Cross Stitch & Needlework Supply

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Cross Stitch Tips

Cross Stitch Supplies

Needles:  You will need a tapestry needle in the correct size for  the count of cross stitch fabric you choose to use.  Tapestry needles have a blunt end (not sharp) and a large eye for easier threading.  Keep an extra needle in case the first one breaks or bends. Using several needles threaded with different colors of floss saves time while stitching.  There are nickel and gold plaited needles to choose from. Tapestry needles come in a variety of sizes including 22, 24, 26, 28 etc.  The larger the number on the package,  the smaller the needle is.  We carry needles by John James, DMC, Boye,  Clover, and more. Here are some recommendations for needle sizes for different counts of fabric:



Needle Size for Cross Stitch

Fabric Count Needle size
11, 14, 18 and 30  24
16, 32, and 35  26
18 and 40 26
Larger counts 28


 Beading needles for cross stitch.  Many designers like Mirabilia and Lavender and Lace use beads to enliven their patterns.  Beads can add dimension and sparkle to your design.  There are special needles that are necessary to apply beads on your cross stitch project.  They are shorter than a typical beading needle.   The needles are thinner than an embroidery needle and sharper.  They have to be skinny for the bead to fit over the needle. I have beading needles by Mill Hill and John James.  The beading needles are sharp. 


 Beading floss. When beading on your cross stitch, you can use a strand of DMC floss, or for a more secure and less obvious floss, you can use Nymo thread or YLI Invisible Thread.   Nymo is my preferred thread for beading, and it comes in white and black.


 Weaving needles:  A  kit containing 3 different types of needles in the weaving kit: a flat straight sewing needle and a flat cranked raffia sewing needle plus a cranked weaving needle. A cranked needle is sometimes called a turned up needle.   There is also a Bodkin needle used for doing Swedish Weaving with thicker flosses or yarns on Monks cloth.   Bodkin needles are flat and round. 

Bodkin (weaving)   needle


 Storing your  needle:  You can store the needle you are working with on the fabric you are using for your project by weaving it through a couple of the holes.  There are also some great needle cases that you can purchase that may become heir looms eventually for the younger stitchers in your family.  There are also some  beautiful needle magnets for storing you needles.  I also like to store my needles in an old fashioned pin cushion. 


Tacky Bob


Tacky Bob for beading.  Another valuable tool for beading is a Tacky Bob. Beading can be tedious without the right tools.  A  Tacky Bob looks like a small compact disk case. Inside the case is a sticky, fly paper type surface. You spread the beads you are working with on the sticky surface so they lay in a single layer. You can pick each bead off the sticky surface with your beading needle. It makes the process of beading that much easier.  I wouldn't bead without mine. 


Caron Collection Floss

 Floss:  Cross stitch is usually done with a 6 strand embroidery floss. DMC is a major supplier of cross stitch and needlework  supplies. Their products  are made in France. 


 DMC 100% cotton, Mouline floss is a very popular brand.  It comes in several hundred floss colors that remind me of the beautiful colors you would see on a Japanese Kimono.    Most patterns call for 2 strands of DMC 6 stranded floss  for cross stitches and one strand for back stitches. 2 strands of floss can be used to define facial features like eyebrows.   Floss can be easily separated by cutting a strand about as long as your forearm.  Hold the floss from the end dangling in front of you.  Slowly pull the number of strands you wish to stitch with from the 6 strands while it sort of winds around.   Some of the larger counts of fabric like Herta 6 and 8 counts may call for 3 strands of floss for stitches. 


 Light Effects (article 317) is a metallic floss also made by DMC. Light Effects are a six stranded polyester, viscose blend. The floss is washable, drycleanable and resistant to tarnish.  


DMC Color Variations embroidery floss change the shade of the color as you sew for a unique effect. DMC Color Variations are made of 100% Egyptan cotton. They are made from the differnt shades of DMC standard floss colors. 


Kreinik is one of the most prevalent  metallic threads used in cross stitch.  There are several different sizes including blending filaments, #1, #5, #7, #4, #8 and #12, as well as  1/8th ribbon, and 1/16th ribbon, .  They come in a variety of styles like braid, Japan thread, Cord, Cable, Vintage, High luster, Fluorescent, and the newest, Holographic.   There are  also metallic threads by 


Glissen Gloss called Rainbow and Estaz.  The Rainbow is a blending filaments and the Estaz is a fuzzy floss that anglers often use to tie their own flies for fishing.   70% nylon, and 30% metallic. 


Needle Paints are a cotton floss that comes in rich colors designed especially for Lavender and Lace patterns.  They are made of 100% Egyptian cotton and come in 3 different color schemes, called Robbins Egg Blue, Orchid, and Lavender/Blue. 


Caron Collection floss comes in many different varieties.  Here is a brief description of each type of floss they have to offer:

Waterlilies:  A twelve-ply hand-dyed variegated silk floss. It gives a subtle sheen when stitched and has particularly good light reflection qualities. Use a single ply for very fine work or as many plies as necessary to suit stitch and ground fabric. Many of the colors match Watercolors and Wildflowers, but because the silk fibers take the dye differently, they may be more subdued.  


Soie Cristale, also available from Caron is the solid color counter part of Waterlilies.  Waterlilies is suitable for cross stitch, needlepoint, Hardanger, and other needlework.


Wildflowers:  A single strand hand-dyed cotton in variegated colors that coordinate with with Watercolours.  Use one or more strands as needed.  One strand is between and size 8 and 12 pearl cotton floss in weight, about the same as a flower thread.  Wildflowers looks like a fine wool and has a matte finish when stitched.  It can be used on a wide range of cross stitch, Hardanger, Swedish Weaving and other needlework fabrics.  It is also excellent for lace making and tatting.   This is my favorite floss to use when I stitch Hardanger pieces on 25 count Lugana fabric. Use it in combination with other Caron flosses for a really incredible project!


 Watercolours:  A three-ply hand-dyed pima cotton floss  in variegated colors.  It has a silky sheen and slides like butter through your needlework.  The variegated colors blend subtly into each other without drastic changes.  One ply of Watercolours is about the same weight as a number 5 pearl cotton floss.  This is a great floss for Hardanger and Swedish Weaving.  It can also be used for needlepoint, cross stitch, tatting, darning, knitting, crochet and crewel.  A very versatile floss.


Floss is usually colorfast, which mean it does not run when washed.  However, some people like to wash their floss before using it to be sure it doesn't bleed.  If you choose to wash your floss before stitching with it, you will need to put each skein in a separate container of tap water.  You can also  use distilled water.  If the floss makes the water colored, you should wash it again until it no longer makes the water colored. Dry your floss on a white paper towel or a white cloth towel.  If it leaves any color on the towel, then start the process over again.


Cross Stitch or Embroidery Hoop:  Hoops can be made out of plastic, metal, or wood and come in several different sizes, among those being 5 inch, 7 inch, 8 inch, 10 inch, and more.   A hoop will keep your fabric taut while you stitch.  We have some great hoops by Hoopla in a variety of colors.  The colors remind me of different shades of sherbert.  There are also free standing hoops.  Q-snaps (standard sizes are 8 and 11 for cross stitch)  are also an option for holding your fabric while you stitch.  They snap apart for easy storage. To prevent creases from forming on your fabric, remove the hoop when you are not stitching and roll your fabric to store.  I keep my fabric in a plastic bag while I am not working on it to avoid accidents. Some more experienced stitchers prefer to use no hoop at all.  Others like to used a hoop when they work with Aida and no hoop when they use Linen fabric.  Some hoops can distort certain fabrics. 


Scissors:  Use a sharp pair of small scissors to avoid frayed ends on your floss.  There are many embroidery scissors or thread clippers  to choose from.  The most useful size of embroidery scissor for cross stitch is probably 3/12 inch or 4 inch.  It is a convenient size for snipping ends of floss while you stitch.  Clip the floss with a small tail or with no tail at all.  It’s a matter of choice.  Beware of ends showing through the fabric. We have many fancy  designer scissors  and several more plain scissors to choose from.  Some of my favorites are by Gingher and they are truly collectors items.  They come in a variety of colorful handles and there are new ones every season.  Store your scissors in the sheath that they come with or in a scissor block if you collect scissors.  A scissor block is similar to a knife block.


Tips for Working a Large Pattern

Some cross stitch pattern designers make some very intricate designs. They are often very large designs as well.  Designers like Heaven and Earth (HEAD), Kustom Krafts, Cross Stitch Collectibles, and a few others, split their patterns into several pages.  The patterns are to be worked in 10 x 10 grids starting in the left hand corner of the fabric.  The best way to figure out where to start a gridded design is to take the stitch count of your pattern and divide it by the stitch count of your fabric.  Example:  Say the pattern is 240 x 240 stitches and the fabric is 16 count Aida.  Divide each side by 16.  In this case 240 divide by 16.  That means your design will be 15  inches square or 15x15 inches.  Find the center of your fabric by folding it in half lengthwise, then in half again by the width.  Get a tape measure.  From the center you will measure from the middle  to the top of the  fabric, half of the design height (in this case, half of 15 would be 7.5 inches).  Then measure  from that point (center/top)  again to the left,  half of the  width of your design.  (in this case also 15/2=7.5 inches)   That is where you should start the first block of 10 x 10 stitches.  Measure from the center up first, then from that point to the left side to figure out where to start your first grid of stitches, starting in the upper  left hand corner of your fabric.