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Cross Stitch Tutorial + Free Pattern

In this beginner friendly cross stitch tutorial, I’ll be walking you through supplies you’ll need, how to make a basic cross stitch, starting the pattern, as well as how to end stitches.

Cross Stitch Materials:

  • Aida Fabric
  • Tapestry (blunt) needle
  • 6 strand cotton thread. For this project, I’m using DMC colors 3346 and 310.
  • Scissors
  • There are different sizes and thread counts of Aida Fabric. You’ll want the 14 count Aida for the project I feature in this article. Aida Fabric differs from other needlepoint fabrics because it is a stiff, even weave fabric. You won’t need an embroidery hoop for this type of fabric!

The other difference with cross stitch from other needlecrafts is that the needles you use are blunt. Sharp needles hinder cross stitch because there are already hole in the fabric you will be going through, and sharp needles will just snag the natural weave of the fabric.

Depending on your project, you may use different amounts of thread, but I usually use 2 strands of the 6 strand DMC cotton floss. This floss easily separates from itself, so don’t worry about having trouble unraveling it!

Cross Stitch Fabric

An important part of cross stitch is following or creating a pattern. Since cross stitch fabric is basically a graph, you’ll want to make sure you have an adequate amount of fabric. Cross stitch patterns usually have bold lines for every ten squares. You’ll want to count the squares your pattern requires. The cross stitch pattern below requires 60 x 80 squares. Each block in this pattern is one square of aida fabric.

If you aren’t sure what thread count your aida is, or you just want to calculate how much fabric you need to use, there are plenty of free calculators and cross stitch generators online. Stitch Fiddle is the one I used to create this pattern. The 14 count aida fabric I’m using measures 6 x 4.5 inches, which will fit the pattern above with a little bit of room!

Cross Stitch Tutorial

The next thing you’ll need to do is find the very center of your pattern and also the center of your aida fabric once you’ve cut the right amount. To do this, simply fold your piece of fabric in half long way and then in half the other way.

cross stitch fabric folded in half twice

Once you’ve found the center, that’s where you’ll start!

How to Make a Cross Stitch

Make a diagonal stitch.

Make another diagonal stitch across the initial stitch

how to make a cross stitch

When covering a larger area, you can make several diagonal stitches side by side, then go back and make several diagonal stitches the opposite way to complete the cross stitches.

cross stitch leaf

A good rule of thumb is to have the top stitches facing the same diagonal direction. I’m still not great at doing this, but it makes your stitches look more even and uniform!

How to Finish Stitches

end a cross stich


In order to finish a your stitches, I leave enough tail at the beginning and the end of the thread to tuck under stitches. You can also weave in and out of stitches to secure it. Knots are not recommended as cross stitch projects are normally framed, and they can create bumps in the back of your work or cause tension on the stitches.

Heres the finished product! I chose place it in a frame I found at the thrift store and I love the way it turned out!

Further Reading:

Embroidery 101: Learn How to Embroider!