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Cross Stitch Tips - Organizing and Planning

Organize your Cross Stitch Materials

Read, and then Reread your pattern! Not all patterns are organized the same. Get very familiar with your pattern, particularly if it is not in your native language. On most patterns, there is a table or key that includes symbols and floss numbers that corresponds to the symbols on the actual pattern. You will want to make sure you have all of the supplies listed on the pattern. Sometimes designers hide further floss colors you will need in the directions for outlining, etc. Always check the full pattern for your needs so you won't find yourself starting to stitch, and not having what you need. If your pattern calls for supplies that you cannot get easily, do NOT panic! There is always a suitable substitute. Consult a conversion table, or come up with your own idea. 


Next, begin by measuring your fabric to the appropriate size.  You must first figure out the stitch count of your design horizontally and vertically.  Most patterns will supply this information in the directions.  For example, if your stitch count on your pattern is 140 (vertical) x 112 (horizontal) you would divide each of these number by the count of the fabric you have chosen.   Let’s assume you have chosen a 14 count Aida cloth (which means there are 14 stitches or squares per inch).  You would divide each stitch count by 14.  Don’t forget to add another 4 to 6 inches to each measurement for framing. 



                   140/14 = 10 inches + 6 inches (for framing) =16 inches                  

                   112/14 =  8 inches + 6 inches (for framing) =14 inches 

(you would cut your material 16 inches vertically and 14 inches horizontally) 


When using a linen or Jobelan or any fabric with a stitch count of 25 or above you will usually be stitching over two threads.  For example, if your linen has a count of 32, you will cut that in half for your calculations, which is 32 divided by 2  (32/2).  So, a 32 count fabric would become a 16 count fabric when stitched over two threads. 32 divided by 2 equals 16. (32/2=16) Thus, you would have 16 stitches per inch on your fabric. The larger the number of stitches per inch, the smaller the stitches will be. If you are doing a pattern with a lot of detail, it is best to use the smallest stitches you can comfortably see to preserve as much detail as possible in your design. 

Cuts of fabric.  There are a few different cuts of fabric.  At Julie's Cross Stitch, we follow the same guide lines for cutting fabric as quilters do because it is the most efficient use of a yard of fabric.  These are all cuts of a full yard of fabric.    The smallest size being a fat quarter, the next size up is a fat half and then the full yard.  , If you were to take a yard of fabric and lay it out flat and cut it into 4 equal parts vertically and horizontally, one of the four pieces would be considered a fat quarter.  A fat half is that same fabric cut horizontally right down the middle to make two halves.  Of course, a full yard is the whole piece of fabric.  Most patterns will fit onto a fat quarter of fabric.   Some patterns, like Lavender and Lace Angels require a little more fabric.  A fat half is more appropriate to allow ample room for a matt and framing. Always check your stitch count and do the math before purchasing fabric to avoid frustration. 


Here is a video I made explaining the different cuts of fabric. Yard, fat half and fat quarter. 



Be sure to double check your math before cutting.  Once you’ve cut it, it’s too late.  There is no taping it back together.   It is also smart to make sure you have the correct fabric and the correct count of fabric.  A cross stitch gauge  is a great way to check what count your fabric is.  Measure one inch of fabric and count the number of stitches you can stitch in that area.  That will tell you what count fabric you are working with.  If you count 14 stitches in an inch, than the fabric you are working on is a 14 count fabric. If you don't have a cross stitch gauge handy, you can also use any ruler and lay it on your fabric and see how many stitches you count in an inch. 


Next, use masking tape to tape the edges of your material to prevent fraying.  You can also serge the edges of your fabric with a sewing machine.  There are also products on the market that can be applied to the edges of your fabric to stop fraying like Fray Stop. Follow the directions on the bottle.


Then, organize all of your floss colors in one floss container in numerical order for easy access.  Keep any other material you will need to complete your project in the container as well, like beads and specialty threads, extra needles, etc.  Be sure to check how many skeins of each color you will need so you don’t run out.  This information should be provided in the directions or in the color chart, usually in parenthesis next to the floss number. (ie. DMC 310 (2) means you need two skeins of DMC floss 310, black)  I like to keep my floss on  reusable plastic  bobbins with a number tag.  Some people like to use small bags to hold their floss called Floss Away.


There are many great craft bags designed for easy of storage of your cross stitch supplies.  There are some old fashioned ones like this free standing Knit and Crochet bag that I love.  Always a favorite accessory as this stand remains handy by your chair or can pick-up  and go when you do.  Lined with one vinyl pocket. Just like Grandma used to have.  Another of my favorites is this Arm Chair Needlework Organizer.  


Several manufacturer suggest washing your fabric and floss before stitching to avoid having any of the colors run.  I am not overly fond of this idea.  There is a product that can be used for this process should you choose to do so.  It is called  Fabri-Care.  Read and follow the directions on the bottle carefully.