Learn to Cross Stitch: Part 2 Preparation

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Welcome back!

By now, you’ve gathered a 14 ct. Aida, your floss, tapestry needle, and scissors I hope. If not, check out Part 1 for tips on what you will need.

First, wash your hands. Wash them frequently when doing embroidery and do not eat while working.

The following steps can be prepared in the order you are most comfortable.

You will need to prepare your Aida for work. If your piece as hard crease marks, you’ll want to iron it. Next, you will want to make sure it won’t unravel while you work. If you have a sewing machine, using a zig-zag stitch around the Aida will solve this problem. You can apply “fray check” to the edges and let that dry before stitching. In a pinch, a thin layer of masking tape along the edge will do just fine. Keep in mind that masking tape is hard to get off when you finish your work though. Also, some Aidas can be purchased with the edges already secured.

Find the cfolded aidaenter of your Aida as well. To do this simply fold your canvas in half and then fold it in half again. The fold edge will reveal your center, put a pin through this hole and unfold the Aida. You’ve found the center.

In large embroidery projects, you will want to use a hoop or frame to hold your Aida while you are working, but for the small project I have planned, you will not need one. Hoops and frames will be covered later.

You’ll want to prepare your floss. Some embroidery gurus wash their floss first. I do not. First, I do not use a washing machine to launder my embroidery; I hand wash in baby detergent and cold water instead. I also do not dry embroidery in a dryer. Heat causes the shrinking of textiles. If you plan to machine wash your embroidery, you might consider washing it first with a mild detergent and water as hot as you can handle it.

floss preparedYou will need to secure and label your floss in some way. For beginning stitchers, and this project, you can secure your floss to a piece of cardboard and write the floss number nearby. Securing can be with a hold punch and looping your floss through the hole or wrapping it around a smaller piece of cardboard. You can also purchase a package of bobbins in the embroidery section of a store, if desired.

When stitching you will not use the entire skein of floss at once. Instead cut off a section that is around 18 inches long or shorter. Many beginning embroiderers cut their floss at a length that is equal to the distance between their wrist and elbow or shoulder. On me, the distance to the shoulder is about 17 inches. Next separate all six strands. When stitching you can use various numbers of strands for different thickness. I generally use two, but for a fuller look you might use three. One is almost always too few to be effective. Whereas in some larger work, three strands at a time can become cumbersome. With the small project we are doing two will work just fine.

threadedTo thread your needle, you will want to take both strands of floss and thread them through the needle. Do not tie any knots. Just fold your thread over about an inch. In needlework, we tend to avoid knots if possible.

Now you are ready for your first stitch.

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