of colors, as well as 90 colors of rayon thread, metallics and multicolored variegated floss.

Patterns for Cross Stitching

Once you become comfortable with your craft, you'll probably want to try your hand at making your own patterns. Before you do, however, you'll find a wealth of different patterns to choose from, both free and for purchase.

A selection of free patterns include:

You can also purchase books of patterns from retailers such as:

  • Herrscheners has nearly 50 different cross stitch pattern books to choose from including holiday patterns and decorative motifs.
  • Everything Cross Stitch sells patterns by category, with categories like home and garden, fantasy, and people.

Fabric and Thread Scissors

You'll actually need two pairs of scissors if you plan on doing a lot of stitching: one pair is to cut the fabric, the other is to cut the floss. A single pair of scissors can work double duty if you only stitch on occasion, however.

Fabric Scissors

Havel's Sewing Serrated Fabric Scissors
Havel's Sewing Serrated Fabric Scissors

Fabric scissors should ideally be 7- to 8-inches in length and sharp enough to cut through two layers of fabric at one time. You'll need them to stay very clean so they don't mark your fabric, so be sure to label them "fabric" and keep them separate from other crafting supplies. Good sources for fabric scissors include:

  • Joann: Joann Fabric has a wide range of different fabric scissors in varying lengths. Look for a pair you can resharpen if necessary to keep your fabric edges neat.
  • Havel's Sewing: Havel's carries several different scissors specific to fabric as well. Choose from scissors with serrated and non-serrated edges, as well as scissors for cutting smaller pieces of fabric.

Thread Scissors

To cut your thread, you need a pair of embroidery scissors. These are smaller scissors that have a very pointed tip that curves up. This allows you to cut very close to your fabric when you are done with a stitch without accidentally piercing it. Shop for embroidery scissors at:

  • Nancy's Notions: Nancy's has a pair of double curved embroidery scissors that point up away from your fabric so you will get precision cuts each time.
  • Nordic Needle: This retailer carries several different kinds of embroidery scissors, including those with larger handles for a more comfortable grip.

Embroidery Hoops

Doodler Stitching Frame
Doodler Stitching Frame at abcstitch.com

Cross stitching requires that the fabric be pulled very, very taut so you can make precise stitches. This is usually done on an embroidery hoop, which is a wood or plastic circle that pulls and holds the fabric taut. You may also choose to use a frame if you're working a larger piece of fabric, or you have trouble holding a hoop while working. Purchase hoops and frames from:

  • ABC Stitch Therapy: Here you'll find a wide selection of different hoops and frames, including large frames and small, lightweight plastic hoops.
  • The Stitchery: This shop carries a nice variety of hoops and frames, as well as stands that will hold your hoop for you while you work.

Cross Stitch Needles

Cross stitching requires the use of a blunt tapestry needle that is sized to the fabric you are working on. The larger the size number, the smaller the needle will be. Choose the right needle for your fabric by consulting this list:

  • John James Curved Assorted Needles 3 Pack
    John James Curved Assorted Needles 3 Pack
    Fabric size 8- and 11-count Aida uses a needle size 22
  • Fabric size 14-count Aida uses a needle size 24
  • Fabric size 16- and 18-count Aida uses a needle size 28

Linen fabrics generally require smaller needles. For fine linen choose a size 28 needle, but for coarser weaves you can use a size 24 needle.

You can purchase tapestry needles for cross stitching from:

  • John James: Needles by John James features not only basic needles, but easy threading, curved, and specialty needles as well.
  • Keepsake Needle Arts: This retailer carries several different sizes of needles, as well as needle cases, threaders, and other accessories.

Storing Your Cross Stitch Supplies

Cross stitch fabrics should be stored in a cool dry place, such as a closet. Fabric shouldn't be folded because permanent creases can result, so save up the cardboard rolls from wrapping paper and paper towels to roll your stash on. You can even write on the rolls what kind of fabric is wrapped on it.

Cross stitch thread can be stored in boxes or plastic bags. Like colors should be kept together so you know what you have available. Keep these out of heat and direct sunlight. If you have a huge collection of floss, consider labeling each bag with the color numbers that are inside, so you will know at a glance if you have the colors you need.

Your scissors, needles, and hoops can be stored wherever you have space. Keep them dry and dust-free for best results.

Start Stitching

Once you have a well-stocked supply cabinet at your disposal, they'll be nothing stopping you from stitching up anything you can think of. Pick up some supplies today and start stitching.

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Guide to Cross Stitch Supplies