How to Cross Stitch

A close-up of a floral cross stitch project

Liubov_Chuiko / Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $20

Learn how to cross stitch with this simple tutorial that takes you through the process step-by-step. You'll learn how to start the stitch, make the cross stitch, and then secure it. Once you've learned the cross stitch, you'll be able to use it to create all kinds of cute patterns by simply putting them together in different formations and using different colors of thread.

You'll be learning how to stitch the basic full cross stitch. These beginner cross stitch patterns are perfect for your first project. There are a few other types of cross stitches that you can tackle once you've mastered the basic cross stitch.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sewing needle
  • Scissors


  • Square of 14-count Aida fabric
  • 6-strand embroidery thread


  1. Prepare Your Fabric

    Cross stitch uses a special type of fabric called Aida cloth. This is an evenweave fabric made of cotton. You can see little holes in the Aida cloth, which is where your needle will go in and out of. Aida cloth comes in different sizes, or counts. The lower the count, the further apart the holes are, making it easier to stitch. You can use whatever count Aida cloth you'd like for your first cross stitch, but we recommend nothing over a 14 count.

    It's time to get your fabric ready for stitching! Iron your Aida cloth if it's wrinkled. You can use a hoop if you'd like, but it's not necessary. You'll want to have a square of cloth that's at least 5 inches by 5 inches.


    Is your Aida cloth fraying on the edges? This is an easy fix! Take masking tape and enclose the edges of the fabric. It will keep the edges from unraveling and neatly removes from the fabric.

    Aida cloth, thread, scissors, and a needle laying on a table

    The Spruce Crafts / Stacy Fisher

  2. Divide Your Thread

    Cut a piece of embroidery floss around 20 inches, or roughly the length of your shoulder to your elbow. If you cut your thread longer than this, your threads are likely to get tangled.

    Your embroidery floss is made up of 6 strands of thread. You want to divide the floss up so you have only 3 strands of thread. To do this, slowly take one of the threads and pull it away from the other threads. If you move too quickly it may knot, so take your time. Repeat the process until you have 3 strands. Put these three strands together.

    A close-up of embroidery floss divided up into strands

    The Spruce Crafts / Stacy Fisher

  3. Thread Your Needle

    Thread the two strands through the eye of the needle. Knot one end of your thread with a basic knot.


    Advanced cross stichers use a few special types of knots to avoid getting bumps in their fabric. They either use waste knots or bury their thread. As a beginner, it's easier to start out with a standard knot.

    A close-up of a needle threaded with blue thread

    The Spruce Crafts / Stacy Fisher

  4. Begin Your First Leg

    Choose a hole in the middle of your Aida cloth. Take your needle up through the back of the fabric toward the front of the fabric. Pull the thread all the way through until your knot gently touches the back of the fabric.


    Always start a cross stitching project in the middle of your cloth. This makes sure that any patterns you're making stay centered. You can easily find the center by folding the cloth one way and then the other.

    A close-up of blue thread in a needle with Aida cloth in the background

    The Spruce Crafts / Stacy Fisher

  5. End Your First Leg

    Take your needle and thread and put it in the hole directly down and to the right of where you just came up. Pull all the way through. Pull your thread taut, but not too tight, to get the best results. You should now have a diagonal stitch, the first leg of your cross stitch. You're halfway done!

    A diagonal made with blue thread

    The Spruce Crafts / Stacy Fisher

  6. Begin Your Second Leg

    Put your needle in the hole directly above where you just stitched, from the underside. Bring the needle and thread up through the hole.

    Pulling blue thread out of cloth

    The Spruce Crafts / Stacy Fisher

  7. End Your Second Leg

    You're going to make another diagonal stitch. To do this, put your needle in the hole that is down one and to the left. Pull the thread all the way through. You've got a cross stitch!

    A close-up of a blue cross stitch

    The Spruce Crafts / Stacy Fisher

  8. Tie Your Threads

    Remove your needle from the thread. Separate the threads and then tie them into a basic knot to secure your cross stitch. Trim off your extra thread.

    Blue thread in white Aida cloth

    The Spruce Crafts / Stacy Fisher